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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!  


Agent Au Pair
1450 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109


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

2015 Reviews and Reports

ALL of our 2015 Au Pair Agency Reviews are now available.&

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.

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:

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. 


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.

Winning Au Pair Agencies!

In the new world of globalization and technological change, the Au Pair Industry is rapidly changing. 

Globe SearchThe Information Age has forever changed our personal and economic lives.  It has changed the environment in which businesses run their companies, and for those companies who have not kept up with the rapid and vast changes the Information Age has incurred, they have met with economic disaster.

Just until recently, companies, like Ford, were falling hopelessly behind.  America's entire car industry was in danger of becoming extinct!  Our new economic age must keep pace with the way customers have changed. 

How au pair agencies retain and expand their customer base, while they invent new products and maintain their bottom line, is the subject of this article.

To understand the power customers have for businesses, it is important to understand what customers demand today in the Information Age.  Today's customer is tech savvy, and because of the power of the internet, they are are well-informed and engaged by cyberspace.  This makes customers very powerful and their wants and demands must be met by businesses, otherwise the companies will quickly fall behind their competitors and eventually, fail. 

So, what do today's powerful, engaged and tech savvy customers want? 

According to Richard W. Oliver, author of "The Shape of Things to Come, " they want just five things:

  • Speed
  • Variety
  • Quality
  • Price
  • Service

If you are a host parent, and you desire the Top Five customer service demands listed above, you may be a keystroke away from finding the au pair agency that will deliver them. 

  • In today's economic climate, au pair agencies are being rated and reviewed for the first time by third parties. 
  • Host parents have the capability to register their complaints, testimonials and demands online. This is a first for the au pair industry! 
  • For au pair companies, the twenty-first century customer's "Top Five" list is a challenging one. 
  • Au pair agencies that cannot deliver these 5 things will lose customers and face failure. 

For years, the au pair companies marketed themselves as "putting the customer first" but few agencies actually followed through 100% of the time.  Host families got used to settling for what the agencies provided, rather than what they needed and wanted.   

Agencies that learn how to deliver speed, quality, variety, excellent service and cost-effective pricing to their customers, will enjoy strong economic growth and success.

Let's take a look at each of the Top Five Things today's customers demand and expect from businesses and apply each one to the au pair industry:


What about "speed?"  According to current economists, the ability of a company to improve their "response time" to customers is critical and the key to success today.  Customers want instant gratification! 

  • How do au pair companies respond to their customers' demand for speed?  How fast can an agency interview and accept a new family?  What is the turn-around time receiving applications?  To enter a match?  How quickly do staff respond to customers' questions, complaints, requests?  Busy, demanding families don't want any "wait time" today! 

When au pair companies first started in 1986, all business was conducted by phone and the USA postal service!  Today, it is not unusual to fill out an application online and start to receive au pair profiles in 24 hours.  Family interviews with their local LCCs and counselors can be scheduled within 24 hours and matches can be had in less than a week of application! 

  • However, for those companies who still lag behind on the internet, with slow and outdated websites, coupled with slow response times, market share will continue to suffer. 


Host parents today are very demanding, but that is a postive thing.  Demanding host parents create program niches that au pair agencies never considered before, and if you can fill these business opportunities, you are on your way to developing a great company.

For example, let's look at one of the leading au pair companies in the United States, and how they stepped-up to fill a much-needed demand for trained infant care workers.  

For decades, host parents tried to match with trained au pairs who could take care of their babies successfully.  Leading au pair agencies only offered au pairs who were "infant qualified," however, all this meant was the au pair had to show she had "200 hours of infant care or experience."  They were not required to have any formal training or educational classes in infant care.

Host parents began to demand more training, education and specific orientation of infant care au pairs.  As a result, an infant care "au pair" niche developed. 

  • Even though this infant care niche was placed in right in front of their noses, au pair agencies ignored the need, despite the continued clamoring of desperate parents who had to leave their babies at home, while more mothers entered the workplace full-time. 

