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PROaupair Wins 4 Gold Medals - Special Needs Au Pairs

We have been reading about the growth and strides that PROaupair has been making since they received their designation from the Dept. of State a few years ago.  Their commitment to servicing parents with Special Needs children is impressive!

Here is a press release published by the IAPA (International Au Pair Association) Organization regarding the recent awards this California based au pair agency has received:

IAPA member PROaupair, a boutique au pair agency specialising in live-in professional childcare, is pleased to announce it has received Gold Awards for “Best Nanny Agency” and “Best Special Needs Resource” in both San Francisco and the East Bay, as part of Bay Area Parent Magazine’s 2015 “Best of the Best” readers selection contest.

“It is such an honor and privilege for PROaupair to receive four gold awards in childcare from Bay Area Parent magazine this year,” said Susan Asay, founder and CEO of PROaupair. “These awards are a testament to our loyal host families, most of whom have children with special needs, and the high level of confidence they have in our au pairs and our programme.”

PROaupair has been placing professional au pairs with American host families throughout the Bay Area and the United States since 2008 and is the only au pair agency that specializes in both professional au pairs and au pairs for families with special needs.

“Bay Area families value the flexibility and reliability that professional, live-in childcare offers – particularly for infants, multiples and children with special needs,” said Asay. “They also appreciate the value. Unlike nanny agencies that typically charge more than $20 per hour, not including benefits, PROaupair’s services cost about $12 an hour – a huge savings.”

All PROaupair au pair candidates have professional degrees and training in such fields as paediatric nursing, occupational and physical therapy, early childhood education, and special education. Au pairs can work up to 45 hours per week and live with their American host family for up to two years.

About PROaupair
Founded in 2008, PROaupair is a boutique au pair agency designated by the U.S. Department of State and the only au pair agency specialising in live-in professional childcare. PROaupair’s professional au pairs all have degrees and/or significant experience in fields such as paediatric nursing, occupational and physical therapy, and early childhood education. PROaupair places au pairs with families in the U.S. and Australia and maintains offices in the U.S., Australia and Germany.

Source: PRweb

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!  

Enjoy!



Agent Au Pair
1450 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
415-376-0202

www.agentaupair.com

Celebrating 10 Years of Service!

Program Fees

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)
Discounts: none

Phone Service:  PoorFair 

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 PlanNone 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!


Au Pair Agency Snapshot 2015--Agent Au Pair


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!

5.  Smoking

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.

5.  Counselors

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..."


Click Here to Go Back to the Au Pair Agency Reviews Page
 

New 2015 Reviews and Reports Now Available

We finally finished ALL of our 2015 Au Pair Agency Reviews & Ratings!

If you are a parent looking for affordable childcare and are thinking about hosting an au pair - you have come to the right website!

We have host family Reviews and Ratings on All the 15 Agencies!

We also have host parents rate how well agencies deliver when it comes to these important factors when hosing and matching with an au pair for your family:

The only way to get these reviews and reports is to become a member - once you join and pay a nominal fee of less than two dollars a week!  

We are very happy to release this important consumer information for host parents!  Your children are worth it!  

Au Pairs Need More - Washington Post Examines the State of the Au Pair Program

Au pairs provide cheap childcare. Maybe illegally cheap.

A class action lawsuit alleges that au pair agencies failed to obey state minimum wage laws, keeping their pay at $4.35 an hour.

I recently spoke to Lydia DePillis, a reporter for the Washington Post on the state of the au pair program in this country today. Ms. DePillis wrote an article that explores a class action lawsuit that alleges au pair agencies are breaking the law by not providing state minimum wages to au pairs.  

My quotes are below, but please read the entire article "Au Pairs Provide Cheap Childcare.  Maybe Illegally Cheap."

Over the years, the au pair program has been sharply criticized by think tanks and academics — even by some previous defenders, such as Edina Stone, who used to work for a sponsor agency and now runs a site for parents called Au Pair Clearinghouse. Concerned about reports of au pair abuse by host family members, she also started an advocacy group for au pairs, who she says sometimes have nowhere to turn if something happens. Every year, she says she calls the sponsor agencies to ask them to endorse the effort, and almost none have do
 
“It makes you a little suspicious of the agencies, in terms of how they feel about it,” Stone says. Instead of protecting au pairs, she says the sponsors try to sweep problems under the rug. "They pretend to be sympathetic. But then they send you home, because they know it’s very difficult for an au pair to initiate a legal action in their own country.”
 

Please check out our au pair advocacy efforts Prevent Exploitation of Au Pairs (P.E.A.P). If you have any issues as an au pair, please post your issues on our P.E.A.P Facebook page or contact me at edinastone@aupairclearinghouse.com.

