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Au Pairs & Boyfriends

Mistake #4:  Matching with an Au Pair that has a Serious Boyfriend!


Couple Walking

Many au pairs sign up for the program even though are in a committed relationship with a boyfriend. They both think they can be apart for 12 months, but eventually, the couple starts to miss each other. They may spend a lot of time and money calling and emailing each other multiple times a day.  The boyfriend may start to tell your au pair she made a mistake – and if he “wins” the day, you lose big time because your au pair very will break the match and return home to him! 

If she doesn’t go home, and tries to stick out the long 12 months, she may end up miserable and unhappy. In that case, your lovesick au pair’s concentration may be impaired. When this happens, your children may be placed at considerable risk. Either way, you will lose money, time and peace of mind if you match with a girl who has a serious boyfriend waiting for her back home.  Ask her nicely during the interview “Do you have a boyfriend?”  If she says yes, our advice is to pass on her, even if she seems terrific. We have seen many good matches break over the “boyfriend” issue. 

Tip: Agents and au pairs are becoming aware that experienced host families do not match with girls who are involved with a boyfriend at home.   The au pairs are advised to deny they have a boyfriend if the host parents inquiry, but there is a way around this.  It sounds a little sneaky, but it works.  If after the au pair says “no” to the question “Do you have a boyfriend” drop it and come back to it again, unexpectedly.  Later, in the conversation, ask, “What does your boyfriend think about that?”  Usually, caught off guard and if the girl is honest and not used to fabricating stories, she will answer in the affirmative “Well, my boyfriend thinks …

This tip is from our popular articles, 10 Mistakes to Avoid when Matching with an Au Pair

New Au Pair Agency Opens!

Good and exciting news for our readers!  We have a new au pair agency in the country - Great Au Pair USA.  I know Jamie and Shannon, the married couple that owns Great Au Pair (the matching service platform they opened in 2011) and now they opened an agency comparable to the other 13 USA au pair agencies.  We wrote up a review for them, with only the basics, since we have no host family surveys completed since they are so new (opened in 2013).  

They are very friendly, have a great website, that is fast, professionally done and full of information host parents need and want.  When you call them, they are very helpful, warm and there is no sales pitch whatsoever!  

If you live in Texas, you might want to give them a call (they do service other states, but they are just starting out with one or two families at a time).

We would like to share Great Au Pair USA's current write up for our readers!  If you do consider them, expect good old Texan hospitality and great customer service!

Great Au Pair USA

Will Your Au Pair Be Screened for Psychological Problems?

We received an email from Germaine, a host mom from NJ.  She said: "How can I tell my au pair is not suffering from a mental disorder, like depression?  How can I know she or he will not abuse my child?"

I can understand Germaine's parents worry "Will my au pair be of sound mind?" "Does she have mental health issues, like depression, anxiety or an eating disorder?"  "Will they be pedophiles (sexual abusers)?"

Parents should know how effective screening tests are in pinpointing mental health problems.

First, let's take a look at the issue of psychological screening. If the agency has been designated by the Department of State, then yes, the agency is required to do both a criminal background check and a psychological screening.

The tests the agencies use vary - there is no one test required by the Department of State. All the tests vary along types (some are personality tests, some are cultural adaptability inventories). There are no statistics available to the consumer regarding the results of the psychological scores, for example, how many au pairs pass; how many fail; how many are accepted if they have marginal results and what are the criteria by which the agency accepts or rejects an au pair using these methods.

BrainTherein lies the problem - where is the reliability of a U.S. government sanctioned test that has passed muster?

Secondly, not all tests can rule out all mental health issues. Only a few psychological profiles flag a potential child abuser and there is no indication that the tests used by the au pair agencies include this feature.  In the case of the infamous Swiss au pair, who took at least one pornographic photo of the child touching her genitals and posted it on a website in Sweden, did the test she apparently "passed" screen for Pedophilia?

Who is looking at these tests? Who reads the results and consults with the agencies regarding potential red flags? What are the person's qualifications interpreting test results?

Pedophilia is defined as a psychological disorder in which an adult has a sexual desire only for children. Main features of this disorder are recurrent sexual urges and fantasies about children that leads to child sexual abuse, including child pornography. Most pedophiles take excessive photographs of children and they can be of a sexual nature, or show nudity.

We typically think of males as pedophiles but research indicates that female pedophiles preying on children in their care is much higher than previously thought. Over 6% of pedophiles are women (Natalie O'Brien, NEWS.com.au, & The Australian, March 7, 2006). The study also indicated that female predators were less likely to be charged and prosecuted for crimes against children compared to male predators (so, this 6% might in fact be much higher).

