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Sample of Au Pair Agency Review - 2015
We are sharing one of the au pair agency reviews & ratings we wrote up for 2015 - this is a sample of what we do for all 15 USA Au Pair Agencies!
Agent Au Pair
1450 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Celebrating 10 Years of Service!
2015 Total Yearly Costs: $17,500 (includes program fees, au pair stipend, & application fee).
In the spring they usually waive the application fee and this year, it looks like they lowered their fees for the spring as well!
Additional Educational Costs: $500.
Domestic transportation: from Au Pair Academy in SF to host family home (cost depends on where you are)
Phone Service: Poor - Fair
Agent Au Pair is using an automated system, where you have to leave a message and wait for someone to get back to you. So, prospective host families have to wait to get their questions answered and current host families with a problem also have to wait. When you do get a staff member, they are friendly and ready to answer your questions and without a hard sale's pitch.
Emergency On-Call Plan: None at this time
Psychometric Au Pair Screening: Booreem-Flowers Test
Agent Au Pair currently uses the Booreem Flowers Au Pair Test - one of the most highly recognized assessment tests in the industry.
Agent Au Pair is Celebrating 10 years of service! Congratulations!
Major Au Pair Agency Strengths
1. Experienced - Au Pair Agency Celebrated 10 years of service in 2014. Congratulations!
Au Pair Agency enjoys brand name recognition in both Europe and South America.
2. Au Pair Training
Their au pair, onsite orientation training, called the Au Pair Academy, is a full week (and is held in San Francisco) where normally all au pair orientations are 3-4 days only. This training includes the Au Pair Workbook, which summarizes all the safety lessons, etc. for the au pair in writing. Not all agencies include this kind of instruction manual - we think is a real bonus!
TIP: Most smaller agencies do not conduct live orientation trainings - rather they have their au pairs view a training video in their country. We feel that onsite and live training seminars are superior to instruction videos.
Since their service is restricted to the Bay Area in CA, they do not have to pay for domestic flights getting their au pairs around the country after the orientation. As a result, their fees ($6250) are significantly lower (close to $1000) lower compared to other agencies.
3. Au Pairs
This agency recruits from over 40 countries, including China. Most of their au pairs come from Europe (France, Germany, Spain) and Eastern Europe and South America (Mexico, Peru, Columbia).
4. Au Pair Recruitment Information
Literature to the au pair include full disclosure regarding what the cultural exchange really is - and not just a fun-filled travel adventure. The brochure warns the au pair, "the work will be challenging...you should be sure you are ready to work a full 12 months before committing to the program."
Agent Au Pair also tells the au pairs: "Being an au pair is not for everyone. Taking care of young children requires maturity, hard work and patience." This material can be found online and is included in the au pair brochures sent to the girls requesting information.
We support any au pair agency that really educates prospective au pairs about the nature of this program and the reality of what the job entails - taking care of children most of the day - which can be strenuous and often tedious work!
Agent Au Pair cautions prospective au pairs that American families will not accept smokers. They state: "If you smoke and think you cannot quit before departing for the U.S. for a year, it's better not to sign up for the program."
Most, if not all, other au pair agencies do not include this important piece of information to their au pairs and they do accept smokers into their programs. You may receive a smoker who checked off "non-smoker" on her application or who feels it will be fine once they arrive at your home! So, if smoking is a deal breaker for you - consider using this agency!
6. New Website
The new website the rolled out in 2014 is attractive and user friendly. It includes Program Fees page with more information on their discounts and payment options. They also updated outdated sections and the information is much more organized than before. Host parents report that it is much easier to click around and find stuff. The agency added some very nice family and child photo, always a nice touch.
7. Good Au Pairs
Agent Au Pair does manage to recruit good au pairs - they are rated fairly well by their host parents (59% for Quaiity Au Pairs) and this was just one statement among several that host families wrote about their au pairs:
"My au pair was from Germany and she spoke almost perfect English. She was very firm with my boys, and that was a good thing - they learned a few things about manners and how to act around adults. She was also very sweet and loved our dog! She ended up walking our dog daily which was such a big help to us, as we worked long hours."