New Host Parent Satisfaction Surveys for 2015!

 2015 Host Family Satisfaction Survey

Please Rate Your Au Pair Agency and Share with other Host Parents Your Experience with Your Au Pair Agency!

Mom With Laptop

We just released our NEW 2015-2016 Host Family Surveys!  Please take our survey and let us know how your au pair agency is doing! 

Many parents are new to the cultural exchange program and the idea of hosting an au pair can be daunting!  Where to start, how to start? 

Experienced host parents like yourself can help new parents by rating your experience and sharing your insights nationwide! 

No emails are collected and a third party (Survey Monkey) tallies all group results.  

Our survey is short and only takes a few minutes.  Let us know how your agency is doing and what they can do to improve services.

By completing our survey, you make your
voice heard and your opinion count.

Thank you in advance for your input - we greatly appreciate it!

 Good luck and thank you again. 


Au Pair Care - 2015-2016

INFANT SPECIALIZED PROGRAM SURVEY 

If you were, or are presently, an Au Pair Care host family with their Infant Specialized Program, please take our new questionnaire. Boy With Heart

Your valuable feedback will ensure that all new parents have the information they need when they are making childcare choices for their family. 

You can help new parents chose a program wisely for their infants. 

Thank you!  We promise, it is very short! 

Rate Au Pair Care's Infant Program Now!


 

Au Pair Assaults Young Boy

Sherborn, MA:   Police arrested Mareike Arbeiter, 23, on Wednesday at the Page Farm Road home where she lived and cared for two young children, including the 3-year-old boy she is accused of assaulting, prosecutor Emily Jackson said Thursday during Arbeiter's Natick District Court arraignment. The German au pair was recently hired by the family through Au Pair in America, one of the nation's largest au pair agencies.  The parents were suspiscoius of the au pair, because their young boys were not behaving normally - the father installed nanny cameras throughout the home, and soon after, he discovered the au pair shoving his son down to the ground.  Here is more about the incident from a news story that was just released today (December 13, 2014):

By Normal Miller, staff writer Dover-Sherborn Press

A nanny cam set up to watch a German au pair's behavior with her Sherborn charges caught her violently shoving a toddler to the ground on Tuesday, authorities said in court Thursday. Sherborn Police arrested Mareike Arbeiter, 23, on Wednesday at the Page Farm Road home where she lived and cared for two young children, including the 3-year-old boy she is accused of assaulting, prosecutor Emily Jackson said Thursday during Arbeiter's Natick District Court arraignment. The court is housed in Framingham District Court. "When the police spoke to her about physically assaulting my son, she was very cold," the child's father told Judge David Cunis when the father was seeking a restraining order on the family's behalf. "She told them, 'He was driving me crazy.' She had no regret." The father told Cunis that he and his wife hired Arbeiter through a service to care for their two children. The father said he noticed both children had been "acting up" lately, and he said he had a "gut feeling" that Arbeiter may have been the cause. So, the man said, he set up several hidden cameras in the house earlier this week to monitor her. On Wednesday, when reviewing the video, he caught an assault that occurred on Tuesday.  "She grabbed him by the shoulder and shoved him hard enough that his head snapped back and he fell to the ground," the father said. "She left the room, and then came back, and instead of walking around him, she stepped over him. He was face down, crying." 

Though there were no visible injuries on the child, the father said his wife was bringing the boy to the doctors as a precaution.  Cunis granted the restraining order, banning Arbeiter from having any contact with the family.  Police charged Arbeiter with domestic assault and battery.  Arbeiter was employed through Au Pair in America.

Au Pair Clearinghouse has been following this agency and writing about their problematic screening methods. 

In 2011, we reported a very similar story when another au pair from Au Pair in America was found striking and kicking a small boy.  The father, also following a gut feeling about the au pair, installed a nanny cam.  He called the police after he viewed disturbing videos of his au pair assaulting his son.  The father, Joseph Marziana, took the video to the Lake County Sheriff's Department.  Detectives reviewed evidence and brought abuse and endangering charges against Govender in connection with two incidents.  The police had a very strong reaction when they watched the alleged incident:  Captain Lonnie Sparkman said, "When we reviewed the video we saw actions so egregious and so clearly criminal ... There was a physical attack of the child striking the child, kicking the child. ... It's upsetting."  The au pair, Govender, fled the country before she could stand trial and is now considered 'at large."   You can read the full story here.

