Thursday, March 22, 2007

The High Cost of Au Pair Care

I am doing an article on the hidden costs of Au Pair Care. After my personal experience and reports of dozens of people, I feel the public needs to be alerted to the negative financial impact using an Au Pair agency can have on their bottom line. I will also be discussing the personal dangers a family is exposed to by inviting a stranger into their household.

Though we were personally spared some of the biggest problems, such as an Au Pair leaving 1 year old twins asleep in the home with the door unlocked while she went bike riding, we still have some of our own stories. Other have theirs about the lack of professionalism on the part of executives at some of the agencies.

As a mother, a business woman and a community member, I feel it is imperative that the public be aware of the consequences of the Au Pair Care system. Perhaps by our combined efforts we will be able to get Au Pair agencies to change their policies and be more client friendly and understanding of the financially difficulties families face when agencies put all the burden on them when something goes wrong.

And trust me, things go wrong. Our Au Pair said every one of her 7 Au pair friends had switched households at least once and some of them had illegally left the program and stayed on here illegally while leaving their families in the lurch. This is more common than the agencies will ever let you know. Guess who has the foot the bill for the extra cost of getting a new Au Pair? The family ... not the agency, even if it is was the Au Pair's fault. And the family can lose thousands of dollars, which for some is a hefty sum.

If a family has an Au Pair who illegally leaves the program, does something tragic ,or is just not a good fit, the Parents generally do not get their pre-paid money back from the agency. You see, families pay all 12 months up of the agency fees up front. The agency gets paid the same amount as the Au Pair. I wonder how many Au Pairs really understand this.

Au Pair agencies are staffing companies that take 50% of the Au Pairs first year salary up-front and is usually non-refundable, regardless of the situation works out or not.

Also the parents have to pay a registration fee, education costs for the Au Pair and possibly air fare too. So if the Au Pair leaves or the family decides the Au Pair is not a good fit for their family, they often will not receive their money back. I personally lost $2,000 and my Au Pair lost $1,000 that the agency wouldn't give back because she illegally left the program to travel around the U.S. A good friend of mine lost $3,000 that Au Pair Care refused to give back. What is happening here?

If the Au Pair rings up a $1,000 in long distance charges to their homeland (it happens!). Who pays? Not the agency, the family has to burden that cost. I would recommend turning off your international long distance service if possible and using Skype instead.

By speaking about this online we can require that these agencies (and our government) to REQUIRE better screening of Au Pairs before they become part of the program and enter our country and our homes. And also require better screening of parents by the agencies to make sure their home and their expectations are a good fit for an Au Pair. As well as checking Parents references to ensure the Au Pair is safe.

One Au Pair's references we checked said they would never trust their child in the care of this woman, who was their Au Pair in London, nor should we. And this reference was on the Au Pair's application she sent to us. How in the world did she get into the program then and why didn't the agency check her references? I asked and the agency said they did check her references. Interesting ...

On a positive note ... our Au Pair experience overall was terrific for our son who loved our Au Pair like a sister. We also treated our Au Pair like a daughter (she was only 18 years old when she arrived from Ecuador) and enjoyed having her along on all our family events and sharing our life with her. It was a shame that after 8 1/2 months she decided she didn't want to work anymore and wanted to travel the U.S. with her girl friends, some who were also illegally staying in the U.S.

She left one day with any notice, just a note left behind I found a day later after worrying endlessly where she had gone - just a like a mom would if her 19 her old daughter didn't come home one day. And just like a mother, worrying about the impact of one child leaving on another, I was saddened beyond words when I had to explain to my son that his "sister" had disappeared.

Luckily she did come back in a few months on her way back to Ecuador to say goodbye to our son and to wish us all well in our life. However, I don't think it will ever remove the sting of her unexpected departure with myself or our son.

I invite other parents who hosted au pairs, au pairs, or au pair agencies to comments to this blog. However, please keep it a postive otherwise your post may be removed.

This is a forum to provide solutions in a polite way to parents who are looking for quality au pairs and for au pairs who are looking for quality parents.

Please avoid the "complaining" syndrome and instead offer an opportunity for growth and change for the Au Pair Agencies, for Parents and for Au Pairs. Often problems begin because of a lack of awareness, you can point out potential conflicts and problems without being negative. You must have an open mind to invite change.

Au Pair care offers many advantages for all parties involved. However, it also has many risks. To minimize the risks, one should research as much as possible, check references (whether you are the Au Pair or the Parents) and set your boundaries with the Agencies with the terms you are willing to accept.

163 Comments:

At 18/6/07 , Blogger marilyn said...

I had the same problem with AuPair Care. I am currently waiting for accounting to figure out my account. I will be happy to share my experience with everyone who is willing to listen if you are still willing to do the story.

 
At 19/6/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our experience with Au Pair Care was horrible also. The Director of Au Pair Care at the time we used them had the worst people skills from a professional business organization I had ever been exposed to.

We fired our Au Pair after one month (after she kept coming home at 4am in the morning with our car). The Director essentially believed only the fabricated facts that our Au Pair told her and not the truth of the situations which is what we told her. She was incredibly rude to us and provided no remedy. After speaking with several moms in my community I began to realize the agency always sides with the Au Pair because the parents money is non-refundable so there is no reason to ever suppor them after the initial sale. I would never use them again.

 
At 19/6/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! We used Au Pair Care for our first au pair from Brazil, and everything was OK with that company up until the end, which I will describe below:

Our au pair did OK with her chores and childcare, so we had no real complaints other than her repeated phone use during the day. We finally had to put our foot down on this, and discovered later she was using her cell phone (paid for by us) to get around this restriction.

When we confronted her about it in her 6th month, she demanded a rematch to go to another family. She also wanted a rematch because we would not allow her to have male friends come over, even after we showed her this article about a murdered Au Pair Care placement in Denver: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/5525225/detail.html

Au Pair Care talked her out of it, and in retrospect this was not to our advantage. She agreed to drop her demands for male visitors and agreed not to use the cell phone during work hours. We later found out that she got around this AGAIN by text-messaging.

When my wife was laid off she noticed that our 2-year old son did not like being around her very much, and she had to tell the au pair not to be so abrupt in applying skin medicine for our son who has eczema, as she rushed to do everything and used no 'tender loving care.'

Our au pair told us she wanted to go to a new family for her second year in the program, and wanted to go to another part of the country to 'travel.' We had no problem with this. But then we found out she was trying to make her own deal with a family right down the road from us because they promised her a car of her own and a really easy working schedule. She was planning to violate the terms of her visa and take a vacation to cover the gap in time between going from our family to theirs.

Au Pair Care was not happy about this development, but they didn't seem to try to prevent her from going to that family. (She already knew the family because their au pair had been rejected at the airport for visa violation...long story) We told our au pair that it was not right for her to make her own deals and violate her visa terms to do it, and she requested a rematch to another family for the second time.

This happened in her 11th month...she only had one month to go with us! The fact that she wanted to leave our house the same day proved that she did not care about our children, so we contacted the State department to see about revoking her visa.

Au Pair Care came and took her out of our house, and then a week later we got a letter from a senior manager that they were removing us from the program too! This was likely based on the condescension and rudeness exhibited by of their other client managers who basically took the au pair's side, and I guess partly on our attempt to get her visa revoked and sent back to Brazil. This client manager is quite rude to host families and seems more concerned about placing au pairs with families despite complaints.

To cap this off...we have no au pair at all and have to find a new agency, while our former au pair is likely living with the family that she chose, despite our documented complaints about the fear shown by our son towards her and her lack of compassion in dealing with children. Oh, and we also documented her attempts to make business contacts to find other jobs, including getting involved in a pyramid scheme.

Our former au pair developed a very active social life with 20+ male friends and wanted HER OWN car, and was not satisfied using one that we allowed her to use! Maybe they all develop that sense of entitlement over time, but Au Pair Care clearly didn't take our concerns seriously enough and we have no evidence that they even passed on our evaluation of her to the new family!!

 
At 19/6/07 , Blogger Ms.Money said...

Thanks to those who left their posts and I continue to invite others to relay your Au Pair stories here. Please also share you good Au Pair stories so that we can see both sides of the story.

I am not recommending that parents stop using Au Pair agencies, because I believe there is a lot of value in having at Au Pair in the home. What I recommend is that parents enter into the agreement with the Au Pair agency with open eyes and a savvy business sense.

Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions, such as what happens if an Au Pair leaves suddenly without notice? Or charges $1,000 on my phone bill and disappears? The agency takes a deposit from the Au Pair, to help ensure she stays with the program, why shouldn't the parents keep a deposit from the Au Pair? You can require that from your agency.

If they have a problem with your request be frank and tell them that "XYZ Au Pair Agency" would be happy to for your business and agree to your terms.

You do NOT have to sign their legal agreement, you can write you own language in and say you will agree to host an Au Pair in your home only if the agency refunds your money 100% if the Au Pair does not work out. You can also demand the agency pay you any amounts owed by the Au Pair. If they disagree with your terms, then find an agency that will agree with you or at least meet you half way.

Though we had a bad experience with some of the "directors" at Au Pair Care who were laughably unprofessional, we absolutely adored our regional coordinator Tanya and hope she goes on to thrive in her career as an Au Pair coordinator.

Good luck Parents! And remember you are the customer - let the company know what you want or refuse to do business with them and find companies that are more customer friendly.

 
At 20/6/07 , Blogger marilyn said...

I wrote 2 days ago: Here is my story. The agency is only offering $325 per month for 9.25 months. My family lost over $1000 with the last one. We stand to loose over $5000. What can I do? My LCC is doubtful the agency will help. We have 5 children under 12 (all in school but a body must be present for the 45 minutes until I get home from work).
Here is my story: We have been a host family since 2002. We were drawn to the program because we loved the idea that an au pair would be more than just a child care provider, and it would be like having a family member watching our children. And that is exactly what we got. Our Au Pairs were the greatest. They were more like big sisters to the children and daughters to us. We are still in contact with them and we are grateful that they will always be a part of our Family. Unfortunately, since August 2006, the program has changed. The au pairs we have had since then show no interest in the family. They are only interested in what the host family will do for them and worse shortly after they have secured a social security card they have disappeared.

We have had three au pairs since August 2006, all with the same outcome, they abandoned my family. They left without notice and no regard to the consequence of their action. The one that came in August was awful. I found my son naked wet on the floor, full of urine. She gave us 2 weeks notice, left within 2 days, and then when I refused to pay her until my bills came in, (I sent the money to the LCC to hold) she wrote the agency and accused me of mistreating her. The next one left my children in the school yard waiting for over hour. Her, I asked to stay a second year. The family liked her very much. They were shocked when they came home to an empty house with the door wide open and unlocked. Was there a dead body in there? There was not a note to be found and the children were completely devestated! The 3rd one wanted to stay out all night. She was miserable evertime I came home from work. I asked her to come to the children's spring concert at school and she asked, "why do you want to make me do things that I hate to do?" I asked her why she became an aupair if she did not want to be part of a family. The next day she left. This time with a note. My children were once again left asking for a ride home. That's where the note was. Since August 2006, time and time again, Au Pair Care failed my family, leaving us to scramble to make sure the children were safe, missing days of work and having to quickly find additional child care. We understand that ultimately our children are our responsibility. However, when we joined the Au Pair Program we were lead to believe that Au Pair Care would be providing suitable responsible candidates for us to match with. Recently this has not been the case.

We went back into the program this last time without being advised by anyone of the fact about how much out of pocket money we would lose. Now that this one left my husband and I don't want to have our chilldren in the situation where they may be abandoned again. Nor is it fair have our house be used as a half way house for unscrupulous people to gain entry to this great country and then disappear. If you have any advice to help my family we'd be grateful!

 
At 22/7/07 , Anonymous Jennifer said...

I think the au pair experience for the family depends on how good the regional coordinator is.

We have had 6 au pairs from Au Pair Care since Mar 04. The first au pair gave us one hour's of notice before she departed while I was on a business trip. We never found the reason why she departed, but we never look seriously at anyone from Brazil again. The next one left but gave us time to find a new one.

Our German au pair was wonderful - just what our 7 month old and we needed. We were seriously wanting to adopt her, but she needed to get on with her school. The next one also stayed a year. She had a few quirks, but she stayed a whole year. The next was psycho - she just wanted to abuse our hospitality and lied to us just about anything. Let me say, I won't look at Polish girls the same way. We know the program kicked her out and she's still happily in the country, but that is another story. We replaced her with someone in the country (from Turkey). She doesn't mesh well with the host parents. Apparently, she doesn't think we are worthy of having a conversation with - she used to go a whole weekend saying 10 words to us. She only talks to us if she wants to borrow the car. Her only saving grace is that she appears to treat our daughter well. Well she has a tendency to blow up when she doesn't get her way the first time she discusses a topic. She ran right to the coordinator. The coordinator is new and instantly took the side of the au pair. Luckily, we know her boss and I contacted her. We now have the issue relatively resolved to our favor.
But the big problems I see with the companies - rapid turnover of company coordinators and the fact that they are too lazy to follow through. For example, they didn't verify the polish girl got on a plane - they just wiped their hands of her after kicking her out of the program. They should be able to charge the companies that promoted her for the return airfare.

Now, we have to go by gut instinct of what works for us and try to resolve issues early. The last two have been duds, but she was wanting to stay for two years and was good with our child. She won't be staying with us, but we are willing to give her a recommendation.

 
At 26/7/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI All!! I am an Au pair and I have found Au pair cares assitance to be very lacking. Don't expect them to rush to help you. They get over one hundred Au pairs in every week and they have lost to do. You are out of the way and have already paid. To find a good co ordinator is realy hard aswell. My one Au pair co ordinator was always very abrupt and when I mentioned this to a group of people they all had stories to tell. What does the Au pair do if they have a problem? They are not going to go to someone who can't even greet them properly. You just going to let thing get worse and eventually just phone and say rematch me. I think the Au pair should be able to report on the co ordinators. It only seems fair to everyone.

 
At 29/7/07 , Anonymous Jen said...

I agree with the au pair's comment. The company coordinators should do a better job with the au pairs. We had a string of replacement coordinators - some better than others. If a coordinator is not meeting the needs, go above them - I say. That is how I got a recent issue involved. But that is a lesson learned from being in the military. If you don't know who the coordinator's boss is, I would suggest getting on the au pair company's website and and emailing the main office. Now, if I even have an inkling of an issue, I contact the coordinator with an objective (not emotional) summary of what's going on. I then status the issue - if it was resolved or needs additional work. That gives them the notice that you are someone that cares about the program. It is sad that I know the policy better than they do sometimes (6 au pairs in 3.5 years). As long as the issues are resolved within State guidelines and both the family and the au pair can live with the solution, the company goes along with the solution. It's the easy way out for them.

 
At 7/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone who wants to hire an au pair, do a through research first. There are many social networking web sites these au pairs belong to, you can check their blogs and friends and their messages on these web sites.

 
At 14/8/07 , Blogger lea said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you all had such terrible experiences...

I'm here to represent all the good au pairs out there doing their jobs.

please, DON'T GENERALIZE!

you're being unfair with us, the girls who left their families, jobs, school, friends, fiancees to live with you and help you with such an important position in your home.

I'm a former au pair from Brazil by au pair care. I have to agree... au pair care did NOTHING for me or either for my host family when we needed.

it's funny to see that none of you posted with your real names... what's the problem?

just to let you know, the agencies don't really check our references, so you, please do it yourself if you intend to have a "stranger" in your house.
join websites like orkut, hi5, facebook, multiply and check out your prospective au pair's webpage. it says a lot about what kind of girl she is...

I'm leaving my family after 2 amazing years together sharing the most beautiful moments... I learned a lot from them, the main thing was the language... they were so patient with me...
also it was awesome being able to share with them a little bit about my culture, my language, my story...

the only thing I ask you, DON'T GENERALIZE... be aware that the agencies don't do their jobs but don't let such a good opportunity pass by.
it's a cheap program, safe (if you are carefull), convinient... think twice before generalizing... don't be unfair.

and, just in case, if you want to have an idea about the families who misstreat their au pairs just let me know... I have dozens of blogs like this one where the au pairs tell their stories... like the family who doesn't feed the au pair, the family who locked the au pair in the house while they went out of town, the host father who broke into the au pair's room to abuse her...

there are good and bad people in both sides... watch out!

ps. sorry for the bad spellling and grammar, english is my third language so that's why I'm still here... I really need to improve my english.

 
At 14/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a counselor from another agency, not AuPair Care.

I am saddened to see that so many of you have had unhappy experiences with your au pairs and your agency.

If you are not truly excited to have a cultural exchange and if you have chosen the au pair program because it's the cheapest way to get live-in care for two or more children, then please do not host an au pair. It is unfair to her. Hosting an au pair is very much like hosting a foreign exchange student with a strong emphasis on child care. If you have never wanted to host a foreign exchange student, then rethink the au pair solution because it is probably not for you.

I have seen some language here that disturbs me.

First of all, an au pair is supposed to be a treasured older sister to your children. She is NOT an employee and you CANNOT fire her!

If she is working more than 45 hours a week for you, then you are abusing the program and your au pair.

If you are paying her extra to do your laundry and your husband's laundry, then you are abusing her.

If you think that giving your au pair expensive perks makes up for extra work, extra hours, and heavy cleaning, then you are abusing your au pair.

If you are not giving your au pair one entire weekend off per month(from Friday evening to early Monday morning) then you are abusing your au pair.

If you are not giving your au pair 1.5 consecutive days off per week, then you are abusing your au pair.

If you make your au pair eat chicken nuggets, mac & cheese and pizza constantly with the kids, then you need to take her to the grocery store with you and tell her to fill a cart with the food she likes so that next time you shop, you know what to buy. These girls are not used to eating frozen processed foods that are incredibly unhealthy and make America fat.