Au Pair Care stepped up and met the challenge by filling that need with their Infant Specialized Program.  Their new program, that is priced well and provides unique infant care training, meets host parents' demand for qualilty and specialized infant care service. 

The Infant Specialized Program is now a highly successful program that fills a once empty business niche created by host parents!  The remaining au pair companies that ignored this niche missed out on a very profitable opportunity and as a result, they now lag behind this innovative agency when it comes to infant care -  an area that continues to grow as more young couples pursue dual careers!


You only have to look at the success of Japanese cars to understand what the term "quality" means today.  With their drive for quality, the Japanese car companies were able to gain global market share of the auto industry, while other auto companies slipped and lost the foothold they had held for decades.   USA companies and other car manufacturers were slow to follow suit, but other industries and businesses jumped on the "quality" bandwagon and put into place "quality assurance teams" that researched how to improve the quality of their products and services. 

As a result, the concept of "quality" has taken on a global dimension and customers now demand high quality of all products and services they pay for.  But, how do economists define "quality" today?  

Richard W. Oliver ("The Shape of Things to Come") states that companies need to find out what their customers define as "quality" and not what the company sees as "quality."  This means listening to your customers, making sure they have access to the company so they can let them know what they "expect" in terms of a product, service or consumer goods. 

  • If au pair agencies strive to meet their customers' expectations of what quality services mean to them, but then begin to exceed these expectations, their high quality services and products will trounce any competitor!  

Today's business mantra "Give it to them their way, or don't bother" replaces the old mantra "The customer is always right."  If you cannot meet your customers' needs, the way they want it, they will find another agency that will! 

For years, a leading au pair agency refused to release au pair profiles to new host families until the family interview was done by their local counselor.  It made good sense, since the company wanted to ensure that families were in good standing and would take good care of their au pairs.  The interview had to wait until the counselor scheduled the meeting, which could take between 24 hours to 2 weeks or even longer!  Then, as other companies began to immediately send new host families au pair profiles before the interview date, all new customers expected the same service at this agency.

Customers saw the company's refusal to show them profiles while they waited as poor quality service and lack of "response speed" and  many of them switched to other agencies. 

  • This leading au pair agency lost market share - they refused to listen to their customers and improve the quality of the application process until it was too late - several agencies had already changed their application process and many new customers were lost to these more adept companies that listened and learned from customers about what they demanded and expected. 

Read about this agency now


As twenty-first century customers, we demand the best price in almost every product or service we buy.  A well-known corporate name is no longer a guarantee of quality and brand loyalty among customers is fleeting.  If companies focus on value with quality, they win!  

  • A high-quality, low-price au pair agency, like Expert Au Pair, enables them to take on industry giants.  Not only do they provide competitive pricing (they have the lowest fees in the USA and the best health insurance for their au pairs), they also provide good customer service and high quality programs.  They are a smaller agency, but they are one of the better, smaller programs in the industry, due to their high-quality and lower-price strategy.  

Customers demand best cost deals with high quality.  Au pair agencies that continue to increase prices, while at the same stand by and do nothing to improve the quality of their services, will fail miserably.


Customer service is very important to the continued success of any au pair agency.  Service can be broken down into several parts:  accountability or response to complaints/problems, anticipation of potential problems and the "preemptive" solutions to potential problems.  How can an agency collect this kind of information before potential problems ensue?  Interviews, surveys, service questionnaires, etc. are the traditional methods of collecting these data. 

However, sophisticated companies are using advanced information and focused employee training to capture  customers' anticipated or potential problems!   If companies collect information on who their customers are (and their unique needs) and then train their staff to meet these needs, potential problems are lessened and service dramatically improves.

For example, Home Depot knows their customers, through detailed interviews and online research, they know their customer is a home owner who wants to try his hand at "fix-it" jobs around the home.  Customers want staff to help them with questions they have about how to do this and what is the best product to get the job done.  Staff are trained to be experts in their respective departments: paint, lumber, electricity, gardening, etc.  If they don't know the answer to your question, they radio someone who does.  They will also walk you to the aisle where they will show you either a range of appropriate products or the one that should do the job.  Staff are trained to be competent, friendly and helpful, far exceeding customer expectations! 