The study noted that female pedophiles typically abuse girls, at twice the rate they abused boys. Yet, male childcare workers and male au pairs face much more discrimination and scrutiny compared to their female counterparts. Au pair agencies and childcare workers clearly should be screening both sexes for potential child abuse!

The good news is that the majority of au pairs coming into the government regulated agencies are not child abusers and the incidence of reported cases is extremely low.

We will continue to follow this disturbing and timely topic and report related incidents in the news as they unfold. Please send us your comments and thoughts regarding psychological screening of au pairs.

Read our article on the Warning Signs of a Pedophile.

Take Charge of Your Au Pair Screening and Matching Decisions NOW!

Unsure about the prospective au pair you are considering for your children?  Wish you had a way to find out more about her? We can help!

Until all au pair agencies begin to use a universal au pair psychological test that has been proven to be effective in the appropriate screening of au pairs, we encourage all of our readers to educate themselves regarding which agency uses a test proven to test the childcare abilities of prospective au pairs. 

  • Know More, Choose Better!  Start by reading our exclusive interview with Dr. Flowers, who developed one of the better psychometric tests on the market for screening au pairs.
  • Read our list of au pair agencies and the psychometric tests they DO USE!  We identify, describe and comment on the different tests used today by the private au pair agencies:  Psychological Screening Tests 101 

Most Popular Au Pairs

Most Popular Au Pairs

Who are the most popular au pairs families clamor for today?  Why are they in such high demand? 

Generally, the most sought after au pairs from our Top 7 Most Popular Nationalities have what American families expect and demand for their childcare needs:

Driving – if you need a good, safe driver, you need to know who these au pairs are.

English Skills – most host families demand an au pair who they can communicate with easily and for those who have young children, good English skills are a must!  Young children easily become frustrated with their au pairs who cannot understand them and when they must repeat their questions, etc.

Culturally Adaptable – the au pair industry has identified nationalities that adapt more quickly and easily into American culture.  Au pairs who adapt easily into American family life and culture experience less anxiety, less depression and suffer less homesickness. 

Cultural Shock can often disrupt your au pair’s general well-being and negatively affect your entire family. If you want an au pair who can hit the ground running, check our list of "Most Popular Au Pairs".   

Positive Personality Styles:  Which countries produce au pairs with warm, sunny personalities?  Which cultures are known for au pairs with energy and loving ways with children? 

We identify those au pairs who are family-oriented and fit right into large American families.  Here are just a few highlights from Most Popular Au Pairs:

  • Dutch au pairs generally speak a third language, either French or German.
  • Japanese au pairs are catching on in America and -won the coveted Au Pair of the Year Award in 2010, the first time an Asian received this honor.  Find out more why Japanese au pairs are great with young children. 
  • There is a dramatic increase in the recruitment of au pairs from South America - why? 
  • Which nationality did the Senior VP of Cultural Care, Natalie Jordan, describe as their most popular and asked for au pair?

Don't Hire An Au Pair Before You Read Most Popular Au Pairs.

Early Childhood Development and Au Pairs

Do Au Pairs Enrich Early Childhood Development?

By Summer Blackhurst

Hosting an au pair to leverage learning in early childhood may prove beneficial in school and later in your child’s profession.  One overwhelming theme from my conversations with host families is that parents host foreign au pairs (instead of daycare or nannies) in order to teach their children about cultural diversity and to expose them to a second language. 

Well-known child psychologist Jean Piaget’s work showed social interaction and environmental experience lends to the child’s ability to learn. Piaget’s concept, cognitive disequilibrium, categorized five stages of learning children move that ultimately contribute to their learning and development.  The stages are: new situations, disequilibrium, accommodation, assimilation and equilibration.  Hosting an au pair from a different culture introduces experiential learning that challenges a child’s way of thinking and promotes growth.

Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s work seems to support Piaget’s findings. Vygotsky said children develop based on their surrounding culture and social agents. He notes learning always precedes development and believes children move on to the next development step once they are exposed to new information. He agrees that social interactions, like interactions with someone from a different culture, can speed up a child’s development.

This learning process is stimulated even more for host families asking their au pairs to expose their children to two languages everyday. A report given by the director of the district's Bilingual Education and World Languages Department, Dr. Joanne H. Urrutia, stated “…bilingual children scored significantly higher than their monolingual peers in verbal and math-standardized tests.” One explanation for scoring higher on the tests can be that cultural differences encourage language development.

Finally, while not a lot of research has actually been done on the impact a foreign au pair might have on a young child, plenty of research has been done with college students who participate in cultural exchange. A study published in the Journal of International Students* shows college students who interact frequently with cultural exchange students perform at higher levels than their peers and go on to be more successful in their career endeavors.