If you think that all Brazilians are bad, then you have never been to Brazil! Brazilians are the most loving, outgoing, warm and friendly people on this planet.

Never underestimate the power of saying "thank you" for all the things your au pair does for you. Watch her smile when you do so. These girls crave recognition for what they do right. Go heavy on the positive reinforcement.

Do you remember to say "good morning" and "good night" to her every day? This is basic common courtesy.

I recommend that you all buy the book "Au Pairing Up" which is available from Amazon.com.

As far as protecting yourselves financially, consider paying the agency fee in monthly installments. Some agencies allow this. Then, you are only out what you have put in should something go wrong and you want to just quit.

Forgive me if this posting is a bit abrupt, but I have been doing this for many years and know that abuse is typically a mutual thing.

Please treat your au pair in a loving and respectful manner.

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Larissa Santos said...

So, I wanted also to post my opinion here...I am a professional AuPair, I think I can say so because I'm working as an Aupair for 4 yars now.

I didn't use the Au Pair Care agency and I'm here to talk about, and side, with all the girls that actually do a good job.

In 2003 I finished high school and decided that I wanted to do an exchange program to the US to improve my english, I couldn't pay for a college program and then I heard about the program, it was just perfect! In 2 months I had a family and in another 2 I departed to New Jersey.

My family was just wonderful, the kids, oh gosh, they are my babies untill today (eventough the oldest, who is now 12 doesn't like me calling him baby hehehe), it was the best experience in my life. I felt like part of the family right away, and as part of the family I had responsabilities, no, it's not aupair's responsability to do the laundry to the host parents, but I did so many times, specially when my host dad traveled (he was in the army) and it was only me and my host mom left with the 3 kids, and she worked a lot! I was there to be part of a family, and we help whenever our family needs us....

We never had any problems to report to our Lcc or Rcc, we did have disagreements, of course, but we were mature enough to solve it ourselves. After two years I couldn't stay in the US anymore, but I still wanted to travel and meet other people and countries.

I went back o Brazil to get on with the process of moving to Netherlands, also as an AuPair. As soon as I went back some people from my agency (the travel agency that sold me the aupair program) asked me to go there and talk about my experience as an aupair and I just got horrified...they were selling the program as it was all about having fun! They said to the propective aupairs they were to have their own cars, cellphones and all the freedom they wanted, they would be paid more than 500 dolars (which made more than 1.000 reais, which is a good salary for a student that doesn't pay bills) and they just needed to work a little bit, becuse most of the kids stayed at school most of the day....

It was a dream life with travels, shopping and all that! that was 2005 and the agency was working with AuPair care and not with the agency I went through in 2003.

What you must understad is that the girls that go on the aupair programs are from middle class, different from the US these girls (and I put mysefl into this account) are used to private schools, private language centers, and 90% of them live in houses with housekeepers that cook, clean and do their laundry, we'r not used to work, and despite it all most of middle class brazilians think house work as an underground job, only people who have never gone to school apply for it...

When these girls arrive in the US and their lives change so dramatically they don't know what to do, because they've paid to have their own cars, but now they only have if the host family allows it, they've paid to have their own cellphones, and now they only can use it when the host family says so...they star to think 'Oh my gosh, I'm a maid here! I didn't pay to be a maid!' and that's when most of the families start to hav problems....

I was a good aupair, I now that because the kids I took care called me 'mom' more than in only one occasion, and my host mom always smilled them whenever they did so...she liked, she knew they did that because I treated them with all the love I would treat my own kids, she gave me a wonderful recomendation when I apllied to my job in Netherlands, as well as when I applied to my current position in Canadá, as did my host mom in Netherlands.

The Au pair program is a wonderful solution to many american families, but you have to choose the right agency. I can say it from Brazil, the agencies there ARE NOT an american agency branch, it's a completely different agency with completely different principals and culture and they're selling the program to girls as it was a movie script and god knows what girls can do when they get dissapointed...praise for your kids' sake and study well the person your putting into you house, ask your prospective aupair which agency in Brazil is selling her the program, ask them what do they say and set working conditions prior the match, and make sure that you give the girl what you promissed.

Another thing, most as these girls, as I said, come from middle class families and have never go close to a child in a working enviroment, these girls need up to 200 hours of work with kids, when any of them put 'babysitting' on their application is a lie, people in Brazil don't babysit as in the US, why should they when you can pay 300 reais (150 dollars) a month to a person to watch your kids, clean you house, do you laundry, and this person is going to sleep at work and be 'off duty' during a whole weekend every two weeks? No, there are no babisitters from middle class in Brazil and all the 'day care' job they do is VOLUNTARY, they go there to gain these 'hours of work' and nothing more. I didn't let my host family get a girl from Brazil when I left, because all of them had more than 500 hours of work babysitting and I Know that was a lie...we got a french girl, she was really nice to the kids, no regrsts, now they have a South African girl (way harder to choose because me, Camille and Laura were choosing this time), who is doing just fine...

So please, don't generalize, don't forget that agencies are companies and as such they aim profit, not all aupairs are bad and most of them are just unsatisfied because they didn't get what they've paid for...

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous brazilian au pair said...

Hi!! I`m a Brazilian au pair, I was an au pair for an American family for 9 months. Things were ok, we were even going to extend for more 9 months, and she said several times I was her best au pair. But then things started to change, my host mom started to treat me different, she started to get in my room when I was out, she put a voice recorder in the house, she checked my cellphone. They started to pay me 3 days even one week after the day they were supposed to. She made me buy a dress to work in her sister`s wedding, and told me she was gonna pay me the money. She never did.
I had a curfew, I was supposed to get home 8 hours before starting to work. I always got home in time, and I never started to work late. On the July 4th I went to another city to see the fireworks, I left early to get home in time to my curfew. I missed an exit, and got home 30 minutes later than what I was supposed to. For my surprise she had changed the front door lock, I had to get in the house through the garage door. She came to me drunk, and said I should leave the house. It was 1:30 AM and she said she didn`t care if I had a place to stay or not, I should find somebody to pick me up once I couldn`t use her car anymore. I asked why she was putting me out, she said it was because I was late. I told her I never got home late, she said once was enough. She took my passport from my things before I got home that night, and cancelled my cellphone. I left the house in the middle of the night and without saying goodbye to the children.
The days after that she didn`t answer my counselour`s calls and she didn`t answer her e-mails either.
My agency e-mailed them, and told them they were gonna be sued for what they did, and for having my passport. She wrote back saying a lots of lies about me, and that she didn`t have my passport. Some days later she said she found my passport.
She owed me 1 week of work, plus the 3 days I worked(until she put me out), my vacation week, and the money for the dress. She never payied.
I had a terrible experience, it was hard for me trust in Americans again, but I can`t blame a whole country for a crazy woman. So to the family that said they cannot trust Brazilians anymore I`m so sorry for them, this is prejudice and imaturity.
I could tell everybody not to be an au pair, because of the things that happened to me, but I know a lot of girls that have had a great year. My agency gave me all support I needed, and they payied me the money they owed.
I just wanted to show that there are bad experiences on both sides, and I know there are a lot of good experiences too.

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello parents and au pairs. This is a forum to provide solutions in a polite way to parents who are looking for quality au pairs and for au pairs who are looking for quality parents.

Please avoid the "complaining" syndrome and instead offer an opportunity for growth and change for the Au Pair Agencies, for Parents and for Au Pairs.

Often problems begin because of a lack of awareness. You must have an open mind to invite change.

Au Pair care offers many advantages for all parties involved. However, it also has many risks. To minimize the risks, one should research as much as possible, check references (whether you are the Au Pair or the Parents) and set your boundaries with the Agencies with the terms you are willing to accept.

Au Pair Care agencies, please beware, that many of your clients have made it clear that you do not check references even though as part of your marketing packages you state you do. By not checking references, you could subject yourself to a class action lawsuit by current and former families and/or Au Pairs that were "harmed" by your failure to follow through on your legal promise of checking references. I have seen class action lawsuits that had much less to stand on than these accusations and have cost the companies millions of dollars just to defend. So please for your own sake and for the Parents and Au Pairs who want to continue using the benefits of Au Pair services, follow through on what your contract says.

Ms.Money

 
At 15/8/07 , Blogger marilyn said...

Hello Again Everyone,
Right now I am in dispute with APC. I have reported them to the BBB. They refuse to reconsider my refund of $325 PER month left on my contract. My family stands to loose a few thousand dollars. We had 3 aupairs since last August that left without notice. Each time with additional fees paid by me for replacement. Mind you, we were a repeat customer. We never mistreated our aupairs. Sometimes their friends would come over and wish they were here. We never abused the program either. We paid on time 100% of the time, and we had a schedule posted everyweek so they could make plans. The 3 that left came only to get into the US. Once they got their SS# they left (my mother-in-law was the person who helped them fill out all their paperwork and drive them to the SS office to file their papers--) If you want to save money, consider other options. As I asked before, if there is anyone out there who can give me advice let me know.

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The social security number an au pair receives is a non-working one. It's only good for opening up a bank account or registering at a local college. They cannot get a job with it. It is in a totally separate category.

 
At 15/8/07 , Blogger marilyn said...

I understand that the SS# is in a totally different categorgy, but they can "still apply" for nanny jobs with it. It has the same amount of numbers as ours and someone who never sees the card can't make any distinction. Maybe the government needs to hand out something other than a 10 digit number on a card that looks identical to ours so they can't try to use it in a fraudulant way and still be able to go to school and get a bank account. Should a slight change be made? Lets say a differnt colored backround and 12 didgets? What do you think?

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Jennifer said...

I think that the au pair companies have a responsibility to ensure that au pairs leave the country when their time is up. And I do know that in the Virginia area, there are employers that tell au pairs that "I won't look at any paperwork" if you want a job with me.

I am grateful for the au pair that provided insight into Brazilians. We had one that left us after 2 months but had to leave the program because she never explained why she couldn't/wouldn't take care of a 3 month old baby. That explains a lot.

It is hard not to generalize cultures. We have hired 6 au pairs, and definitely have preferences towards which countries we will consider hiring au pairs from in the future. Unfortunately, those we will never consider again are due to experiences we have had with au pairs that leave a poor impression.

I do know that there are bad families and bad au pairs. We attempt to be fair and reasonable. We tend to trust the au pairs until proven otherwise. I think that our best experience involved a web site that future au pairs can visit to get suggestions as well as meet others with similar situations. She was our best au pair. She knew what to expect - life wasn't good all the time, but wasn't bad all the time. I wish others used that tool.

I have a lot of stuff I am sorting through, so please forgive me. I have issues with the current au pair who replaced one we had to fire (yes, fire) due to integrity issues. Consistent integrity issues. And I know she is in the country illegally right now, because we get bills for her exploits. The current au pair just doesn't see the need to communicate with me or my husband unless she desires something. And if she doesn't get what she wants right away, she gets very fussy at me. But, we only have one more month with her. We have attempted to communicate many times with her, but have since given up. She wants to extend with another family and we gave an honest recommendation. She is mad that we indicated that she doesn't like to interact with the host family. Apparently, she desired to, but gave up rather early. I think she doesn't realize that making friends means talking to them.

Anyway, I like the idea of this thread and hope to see more inputs in the future.

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just back from dinner with my neighboors.

they took me out with my host mom since I'm leaving my host family after completing my second year.

I'll emphasize just one little part of the long conversation we had during dinner.

one lady said "XXX remember what we said when you told us you were hiring an au pair?"

my host mom said "sure I do... you said ARE YOU CRAZY? YOU'RE PUTTING A STRANGER HOT BRAZILIAN GIRL IN YOUR HOUSE?"

and the first lady said again "I want to apologyze because now a days I wish I could afford her... she has been so helpfull with the kids around the neighborhood... I wish she could stay longer..."

I couldn't get a better compliment.

thanks god for the amazing experience I had and for the good example of brazilian au pair I am.

watch out for the generalizations... you don't wanna be classified as a crazy american family, right?

=\

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just back from dinner with my neighboors.

they took me out with my host mom since I'm leaving my host family after completing my second year.

I'll emphasize just one little part of the long conversation we had during dinner.

one lady said "XXX remember what we said when you told us you were hiring an au pair?"

my host mom said "sure I do... you said ARE YOU CRAZY? YOU'RE PUTTING A STRANGER HOT BRAZILIAN GIRL IN YOUR HOUSE?"

and the first lady said again "I want to apologyze because now a days I wish I could afford her... she has been so helpfull with the kids around the neighborhood... I wish she could stay longer..."

I couldn't get a better compliment.

thanks god for the amazing experience I had and for the good example of brazilian au pair I am.

watch out for the generalizations... you don't wanna be classified as a crazy american family, right?

=\

 
At 15/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If an au pair does not board her flight home, the one that her agency booked for her, the Department of State is notified. It's up to the US government to follow up. They are probably too busy with terrorism to spend a lot of time looking for wayward au pairs.

 
At 16/8/07 , Blogger marilyn said...

For the 3 au pairs that stayed a year, my husband drove them to the airport. They had plans to finish up their education. The others that walked out left with their ss#'s, bank accounts and drivers licenses. I think at the least they should give their numbers to the LCC and if they leave they can report it to ss so they can't continue to use it. The au pairs really have no consequences for their actions. The host parents are stuck with losing days of work possibly their jobs because of it, paying extra for help b/c of short notice AND if you are as trusting as I was and took someone else's aupair you're stuck paying extra fees to the agency. I was charged a fee for extending to the end of another aupair's year and she left.

 
At 16/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm also a Brazilian Au Pair. I remember my friends saying before I leave Brazil: "Are you crazy? Why are you going to Texas, in the middle of nowhere, on a redneck and cowboy state, to learn what is not english language, to take care of 4 boys on a house with snakes, cats, dogs, frogs, birds and other pets?"

I just can say I had the most amazing year of my life. It was the perfect match. My hostfamily still say I was the best Au Pair ever (they had 4 Au Pairs so far).

I could study, travel, and have a lovely family during my one year stay in U.S. I miss them a lot!

I always treated my 4 hostkids with love and I was always respected by my hostparents.

Now I have a good job in Brazil and I'm more mature, thank's to the Au Pair experience.

About the cellphone and long distance calls story, it's hard for us Brazilian to understand why is it so expensive in America. The families have to explaind that carefully to the Au Pair's. In Brazil cell phone is not that expensive, and we also don't to answer a call. Text message is also very cheap.

Good luck for you all on this Au Pair experience.

 
At 16/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI,

Im a Brazilian Au Pair, too

Now im back to Brazil.
We spent here around R$ 2.000,00 to the agency here only to become an au pair.
I agree with something, if the LCC is good everything will be fine to the HF and the AP.
Its very hard disccus about this kind of relationship but the only think i know is i did my best, and i know im a good au pair.
I spend only 56 days at US and i had to go back to brazil, and the APC was at HF side and lcc too...
Im feeling lost, afraid...but ill never give up...
I tried to find a HF who loves me like a daughter, but i didnt had this lucky... :(

I really wish to everbody here more lucky...

xoxo

 
At 17/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an au pair fo more than a year and, despite the fact that I extended the program and I'm happy with my experience, I have no intention of staying in the USA longer than it. Someone said something true. I'm from Brazil, and I belong to the high middle class. I had a maid doing EVERYTHING for me my whole life, my parents could afford private school too. It doesn't mean that all the Brazilians au pair have the same roots. I have some trouble with the other ones who say "you never had a hard life, so you are not as mature as we are". Lie. I can assure that , anyways, I'm the responsible and mature au pair in the area, since my parents raised me with a good sense of education, respect and responsibility. Each girl is one, no matter where they came from. A lot used to be very good in their country, but when they come, they get excited with the fact that they are free and nobody knows them, so they can do whatever they want. I also know a lot of german, french, mexican, polish (...) au pairs who were totally irresponsible and had serious problems wit the host-family, so their nationality isn't the thing to analyse at all. I also know a lot of host-families who explore theirs au pairs, making they clean the house, make the whole family's laundry, letting them stuck in the house since they have no car to go out, being unpolite and dealing with the au pair as dirt, father's who abuse them.....host-families can be a nightmare as much, so we can not say that all the american host-families are a nightmare. What I can say is that the most important thing is try to find your au pair (or host-family) months before, when you can really get to know about them. Au pairs want a family who cares about them, to feel as part of the family, but they have to behave as part of the family (rules) as much!. Try to find your au pair the way you want, talk with her and get the "feeling" . Don't let her be homesick, try to give her attention as be tough when it's about her responsibilities. Their behave are usually mutual: If you are mean with them, they will start hating you and then, they won't care anymore. Don't abuse her rights. Why a host parent can be late everyday and the au pair can never be? Show her you're doing it right too.

 
At 17/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know who is this LCC who posted here, but she it completely right. She totally understands the side of the au pair without being againts the host-families. There's nothing else to say.

 
At 17/8/07 , Blogger marilyn said...

