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Au Pairs - Why Do They Quit?
I received a question from a host mom who was upset that her au pair announced that she wanted to rematch - in other words, this au pair just quit!
"Edina, I spent much time researching agencies and then interviewing about 10 au pairs before I made my selection and we matched with a wonderful girl from Germany. When she arrived, we were thrilled that she was just as perfect as we thought she was! But, after only 2 months, she wants to match with another family. I am very upset and she only says she doesn't feel she can stay for the entire year with our family. Why do au pairs quit like this?"
Au pairs quit for multiple reasons and they can range from not clicking well with the children (or the host parents) to location (sometimes au pairs realize it is too cold or too hot where their host families live and they look to rematch into a more temperate climate) to wanting to get out of a house where family tensions are high. Host families may not realize what is going on under their own noses and therefore they cannot see how these factors are affecting their au pairs. Au pairs that quit makes working moms stressed to the limit!
No Car for your au pair? Big mistake! Many new host parents think their au pair can get along okay without car, even though they live in the suburbs. When au pairs do not have ready access to transportation, they become isolated from the other au pairs in the program and from the community at large. Young people do not like this and they will rebel by quitting and finding a new family.
Great au pairs are in high demand & agency refunds are extremely difficult to get - au pairs can and do quit if they feel host parents are not treating them well or if they can get a better situation. As a host parent, you will lose both your childcare giver and money! Loss of childcare results not only in family disruption and stress, but lost work days, time and lost program fees. It is well known in the au pair industry, once a program gets your fees, they are very reluctant to give any money back! Their refund contracts ensure they keep your money if anything goes wrong with your match!
So, how do we keep our great au pairs? Host parents need to know what kinds of issues are deal breakers for au pairs - good au pairs do not have to settle for mediocre conditions in their host families. If children are not well-behaved, basement rooms with no window and no car for the au pair sounds like your family, you may have to rethink your childcare choices.
Knowing what the top deal breakers are for great au pairs can help you to make the changes in your family that will ensure the au pair not only stays for the entire year, but extends and stays for an additional 12 months! Then, I would start to make those changes to ensure your au pair never has to weigh a decision to stay or quit!
I would suggest to this host mom who just lost her au pair that she have a frank conversation with the au pair to find out really what was the factor that drove her to quit. You should ensure her that you only want to improve your family's success in the au pair program and you want the next au pair to be happy. If you make the au pair feel it is okay to open up and she will not be punished for communicating her feelings, you will get the information you need to make sure your next au pair will not quit!
Agencies don't always tell you how to keep your au pair happy and content. They emphasis the positive side of the program, and not the negative side!
Nancy Felix, expert host mom and author of Oh My Au Pair - A Guide to Hosting Au Pairs, says
The agencies are big business…it is their job to make matches and sell the program. They definitely highlight the positive aspects of having an au pair but there is so much more a host parent needs to know…
Want to know what the top reasons are that drive a great au pair to say "goodbye" to your family?