Major Au Pair Agency Weaknesses
1. Website 2015 Features
Even with the most recent 2014 upgrades, the overall website is limited - with just the basic information for both au pairs and host families. The resources they offer to host parents and au pairs need to be updated and more articles and "how-to" fact sheets written and offered to their market.
2. How to Apply
No online application process
You just download the application, fill it out and mail it back to them.
3. Matching Process
No mention of their matching process and how it is done online, which is a major stumbling block in getting matched with an au pair.
4. Limited programs
Au Pair Agent does not offer Educare au pairs or Premier au pairs - just Standard au pairs.
They only have one page that explains the local support you and your au pair will receive - but be assured, they are required to have a counselor who services your area.
In 2014, Au Pair Agent received very low ratings in this area - one of the agencies with the lowest ratings of the 14 agencies. This appears to be an area that they need to focus on.
In 2015, the ratings for this area has not improved - receiving a 20% for Local Counselors. Local support or Local Counselors is a very important part of your cultural year hosting an au pair. If you, or your au pair, has a problem, you need quick access and a prompt reply from your agency! A minor problem can easily grow into a mountain if you don't get the expert advice and support you should be getting!
6. Help with Problems
In 2014 Agent Au Pair received one of the LOWEST ratings among all the USA au pair agencies for helping host families with problems or issues that come up during their program year. With only 20% Satisfaction rate, this agency really has to focus on how to address their ability to reach out to families when they call on them for assistance!
2015 Ratings indicate a small increase in this service area, but at 25%, this agency needs to work much harder to provide consistent, ongoing and great support to both au pairs and host families during the duration and length of the match.
7. Service Areas
Service used to be limited to Bay area on CA only (this is a small agency that recruits about 200 au pairs a year), but in 2013 they informed us that are accepting applications from other areas and they now "service over 500 au pairs a year."
Sample of 2015 Host Parent Survey Comments:
"It takes forever till they (Au Pair Agent) contact you!"
- "Our au pair was using drugs."
- "I was not able to match, because they kept sending me the wrong type of au pairs."
- "I had to wait so long to get an au pair profile. Then they asked me what I'm looking for, and they still sent the wrong ones!"
- Whenever I tried to reach out to them by phone, nobody answers, instead of a call, I just receive emails back as their way of answering me." "
- "My au pair was lovely - she drove and she was kind and experienced with the children."
Sample of 2014 Host Parent Survey Comments:
"Agency didn't provide service after we matched - the counselor was no where to be found! She didn't have meetings for the au pairs either."
"Fees were reasonable and staff were fairly good - I think we just lucked out and matched with a great girl - but thanks Agency Au Pair!"
"They didn't help us when we had issues with our very homesick au pair! We were basically on our own."
"I had no issues with this agency - it is small and don't expect bells and whistles - we found our au pair to be just fine and the children enjoyed having a foreign babysitter who spoke fluent Spanish!"
"Au pair could not drive and she had an accident - this was very expensive for us, but I don't think it was the agency's fault - au pairs' driving is unpredictable."
Sample of 2013 Host Parent Comments:
"Agent Au Pair worked with me until they found me an au pair that turned out to be the perfect fit for our family - I was doubtful at first, but the program manager really pushed me and she was right! The au pair I wanted would have been a disaster for my children. Live and learn - this was our first experience as host parents and even though it has its ups and downs, I would do it again next year."
"Excellent customer service, they get back to you in the same day when we called and we appreciate that."
"We loved our au pair and our only disappointment was that she decided to go home after the first year - she really missed us, but missed her family more!"
"Agent Au Pair sent us a young lady that did not speak English all that well, but it was okay since she was very bright and picked it up so fast, I was really impressed with the caliber of au pairs they recruit."
"Our Brazilian au pair didn't drive very well and that was a huge problem for us. I think next time I will try to match with a German au pair. Driving is a must in our active family."
"Agent au pairs are okay, I have used the larger programs and they do offer more options and more au pairs to choose from. Our au pair also complains since there are not a lot of au pairs to befriend in our small cluster. Sometimes smaller is not better..."