Dear Everyone,
The following is an attached copy that my first Au pair brought home from training. She was a success and she is still part of our family. We are now grand host parents and my children host aunts and uncles. Please remember I did NOT write it, but it needs to be said to anyone who thinks they can come to someones house and expect no rules. Successful relationships take both parties to give a little. The LCC gave a great view of how the au pair should be treated, now here is the other side. I apologize for any abruptness, but here goes:
Au Pair Survival Guide!
Your Job
1. You must be ready for work when your day begins: out of bed, showered, dressed, have eaten breakfast, and greeting your host parents 5 minutes before your start time to get your instructions for the day.
2. Say “good morning” to your host parents and host children, with a smile, don’t wait for them to say it first.
3. Be positive, outgoing, and enthusiastic about your work.
4. Bond with the children - Get to know them, children need to know that you like them and they can trust you.
5. Never say nor think, “it’s not my job”. If it’s related to the kids, IT IS YOUR JOB.
6. You must always be on-time: this means for starting work, picking up the kids, taking the kids to school, getting the kids to
bed, having their meals on time, and your own curfew
7. Make reminders for yourself if you need to… write it down.
8. During working hours, au pairs must always be watching the children or doing childcare related things. When you are
working, you are working. No watching TV, spending time in your room, showering, letter writing, personal reading, personal
chores (your laundry, cleaning your room, etc), personal phone calls, using the internet nor writing e-mails. NEVER ALLOW KIDS OUTSIDE ALONE!
9. Eliminate the words “stupid” and “hate” from your vocabulary. These words are most often used incorrectly and offend host
parents and children.
10. Never compare your host family situation with another au pair’s. Remember, each family is different, in some ways better, and
in some ways not.
11. Don’t answer the door to anyone that you do not know unless your host parents tell you to ahead of time.
About your Host Children
1. Watch your kids at all times! If you cannot see them, they are too far from you.
2. You always have to remember: the most important thing, which your host parents expect from you, is THAT YOU KEEP THEIR CHILDREN SAFE!!!
3. Play, play, and play…We want au pairs to be actively playing with the kids; not just watching them play. You need to be fun,
happy, silly, smile, creative, and be playful. Be motivated and creative with the children; minimize TV watching.
4. Understand that American children are different than children in your country.
5. Understand that kids are not perfect. They have bad days too, they make mistakes, they do things wrong… they are kids, you
are the adult and you need to react to them as an adult always. Do not argue back with them like another child.
6. Do not take things your host kids say or do personally.
7. Be sensitive to the kids, they love you whether you are “on” or “off” working hours.
8. Encourage your host kids. Help them to be positive and believe they can do things
9. Attend important events for the kids if you can. If you cannot, be sure to ask the kids about them. Example: How was the
soccer game? Did your team win? How did you play?
10. You are the “eyes and ears” for the host parents. You may see a behavior change with the kids on Monday and your host parents may not see it until the weekend. You will hear what the kids say when they come home from school and what they
need for the next day.
11. Be careful not to favor one child, you must treat all the children equally.
About your Host Parents
1. Every au pair needs to understand that host parents are very busy, this is why they have you. You cannot be offended when they
come home from work tired, upset, or don’t talk with you as much as you’d like.
2. Realize that if your host parent is in a bad mood, it doesn’t mean it is about you.
3. Even if your host parents work a lot and you don’t see them often, make sure that you find a minute to tell them something
about your day with the kids or ask questions.
4. Ask lots of questions about your work. Even if you feel silly asking what seems simple, you really must ask if you have any doubts! It is so much better than making avoidable mistakes
5. Communicate! Even if it is hard – you MUST find a way to talk to your host parents and to solve possible problems early!
Small problems just get bigger, they never just go away. If you need help, talk to your coordinator for ideas on how to talk with your family.
6. Make eye contact when you are talking with them, this is respectful.
7. Say “thank you”… thank you for dinner, gifts, and vacation. We say “thank you” more than many other countries and we also write thank you notes.
8. Host parents do not want to hear your opinions on how to raise their children nor your strong dislikes about America. Be careful to never give your opinion unless your host parent specifically asks you for it. Do not tell your host parents what they should or should not be doing with their children, home, or life.
9. Do not talk with other au pairs about your host family’s private life. Things in your family stay in your family.
10. Do not share with your host parents what other au pairs are saying about their host families.
11. When host parents do something with the kids, it doesn’t mean you can. For example: If they let the kids watch TV all day on Saturday, it doesn’t mean you can do that during the week.
12. It’s not appropriate to ask for your stipend (your pay) early.
13. Don’t call your host parents at work unless it is an emergency.
Being Part of a Family
1. SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS YOU CAN WITH YOUR HOST FAMILY! It is most important in your FIRST couple weeks. It is really necessary that you spend some of your free time with your new host family. You have to get to know them and almost more important they have to get to know you. You are the person who will be responsible for their children a many
hours almost every day.
2. Have dinner with your family when you can; help family setup and help clean up dishes and kitchen after eating.
3. Participate in social events with your family because you are part of this family, not just because you ‘re working. Join in, talk, and help out! Attend family events (holidays, birthdays, and special celebrations) with your host family.
4. Enjoy the little things about your year, don’t only focus on the big things.
5. Show family and children that you care about them. Asking "What can I do to help?"
6. Having good hygiene is important: keep your self clean, shower daily, wear deodorant daily
7. Set a good example for the children: make your bed daily, clean your room weekly, keep your clothes picked up.
8. Keep the bathroom you use clean. Clean this bathroom twice weekly.
9. Share your culture: talk about your country, teach the kids some of your language, songs, and games, and prepare some food
from your country.
10. Keep your car clean and neat. Respect your curfew and mileage limits. Don’t bring the car home without gas. Neither smoking nor drinking by anyone in the car.
11. When you go out for dinner with your host parents and you are not working, you should still be helping! This is family time and they are including you and buying your dinner. You can help the kids when their food comes, help entertain the kids while they are waiting, take turns taking them to the bathroom if they need, help them clean up after and again…. Say “thank you”.
About your House
1. You should always leave the house the same way you received it. Clean up after yourself and the kids throughout the day.
Put things away in the same place that you got them from.
2. You live here too, act like a real family member as you would in your own family. Examples: you could bring in the mail, take out the kitchen garbage, or bring in the empty garbage cans from the road.
3. Food: please eat all food in moderation and realize that food costs a lot of money. Drinking several glasses of juice a day or eating a whole carton of strawberries is sure to make your host parents unhappy.
4. Be quiet in the house: Be quiet when the kids are sleeping, be quiet when you are talking on the phone, be quiet when you have friends visiting, be quiet closing doors, closing drawers, etc.
5. Lock the doors when you come home and turn off the lights.
6. Do not give out any information about yourself, your family, or your home.
7. Do not visit inappropriate web sites, your host parents will know what web sites you go to.
8. Don’t download anything without asking host parents first, it’s not your computer!
9. If you have an accident or spill something in your room, please tell host parents immediately. They can help you remove the stain; stains not taken care of right away usually do become permanent.
10. Please do not leave empty dishes of glasses in your room. Any leftover food or drinks need to be disposed of immediately to
prevent bugs/insects. Do not leave food in your room.
11. Empty your garbage weekly.
12. Always close your windows when you leave the house in case it rains.
13. Turn your light off when you are not in your room…. Also with other rooms in the house
14. Be sure to turn off TV, stereo, curling iron, etc when you are not in your room.
15. Be aware that electric, gas and water can be costly and we don’t want to waste. Please… turn off lights and TV when you leave
a room, keep windows and outside doors closed when the heat and/or air conditioning is on. Do not leave the water running
when you are not using it.
HAVE YOU READ YOUR AU PAIR NOTEBOOK? GREAT, NOW READ IT AGAIN AND
RE-READ IT EVERY MONTH!
We spent a lot of time and thought putting this together for you, we hope you find it helpful. We want your year to be successful and a wonderful experience to last a lifetime.

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL AU PAIR YEAR
Remember this is your chance to have the best year of your life. Try to keep a positive outlook towards the program. Do not criticize the differences in your cultures. Celebrate and learn from them.

Don’t be afraid to communicate with your Host Family and ask a lot of questions. The American culture is very open and communicative. If you are having difficulties they will expect you to talk to them about it

Attend all cluster meetings and establish a good relationship with your Local Coordinator and the other Au Pairs in your area.

Attend family events (holidays, birthdays, special celebrations) with your Host Family. The success of your relationship depends on your integration and ability to become a full fledged family member.

When you first arrive, your main priority should be to bond with the children. Try to engage the children and get to know them. The children will try to test you, because you are the new Au Pair. They will not know you, and it may take a while before they can truly trust you. Try to learn as much as possible about the children. What are their interests? What were their favorite activities with their last Au Pair or babysitter? It takes about a month for everyone to truly know each other and feel comfortable. Reassure the children that you like them and that they can trust you.

Talk to the Host Family about their methods of discipline. American families are against hitting their children. Many families use a discipline procedure called “time out.” This is where the child has to go to their room or sit in a special chair while they can calm down and think about why they are misbehaving.

Get to know the family. Ask the children about their friends. Help the children set up play dates. Familiarize yourself with the children’s friend’s parents.
Do not speak on the phone during working hours. Curtail phone calls to when you are off. Tell your friends and family that you are working and need to call them back when you are off duty. Children will get upset if you are speaking to your friends and not paying attention to them. Discuss phone rules with your Host Family.

Review all of the house rules with your Host Family. Do you have a curfew? Can you have visitors? Where can you drive the car? When do you they think would be a good time for youto take your vacation? Try to do this during your weekly meeting or at an agreed upon time.

Research the classes you would like to take as soon as possible after you arrive at your Host Family’s home. Ask your Local Coordinator for information on the types of courses other AuPairs have taken in the past.

Try to do as much as possible during your days off. Travel, visit local museums, go to thetheatre, attend sporting events, etc.

Try to keep your room and the children’s rooms neat. Ask the Host Family what household duties you are expected to help with such as emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, etc. Remember that even though these might not be “Au Pair” duties, these are duties that you are expected to fulfill as a family member living in their house.

_____________________________________
I know it is alot of information, but as host parents we do expect DEPENDABLE childcare. Most of us DO treat the au pair with great respect, but mind you, you will be expected to get your hands dirty sometimes and that is just the way it is. Congratulations to any au pairs that grew up with maid service. Maid service or not, accepting a position where you are responsible to take care of a CHILD is your choice. Now keep the child safe, s/he doesn't know or care about your background only about you and how you treat them.

 
At 20/8/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

No one has mentioned the high cost of keeping your au pair happy - use of cell phones, internet, etc that they grow used to. If problems start happening, some families choose to ignore it in order to keep the au pair from taking it out on the children. How about the high emotional cost of dealing with some (not all) immature teenagers in the house? Being a beloved sister has to be earned, not just handed over.

 
At 20/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear marilyn,

I wish the LCC had a "letter" like that to give to the host parents about THEIR resposibilities when hiring an au pair...

they all know what we're supposed to do but they don't have a clue about what's their "to do" list besides paying us and the agency.

=/

 
At 20/8/07 , Anonymous Jennifer said...

Dear anonymous,

We are given rules on how to treat au pairs. We have a contract we have to follow and the company (for the most part) ensures we follow it. In large part, the LCCs are responsible for ensuring the families understand and follow the rules and attempt to listen to both sides of the story.
Au pairs are hired to watch children. Unfortunately, that is very important to families. And the letter states that host parents can be tired. And not treat the au pairs always like they want to be treated. But the au pairs should not wait for the families to read their minds and figure out what they want. Or figure out what rules they break because they don't like the rules.
Most families follow the contract rules (just like most au pairs do). So please don't assume we don't know what to do.

 
At 20/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear jennifer...

none contract will say: SAY THANK YOU, SAY PLEASE. (you want her to teach your kids how to be polite... what if the parents don't give the example?)

none contract will say: ASK ABOUT HOW HER DAY WAS

none contract will say: ASK IF SHE NEEDS HELP WITH HER PERSONAL LIFE

everybody knows that you all come home late from work... but the paretn's shouldn't forget that running, keeping alert, playing, going to school, driving around all day long also make people tired.

respect must come from both sides the same way that rules have to be followed by both sides.

 
At 20/8/07 , Anonymous Jennifer said...

Thank you for that reminder. Respect should be mutual.

Politeness should always be a key part of behaviour. Sometimes different cultures do not allow others to understand what is considered polite. And asking for help is not negative - it shows maturity. We don't know if anything is wrong if everytime we ask we get told the person is all right.

Au pairs work very hard, I am the first to admit. And you should feel appreciated. Sometimes I forget to say so, but that doesn't meant that the work is not appreciated.

What I don't like is for a person to hide behind her door and always make me have to make an effort to communicate. Only being spoken to when somebody wants something (like the use of a car) is quite irritating and makes me feel that I am being taken advantage of. I don't want someone to live in my house like a hotel. I want to know what my child did during the day. I shouldn't have to ask 20 questions to get 2 sentences of answers. I don't like being yelled at because someone doesn't initially get what she wants. I want something of a relationship. I want to get to know the person I hired and share America with her.

 
At 20/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear jennifer...

sorry if your experience is not being good.

have you ever talked about this issue with her?

if you had why do you still working with her? you are not obligated to stay with her.

and please, don't generalize... if your au pair uses your house as a hotel, don't think we all do.
if she doesn't like talking to you, don't assume all the other au pairs don't enjoy chatting with their host mothers...

my host left home late for work several times because our "morning chat" she didn't like to go down to my room late night when she returned home but the next morning we used to talk...

don't forget that for some cultures being quiet is a quality... be careful with the cultural barreer when choosing an au pair. if you're not willing to ignore such differences consider hiring someone with a culture closer to yours.

and here.. just between us... if she is being rude why didn't you fire her? do you like when people talk louder with you?

=]

 
At 21/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

I would like to respond to anonymous who wished that the aupair had a letter like mine to show the host parents on how to trat the au pair. We do get letters. We are advised on how to make you feel comfortable when you first arrive. How long it may take for the au pair to adjust and so on. I want to let you know that none of my au pairs had cars. We are in walking distance to shopping, buses, trains, universities and so on. The au pairs that took the program seriously were able to use the facilities in the neighborhood and see their friends and take care of their personal things without a car and it worked out beautifully. Also, on the other side, there were many times I drove them to meet friends, I allowed friends to stay at my house, including holidays and drove them around as well. I did not mind b/c I felt there was a mutual respect between us. For the ones that didn't work out, signs were: not attending children's functions while on duty, getting up late for work therefore making me late, trying to get off work 1 hour early on a daily basis leaving my son full of urine and me finding him naked on the floor b/c she doesn't want to turn on the bath water, and so on.



I hope things work out for you.

 
At 21/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Anonymous,
I want to point out that the reason I posted what I did above was to show that there are 2 sides to a story. The LCC did a good job showing your side, I wanted to give host parents the same.

I also want to let you know that the LCC's throughly investigate the host families, their backgrounds the come to make sure the house is big enough, they ask what the duties will be before the Host Parents get to look at applications. Then when the au pair arrives at the house and the LCC comes to visit for the first time they tell you the au pair's rights in front of the au pair, but never is there any mention made as to what the host family expects out of the aupair.
I understand that you are new to this country and it is a big adjustment culturally. Americans move very fast and usually take no breaks. When my family came to America, (parents) they gave up all their worldly possessions. My mother cried for the first 3 years and didn't see her family for the next 20. Now we have a decent life and we see the family back home every once in a while...My point is you have a choice and you have access to your family. Now there are phone cards, internet and other means of communication. You should ask your mother how she felt taking care of you when you were young to see if she also had bad days.
I'm sure she had good and bad. I'm sure that it is very difficult for you to adjust culturally and living in a different house. The children also aren't accustom to you and your culture either. You have to give them a chance and it's up to you to make that chance happen. You can't leave the family everytime someone doesn't say thank you (I always did). Children don't always either. I remember observing my former aupair with my son. Many a time he asked for something and forgot to say please. She would always say, "I didn't hear you, what did you say?" Perfect, I thought. I think it's up to you to establish reasonable ground rules with the children and be an example yourself.

Marilyn

 
At 22/8/07 , Anonymous jennifer said...

I am responding to Anonymous' questions concerning my recent bad au pair experiences.

- The current aupair is not as bad as her predecessor. We found out over a period of 4 months that that girl couldn't tell the truth and that she was endangering our daughter with her indifference. Au Pair Care allowed us to make her leave our house since it was a matter of trust. The currentau pair annoys the host parents, but treats the child well. The child loves her. We only have one month remaining with her.
- We have mentioned the not talking to her quite a few times. And we have mentioned other issues (like not leaving dirty dishes in her room) a number of times. She told me she has nothing to talk to me about. She only comes out of her room and talks to us if she wants the car. She doesn't like rules and tries to get away with not following them. Now, we only enforce certain rules in an attempt to minimize conflict. For example, we don't enforce the 'be up and dressed time' on her work days. She is always sleeping when we get ready to leave - we have to wake her up and tell her we are going.
- We do understand other au pairs are not like her. We had a wonderful au pair from Germany that we are still in contact with. We are looking forward to our next au pair arriving in September.
- I understand some cultures are quiet. But she doesn't even want to give us 5 minutes of how her day went with our child. If we ask questions, she answers with as few words as possible. She kind of just sits there like a lump. But she says she wants to learn how to speak English but won't practice it.
- Our next au pair is more like us I think. Due to the past year of emotional trauma from managing 2 au pairs, I think that if the next one doesn't work out, that will be the last time we get an au pair. The emotional and expenses involved with an au pair (we tend to treat then well including taking them on super nice vacations) are too great to keep utilizing. I am tired of trying to figure out how best to communicate with au pairs that have different agendas than mine.

 
At 22/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry to hear that jennifer...
my neighbor had 3 au pairs and they 3 mistreated her kids.

she came to my host to ask what's the secret to choose a great au pair since we had such an amazing experience.

just because it didn't work for you it doesn't mean the program is not good.

you should review your pre-requisites and ask your lcc for some tips to choose your next au pair...

good luck.

=]

 
At 22/8/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

I think I have a constructive comment for au pair care. My current au pair wants to extend in the U.S, but not with us. A potential host mother that has been talking with her about the possibility called me at work today. Apparently, the LCCs made it sound difficult to interview current host families about au pairs attempting to extend in the US but transferring families. She indicated that it might not be allowed. However, I, as a host mother would be interested, at a minimum, to get the family's impressions as to why the au pair is leaving and to get insight into the au pair's performance and life while with that family. I had to write a recommendation for mine. So, why doesn't the company have a recommendation/reference form for au pairs desiring to extend in the US?