Host Parents may be on to something when they say they bring in their au pair for more reasons than just childcare. They may be getting a lot more for their child than just babysitting – their Au Pair may actually enrich the learning processes in early childhood development years. Ultimately, hosting an au pair may lead to your child’s academic success and in their future careers.


*Lou, J. & Jamieson-Drake, D. (2013). Examining the Educational Benefits of Interacting with International Students. Journal of International Students, ISSN: 2162-3104 Print/ ISSN: 2166-3750 Online Volume 3, Issue 2  (2013), 85-101, Copyright 2013-2014 JIS http://jistudents.org/

Summer Blackhurst Bio

Go Au Pair Host Parent Comments - 2014

Read some sample comments from Go Au Pair's Host Parents from our 2014 Host Family Satisfaction Survey!

Most of the host families are very positive - and reflect their hard work improving customer service and recruiting the best au pairs that they can. 

Au Pair Agency Reviews & Ratings 2014

We have all the newest and most up to date reviews and ratings on all 15 au pair agencies in the nation. 

What are some agency highlights for 2014?

  • There are more negative comments across the board for all the agencies, except one - find out which agency ranks the best for Overall Customer Service and which agencies receive extremely poor ratings for Driving, Childcare Experience, Matching Services and poor Quality au pairs.    Read all of our 2014 Au Pair Agency Reviews & Ratings now!

Top 3 Blue Au Pair Agency Winners 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 fee 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."

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!!!"(East Coast Agency)
  • "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." (West Coast Agency)
  • "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." (East Coast Agency)
  • "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!"  (Smaller agency in California)
  • "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." (Midsize agency on East Coast)
  • "Our 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" (East Coast)
  • "Our disaster au pair from Brazil was too immature to take on our household. Our LCC was helpful and did email me and call me numerous times before we finally decided a rematch was in order."  (Large Agency on East Coast)
  • "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." (California Agency)
  • "This agency lied about the Au Pair that I had which went into transition. The Au Pair was mean to my daughter & a licensed counselor recommended that the Au Pair returned home. Instead, our agency placed her with another family. The replacement Au Pair stole my credit card & left my daughter unattended while she stayed in the bathroom yelling at her boyfriend. I'm contemplating suing this agency for a FULL refund; instead of a partial refund! Horrible Agency!" (West Coast)

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!

Read All Au Pair Agency Reviews & Ratings NOW!


Read All Au Pair Agency Reviews Now

Host Family Tip:  Research each au pair agency before you sign up - know which agencies are the best in the industry and which agencies to avoid.  

Remember, not all agencies are the same!  

We collect Host Family Satisfaction Surveys for 12 months and then tally all the ratings and deliver them to you, the consumer.  Parents need to ensure their au pair will be safe with children.  

Finally, a better way to match with a great au pair!

Included in Our Au Pair Agency Reviews:

  • Major Agency Strengths - agencies with low fees; good au pair health insurance, quality au pairs, parent recommendations, customer service, local support, etc.
  • Major Agency Weaknesses - most expensive fees, poor screening methods, au pairs who don't drive or speak English, poor customer service, etc.
  • Agencies that have Quality au pairs - which agencies shine and which agencies to avoid!
  • Cost-effective au pair agencies - we outline all costs for each agency
  • Specific Programs -  we identify agencies that have unique programs for special needs children, infants and half-time childcare.
  • Agency Websites -  which sites are user friendly, offer great host parent resources, ease of navigation so you can easily find what you need, easily found program fees, etc.
  • Phone Service -  how agency staff handle calls, which agencies depend on answering machines, emergency coverage, helpfulness, etc.  We call agencies on a regular basis and keep our ratings up to date.  
  • New Trends - we identify new trends in the au pair industry and share them with you - we reported in 2011 that Irish au pairs would be coming to America and they are here now.  They make great au pairs because they speak proficient English and they assimilate well into our culture.
  • New Programs - know all the newest programs that are introduced by each agency.  We reported on the industry's push for child safety led first by Au Pair in America and then followed by Au Pair Care.  
  • Special Needs Families:  We identify which agencies are best for Special Needs families and parents with a new infant, and more....
  • Host Family Ratings - how did host parents like yourself rate each agency? 
  • Customer Service - most of your $$ spent on an au pair goes to the agency for servicing you.  How well do the agencies measure up?  We tell you which agencies to avoid and which agencies get high marks for overall customer service!  

 Not all au pair agencies are the same - know more and choose better! 

An Educated Parent Makes the Best Childcare Choices

Read All Au Pair Agency Reviews Now



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by Dr. Radut