  • One of the primary objectives of this kind of "preemptive" customer service is to retain customersWhen au pair agencies spend too much time and money on attracting new customers, they overlook the obvious: customer retention is the key to long-term success! 

One of the top leading agencies took their eye off this business model and basically ignored customers' complaints over a long period of time. You can see the complaints that go back to 2005 on the internet, where customers share their stories of not getting assistance with this agency with both minor and major problems.  The agency forgot the often quoted business lesson:  "It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep a current one." 

What is the lesson to be learned by au pair agencies today in our global business world?  What are the imperatives for winning in the new world of business?  Learn who your customers are, let them direct your programming, listen to them, provide quality programs with cost-effective, lower pricing, increase the speed in responding to customer complaints/requests, improve websites to make them faster, more efficient,  and, most importantly, provide the best customer service possible. 

All five strategies will not only improve an agency's bottom line, it will drastically improve the quality of childcare for American families nationwide.


Read all our reviews of the 14 au pair agencies in the United States

Top 6 Tips to Avoid Dishonest Au Pairs!

Top 6 Tips to Avoid Dishonest Au Pairs and a Potential Crisis!

Big Headed Woman

  • TIP #1.  Make sure you choose a good, reputable au pair agency - there are 14 agencies in the USA and they are not all alike!  Each one recruits and screens their au pairs and counselors differently - and their customer service, once you match with an au pair, can vary greatly  across each agency.

  • TIP #2.  To avoid matching with an au pair who may have mental health issues or addiction problems, ask your agency what kind of psychometric test they use.  Many tests are "pop" personality tests that au pairs can find on the internet and practice taking.

  • TIP #3.   Interview each au pair well, over at least 2-3 phone calls, use Skype if you can (this will allow you to at least see her as she talks to you) and check all references - don't assume anything. 

  • TIP #4.  Be tough - make sure you tell both your agency and prospective au pairs that certain factors are "deal breakers" and that you will fire/return the au pair if you find the au pair lied about: driving, smoking, drinking, partying, speaking English, childcare experience or lack of a responsible and mature personality. For example, do you know how to screen for an au pair who is in a serious relationship with a boyfriend?

  • TIP #5.  Au pairs and agencies will get away with what they can but if they know you being proactive and there will be a consequence down the road, they will often change their way of dealing with you, for the better. If an au pair who is lying to you knows that you will fire her if she is caught smoking or has a car accident because she really isn't an "experienced driver" she will move on to the next unsuspecting host family!

  • TIP #6.  Interview your prospective counselors/LCCs!  If you don't "click" she may not be for you - and you should assess if the "counselor" is a salesperson first or a true mediator.  You don't want a salesperson to help you when you have serious issue with your au pair - she will not know what to do, nor will she want to get involved. Match with an au pair agency that recruits and hires great au pair representatives/counselors!




Find An Au Pair

Au Pairs in America - What You Need to Know about Au Pairs!

If you are reading this, you may be thinking about hosting an au pair to care for your children.  Many parents are not really sure what an au pair is.  Most think an au pair is a young nanny - not so!

Let's explain what an au pair is (and what she is not):  Au Pair is a French phrase that translates, loosely, "as an equal" or "on par."  She is not considered a nanny, she is not even considered an "employee" - an au pair is a young foreign woman, who desires to come abroad for a year, live with an American family, experience a new culture, travel and make American friends. 