 
At 22/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lynn,
Do the family a favor and do NOT reccommend this au pair whether or not she seems better than your family. Did you know that it costs the family an extra $20 a week to the au pair in addition to what you are paying them. That's $1000 at the end of the year. Plus if she doesn't like your family why would she change her attitude for year 2? It's time for her to go home. Don't dump her on another family. It's not fair to them.******

 
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At 23/8/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

From my long conversation with the host mom, I don't think she will be hiring our current au pair. I don't in my heart believe she will change. I wish I had known how she was. I wouldn't hire her knowing what I know now. I believe she thought the family truly wanted her. But I attempted to honestly answer her questions. She's a poor driver, has enough problems with one child (she would have four with the new family), and doesn't like to follow the rules because she wants to be independent. I wouldn't mind paying her extra if she was worth it, but she's not worth it.)

 
At 23/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Lynn,
I'm sorry about your disappointing experience with your au pair. Unfortunately, no matter how much host moms get accused of being impersonal, your letter shows that you were disappointed that she did not want to blend in wit your family. Many times au pairs say they can drive, but they can't. I had one staying at my house (not my au pair) between families and she was just taking driving lessons and then telling her potential families she was a good driver--not. When they are called to the task of doing something that they claim they have experience in such as cooking simple meals or changing diapers they get scared and that is when the trouble starts. I spent more sleepless work nights worried about hurting their feelings than how my children were doing as a result of APC not checking references. There is a reason why the program was originally one year long.

Glad to hear yours won't be staying another year.

 
At 24/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Following rules doen't mean you are not independent. It just means that you can go with the flow and surrivive among the population around you. Independence is when a person is able to make sound judgements that will benefit themselves and not hurt the people around them. When my children visit someone's house I tell them houserule's rule. When friends come to my house I tell them they have to follow my rules. Just as a muture independent au pair should do. Respect the house rules. Adolescents get upset, not grown ups! My aupairs have always been greatful for the use of my phone and computer, but I have met some that expected it and weren't greatful. Those were the ones who had to buy their own phone and go to the library to use the computer (not my aupairs, thank God!)

 
At 24/8/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

The immature au pairs don't realize that independence usually comes with a price. They want to do what they want when they want, especially if it is with other people's stuff. It was easy for my recent au pair to say I want independence, but she's not really paying for anything. I especially like it when you know they are skirting the rules (they don't tell you), but they haven't figured out you see the signs. And I have learned that when you tell them things and they nod the head, they may or may not understand what you just said. It's not just a language barrier. Some don't wake up so well in the morning.

Oh, well, only 3 weeks to go. Thank God - I feel like hitting her sometimes to see if she's still alive when she is in the car with me. I think she is torced off. But won't tell me. She is going on vacation and waited until the day before to tell us when she's arriving back home. She didn't like us saying she may have to make other arrangements for coming back from the airport. But that is what she gets for not getting with us in advance. It is not all about HER.

 
At 25/8/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

I apologize for my last outburst.

The last two au pairs are very 'me' oriented. They think of themselves first. Like the one we took on a cruise. We asked her to watch our 2 year old for an hour while we could go do something. She asked - can I watch her while I play table tennis? This girl was very competitive, and I know that she couldn't watch our toddler and play at the same time. She did that multiple times and I ended up letting her play because I knew she would play when she wasn't suppose to - so didn't work for a while. And the immature au pairs don't realize the importance of asking questions - I lost two toasters because one girl but cheese on bread and toasted it. I didn't appreciate the 12AM fire alarm. But I did find out ADT does monitor our alarm.

I wish more of the au pairs would realize honesty is the best policy sometimes. In her application, one wrote she was a great swimmer, but was too frightened of water to go swim with dolphins in a shallow pool (that was fun to find out. Even admitting if one broke the rules is difficult, but if caught and asked, one should admit it. This girl's first instinct was to lie. My LCC said that is typical behavior for that region of Europe. The girl never realized that honest engenders trust. Once we lost trust in her, we could no longer employ her. I have nightmares about what she did to my girl - luckily she has no memory of that time. She used to brag to other au pairs about her daily lack of work activities. Now, she is in the country (she didn't complete the program) illegally and we still get mail for her.
I believe the company should have dropped her off at the airport, given her a ticket and made sure she left the country. We give enough to them to do so.

 
At 25/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please remember that you "host" an au pair, you don't "hire" her. You may rematch, but you may not "fire" her. It is up to the agency whether or not the au pair may rematch of if she will be sent home. Any family that tells an au pair that they will send her home is out of line.

It is also up to the agency whether or not a family will be allowed to host an au pair.

Again, you must respect each other mutually. The host family must invest the first month going over everything again and again.

Always remain calm and patient.

Never raise your voice to an au pair.

Never use obsceneties when talking to your au pair.

Treat her exactly the way you would want to be treated.

Always talk about the little things that might be bothering you before they become huge issues.

If you are having marital difficulties, then postpone hosting an au pair until after you have reconciled or separated.



If you have had three bad experiences in a row with hosting an au pair, then this program is probably not for you.

 
At 25/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

The more I have seen the comments made by host families the more i see that the Au Pair agencies are fall very short of their responsibilies to us. Keep up the "good work" and you'll have no more families willing to deal with the additional headaches that come with an unquailified au pair. Since the summer of 2006 they have been no more than an extra child, and a spoiled one at that. It is about time that the Au Pair companies step up and make sure they are screening their canidates properly. The Host families are putting more on the line than the au pairs are. It is our children's welfare at stake. Sorry if that gets in the way of their paid vacation.
Ed

 
At 25/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous,
If there is a lawsuit out there for host families that are concerned with whether or not their au pairs were properly screened, I hope that you are the first one they go after. YOU obviously have NO children of your own. WE are PROMISISED AFFORDABLE, DEPENDABLE childcare. Whether you think we deserve it or not that IS what is advertised and thet is what is told to us! WE are YOUR customers! Without us you would get NO commissions! WE welcome these girls into our homes! We are screened with a fine tooth comb! It is your agency that doesn't do their job! And yes, WE pay you, they don't, and if they do it is minimal. We are working people trying to help our families. We are not out and NEVER were going to take advantage of anyone. It is people like you who blow things out of proportion. Stop being so condescending and grow up!

 
At 25/8/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have consistently had good luck with German au pairs in their gap year (between their high school and college), French au pairs who are college graduates or from large families, and Brazilian au pairs who are university students or graduates who are very religious.

Not all host families are nice. I have a neighbor and a co-worker who are not particularly empathetic with what their au pairs are going through in the beginning.

Ask if you can interview your prospective Local Area Counselor/LCC/CC. If you like her and feel that you will receive good support if something should come up that you can't handle, then you probably will have a successful year.

Right now we have a German girl who is an absolute doll!

 
At 26/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Regarding what Lynn said about the toaster being used to make cheese toast: I have and would be happy to post the instructions that I give to the au pair with in the first few days of living in my house. For everyone, it is best that they know how to use the appliances. Most times they are greatful for it. I even give a copy to the LCC. It's a combination of 2 agencies handbooks. If you think it would be helpful let me know and I'll post it.
Marilyn

 
At 26/8/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

True Consumer -

Thanks for the offer. But I do have a great rule book that we hand out. Unfortunately, the au pair had no clue about cooking or being in the kitchen. That is one of those things she wrote that she could do in order to get someone to hire her. I found out the hard way that she couldn't tell the truth when asked. And I agree with you that the families put more on the line than au pairs.

And Anonymous is playing with words. And I somewhat disagree. The au pairs job is to watch children. The host family is not paying a lot of money to the company and the au pair (room, education, board, and other items) just to host a spoiled child. And I don't think that all au pairs are spoiled children. Of course it is up to the agency if she rematches. However, do the companies verify that the au pair leaves if they are kicked out of the program by the agency? No, they don't. Au Pair Care doesn't - I know this for a fact. There are two polish girls running around in VA currently when they should have been on a plane back home 6 months ago. And yes, immimgration control may be a tad too busy to kick former au pairs out.

If a family has 3 bad experiences in a row, the family has probably figured out that the program doesn't work for them. But does the company make a reasonable attempt to figure out what happened and help the situation out? Do the companies overseas clearly communcicate expections to the au pairs?

Luckily, au pair care has for us. But it is truly dependent upon the regional coordinator. You need one that works to provide a mutually beneficial solution within the rules and that helps both the family and the au pair.

One thing that I do now is that I let my LCC know immediately when I have to provide negative feedback. I want to show the LCC if patterns of behavior appear and what is being done about it. This may prevent an au pair trying to manipulate the situation to their advantage. This has helped me almost resolve my situations.

 
At 27/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

The companies' reasonable attempt is to give you an au pair who is already in the country that did not work for someone else, or only credit you for $325 per month for the remaining time on your program. If you do take an in counrty, they will charge you an extension fee and not refund you that fee even if the au pair leaves. As far as the people over seas, in my opinion, I think that it is a gateway into the US for people who cannot get VISA's. I had one who's mother was waiting in Minnesota for her. There is another in NJ who's waiting for her sister to be placed with a host famly. How long do you think that one will last?
LCC's don't want to be bothered with complaints. When something goes wrong, they hold it against you. The best LCC's are the one's who had au pairs of their own and problems. My LCC had 4 au pairs, one did not work for her. Remember, they wrote the contract for themselves, not for us. Like Ms Money stated, don't accept their terms, write your own so you have some insurance that if it doesn't work out you'll get some benefit.

 
At 27/8/07 , Blogger Iceman said...

True Consumer -

After our first au pair care au pair left, we did get an in country au pair. And I forget how many extra months we were charged for. She decided to leave when she was with us for two months. Since she decided to leave (and she told the LCC that it wasn't us, but a boyfriend back home), the company let us find another au pair overseas. They gave us leeway to interview many that already had visas and only charged us fees for appropriate months. We picked a wonderful German girl that we have adopted and are still in touch with. After welcoming her, we knew that we could never get another au pair like her.

It is very important to look at motivations while matching. Of course, many will tell you what they think you want to hear. But we never even look at applications for au pairs who want a certain part of the country.

I admit some LCCs don't want to deal with issues. But most, if given an objective overview of the situation, are willing to work with the families. At least that is our experience. If my wife sends the LCC an email providing a summary of a discussion, the LCC usually responds back and says - thanks and do you need me to talk with the au pair. Sometimes the LCC will put the discussion overview in the monthly paper to the au pairs (like the time we stated that the au pair needed to see a doctor and instead of reading the company info on insurance tried to bully a clinic into seeing her).

Having had 6 au pairs, we have run the gamut - 1 outstanding girl, 2 ok au pairs (in terms of childcare not in personality), and 2 psychos. One of which Au Pair Care allowed us to "fire" her due to a continued pattern of complete lack of trust with our daughter, our car, and our house.

And understanding the company's contract is quite important prior to getting an au pair. What are we signing up to? Sites like this are good to give insight into what can happen & to help with expectations. After all, these are young adults being sent out into the world - what kinds of trouble did we get into at their age?

 
At 28/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Iceman,
We basically had the same experience as you did for our first 3 au pairs. I honestly feel that it is the people overseas recruiting these girls. They write the same thing on every interview form. "I'd trust them with my own children, mature, responsible.." My au pairs told me that their refernences were not checked.
I know the best ones are the ones that can answer questions that are not scripted in the handbook. I had one stay over between families that would answer off of a peice of paper. Very nice girl, but imature, and not child oriented. She was very lost. I felt bad for her.
I start back at work in 2 days. I can't afford anymore fees. Since last August 2006, we paid $8200in fees to the agency and had approximately 4 months of help in total, and all very stressful days,b/c they were incapable of watching children for 45 minutes a day until I got home from work.It's not affordable at that rate. I'd like to know if there is a lawsuit out there. Since the agencies have the contract fxed so they make money whether or not it works for them they really don't care.

Do you work for an agency? Can you help me recoupe some ofmy losses?

 
At 28/8/07 , Blogger Iceman said...

True Consumer -

It is probably the people overseas and the company here. Au Pair Care seems to be obnoxious making sure host families are following the rules - are they doing the same for the companies they are working with. I think the au pair companies are doing a poorer job than in the past of hiring (yes I said hire) people capable of watching children and being mature enough to handle independence for one year. They should be accurately checking references (and kicking names out of those that don't match up). Families shouldn't be finding all these issues out.

I am definitely sorry for your experiences. I don't think you should be paying that much in fees for 4 months of work.

Unfortunately, we do not work for an agency. We are a family that believes in home care, but both parents work. Our 3rd attempt in the first year was crucial to us continuing in the program. We managed to find a gem. Since then, the sparkle has worn off of the program.

I am surprised the company doesn't help you out more (at least get you one you can live with based upon the fees you have paid). Which part of the country are you in - don't answer if you don't want to? [We have one looking to extend, but not with us. I don't think she would be a good choice. She's relatively good in the childcare arena, not so good in others. However, she did stay for her contract time.] Did you sign contracts with all of your au pairs? We tend to wait a little bit after they arrive.

We do try to look for distinguishing characteristics in either the application or the interviews. But that doesn't always help - our last 'psycho' proves that. Most of the essays sound the same (and look very similar). And we ignore some applications automatically (we don't look at certain countries anymore). Germany is a favorite starting point, but timing of hiring tends to be pretty important to them.

Our next au pair arrives next month - this one may be a deal breaker. My wife is tired of managing immature teen types.

 
At 28/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

I live on the outskirts of NYC. We are a working family also. Poland was our favorite starting point. APC refunded $3006 to me. Still down $5200. They offered a replacement. I said no due to the fact that my last 2 abandon my children and left them waiting to be picked up. The 1st one even agreedto extend another year...until she got an ss# and used it to get a job in Westchester. She was great... no trouble...so we thought. The children were devastaed..so was I. The 2nd, was not into the program. She got her card and left one day also after getting her card. I really believe they should not get a card. They have debit cards from their country. How much can they save anyway? School, I work for the NYC school system, I know for a fact they DO NOT need one in NY to register. Why give them one. We use the EIN# from the agency for our taxes. We get a letter confirming how much we paid for the year and what the stipin is for the aupair each week. We have the au pair sign a receipt each week. I think we can only write off $6000 a year anyway (you must confirm).
APC was supposed to send a response to my rebuttal today to BBB. They did not respond. Nor did they send me a copy of the contract they say I signed. I think I'm owed some money....

Don't know if you are interested or how true this is, but I saw an ad for aupair international. It's an agency based in NY. They claim that they only accept 30% of their applicants. I have 5 children in school this year. I too believe in the notion of having someone in the house. However, my oldest can legally walk sibings home. I hope it works out. I hope my nerves don't fry.

Good luck with your next one. Hopefully she'll come through for your family and treat you guys well. From the sound of it, you seem like a nice family.
Marilyn

 
At 29/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

I just want to clarify with the ss# and school. If the student is taking a class like an adult ed class, not for college credit, they don't have to give their ss card. I do not know about private colleges. My au pairs signed up with me by their side and they were told it was optional. Public schools for younger kids don't require it either. If they take actual college credit, they have to have an ss#. Check out your local college and see if it applies for continuing education classes.

 
At 31/8/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Ms Money,
I got my final word from BBB. They chose not to respond to my rebuttal. They also chose not to send me a copy of the contract that they say I signed. I don't know if you still read your blogs on this site or you are too busy, but I'd like to know if you can advise me in any way. I also found out that the LCC is only supposed to take care of 15 families, not 50. There are plenty who have more than 15 families. Is the economy that good that nobody cares about losing a few thousand dollars here and there? Lawyers can't be bothered b/c they feel that the return for them isn't worth it. Anyway....

 
At 4/9/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

It is interesting to note that an LCC told me not to speak to any prospective host families that may want to interview my au pair for her 2nd year in the U.S. Apparently, honest assessments don't give au pairs a 'fair' shot at extending. What about the hiring host families - don't they need to get an assessment of the au pair from her current host family? Or the company can end up with an unsatisfied family & au pair again? What a business.

 
At 6/9/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Lynn,
APC doesn't care about the outcome of the future family of your aupair. The family has paid a fee. If it doesn't work out they don't get a complete refund. It's money in the bank for them either way.
Shame on them! They should be regualted and made to be more accountable. I wish there was a way let more people know about this. Americans are being taken advantage of these agancies and they don't even see it coming b/c we are too busy taking care of our family.

What ever happened to the phrase "Caveat Emptor" (let the buyer beware!) you know the principle of where the seller is responsible for the product or service s/he sell's?

Good luck to you with your next au pair. Let the family know about this blog. It will enlighten them.

 
At 6/9/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

True Consumer,

I fear you may be right. The LCC we currently have tends to listen to the au pair more than the family. Even if they them selves have an au pair, she doesn't seem to care about the other side of the story.

The next 13 days are going to be difficult, but we are looking forward to the new au pair's arrival.

And I am sorry to see your story. The company seems willing to make sure the families follow the rules, but what about the companies? Who is making sure they understand the rules?

 
At 8/9/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Lynn,
Aslong as this person is in your house you have to follow their rules. If you feel it necessary to call the future host parents and let them know that she is incompetent when it comes to children and doesn't respect your house, it's your right.

It's going to be hard to switch over to another au pair right after she leaves. Make sure you lay down the law in a calm way. My husband and I are usually strict in the beginning and then we let loose. Give a reasonable curfew during the week (always tell them 1/2 hour earlier so they are home on time) and stick to it. They have to be well rested to take care of YOUR children. Whatever you do do not bad mouth the other aupair no matter how bad you feel about things. Sometimes I had a hard time keeping my mouth closed, but I managed.
I hope you don't mind that I said anything. You probably know this already.