What can we learn about these two stories above?  Parents need to be very diligent when researching childcare options - several years ago, and before we started our current au pair review site, there was not many opportunities or sources to read about au pair agencies.  TODAY, THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS KIND OF SITUATION TO HAPPEN!  Any parent who reads our reviews on the 15 au pair agencies, including Au Pair in America, will have all the necessary information at their fingertips to avoid making a poor match, or in this case, a very troubling and dangerous match.  Thank goodness the parents followed their inner voice and did the due diligence via nanny cam to identify the au pair's abusive behavior.  

Even without a paid membership, our news article on the 2011 au pair assaulting a child news story is free - anyone who comes to our site will be able to read any news on assault cases involving children without making any kind of payment!

Here are a few articles that are worth reading and we suggest any new parent to read them before signing a contract with an au pair agency:

Au Pair Reviews - Rate Your Agency for 2014!

 2014 Host Family Satisfaction Survey

Please Rate Your Au Pair Agency and Share with other Host Parents Your Experience with Your Au Pair Agency!

Mom With Laptop

Many parents are new to the cultural exchange program and the idea of hosting an au pair can be daunting!  Where to start, how to start? 

Experienced host parents like yourself can help new parents by rating your experience and sharing your insights nationwide! 

No emails are collected and a third party (Survey Monkey) tallies all group results.  

Our survey is short and only takes a few minutes.  Let us know how your agency is doing and what they can do to improve services.

By completing our survey, you make your
voice heard and your opinion count.

Thank you in advance for your input - we greatly appreciate it!

 Good luck and thank you again. 

Best Au Pair Agencies for 2014


Top-Rated Au Pair Agencies
Our 2014 Blue Ribbon Winners for Overall Excellence!

Blue Ribbon

Au pairs are highly affordable and are one of the most popular childcare choices for busy American families.

While most of the 15 U.S.A. au pair agencies receive mixed customer satisfaction ratings from host parents, there are 3 agencies that receive positive evaluations that are above average and deserve our recognition in our yearly Top 3 Au Pair Agency List for 2014!

  • View Our Blue Winner Ribbon Winners - You May Be Surprised! 

Read Our Top Au Pair Agencies List for 2014 NOW!


Host Parent's Comments from our 2014 Host Family Survey:

NUMBER 1 Winning Agency Host Parent Comments:

  • "Even though this is a small agency, they were always available to answer any of my questions and they did so in a super friendly and professional way - I would recommend them to any parent who lives in California." 
  • "It was really quick to match with our au pair.  Very impressive response!"
  • "Very personalized service."
  • "They are small but helpful, we could always talk to someone when we needed to."
  • "We have a great au pair who is wonderful in every regard."
  • "They helped us with a very homesick au pair and how to handle this."

Second Place Agency Comments:

  • "You can view au pairs without paying a fee, and I don't feel they are trying to nickel and dime you."
  • "We had 2 great au pairs from this agency and we found the office staff friendly and professional."
  • "Placement coordinator was helpful in expediting our pre-match candidate we had chosen from Au Pair World."
  • "Our local counselor was great and she really helped us match and to find a great driver."

Third Place Agency Comments: 

  • "I have had au pairs from this agency before, and I think the girls are good people and care about children."
  • "Too many changes in Area Directors, had 3 in 2 months time..."
  • "Our au pair did not drive and her English was not up to our expectations - we were disappointed but we kept her and worked things out."
  • "New VP at this agency and I see the changes when I tried to match this spring - changes are not necessarily good for host parents!"

Programs That Did Not Make Our Top Au Pair Agency List (Host Parent Comments): 

  • "The counselor give us hard time to rematch even though the au pair turned out to be party girl, chasing boys and "hot dad" around town with our kids in tow!!!"
  • "Counselor was ineffective at balancing our au pair's local American boyfriend infatuation versus au pair's childcare responsibility and following house rules.  She was also suggesting that we incorporate her boyfriend into our home life."
  • "Agency was terrible - the au pair moved out in the middle of the night with 7 weeks on her contract.  Initially, agency was helpfully, but local coordinator failed to follow up."
  • "I was unable to match, despite paying an application fee, because there were too little candidates to view - the ones I did contact never emailed me back."
  • "In my opinion, this was a horrible, scarring experience for my family.  Run away from this agency!"
  • "Stay away from this agency.  They hire party girls who drive your kids while drunk and then sweep it all under the rug when the host family can't take the party girl anymore.  They are going to get someone's child killed, soon."
  • "It should be a rule, every au pair candidate should have a video that is at least 2 minutes long. Stay away from this agency - they just copy the same information on every candidates applications - and I mean word for word."

READ OUR EXCLUSIVE 2014 REVIEWS OF ALL 15 AU PAIR AGENCIES NOW! 