Note: young foreign men are also au pairs, but to facilitate ease of writing and reading, when we refer to "she" we mean both sexes.  Male au pairs are usually referred to as "Mannies."
In "exchange" for living with an American family, au pairs understand that they are required to give you up to 45 hours of childcare a week, but no more than 10 hours a day.  You will "host" the au pair by providing a room, food, a car, cell phone and a weekly stipend of approximately $190 a week.
This arrangement is referred to as the Cultural Exchange Program that began in 1986 and is under the supervision and guidance of the United States Department of State. The U.S. government makes clear that au pairs are not employees:
  • When you sign a contract with an agency, you are not "hiring" an au pair,  you are "hosting" her for 12 months.
  • You are not required to pay childcare taxes; her stipend is not "pay" and she is therefore not required to pay taxes.
  • Your au pair's J1Visa will expire in a year. You will have to start your search again for another au pair for the new year. 

Eiffel Tower

The Cultural Exchange Program started with 300 au pairs, most of them coming from 2 or 3 countries (England and Ireland were the two most popular countries in the 80s). 

Since the 1990's, 30,000 au pairs in any single year.  In addition, au pairs are now recruited from over 60 countries!  The majority of au pairs no longer come from England and Ireland - most are arriving from Western Europe, parts of Asia and Eastern Europe.  

The Cultural Exchange Program is a highly innovative and very cost-effective way for busy parents to provide safe and reliable childcare for their young families.  There are 15 U.S.A. au pair agencies operating in America at this time. 
  • The 15 Agencies are also referred to as the "legal" au pair programs because they operate within the government regulations of the Dept. of State and they must adhere to their rules and requirements. 
  • In exchange for joining the Dept. of State list, the au pair agencies agree to provide au pairs with medical insurance; basic training; legal services (if required); local support during the year; crisis intervention and mediation and air fare. 
  • Au pair agencies also agree to provide host parents with well-screened au pairs (including criminal background checks, psychometric testing, medical clearance and references); assistance with finding and matching with an appropriate au pair; local support during the year; crisis intervention and mediation and 24 hour emergency 800 number.
  • There are other ways to hire an au pair, and in order to avoid paying "program fees" parents can search online and find an au pair through non-government regulated programs. If you choose this route, you are basically on your own for the flight, care and management of the au pair. 
  • If something goes wrong with the au pair, or the relationship between you and the au pair turns sour, you are now the responsible party and you must solve the problem(s) than can and do arise when you have a young, often inexperienced, childcare giver living in your home.  When using these kinds of companies, do beware of Internet au pair scams. 

Not all au pair agencies are the same!  

AuPairClearinghouse is the first and only National Consumer Website for Parents that offers practical and much-needed information on all legal agencies - parents need to know which agencies are program leaders; which agencies offers new and innovative programs with the best matching services; find out which agency recruits the best drivers; and what agency websites have all the technology "bells & whistles!" 
AuPairClearinghouse reviews and rates all U.S.A au pair agencies and lets parents choose which agency best fits their childcare needs.  Until now, no parent had access to this kind of program comparison and ratings!  
  • Need to know which au pair agency receives high ratings for overall customer service?  Or best quality au pairs?  Best drivers, au pairs that speak good, clear English?  We give you that information by collecting host parents' reviews and ratings on our yearly Host Family Au Pair Agency Satisfaction Survey!
AuPairClearinghouse compare costs and post daily discounts, alerts you to hikes in program fees; prints all au pair news stories and agency press releases and offers an interactive blog and Family Forum where host parents share their advice, complaints, testimonials and au pair expertise!
Our Mission is to provide the best professional tips and advice on how to navigate the Cultural Exchange Program so you can make the best au pair choice for your children.  
  • We have more ratings and reviews on all au pair agencies than any other website available today.  
  • We are growing to serve you better with a wealth of information on hosting au pairs! 
Our information pages below provide agency information; au pair resources and cultural information on the most popular countries au pairs are recruited from. 

An Educated Parent Makes the Best Childcare Consumer!

Read More About Au Pairs:

Let's Talk Au Pairs - All the Au Pair Articles!

Hosting An Au Pair - How to Get Started!

Do's & Don'ts When Considering Au Pairs

Au Pairs And Not Nannies

Most Popular Childcare Options

Host Family Interview - What to Expect?


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by Dr. Radut