You have a very positive outlook, so I am sure things will go well.

 
At 8/9/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 62.31 it states:

Sponsors designated
by the Department of State to
conduct an au pair exchange program shall:

(8) Require that local organizational representatives not devoting their full time and attention to their program obligations are responsible for no more than fifteen au pairs and host families;

In other words, a counselor may have more than 15 families if she doesn't have another full-time job and if her primary job is being a LCC.

 
At 9/9/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Anonymous,

Is there a law for how many aupairs can be in one training class at a time? As a teacher I find it difficult at times with 35. I feel I can only give so much attention to each child. I know for a fact that APC has been packing between 80 and 130 aupairs into their classrooms. Is that acceptable? Is the training actually being performed. How much information do you think these aupairs are getting sitting at round tables when half can't see and the other half isn't accoustomed to the way we speak so it makes it difficult for them to understand us at first? What role do you play at your agency?
Are 50 families truly manageable for an LCC? Are they truly getting the service they paid for?

 
At 9/9/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
Who does the Host Family write to if they have a complaint about a sponsoring agency? Is it the department of immigration, or is it somewhere else? We need to knowour rights too. Is there someone out there like you who can help us? I'm sure alot of host families would feel better if we knew someone was accountable.

 
At 9/9/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

True Consumer,

Thanks for the words of advice. I want to start off with the next girl right.

We are excited, but that excitement is tempered by the issues we are suddenly having with current one. She has matched with another family that probably has no idea what she is truly like.

She has decided to not follow the rules in our house. Especially those related to our car. Instead of discussing why she doesn't follow the rules, she gets emotional and argues about other topics. This is the 4th time this week she has been overwrought, emotional, and immature with us. We placed a call to the LCC and said we need to have an intervention. And if she can't modify her behaviour, then her completion of her first year as an au pair may be cut short.

As for Agency accountability, I found the following quote on the Department of State Website: "Accountability to the Department of State
All sponsors are required to submit an annual report, notify the Department of State in writing of certain changes in their program, and of serious problems. In addition, they are to cooperate with any inquiry or investigation taken by the Department of State. Failure to do so may result in the termination. See program regulations found at [22 CFR 62.13] for details regarding a sponsor's accountability to the Department of State, and at [22 CFR Part 62], Subparts D and E for details on Sanctions and Termination." The same web site provides info as to what goes in that report.

But I haven't found where host families can go. The website above seems to think the agency and family are supposed to work it out.

 
At 10/9/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Dear Lynn
Take away the keys to the car. It is your right to take the keys and her priveledge to have them! See if she can start her year earlier with the other family. If she can't show her the bus stop. She can travel by bus. You don't have to answer...I really hope thenew host family is in another state. Youdon't want her talking about you to your new au pair...

Hang in there. I try to schedule the last vacation week, the last week of the aupair's year so they can leave a little more relaxed and I can have my house and figure out if my children need slightly different routines.

Let me know how your doing.

 
At 11/9/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: Are 50 families truly manageable for an LCC? Are they truly getting the service they paid for?

Answer: That is a ridiculous amount of families for one counselor to try to handle in an efficient, effective and attentive manner. I personally have 10. Before signing up with an agency, ask how many au pairs/families will be in your counselor's cluster. If it's more than 25, then I suggest you call around to other agencies until you find one that will place you with a counselor who handles less than 25 families.

 
At 11/9/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone above asked about how to report problems to the Department of State. I found this on their website:

"DOS's Exchange Visitor Program staff is available to answer questions at (202) 401-9810. In addition, a listing of designated sponsors and related information can be obtained from the Department's web site http://exchanges.state.gov/education/jexchanges/ ."

I also found this address:

United States Department of State
Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation
ECA/EC/CU - SA-44, Room 732
301 4th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20547
E-mail: jvisas@state.gov
Fax: (202) 203-5087

 
At 20/9/07 , Anonymous Lynn said...

True Consumer,

It's been a tough couple of weeks.

The old au pair left today without a goodbye, even to our daughter, the girl she really loved. She went to another family in Maryland. I am wondering if APC even passed on our 'recommendation'. If they had, she would not have been hired. It's been stressful waiting for her time to go. The AD seemed not to care how stressed we were. She's too busy planning visit times with her au pair's family that are visiting. The old au pair was lucky - we didn't charge her for a lot of stuff she broke, lost, etc because we didn't want to talk to her. She had not spoken to us for about 2 weeks.

I picked the new one up today at the airport. Our first impression is a good one. We are hoping that impression will continue. The new au pair's sister has been an au pair, so that may help her.

 
At 27/9/07 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Hi Lynn,
I'm sorry I haven't been on lately either.
I'm glad you had a good first impression. Please let me know how it's going. Usually your gut is the best way of predicting and you have had a positive outlook for a couple of months. Remember it is YOUR house. Set reasonable boundaries. You hired her so you can feel better about things. If she is from a good family she'll respect that. Also your children come first.

I hope things go well (they sound good) for you.

Take care
Marilyn

 
At 4/10/07 , Anonymous Tatiane Polli said...

You familys get what you desevre. I hate to break it to you, but au pairs don't come to US because we love children...we come because we want to stay in country! Why is this so hard to accept.

All of you familys here act surprised when au pair doesnt want to be around your family or take interest in your kids. You should know that au pair is only way to get into the US so we can find other jobs.

I did au pair for one year and to be honest I HATED the family and the kids. Now with second family it is no different but at least they give me a car so I can see boyfriends.

 
At 6/10/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tatiane Polli,
I am surprised that you even had the nerve to leave your name. You not only have insulted all the families that put their heart into the program, you have also insulted all the au pairs that have truly made themselves part of the families they live with. You have a lot of growing up to do! You will have a VERY tough future ahead of you with an attitude like that. I hope your family back home has alot of money to support you, because there is no room in a country as great and generous like this for a spoiled bratty person like you. I hope you don't hurt the children you are with. They don't deserve the attitude. They are innocent and you sound extremely resentful and abusive. Shame on you! Give the car back and go home. Buy your own car.

 
At 6/10/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tatiane Polli,
Please don't have kids in my country, b/c I don't feel like supporting some ungrateful "H".Your disrepect is disgusting. You should be reported to get deported!

boyfriendS? I hope you don't bring any diseases into that house!

By the way, YOUR the one who just doesn't get it. I hope the parents see you for who you are and get rid of you real fast. You don't deserve anything good that you have now. You should thank GOD every day that you have what you have and not resent the people who are giving it to you. YOU HAVE NO IDEA!

 
At 6/10/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tatiane Polli,
Please don't have kids in my country, b/c I don't feel like supporting some ungrateful "H".Your disrepect is disgusting. You should be reported to get deported!

boyfriendS? I hope you don't bring any diseases into that house!

By the way, YOUR the one who just doesn't get it. I hope the parents see you for who you are and get rid of you real fast. You don't deserve anything good that you have now. You should thank GOD every day that you have what you have and not resent the people who are giving it to you. YOU HAVE NO IDEA!

 
At 8/10/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tatiane,

I know that there are au pairs that are not like you. Unfortunately, your host family didn't figure you out. You must think that all Americans are stupid. We are not completely stupid. Some of us know that au pairs have some growing up to do. Apparently, you really need to grow up. And you may want to know that ICE is getting tougher on visa violations.

Eventually, you will get what you deserve and ask for.

Thanks for being such a mooch. I bet you are making your home country proud.

 
At 14/10/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you ICE! Ditto!!!!

 
At 23/10/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have used both Culturalcare and Aupaircare. When the match works it is great. We have had two amazing au pairs who we feel are part of our family. They have come back to visit. They love our children and they were such a nice addition to our home. I cried when we took them to the airport to go home.

The main hidden cost of the program is when the match doesn't work out. It is very expensive financially, it takes a lot of time and is very stressful for the parents and children.

To avoid this, we use what we have learned about the challenges of these programs. A couple rules we live by in choosing au pairs: (1) You won't really know if it is a good match until the au pair arrives; (2) Do your best to weed out those you know won't work based on your deal breakers and don't deviate from that; (3)Our deal breakers - driving, swimming, English, over 19 years old, pictures with children where the children look happy and the pictures aren't taken on the same day, essays that talk abut their love of kids; interviews that state they would trust the au pair with their own children (4)communicate expectations ahead of time - we have an entire handbook that sets out all of our rules and requirements that we email to the au pair before they decide to match with us so each side knows what to expect. If the au pair doesn't feel like they can live in a family with our rules then we don't match with them (this doesn't mean they read the au pair handbook, but the one who didn't, didn't work out for our family); (5)In-country au pair rematches without discussions with the previous host family can be VERY expensive emotionally and financially. If the company won't let you talk to the previous family or the previous family won't talk to you - that says all you need to know. If there is one drawback to aupair care (I cannot comment on other agencies because haven't had any experience with it)it is their propensity to spin problems with the au pair who is being rematched. We were told the previous host family was horrible and were kicked out of the program for not paying when we matched with an in country au pair. There were serious problems with this au pair that went unreported to us. She left our 2 year old son alone in a parking lot in the car, she ran up over $500 in long distance calls, spent all of her work time on the phone with friends, and who knows what else. To Aupair care's credit they revoked her Visa, but then tried to charge us for the time she was with us, not working and spending our money. Plus, our older daughter was traumatized and thought she would never see her brother again when she cried to the au pair, don't leave him in the car alone, you aren't allowed to do that. We hold Aupaircare fully responsible for the consequences of their actions in a company policy which encourages rematches and spins the reasons why an au pair isn't working with the host family. We are in rematch again after a great two years with our last au pair and an unsuccessful successor. After 2 months with us, 0ur 19 year old now former au pair has been placed with another family in our county. We are fairly certain the new family was not told of the problems we had with her - failing to feed our children meals, not helping our daughter with her homework, deciding to talk on the phone during a wedding we specifically brought her to to watch the children. I walked outside at a waterfront wedding, it was evening and dark. I saw her talking on the phone, the children were nowhere in sight and she had no idea where they were. When we asked her about it she started crying and said she was homesick. We gave her the benefit of the doubt, but over the next two months there were always excuses for not doing her job. We reported all of this to our area director who told us she would not likely be rematched with another family. 5 days later she was rematched. In the interim we hired a nanny and are awaiting another au pair from overseas. All of the above being said, I don't think it is the au pair program that causes the hidden costs, it is the cost of childcare generally - the same exact problematic scenarios could occur with a live out nanny.

 
At 23/10/07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The highest 'au pair' costs do occur when au pairs leave early. If the family hires a in-country au pair, they are responsible for the leave not taken by the au pair as well as any education costs that weren't provided. We had one that wouldn't talk to us at the end of her year (we were her second host family) and she is now living in Maryland in her extension year. I know for a fact our AD didn't talk to the host family about the situation - she was too intent on matching her to a different family. And she kicked us out of her area of responsibility because she decided we complain too much. Instinctively, she came down on the side of the au pair every time and didn't remember that it is the host families paying the largest part of her salary. She is now responsible for 50 au pairs and pays lip service to customer service.

Age to us doesn't matter too much. We have had major issues with 2 19 year olds and 1 28 year old. Our current au pair is 18 but seems to have a good head on her shoulders.

The bright light at the end of the tunnel for the last year has been our regional director. She is good at making sure all involved parties are reasonably settled. She at least listens and tries to understand the issues.

 
At 13/1/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a former Au Pair from Australia who stayed in the US for 2 years working in NY and thouroughly enjoyed my time there; however as much as i can understand your frustrations as families when an au pair leaves i dont think you realise what the au pair is going through themselves sure you are letting a complete 'stranger' live in your house but bear in mind this 'stranger' is also living with you and your familys whom are all strangers to her, she is having to get use to all of you where as you are only having to get use to her. She is a very long way away from home and when she first gets there she has no friends so dont be suprised or hurt if she is having a difficult time adjusting and in some cases does want to go home. I believe both the familes and au pairs should start phone calls/emails at least 6 moths prior to an au pair arriving it would make for an easier transition i did this with my first host family and it was the best thing i could have ever done by the time i got there i already had an understand of who these people where that i would be living with and what their family was all about however when it came to my second year it meant a secnd family whom i only met a couple months before living with them and found this transition much harder as i did not knwo who they where. I believe the agencys dont do enough back ground checks on families at all i had friends who where living in houses with domestic violence, fathers making passes at them or us as friends so i do believe the agencies need to do more research when looking at potential host families. Also just because you feel you are paying alot of money your needs should be met bear in mind as au pairs we are also paying alot of money for this experience also so if it doesnt work out it is not just you who is out of pocket we are also. I belive the Au Pair experience is a great one that i hope many more hundreds of people will enjoy but people will continue to 'run away; from families until there are better security checks in place and gettig to know you time is extended and also making the au pair feel like a person not a servant gives much better results.

 
At 14/1/08 , Anonymous Jude said...

My husband and I are considering hosting an au pair to care for our 3 year old daughter and 8 month old son. We have completed the application and become quite excited about the prospect of becoming a host family. Now, having read this blog (all of it), I'm scared to death! Although we think it could be great fun to welcome an au pair into our family, ultimately our children's safety, happiness and mental health is our first concern. Can anybody tell me what % of the time things go awry? Can any of you who have had bad experiences with an au pair or multiple au pairs explain why you continued with the program? What were your specific circumstances?

Right now our kids attend a very reputable daycare. No child care is 100% perfect but we don't have any major complaints. We're considering hosting an au pair instead of daycare because we feel that our kids might benefit from a more relaxed schedule, a nurturing relationship with their caregiver, and exposure to another culture. Are we being naive? The last thing in the world that I want is to abandon quality childcare (we were on the waiting list for 2 years to get our kids into this facility) for an arrangement that could be dangerous or emotionally damaging for our two beautiful, bright, loving, kids. They are everything to my husband and me!

Please give us your honest perspective and any advice. I would love to hear from you all - au pairs, local area counselors, and host families.