Do Your Homework Before You Choose an Au Pair!

Getting Started With Au Pairs - An Educated Parent Makes the Best Childcare Consumer

Working parents are responsible for choosing the best childcare for their children.  Today, with 2 paycheck families, we cannot get by with the help of family and friends - parents need reliable, cost-effective and convenient childcare.  Most of us today need full-time childcare

boy hands upAs a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that your child is safe and happy in a childcare environment that is both safe and nurturing. 

Not all childcare options are the same - there are safety issues, regulations to consider and, of course, cost

When you compare the 3 most popular childcare choices, au pair care is the most affordable option.

However, not all au pair agencies are the same.  We make your search for the best au pair agency easy - let us do the work for you!  Do your homework before you sign on the dotted line!

 

Three Most Popular Childcare Choices Available Today:

Day Care Centers

 
Pros:  USA Today reported (2010) that over 19% of children are enrolled in center-based childcare centers.  Fees are calculated per child and most daycare centers are usually reasonable for the average family's budget, but only if you do not have more than 2 children.  Parents like the idea that their child will be supervised and cared for by multiple caregivers and the hours of operation cover the traditional, 8-9 hour work schedule. 
 
Cons:  Screening of daycare workers varies greatly from one state to another.  Most daycare centers are not required to administer a psychometric test that has to be implemented in all legal au pair agencies.  Psychometric tests can flag poor judgment, propensity for drug and alcohol addictions, immaturity and more. 
 
Costs may be high depending on your area and if you have multiple children (daycare charges per child), daycare can be very expensive!  The average cost is about $200 per week, per child or $800 a month. You have to deliver and pick up your children and if you are late at pick-up, you may be charged extra. 
 
For parents who do work over the traditional 8 hour a day job, daycare can be very expensive and inconvenient.  In addition, if you child is sick, you cannot drop them off and then you stay home with your child.  If you need coverage on weekends, you will spend extra $$$ for a babysitter. 
 
Costs for Daycare:  Daycare charges per child. The average cost can run from $675 - $800 per month, per child. 
 

Nannies

 
Pros:  The great thing about a nanny is the "in-home" care they provide.  Most parents like the idea their child is at home and they don't have to drive to daycare twice a day.  In addition, with a nanny at home, if the child is sick, no problem! 
 
Parents also enjoy the flexibility a nanny brings to their family - not only will a nanny care for your child, they can cook, clean and do the child's laundry!  A real bonus for busy parents!  Nannies tend to be older, more mature and have more experience caring for children compared to many daycare workers and au pairs.   
 
Cons:  Unless you hire an nanny through a reputable agency, their experience can vary greatly - and they may not be licensed as a "professional" nanny.  Today, in our hard economic times, parents are more willing to hire anyone with some experience who call themselves "nannies."  If you do hire through an accredited and licensed daycare center, you will pay top dollar!  Nannies also charge per child.  The high cost of nannies continue to be prohibitive to most working families.
 
Many nannies today do not live-in. If you nanny does not live in, you also lose the flexibility of coverage at the end of the work day and on weekends.  In addition, most nannies will charge you more if they work "overtime."  In addition, most nannies will not work more than 9 hours a day.
 
Costs for a Nanny:  Average costs can range between $300 - $700 a week or $1200 - $2800 a month.
 

Au Pairs

 
Pros:  Au pairs provide up to 45 hours of childcare a week, and up to 10 hours a day. Having a live-in caregiver, who provides individualized care for their children, is a great feature for working parents!  Au pairs are available nights, weekends and Piggyback are energetic and loving caregivers who get to know your children and you entire family while providing a cultural experience for all to enjoy.  
 
In addition, you pay the same amount no matter how many children you have! Your children have the advantage of experiencing another culture and possibly learning another language.  Many upscale American parents hire Chinese au pairs in order to introduce Mandarin to their young children.  USA Today's statistics show more than 23,000 American children are learning Chinese (2010). 
 
Au pairs are young, eager and are willing to do things with your child that an older nanny might frown upon and daycare cannot provide:  day trips to museums and library events, zoos, hiking, parks and daily walks in the neighborhood. 
 
Cons:  Looking for the right agency can be confusing - all their websites and literature pretty much say the same thing. Only recently can parents read reviews and ratings of the 12 legal agencies that operate in this country. Parents also need to make sure they understand the cultural exchange program and the needs of the au pair.  She wants to attend college and make friends and do some traveling in her year abroad.  She is often young and inexperienced - you as the parent are ultimately responsible for assessing her driving abilities,  language skills and childcare experience! 
 