 
At 17/1/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi -I have been following this blog for some time now. We are not with APC, our family is with another Au Pair agency, but as I found this and followed it and read all of it, I have decided that it would be a bad switch. Last year, I finally convinced my husband we needed an au pair for a variety of reasons (not just "cheap child care"). I joined a website where you can interview potential au pairs from all over the world from all the different agencies and when you find one that you think would work with your family and they think they would like you and they understand all your rules, etc. then you apply to the agency that they are already with - or you both go to the same agency. I emailed this girl back and forth for almost 6 months and we made phone calls. We did a lot of work getting her room ready for her arrival. I was very honest about our home situation. We are very busy parents with an obnoxious preteen smartypants 12 year old and a little girl with mild special needs. We have a number of pets. I have had a couple of serious injuries and when I get tired and if I have to come home to chaos, I can either be like Oscar the Grouch or I have to go take a nap. We sent her copies of the rules and her chores which we explained would be to cook the kids their dinner Monday thru Friday, as we often got home from work late, help them get their homework done in the afternoon, get at least the little one's laundry done and just generally keep the place tidy - as well as play with them, etc. Day after day I would come home to a stack of dirty dishes in the sink leftover from breakfast and lunch. They hadn't even been rinsed and put into the dishwasher. Maybe once during the 6 weeks she was with us did she actually make dinner for the kids. I had to make ALL THREE of them dinner when I got home from work. I would find them all zombied out on the couch in front of the TV with food all over the Living room floor leftover from lunch or snacks or whatever. Not once did she think to use the vacuum. We took her to get an SS# and get a bank account. She was German and semed to know how to drive well with a stick shift, yet she failed the driver's test the first time around and had to retake it, which really caused a setback in the kid's summer plans. We spent extra $$ to let her go to family camp with daddy and the kids and mom stayed home to work, but she didn't watch the kids while she was there. She dumped the kids on dad the whole time. Then I drove up and picked her up and drove her around Yosemite and spent a hefty sum on a hotel room for a night during 4th of July weekend. She also conveniently left her money in the car whenever we stopped to get something to eat. When we did stop at the Yosemite store to get something to eat, I bought myself a bottle of water and a piece of fruit and she put down a package of oreos, a bottle of juice and a $5.00 container (small) of sliced pineapple.But she had left her money in the car. She ate vast amounts of food and since she never cooked the kids dinner, my husband was always giving her money to take the kids to eat at fast food restaurants. My dishes started to disappear. One day, her bedroom door was cracked and I peaked in. There they were - stacks of them - dirty dishes - oreo cookie bags, used glasses and empty soda cans piled up everywhere, as well as a full trash can. Even though we had stated very clearly on a number of occassions - no food was allowed past the kitchen door. We live in a country area. We have bugs, rats, mice, critters that eat clothes and furniture. Yuck... Every other morning she was wanting us to bring her back coffee from Starbuck's. (Us paying for it of course) I showed her how to use the coffee pot. I told her I was late to work. She seemed put out. I generally have about $2.00 a day for lunch, if I am lucky. I personally don't go to Starbuck's for coffee but once every few months, if at all. If we went out to dinner, we tried to take her to the may diverse restaurants in the area - Chinese, Thai, Mexican - all that can be found for reasonable prices, but she would only eat Steak or expensive meat when we went out, or junk food at home.So you can see where this was starting to go. Then she complained that the television in her room didn't get all the cable channels that the one in the LR got. (WEll tough - we are not paying another $75/month for another cable box.) She also got upset because the computer we had set up for her in her room only had Windows 98 ansd she couldn't load SKYPE on it even though I gave her a calling card. So over a few weeks of this I came home grumpier and grumpier. She never pushed the 12 year old to pick up after herself or do her chores. The 12 year old started to back talk me but the au pair would say - oh she needs to have her summer to have fun - not to do chores.
I had tried to be nice by leaving her "to do" lists which never got done. She kept insisting on having a schedule which was very difficult to get together at the beginning of the summer. However, I finally had just had it. This was my home. I worked very hard during the day. I hardly ever get lunch or even have time for a hair cut and here is this person who I have opened my home to and arranged to send to the family vacation and taken time off to do some site-seeing with her and been fairly generous and really gone out of our way for her and she isn't even cooking the kid's dinner, helping make their beds, or washing their clothes. She's eating me out of house and home and she's got a rat's nest brewing in my house. What else do I have in store for myself. So I sat down and put a regular schedule and a list of chores out on a calendar. Then I sat down and talked to her about how well she was doing with the kids. Here was the schedule she wanted. It included the chores we has previously discussed and I also gave her a new copy of the house rules. The next day we found out that she asked for a rematch and would be leaving in 2 weeks. This just threw us for a loop. This girl was a bit odd. More immaure than she ad led us to believe, bu now we were convinced that something else was really bizarre. Chaos ensued in our house. We had to find childcare for the little one and the oldest child had to spend half a day with the neighbor she did not get along with for 3 weeks. Luckily, we found an au pair in rematch who was within driving distance who was in a family situation which was worse than ours
(I think the kids all had evil twins that came out of hiding when they ate too much sugar) She has been great. Au Pair #1 went to another family where she only lasted a month before she got sent somewhere else. Now our Au Pair#2 is ending her first year and is leaving us to go to another family on the other side of the country. Which I would do, given the opportunity. She has been wonderful with the littlest girl. And also she has made friends and knows how to drive well and how to take mass transit. She is independent enough that I do not feel like I have to be her tour guide. I feel more like her older sister or aunt or friend than her "employer" and definitely I don't feel like I have to be her mommy or pick up after her like my own little kids or like the first au pair. It makes me very sad that she is leaving because I also know that my oldest child was not very nice, not all all helpful and often very rude to her. She even told me she might have considered staying if it hadn't been for the older child.
The funny thing is - we never had our 2 week follow up meeting with our area counselor. She resigned, the aency hired someone new and we started trying to figure out our replacement au pair siuation at the beginning of November. Despite the number of Au APirs available on the website for extension, We were only sent out of country au pairs to try to match with. In desperations I contacted 2 of them and found that neither one could speak understandable English and when questioned, did not drive as often
as implied in their apllications either.
Like other posters above, I have learned that there are a few very specific key qualities I need in a child care provider - I NEED someone who can drive - no exceptions. They MUST speak understandable English. They need to be able to cook SOME THINGS. If all they can cook is food from their country that is fine. The kids will have to learn to eat it. Preferably we need someone who is not an only child and has had at least one younger sibling and has had to take care of some household chores while her parents worked. For us, we need someone who is somewhat self-sufficient and somewhat independent yet who can follow rules and be a good role model. So it is a plus if they have already lived away from home for a while and been to college. Other families may find they want someone who will become more a part of the family and eat dinner with them all the time and participate in every single family activity with them. In that case they might want a less independent sort.
We paid all of our fees and everything for 12 months starting from the end of MAY 2006. We had 3
weeks of no au pair care in July. We are renewing a contract as we have found a second year extension au pair starting the end of February 2008 to Fenbruary 2009. So we are being reimburse around $2000 +/- for the remainder of the current contract. Which end when our current au pair leave on January 26th and would end at its normal date on May 26th. So we have to pay the remainder of the contract period from the ed of May to February 2008. We are trying to figure out a way to old off paying it until we know if this au pair is going to really stay and work out. I think all the agencies are the same. They are just in it to soak the au pairs and the families for the money. I can see where a girl who is used to having maids and not having to do anything would be very disappointed if they were sold on a life of cell phones, nice cars and nice places to live and they got here and they had to change diapers and wash clothes and prepare meals for children. In that case, the fault is in the adverising and the sales
not being ruthful and recruiting the right girls. Truthfully, I do not know an family where both parents do not work very hard just to make their household expense meet each month. These are the households most wanting an au pair as a low cost type of child care.
These are the peope who might be scraping pennes to make mortgage payments on a 3 bedroom home, who will squeeze their twin girls and little boy into one room, so that the au pair gets to have her own room, because those are the rules (Or give the kids the master bedroom). They may be driving old cars ad go out of their way to buy a third used car for the a pair to drive the kids around in. It may, in fact be the best car they have because they want the kids driven around in the safer car. They may have to spend all their weekend time cleaning the house and doing laundry and they expect the au pair to do some of the children's laundry and cleaning during the week. A family would not host a foreign student who wanted to come to the US to occupy their living room and watch TV, play video games, eat their food, drive their car, run up their cell phone bill and otherwise contribute nothing to the household except for being a leach. A family also does not expect an au pair to do this. They
expect someone who wants to come to share their home and in exchange for their own room and
reasonable food and expenses, such can be reasonably afforded by the family, AND their stipend they will watch the children and perform child care duties and clean up after the kids and keep things tidy and neat and not abuse the privilege they have of their visit in this country or in their family's home. When au pair juswt up and disappear. Leave a note (or leave no note) and leave the parents high and dry for chiold care, I think that the agency should be responsible for payment of the interim childcare. They should have some sort of insurance policy for that sort of thing, or they should sequester part of the host family's substantial fees which might otherwise go be split with the au pair to cover losses such as huge cell phone bills or interim child care for au pairs that ran away. The agency should be responsible for explaining the consequences of running away illegally and the expense of things in the U.S. especially if the au pair is going to the NorthEast, NYC, WDC, California coast, or anywhere the cost of living is huge. I just hope our next Au Pair works out. At least she has been in the US for a year and has an idea of what some of our American idiosychronisities are.

 
At 17/1/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So an update on my 10/23 post. Au Pair Care LCC Tanja just confirmed to me that they didn't inform the new host family of any of the problems we had with our former au pair before placing her with the new family. So my advice to all families is beware of in country rematches with Au Pair Care.

 
At 19/1/08 , Blogger Ms.Money said...

Thank you to all the Parents and Au Pairs who have commented on this Au Pair post. Please continue to tell your stories and solutions. I still believe Au Pair care is an excellent opportunity for Au Pairs, Parents and children to benefit from the cultural exchange experience.

I invite you to think about a few good solutions and add them to your post about how the agencies, Parents and Au Pairs can help this process go smoother and improve the communication and relationships.

The #1 way that I see this problem resolved is not to pay the agency 12 months of fees up front. Pay the agency every month the same you do the Au Pair and they will make the effort to make sure everyone is happy. If they refuse, find an agency that will do this, or start your own. Seems like a good business opportunity here.

It should be a legal requirement that when an Au Pair switches families that the new family has to read any complaints from the old family and sign a paper saying they read them.

It is such a small world that I had a dinner at a friends a few months ago and met a man who was going to buy the Au Pair Care business. I told him he should read this blog to learn how to make the business run better. However, he decided it wasn't a good investment for him.

 
At 21/1/08 , Blogger Monica said...

I just found this blog now, and would like to ask if anyone would be interested in commenting on a piece we are putting together around some of the systemic issues across au pair programs. Some of the issues are serious.

Specifically, this is a piece on a number of federal government regulators and how they lack the manpower, authority, and management required to govern the entities they are charged with overseeing. The State Department and the cultural exchange program is my beat. With the election year, politicians have addressed the program issues regarding illegal immigration for which the au pair program has been identified as a path for illegal immigration. Additionally, other systemic program issues have been raised such as child welfare issues, negative impacts to U.S. diplomacy and false advertising practices locally and abroad. Questionable profit driving methods that compromise child safety have also been raised. Many charge this a money making program, quite in contrast to the cultural exchange program for which the agency's receive a privledged status of from Congress.

There is talk on the hill regarding changing program status and this is the motivation for the coverage.

If you would like to comment in any way, or have any information you'd like to share, please email me at:

monica.briens@gmail.com

 
At 22/1/08 , Anonymous Lynn said...

Jude -

A while ago I was a regular on this board. I have had 7 au pairs in a span of 4 years. The last au pair was going to be our last shot at the program after two not so good experiences. Our current au pair is great so far. In fact, we have had at least 2 that were great, 2 that were ok, and the rest we had issues. However, that doesn't mean our experience will be the same as yours. Even the ADs vary in goodness. We got kicked out of our current area due to the AD not wanting to do her job. But there are three big tips - 1) go with your instincts (if you feel something is off, it may be, 2) talk to the au pair and the AD (maybe via email or separately at first). But let them know what's up and see how the au pair responds. The au pair may think all is well. You will quickly realize whether the au pair will fit in or not. You can then let the AD know what is up. And 3) the au pairs tend to be teenagers (or close to being teenagers) and you may have to deal with those issues that teenagers cause. Our current au pair is unusually mature for her age. It is sometimes hard to tell the motivation of the au pairs, but I can tell you that all experiences are not bad. Being aware is half the battle so you can take care of issues early.

 
At 24/1/08 , Anonymous Kate said...

Hello,

I was interested in becoming an au pair and definately wanted to do my placement in the USA seen as it was the most easily accessed and spoke the same language as me (I am Australian), however after reading the comments on this blog, I am truly having second thoughts. I am a qualified childcare worker and wanted to feel as if i were in a family environment but this truly has me worried as to whether or not I'd recieve that, if not any support. I understand that you are all just looking out for your children's best interests and I totally agree given that this would also be my responsibily as a carer but I don't feel that i do a job to the best of my abilities if I felt that every move I made might be percieved in a negative way leading myself being "fired". I love working with kids but find the idea of not fitting in or my host family not understanding my cultural differences terrifying, I also wasn't aware that the host parents dictated my every move, I mean, I am a pretty easygoing and respectful person but by the sounds of this any form of independence is deemed as the au pair being selfish and ungrateful of you.

Forgive me if this whole thing has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

 
At 25/1/08 , Blogger Ms.Money said...

Dear Kate,
I can see why you might find these posts a bit troubling. However, please don't be discouraged from becoming an Au Pair.

I think the best tip I can offer is to make sure you interview the parents well and bring up some of the points in this blog. This will help set a foundation for both of your expectations and help prevent some of the communication errors that lead to poor relationships.

Keep in mind that happy people are less likely to post on this blog. They are moving along with their lives and don't have to focus on trying to make their Au Pair relationships work because they already do.

I could make an educated guess here that for every post on this blog there are at least 3 happy family Au Pair situations that work wonderful (and don't post). Who knows - it could be even 10 happy situations for every unhappy situation.

Use the blog posts as tool to create the best relationships you can with your future family.

Blessings,
Ms.Money

 
At 26/1/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

REMATCH - To anyone considering hiring an aupair in what is referred to as "Rematch" which means there was a problem with the original host family/aupair relationship. BEWARE! These aupairs are being sent to unsuspecting families who do not have access to the intial host family informaiton (often counselors run interference and say things such as there was a "personaliy mismatch" or the AuPair decided to leave because she felt she was being mistreated. I had an AuPair who told me (through a friend who spoke Portugese) that her application said she "Spoke English VERY Well for over an hour in the interview" and she had replied very well in English to my emails (someone else was wrting them) that the interviewer said it was OK, that she didn't know english, she would learn it here. Her application also said she swims (I have a pool and house at the beach and a toddler). She arrived and I found she only swims in water below her waist (cannot swim in deep pools, could never save a child if necessary)LOVELY! This wasn't even the problem, she could not be trusted with a toddler even for a minute (I would say I need to go to the bathroom, please watch him 5 minutes and I would come back he would be eating a pen cap and she would be in her room with the door closed. I never ended up having her work alone for the two months she was here. I called the counselor, counselor agreed it was a disaster and she should leave immediately-she was unsafe with a toddler. She had NO CLUE about small children. Mind you, counselor agreed 100% after 10 minutes of observation in my home she should leave immediately. Where did she go???? Rematch, with a family in another state, that never spoke to me and had a toddler and a newborn. I was horrified and could not sleep for weeks worrying about it. I called the counselor several times and asked her what the family knew? She said "They met her, they are happy". THIS IS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN. I was terrified for this family and worried until I knew she had gone back to her country. Bottom line-DO NOT TRUT ANYONE IN REMATCH AND SCRUTINIZE THOSE IN EXTENSION AS WELL - THERE IS ALWAYS MORE TO THE REASON THEY DO NOT STAY WITH THEIR CURRENT FAMILY-ASK TO SPEAK TO THE FAMILY AND ASK QUESTIONS!!!!! I am now on my fourth aupair (two were excellent, this one is also going into rematch (again big problems she is horrible with kids, they do not want to be with her, she has attitude about helping and is a very cold, aloof person that makes everyone uncomfortable. What does APIA suggest-REMATCH.

 
At 26/1/08 , Anonymous Lynn said...

I would definitely be careful in a rematch situation. However, some ADs are willing to have the potential host family talk with the au pair's current host family. One time, the gaining AD requested that I speak with the host mother about my au pair that wanted to extend. After speaking with me, the host mother decided not to match (and our au pair was very angry and indicated that we lied to the host mother). After the losing AD found out that we spoke with the potential family, she told us not to do that again. She matched with another family. And we know where she lives, and she's probably ok. But she is a little money grabber. She barely stayed her year with us. And I am still bitter she never said goodbye to our daughter. We have matched in country twice now. One was a bad match and the other was ok. Sometimes they leave due to a bad family situation (poor work conditions), sometimes they leave to to being poor au pairs, and sometimes they just up an leave (with an hours worth of notice). I find it hard to believe why the companies would rematch those that provide poor child care. Rematching should only be done in the case of mismatched family/au pair personalities (like our last one) not in the case of providing documented poor child care.

 
At 26/1/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have been in the au pair program for 4 years and we are on our 4th. Originally, we were with AuPairCare and our first au pair from Poland stayed with us for 2 years. She was excellent! We still keep in touch with her and the children adored her. She had a great personality, she loved to be with children, she was creative, she was organized and we took her every where with us - even Hawaii! We didn't take a trip (even a long weekend away) without asking her if she would like to join us. She was so wonderful that even after 2 years of being back in her home country, she still stays in touch with many of our family members, grandparents and friends. Our second au pair from AuPairCare was horrible. We couldn't believe the difference and frankly, how dishonest she was. She was extremely lazy! We discussed several issues with the LCC about the au pair's laziness, dishonesty, how she took our children to chuck e cheese's - left them with another person while she went shopping! There is so much more and it is horrible, she was not fit for childcare, but they rematched her with another family anyway! We agreed to accept an extension au pair from CA who wanted to spend time on the East Coast. Had good reviews from her current family. She was terrible! My kids were dirty, my house was dirty, there were stains all over the carpet and she would put away the kids clothes wet so she could go clubbing. It was a disaster. We got rid of her. We decided we would no longer use AuPairCare since they continued to work with the second au pair even after receiving our feedback. The LCC for AuPair Care didn't have a clue and she didn't care what we told her. We were also able to provide emails from the au pair as to how she couldn't stand taking care of the children, but AuPair Care continued to work with her. Based on those experiences, we switched to Cultural Care. We had a very good experience during the match process and working with our LCC. Our current au pair from Moldova is very challenging. We have major issues with communication, responsibilities, etc. There is no way she has child development experience. She leaves my children on their own while she is in her room. She has left prescription medication (out of the bottle) on the table next to my toddler or on the counter. She does not see the issue with this as she states that my son knows that it is not his so he would not put it in his mouth. She is clueless. We have provided her resources for training, sent her to child development classes, but every week it is the same thing. She does not learn. Bottom line, she is extremely immature, very selfish and her main goal is to find a man to marry here. We don't have issues with what the au pairs do on their personal time as long as it is not impacting their ability to work each day and as long as it is legal. She stays up all hours of the night on the phone and then has difficulty working during the day/week. Recently, she left me a note with what SHE recommends as her schedule per week to care for the children not the schedule that we have. We have talked with the LCC in the last few weeks that we are continuing to have difficulties and need to address. I am at a loss and I am really stressed about these issues that we continue to have.
I would like to take a moment to address Kate based on her message. Please understand that this is a forum for individuals to share their experiences about au pairs. Those experiences could be positive or negative. Our family has experienced both. Do not be discouraged about becoming an au pair. I think it is important for you to interview the family and make sure there is a match for you, not just the family. I think you have the right mindset and as long as you have continuous communication with your host family and make good decisions, you will have a good foundation for a good experience.

 
At 26/1/08 , Blogger Ms.Money said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with your Polish Au Pair. She sounded amazing and I hope all the families reading this have the opportunity to have at least one good experience with Au Pairs.

 
At 26/1/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you should know that the agency won't tell you.

If you take on an au pair for just 1 week and it doesn't work out - say you find out the au pair is Autistic. The agency will take a minimum of $3K from you and rematch the au Pair without dislosing the facts to the next family.

 
At 28/1/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kate -

I hope you choose to go ahead and become an au pair. Depending upon your situation (family, attitude, work environment, personality) you can have a wonderful time as an au pair. I have been with the program since March 2004. I have had 2 wonderful au pairs, 2 ok au pairs, and 3 not so good ones. I have had to get 3 rematches and not all were due to the families not allowing independence. One we never figured out the problem, one because she was homesick and wanted to marry her boyfriend, and one because she couldn't tell the truth. One barely survived through her year with us. I believe she desired independence without any connection with us and she just didn't like the host parents (and she left without saying goodbye to our one child). We want our au pairs to interact with the family after hours. I believe she had goals of being something besides an au pair, but we don't know that for a fact. The current au pair wanted to become one because her sister was one about 5 years ago. And she doesn't seem to mind we are moving to LA and she is excited about seeing the West Coast.