Are you ready for a young person to join your home as an "equal" or as an family member?  Are you ready to supervise an 18, 19 or 20 year-old? There are hard questions you must ask yourself before you hire an au pair.
 
Costs for an Au Pair:  Au pair agencies charge program fees, in addition to the yearly stipend you pay the au pair (total: $10, 179.00).  Agency fees start at $5,600 and cap at $9000.  You have to do your homework online to compare the best prices. 
 
On average, an au pair will cost between $300 - $370 a week. An au pair starts at $300 per week, and that is based on one family, not per child.
 

Do Your Homework Before You Choose Childcare

What ever kind of childcare you choose, you are ultimately responsible for checking references, childcare experience and interviewing each daycare center, au pair or nanny before you sign on the dotted line.  Doing your homework, gathering as much information as you can on each option is easier than ever today with the Internet. 
 
What can be difficult is parents have too many choices!  So many daycare centers, nannies and au pair agencies!  It is easy to become overwhelmed with so many choices - take the time to do your research and then imagine each option.  What feels right?  What makes the most sense, financially for your family?  What best fits your schedule?
 
If you do choose to join the cultural exchange program and welcome an au pair into your home, make sure you carefully compare and examine each of the 12 au pair agencies and their different fees; unique features and specialized programs!  No two au pair agencies are alike!

  • Would you like to know which agency is rated the BEST by host parents? 
  • Which agencies have been sued for child abuse?  
  • Do you want to know what unique programs each agency offers?  
  • Looking for a great driver?  
  • Do you need an au pair that speaks good English?  
  • If you have an infant, make sure you choose the best infant program available today.   

If you answered yes to any of these questions, read this important host family tip before you host an au pair!


Au Pairs & Nanny Cams

We have all heard stories of childcare workers abusing young children they were hired to care for.  Perhaps you have given some thought to this and considered a "nanny cam" yourself.  Working parents worry about their children and particularly their babies, who cannot tell them they are mistreated by their au pair.  After all, your new au pair is a stranger, from a foreign country, young and perhaps inexperienced!

Do you have the right to install a nanny cam and record her during the day?  What are your rights, as parents?  What privacy rights does your au pair have not to be recorded without her knowledge and approval?

It is legal, in all fifty states, to use a hidden camera in your home

However, it is illegal to record someone's conversation via the camera without their consent in the following fifteen states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

If the prospect of video taping your au pair conflicts with your sense of ethics, be upfront and during the interview, ask her if she would mind being monitored while taking care of your infant.  You can tell your au pair that you would like to be able to see your baby while you are at work, and discuss the camera as a way to connect with your child during the day.  This explanation presents the nanny cam as a positive experience for the family, rather than a looming doubt on your part about her ability to care for your children.  In addition, most au pairs would bristle at the thought of being taped without their knowledge!   It is a matter of trust vs a feeling of deception. 

Caregiver surveillance is more common nowadays and is an integral part of any good daycare.  Some daycare centers now provide parents with the ability to check in and watch their child from their office - so it is not much of a stretch to consider installing a nanny cam in your own home.  The public in general is becoming more comfortable with camera surveillance and we know we might be on video shopping, going to the bank, entering apartment and office buildings, etc.  So, why not use nanny cams to protect children?

If you are considering installing such a device (and have the okay from your au pair), make sure you are not violating her rights by placing the camera in inappropriate areas of your home (her room, the bathrooms, etc.) where she does expect privacy. 

Nanny cams are usually placed in rooms where the baby spends most of her day: kitchen, her bedroom, the family room. 

There are many types of nanny cams available on the market and most are small and wireless so they can be tucked away without being noticed.  Just place the camera in a discreet location within the recommended transmission signal range.  Plug the receiver into your computer and it will lock onto the camera’s transmission signal. Video is then recorded onto the hard drive of your computer.  You can also set it up with software programs that enable you to watch the video live on the internet while you’re at work. 

After a while, the au pair will not even think about the camera and just get on with her busy day taking care of baby and you get the peace of mind that you can monitor your child's safety as well as checking in to see what your little one is up to, right from the comforts of your office! 

  • Au Pair in America has a German au pair who was allegedly caught on a nanny camera assaulting a young child.  She is being held on bail pending a trial.  Read this 2015 news story and the importance of au pair screening.  
  • We reported the host father who caught his au pair kicking his 3 year old on his nanny cam.  Having proof of abuse on video is an important piece of evidence if your au pair is arrested or charged in an abuse case - 2014

Caution - there are 15 states where you can be prosecuted for using voice video in a criminal case so check your state laws regarding nanny cam usage.

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by Dr. Radut