All in all, I think clear and honest communication in the interview process would help match families and au pairs better. However, I think families and future au pairs don't always tell what their motivations are, why they want to become one, what their qualifications are, what the children are like, or what the job is like. If au pairs don't ask questions and families don't ask questions, I think problems can arise. I admit, I didn't follow my instincts on a couple of au pairs, and now I know better.
And I don't really want to get into the matches with in country au pairs. I do think it is rotten that searching host families cannot talk to prior host families. Honest assessments will reduce heart ache in the future.

Good luck in your choice.

 
At 5/2/08 , Anonymous HOSTS READ THIS PLEASE!! said...

Hi, I'm an Au Pair since April 16th, I am from Brazil.
Now I'm in Rematching, not because I had problem with my Hosts but because WE all had problems as a family. Unfortunatelly they are losing everything! cars, house, but not the dignity. When I first got there, it was wonderful, they asked a lot about my country,we would go outside, they'd take for family meetings and parties, on my birthday they brought me a cake and gave me a treat. Until may it was perfect!! I used to tell my mom how wonderful was spending time with the little girl (13 months at that time), how cute was their love, and even the dog, would be my best friend too!

In June there was a family party where obviously was my day off and my hosts wanted to me drink as everyone else. I was entertained with a couple of cousins of him so I never knew the reason why she left with the baby!!! then late I had to sleepover in his brother's house, I slept with their little baby. We head back to the house in the morning. I understand she could misunderstand the whole story, and after that day she would never talk to me decently, as if it was my fault that she didnt call me to go back home with her that day.
After this day, the whole thing started to be mt dream becoming a nightmare!!!
I was crying everyday, because every weekend when they used to go out and meet the family, they would let me alone!! And still, they'd say: "Could you please take the dog out"
(WHAT?) I stayed more than a MONTH in the house they'd never take me out with them, they would never ask if I wanted to go somewhere, it was a prision! I loved the little girl so much, I would do anythign for her and the dog, they were the ones that would bring me some joy during those hard days.

I never had those privileges as car and cell phones!!! I'd talk to my mom online only. Besides all of that the computer was inside their bedroom!!! It was rare when I could come in and just tell my mom quickly I was fine, alive!!! But I was just afraid to talk to them... She was always to busy with her soap-operas, she never asked if I was happy, if my schedule was ok. I didnt have friends at all, the days it was for me to have to go to the au pair meetings they would call the director and say I would be busy that day with the baby.

After some months I was drink as much as I could (on weekends alone). And going crazy with the lack of communication. When the director would call I'd say everything was fine, cuz I'd think the family was doing what they could for me. First of all, all the topics they could violate in the contract tehy did! they didnt pay me weekly, monthly. They gave me a car, but she would never let me get my VA license, always saying, next week. Not talking to me, I'd feel guilt when I started talking to her because she would pause her soap operas and make a mad face, because I was bothering! The worst part me and the kid would stay in the basement ALL THE DAY long, poor kid, she hated being in that closed place! I tried my best everyday to entertain her to not let the kid get stressed in that place, she was bored, we couldnt stand Dora's dvd anymore! How can you leave your kid more than 8 hours in on closed place!!! For me not take the kid upstairs and not bother her with her tv shows, she would throw some snacks! Because if I take the girl usptairs she didnt wat to go back down!

Well, after all that, that greedy and mean couple watched the page turn... They are young and they figured out the Real Estate business was breaking down!
Their life changed abruptly!!!
In August they were in Germany taking vacations (and believe me I stayed 5 days ALONE with a 19 month -old baby in the middle of nowhere in vriginia, far from everything! and Not allowed to drive (i didnt have a license yet). They'd say: "whats the point having a nanny (nanny!!!) if we cant count with her when we need!" They didnt even pay me extra for those 5 horrible days! The girls was perfect, I meant horrible because the dog missed his 'dad' and was pooping in the house ALL THE DAY LONG! I had to take care of the baby, take care of me, and clean the house everyday!!! It was tiring and miserable. I actually was proud of myself for such responsibility I was showing.
Nevertheless, On september they learned they were in a bad situation, they didnt pay me since august (until now!).
He lost the job. In 2 months they also lost 2 cars out of 3 that one was already paid. After this they started to be more humble!! They would be sincere about the whole situation, she would talk to me and let me know what she was feeling. He was a nice person, with a difficult personality, he would never think that he would lose his one million dollars house!
She was suffering a lot, so I thought that this was the right time to finally get closer to my Host Family!!!
I wasn't still being paid, but it would hurt me bad to think about leaving the little girl and the dog, or even the family the tried to make my dream of an exchange come true. When I started dating a boy from DC She would always give the tickets and say it would be nice for me. Then I started to see the real people that I was living with, it's hard to realize that for young people money can leave them blind and forget about values that we learn when we are kids!
And that's what happened. I'm glad to say I could hold all the pain I had, and stay with them untill the end!
Actually, I couldn't stay untill the end, because they are moving to his parents house, the APC wouldn't let me go anyway. She got pregnant on november and the money situation was getting worse each day. At leats we had what to eat (with his parents help!). So maybe Leaving was helping them to stand up again. I learned he got a job, and I'm cheerful to know her baby is growing fast in her tummy. But the little girl, this one I miss everyday!!! She gave me an photo album for Xmas of the little girl and me, it's so beautiful, I can't even see it, cause there's a whole in my heart missing her. It was hard to leave the house while she was crying and screaming my name at the windown. The day before I was leaving she went to my room and finally said what I was willing to hear since I got there: "Ka (thats how the baby called me), We love you to death, we could'nt ask for any better! we were lucky for having someone like you to look after our kid, you'll always be part of our family!"

I will never forget the experience and opportunity WE all had!

I know they don't have how to pay what they owe, but they want to keep in touch so someday they will pay me as a priority!
As they really don't have how to afford that, I wish The Au pair Care could afford that!!! I wasn't even able to go back to Brazil. I left the place without a dollar!
My boyfriend gave me a room in DC so I would have a place untill find another family. I extended the program (he paid for me) hoping that in less than one month Au Pair Care would pay the Bonus Check they promised, there's more than 3 weeks that I'm here in DC, I never got the Bonus Check, they already used the check my boyfriend gave. I had NONE support from the Area Director. I'm doing everything by myself (with my boyfriend paying for food). Now, I finally found a wonderful family in MD. They are also concerned that the AU Pair Care should take care of that money I didnt earn!
I dont them to pressure my Ex Hosts because I know they dont have. But when The other family was owing the AGENCY they would email her saying they would remove me! because I was THEIR employee!!!!! HOW about that now? THey should pay their employee!!

I was really afraid of extending, but I got no choice as I didnt have any money since August'07 and my family in Brazil can't afford a ticket to go back home.
But now, I have faith in God that this next family I'm joining this weekend will be wonderful to me, and that we can follow the contract correctly, and that the new area director can give me the necessary support and attention.

Girls never lose your Hope. and don't let obstacles let your dreams fall apart! one more thing, don't forget your values!

And families, please, be patient, and give attention (unless the Au Pair is mistreating your little ones - there's no excuse for be mean to a child)

with love, katrina fernandes.

 
At 7/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"my house was dirty, there were stains all over the carpet "
well I would say that this is not Au pair job!!!!
enough to say what do you require

 
At 8/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I am a former Au Pair and first of all I would like to give my opinion about some comments. I think it's a big mistake believe to an au pair be good or not depends on the country where she comes from. It's a issue of character and education. Not cultural. Another issue is: au pairs and families, some are good and some are not. It depends.
I was an Au Pair and watched 5 kids beyond did all my work as au pair I did kids laundry 3 times a week (my job), did groceries to all the hole family, put the groceries away, used to wash the family dishes and even worked all night when my host was at the hospital having babies and took care of her after that even watching the kids. Did I charge my extra hours? No. Because I was doing that because I didn't mind. Why not help if i can? Sometimes I even watched the neighboors kids because they would like to play with mine kids. TOTAL: 7 kids. The last time one of the neighboors kids disrepected me really badly and I decided don't watch them anymore. Everything was great thru there. Before that my hosts gave me a ticket to fly to my country and visit my family so i could stay for the second year. Of course they were taking advatage of me for a while but I didn't see that. After the tickets everything got definitely worse. They were using they power of the tickets, since they were sure I wasnt'going to ask for rematch. So I decided stop to do what wasn't my duty and I told her why. She didn't like it. Of course, the little cheap Au Pair was getting smarter. In the end of our conversation she decided put some new rules in the house, change my schedule and do everything diferent from the begginig. She said to me she was really happy about my realationship that I just started, but to my consuler she asked if thre's a rule in the program that can proibited the au pair to have a boyfriend (What kind of person behaves like that????????)I said clearly I didn't agree with the rules, but I wasn't in my house and I couldn't do anything about that. I decided stay at her house for some more months because i really care about that kids. I left her house and her tickets and came back to my home.

If you ask her why did i left her house. She is going to say: I don't know why she 'did that with us'. We are a great family. She told many lies to the agency and even said she will not stop untill make my life miserable... (once again.. what kind of person does something like that? Someone that believes in God? And she goes in the church.) Maybe she thinks it because it's always easier to point fingers and don't look inside and see that nobory is as perfect as it thinks. It even works to me, but I need let you know i am really curious to see if and when is she going to find an au pair as good as me. Action and reaction issue. That's what she needs understand.
Some au pairs are not responsable. That's right. But I can tell you as au pair. Some families think we are just poor and stupid girls that go over USA try get a better life, but i need tell yoy guys. We are smarter then you think we are and most of us are going to USA not because we need, but because we want to. This culture needs be changed and we need more respect of SOME families. I hpoe my words can help you guys. Being a Host family and being and au pair has both sides. If we are really nice families take advantage of us. If we are regular ones. We are just ok. If we don't do everything perfect we are terible. It's hard for both sides.

 
At 8/2/08 , Anonymous Eliana said...

First of all, I´m trully sorry about the bad experiences that I read here.
I am a brazilian au pair and I just would like to say that nacionality does not tell all about one person. I know bad au pairs that come from very different places, it is not fair to the brazilian girls who take the au pair program seriously being victims of prejudice.
I agree that the model of au pair program here in United States needs to be changed. One good model is the program in Canada, called Live-In Caregiver. This is almost "an au pair program" but the families can hire the person without agency (saving some money) and both sides sign a contract with all the rules, benefits. There is also more stricted rules about the applicants, for example, the person needs to prove that worked at least 12 months with children and the person need to be able to read, speak and write well in English.
The families should fight for some changes, I am sure that lots of problems would be prevented.
To know more about the program in Canada: http://www.cic.gc.ca/ENGLISH/work/caregiver/index.asp.
While the rules for the au pair program do not change, the most important is to interview with as much questions as possible. It should be a right of the families to talk to previous au pair families. The agency does not have the right to deny it! My agency allows hostfamilies exchange information, my current hostmom talked to my future hostmother over the phone more than once.

 
At 11/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember, we have to get the message across to these agencies that they are responsible for hiring these girls into our homes. Like it or not, we can't wait until something bad happens to our children before legislation of somekind is passed.
The agencies don't care because they will continue to take our money whether it works out or not.
Lets put them out of business by not using them if they treat us Host Families so impersonally. Lets hire people who really like children and care whether or not they are successful at what they do.

 
At 15/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To ALL FUTURE HOST FAMILIES: Everything that you read is so correct in this forum! The biggest problem is that the Au-pair agencies won't admit that the marketing is completely two sided, American families are sold on the idea of AFFORDABLE childcare while the Au-pairs are coming to travel America and improve their English.

Let's be honest with ourselves....How is one suppose to travel America working 45 hrs a week and sometimes on the weekend on $160 a week? Plus taking a course?



If you want to have a Cultural Exchange for your family just host an Exchange Student ,without having to pay $7,000.


Warning: When the girls come to America and find out that the going rate for childcare is at least $15 hrs, what is the motivation to stay with the family if there are problems?

What are the agencies doing to control illegal postings from their Au-pairs on Nanny websites?

Have to do your Due Diligence in the matter!

 
At 16/2/08 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Maybe the girls need to be told about the fact that some get $15 an hour, but these people are normally residents already and don't have to cover the high cost of the paperwork to get clearance from immigration. Also, if they are here for a year, without any out of pocket living expenses (gas, electric, car, medical, etc.) and the only expenses they have are their Friday night extravaganzas, then $160 per week is sufficient. With all my expenses as a host mom, there are many weeks I never had any money left over, let alone $160 to do whatever I want to without question.
We definitely do have to pass legislation to prevent these dishonest people from getting into our country.

 
At 19/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 7/2/08 , Anonymous said...
"my house was dirty, there were stains all over the carpet "
well I would say that this is not Au pair job!!!!
enough to say what do you require


In response to this comment based on my previous posting - my house was dirty because the au pair did not do any light housekeeping including helping to pick up the children's toys, etc. or putting away her own items. My carpets had stains all over them because she allowed the children to paint on the carpet, spill cups of milk and write/draw on the walls. These things would happen because she was not doing her job of looking after my child.

 
At 22/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any insight on how the au pair program is advertised or explained in other countries to potential candidates? Do candidates have to pay to get in the program?

 
At 26/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had read these comments before I lost $3,000. Our Au Pair from Russia was terrible and our agency did not loose any money. She was here to get a cell phone, drive a car and have fun with friends. Her priorities were to take pictues and travel. She would not do any work. She got us to do her errands. I think the counter-part of the agency in Russia did not do their job! I think that if the agency HAS nothing to LOOSE that they will never do their job. I will warn as many people as I can not to get an Au Pair--I guess some people have good experiences but not US!! I think you are better doing everything on your own and you be the one to ask the questions to the references--you are responsbile for your own kids.

 
At 27/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

2/27/07. My experience with AuPair Care has been wonderful. I have had aupairs for four years and I have had nothing but wonderful things to say about the company and my aupairs. Everytime I contact my local director or the home office I get a quick responce and it is very professional. After reading a lot of these comments it sounds like a lot fo host families do not take ownership of their own behavior. The aupair arrives in your home to be part of the family. The aupair is also in her 20"s, think back to when you where 20 something. Keep an open mind and treat the aupiar with respect and things ususally turn out great!

 
At 29/2/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES, we (au pairs) have to pay to get in on the program, usually it's around 800 USD, which is way less than what the families spend, but for a third world country it's a good ammount! We also pay for expenses during the trip to the host family, (usually, in dollars!) we pay for the Passport. we pay for getting a Visa. We pay Travel Agents...

The Ads about Au Pair Program in Brazil was little and hard to find. But 2 years ago, it became a very big deal!
The Agents go to universities and High Schools to look for girls interested. And When you go to an agency looking for Studying Abroad, they offer the au Pair Program as an option!!!!! (they kinda hide the hard work it is taking care of a child)
besides, they will also help you to find Gov. Day carres for you to volunteer and then the family will get impressed you did volunteer. And that's the key... At those day cares they so much help that it's easier than actually take care of a Child.

I'm an au pair and I love children!
I came because of the opportunity to go abroad and do the same I did in Brazil: take care of children!

I live with such an amazing couple and a 3month-old baby!

Good Luck with your choice!!!!!!


love,
Katrina Fernandes.

 
At 4/3/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello everybody,

I went to America when I was 22 years old and this was supposed to be the best experience ever but it was the worst experience of my life. I went to America with Au Pare Care and I wouldn't recommand this programm at all. My area director was the worst and she was never there for me when I needed her. The worst city to be an Au pair is NY, all my friends had changed families at least one time and some of them 2 or 3 times!!! it was just crazy and I lost my self-confidence with that experience. Most of us were treated like employees and we didn't feel comfortable, we always tried to avoid the host family's house, sometimes we couldn't eat what we wanted or we had to work 6 days a week (without extra money). It's really hard to leave you country and your family, your friends for a new country where you don't know anybody that's why I think that the families should treat us better. I heard so many horrible stories about Au Pairs and it's a pitty because now I have a very bad opinion about americans in general and before it was a dream... think twice before you decide to be an Au pair or a host family

 
At 24/3/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buyer Beware! If you are looking for a truly reliable and worthwhile childcare solution go with an American Nanny where you can verify the authenticity of the screening and background check. OR just get a good young person from your neighborhood, their cheaper and you know their parents.

Most au pairs are very poorly screened often through overseas "agents" that do not work with any company marketing the various au pairs on a first come - first took basis. There are reported cases of forged background checks and even worse falsified claims of childcare hours. Sadly they also work the au pairs as unwitting innocents describing the streets of America as paved with gold. When they get here they have no idea what they have signed on for. A week later they are leaving to either go back home or just try to find a family that is more like what they had been sold on. Fair days for no pay.

As far as driving goes - not on your life. Au pairs constantly run their family cars into other cars, buildings and people. If you are going to risk this first off don't ever put your children in the car and for goodness sakes get a lot more insurance then you already have.

There is only one more thing... please be aware that you are allowing a young, attractive 18 year old girl or boy into your home. If you think your husband won't notice please reconsider your options. It is all over the web and happens all the time. Homes are wrecked on an ongoing basis.

This can be a good option but please heed my advice before any of the above happens to you. Most of the firms have very dirty contracts that do not allow for refunds. So mistakes are part of the program that cost you and you alone. Good Luck.

Mother - CA.

 
At 31/3/08 , Anonymous Talya said...

I'm afraid part of the problem is that the government "regulates" this industry, not the free market. The State Department decides which agencies are allowed to operate, and families are only legally allowed to bring an au pair into the country via one of the government sponsored agencies. Like everything else, if the government would let the market decide, there would be more choice, and families would end up with better options - i.e., agencies who are worth their hefty fees.


Talya
www.bestaupairguide.com

 
At 2/4/08 , Anonymous aupaircare? said...

I am new to AuPair Care and after 3 months I'm on my 2nd Au Pair. I liked our first girl as she was very sweet. But she was also reserved and had trouble making friends. She often turned down family outings and usually stayed in her room when she wasn't working. She didn't really play with my children, but she was very patient with them. She was a great driver though and she tried her best. After we both contacted the Local Coordinator, the LC recommended she rematch. Neither one of us wanted that, but we decided to after all.

My new aupair upsets me constantly. I've worked hard to teach her how to drive and basic child psychology. But she is always upset when the kids aren't perfect. She erased my kindergartner's homework because he it was 'very bad'. She also grabbed my 5 year old's face to make him spit out an extra snack he grabbed.

I've tried to be patient and understand the cultural differences. But when my sons tell me 'she erased my homework', or 'she grabbed my face', I get really upset.

I give her free access to my car to go to classes and have personal time. She doesn't abuse this. She has free access to the computer and that's fine. I just wish she would listen to my advice on watching my children and not be so mean or negative or tell them they are bad. My husband is currently out of town, but if he were here he would have demand she leave immediately.

I hope we will have better experience with an aupair at some point. I love the idea of meeting someone from another country and sharing their culture with my kids. But I do want someone who is capable of watching children and I don't have to give c'hild caring 101' information everytime I come home. Perhaps I should stick to daycare and then just host a foreign exchange student.

 
At 8/4/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you have problems and you will take your complaints directly to the BBB and the State Department. When you do the au pair agencies will respond - they have no choice. They are under constant investigation and have no other recourse then to offer you a refund and a release so you will not be able to talk poorly of them, their business practices or the way you have been treated.

 
At 16/4/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an 18 yr old girl who is really seriously looking forward to a year of au pairing or teaching english once i have taken a course in jan 09.' It is really disheartening that people are still predisposed to such behaviour in a position like that.
I can only imagine how many good opportunities i have lost as a result of other's lack of propriety and how many families have now lost trust in the system because of that. Aren't there any well known agencies or ways of teaching/au pairing without an agency?

 
At 16/4/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the girl who posted on 4/16/08.

Not all experiences are bad. My daughter is on her 7th au pair in over 4 years. We have had outstanding au pairs that we still treat like members of our family. But we have had a few au pairs that decided they didn't want to be an au pair and a couple that weren't very good or reliable. But the great au pairs make it worth the while. Our daughter has enjoyed a lot of one on one attention and is learning how to be a polite playful girl. She has hardly been sick a day in her life. And the au pairs become part of our families (we take them on vacations, invite them to dinner with us, etc).
Knowing the good, the bad, the so so experiences will help you make your decision. Understanding the family's expections and trying to merge your expectations into the family's will make your experience more rewarding. Also, understanding the dynamics of different cultures, along with being homesick is important. Being an au pair is not all happy. It can be work (if a toddler is being difficult).

I believe all the agencies have pros and cons. And I bet going without one also has risks, but different ones.

During my experience, I have found communication the key. Communicate early and often. With the company (if problems are popping up) and with the au pair (prevent problems from getting worse).

 
At 26/4/08 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

I would like to repond to the comment about taking the agency to the BBB and the state dept. I did that. The agencies have it all figured into their wording when you sign the contract. If you click on you agree to their terms it's like signing a contract. They will not respond, or jump. They have no fear of these agencies because they have carried out the part of the contract they have promised to you the consumer and will not make an exception. The agencies DO NOT care about your problems b/c they get paid no matter what. The laws have to be adjusted.

 
At 7/5/08 , Blogger Mieke said...

I have had three au pairs through au pair care and they both have been fantastic. Two, from the Czech Repubic, one stayed for a year and a half, the other a year, then one from Spain, who stayed a year.

I think it is very important to have good interviewing skills when searching for an au pair. Know the questions to ask. Check references. Trust your gut. There are red flags in a lot of these applications. Pay attention when you have a nagging feeling and move on.

Once the au pair has arrived sit her down and give her a job description. Explain it to her item by item. Be very clear about your expectations and then explain that this is really about being a team and that if she helps you out, you'll help her out when she needs it. The clearer you can be upfront the less room for misunderstanding there is later.

I love having an au pair. For our family it has been a huge success. Our sons love the young women who have come to live with us. They have been kind

I agree that unless they've had a lot of driving experience I wouldn't allow them to drive my car. One of the Czechs was terrific in the car, the other Czech twice dragged my car againt stationary objects. Ugh.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

 
At 12/5/08 , Blogger The Davis Chronicles said...

I didn't read all of these comments, but it's an interesting topic. I'm American born and raised. I was an Au Pair in Germany in 1998. I paid my way to go there, my own health care, my own expenses, my own entertainment, and made a stipend $70US dollars a week for hard house work...not what I expected. I cleaned windows, shutters, did laundry, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms...I remember my hands being cracked and bleeding. I worked well over 50 hours a week with no one to regulate what I was doing...no department of state.
I hold a degree in Family Ministries and Christian Education and I've worked with children for over 15 years and nothing has compared to that time in my life.
The reason I went is because Au Pair means to come alongside...your au pair should be someone who is part of your family...some like an older sister who loves your children. I've lived in seven other homes, none other where I was titled an au pair but several which I could say my role was more equal to what an au pair should be.
The person who said here that you should say good night and good morning...that's a good suggestion that goes a long way. When I was in Germany it was just incredible lonely. I've never felt so lonely in my life. I thought I would see something of the world and all I saw was scrubbing the floor and I had so little control. I've always been a giver, but when someone demands every once of you...it's hard to find the last precious drop of yourself to give.
These au pairs have come to you for many reasons, but they would not have chosen this avenue had they not wanted to give you something... so allow them the opportunity to excel.

 
At 18/5/08 , Blogger Josefine said...

hi!
I want to work as an Au Pair, and to hear this storys i wonder where the respect are?
if somone here want to have an au pair, im here!
a swedish girl who wants to be a very good big sister for the kids.
pe.josefine@gmail.com

 
At 23/5/08 , Anonymous Antonella said...

hello! I´m from Argentina and I´m 22 years old. I´m planning to get in the "AU PAIR IN AMERICA"´S programme in September...so that I can get my degree at university and go to the United States on April 2009..but after what I´ve read here...I´m quite afraid :( What pieces of advice can you give me, in order to really match with a family? I know relations are not perfect, but I would like to know..from the Host parents´ point of view, what kind of questions should I ask while receiving the phone calls, etc. I would really appreciate it. I´ll leave my e-mail, if someone is willing to give me a piece of advice. Thank you! antodaria@hotmail.com

 
At 23/5/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow,
I don't have time to read everything, but I wished I had found this website before I hired an au pair last year. Now, she just gave me a week's notice and I don't know what APC will do about refunding any portion of my money and I've invested so much in this girl that I don't want to try another au pair. We treated her better than family and she says she's going home because she's here for the experience of learning English and living in America, not to take care of children!

 
At 26/5/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's important to both au pairs and host families that childcare is hardwork. Au Pairs are not in the US for the holiday and host families have to stop using the very misleading "you're part of the family" (every idiot knows this is just a way for families to get the au pair to work extra for free).

If it were a normal employer/employee relationship ,there would be no problems. I have been an au pair and I have also hosted au pairs.

What the au pair does during her free time is her problem. If she wants to hang out with my family, that's fine. If she wants to smoke marijuana, that's fine too (as long as it's not in front of the kids and it does not affect her performance).

The au pair gets board and lodging which is why she only receives a tiny allowance every week. This means her board and lodging is PAID by her to you (meaning the board and lodging is NOT free) with childcare (even the cheapest illegal nannies get $10 an hour per child). In other words, you're not doing her a favour. She's paying for it herself and the room therefore belongs to her. BTW, it's NO fun living with the same people you work for. You can never really relax. As an au pair, I often wondered if I should stay in my room (so the family has some privacy) or hang out with the family (so as to feel as if I'm part of them). My host family was great by the way but even then.

I have never had problems with any of my au pairs perhaps because I did my research and because I'm aware how au pairs feel. I don't set curfews but I expect them to turn up for work on time without a hangover.

If I take them on vacation, it is a vacation for them as well (unless it's specified as work)which means they do not have to take care of my child.

Please put yourself in the shoes of an 18-25 year old. Yes, they do live in your house. Yes, they do need to follow certain house rules you set but you are not a surrogate mother. You don't have to mother them or set rules for 13 year olds. Let them be to do as they please-just set the very basic rules (no drugs in the house or be on time for eg.).

Also, don't expect your au pair to always be on time when you're always late home. It's a give and take situation.

I'm not saying families are at fault here. I'm aware that there are plenty of horrible au pairs. I'm aware that agencies market the program differently to au pairs and families.

It's important to understand the au pair program is cheap for a reason. You have to compromise the quality of childcare as the girls are generally not trained. You have to do so much extra work (like taking her out, enquiring about her day etc.) but you also get a lot back. If you want professional childcare, hire a professional nanny.

 
At 31/5/08 , Blogger Heidi said...

I have been a customer of APC for 3 years. My first au pair was really sweet. A little immature, but she loved my children, had a great sense of humor, and she eventually came around to enjoy all aspects of being an au pair in the US.

Au pair 2 didn't work out.

We matched with an in country au pair who didn't work out with her host family. Ironically she ended up being our "dream" au pair. I asked her to stay another year, but her family was putting pressure on her to come home and go to college. So she returned home.

Au pair 4 didn't work out. Au pair 5 is in the process of not working out.

I too have horror stories that I choose to NOT go into. Rather as Ms. Money has suggested, I would rather make constructive suggestions in hope that someone from the au pair companies read and possibly adopt what I propose. I will further elaborate to tell you that the au pairs that didn't work out for me, were passed off to other families, which in turn did not work out with their subsequent families (I know you're shocked, right). One of the au pairs actually went on to a 3rd family and didn't work out with that family either... and finally went home. It's no wonder there are so many unsuccessful host family/au pair relationships. The problematic girls were shuffeled from one family to the next with little to no coaching in attempt to help them mold with any family. I've seen the same thing for bad host families with APC. They allow families who abuse their au pairs to have one after another au pair. So talk about it being unfair that the host families take on the financial burden of the inadequate screening process.

First I want to clear something up. Au pair child care is not inexpensive. I have done the cost comparison, I live in a metropolitan area that has a high cost of living, it is possible to get a nanny at the same cost of an au pair... especially since the weekly stipend has increased once in the last year and is steadily going up over the next year. But I find that most host families provide a cell phone, provide a car with insurance, food, utilities, gas money, secondary child care for when the au pair doesn't work out (no other child care provider expects this much).... Many of these things a family would not have to pay for with a live out nanny. I realize that many of these items are not required by the companies, but that's almost a joke as well... the au pairs even ask when you interview them what they will get... they expect these things!

Here's what I'm finding. Most of the au pairs do not have a clear understanding of the amount of work that will be required of them. They think they are in for "baby sitting" type stuff.... host family puts the kids in their pjs, host family brushes teeth, etc... au pair only has to put the kids in bed.

I would like to suggest to all au pair agencies... to implement any or all of the following:

Rather than have the girls take a 4 day class when the arrive in the U.S., the au pair companies should start their own schools or partner with a daycare/preschool where the au pairs take a month long class in their home country. Not only would they learn 1st aid, CPR... but they would have hands on child care training with infants to school age children.. boys and girls... special needs and no special needs. Real training with long hours, light cleaning, hygiene, behavior modeling, discipline, etc... In this environment, the girls can be observed by some sort of rep from the au pair agency to screen the girls. An au pair "boot camp". As it is you require them to have 200 hours in childcare experience - why not make this be their 200 hours - now you can make sure they get the experience/training and forget about checking references. The experience that is listed on their applications many of them acquiring the experience up to the day they apply. My point is that the boot camps should be a mechanism to not only train the girls so they arrive with a realistic expectations, they are trained and ready the day they arrive, they have been personally observed by some sort of sub contractor or rep of the au pair agency (x amount of hours), and you will have "weeded" the girls who can't hack it out of the program... they never even set foot on U.S. soil unless they pass. I imagine it will cost some money to implement something like this. However, I have received refunds from the au pair companies.. I'm sure there's been law suits.... I would think that the costs of implementing a boot camp would pay for itself.

Ms. Money has a point. The Au Pair companies do not have the best customer service policies. They do not refer to the girls as their employees. They do not guarantee their success. They hold us financial accountable if they jack up phone bills, leave early, get into accident if they are on their way to school or to an au pair meeting..... where is their accountability???? They not only need to start guaranteeing that they will place an adequately trained and experienced girl in our homes to take care of our children. Additionally, the times my family really needed help, the area directors caused more drama than helped. So it seems to me that the area directors need to be more strictly screened and trained.

I am changing over the Cultural Care this fall. I have matched with a young girl from Germany. They already seem to have a much more strict screening process than APC. I like that they eliminate competitive interviewing. Although I can tell you that while I have spoken on the phone with various people from the company.. no one has come to my house at all. They have not verified that the bedroom/bathroom is suitable, to meet me or my husband in person, and see the children. I don't know if they aren't doing this because we are already a host family... but I wouldn't think that would matter. We've already matched!

So what do people think of my idea??? I especially would like to hear from someone from an au pair company... Quite obviously something's got to change.

 
At 5/6/08 , Blogger Heather said...

Thank Goodness for this Blog! I am a soon to be first time mother looking for in home child care. I loved the Au Pair idea as an anthropologist and a world traveler, I thought it would be fun! I don't consider it cheap child care. Living in the North East, it is going to cost about $300/week for a 8-6pm (10 hour a day) day care. With an Au Pair, I have that cost, plus food, lodging, etc..so I was really interested in the experience. I am fairly sure I will not go the Au Pair road now. I am not saying it is bad thing, but knowing myself, and that I am a VERY particular person (ie we have a cleaning lady, do not allow food outside of the Kitchen and Den, are in bed by midnight with the house locked up, would request a daily log that was timed (like they provide at Day Care), it seems this would not suit my needs at all. Does anyone have a positive experience that is a particular mom? I also nannied and ran a nanny placement agency years ago, so am very familiar with the work needed.

 
At 11/6/08 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

I love your idea. My bank account would be $8000 larger if there were an accountability system in place.
There has to be somebody out there who can help get this started. I think it would be better for both sides if there were.

 
At 19/6/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the opposite experience of the previous poster.

We started with Cultural Care and did not have a great experience with the agency. Our LCC, though, was very supportive when we were going through trouble. However, I heard from the au pairs that she was not quite as supportive to the girls. I think they didn't like her because she was no-nonsense.

#1: From Sweden. Quit after 3 days. Had no interest in caring for children and admitted (belligerently, I might add) in her exit interview that she didn't have patience now and wasn't going to get any anytime soon.

#2: Replacement, in-country au pair from Sweden. She stayed 7 months and I wish she could have stayed forever. But she wanted to go back to Germany for school.

#3: New au pair from Germany. Was great for 11 months, at which point we extended. Then in all hit the proverbial fan. She found an unsavory boyfriend who hung out with unsavory fellows, started coming in at 4am, 2:30am on work nights and falling asleep onthe sofa while "watching" the kids. We loved her like our own child -- she really was a sweet girl acting like a teenager trying to spread her wings -- but unfortunately we had our children to worry about. We broke the match at 15 months

#4: Replacement au pair, from Brasil. Very sweet and affectionate with the children. Cracked the car up in a head-on collision after one month. She claimed it was the other person's fault (the insurance company eventually agreed after about 5-6 months) and we let her keep driving. Later found out that she had a hit-and-run in the preschool parking lot (my son's teacher's car!) while talking on the cellphone, hit a fence at the other child's school, and had another accident that was reported to our insurance company but she never told her. Needless to say, we broke the match. She agreed to stay while we looked for another au pair and she another family. After 6 days, she packed up and left while my husband was away and jumped her visa.

~At this point, Cultural Care was completely useless. They had no suitable au pairs in the system. After not calling me back for a full week and then taking another week to get my "repeat application" completed, I had now spent one week out of work due to no child care. Finally, I'd had enough. I called Au Pair Care and they had me a great new replacement au pair in 3 days from completely my application, which they fast tracked. He has been here almost six months and is fine.

#6: Pending, from Germany. I have a good feeling about her.

For all the PITA the au pair agencies can be, I'm still convinced that an au pair is best for our family, both socially and financially. We live in a high cost-of-living area and a live-in nanny is way outside our reach financially (and we earn over $200K/yr).

 
At 30/6/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great idea.

I think Cultural Care has instituted a type of program above, but not as strenuous. Our current au pair arrived in May. Attached to her application was a certificate of completion of an au pair training program in Germany. She said that the training included a discussion with an au pair who returned from a successful year, including what it was really like. We also paid for an extra day of training school addressing the needs of school aged children.

To address the understanding of the job duties we have a detailed description of what we need and a "day in the life." We ask the au pairs to read it and agree to it before they agree to be our au pair. It is great for au pairs that really care, but we have had an equal number of au pairs who said they agreed with everything we required and then arrived and just ignored it.

 
At 10/7/08 , Blogger Lynn said...

As both a counselor and a host mother I can say that there can be AuPair's with problems and problems with the agencies themselves.

We've had one outstanding AuPair, one good AuPair, and two nightmare AuPair's.

Communication is absolutely essential. Every AuPair is different, even within the same culture and every family has different dynamics and needs.

You can find a good experience with an AuPair, but you have to be willing to work at it. You have to be able to understand that AuPairs for the most part do not have the experience of a childcare professional and you have to be able to work beyond the cultural differences to build a relationship.

That said, there are nightmare placements where the AuPair is not suited to childcare and as a host family when you realize that, you need to deal with it aggressively and immediately.

Interview agencies, not just AuPairs. Some agencies are better than others and some do better screening than others.

 
At 24/7/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like what Mieke has said. Because we use both our cars for work, and we don't buy beaters, they have to be able to drive. We had one au pair that had a parking accident the day she received her VA license! She thought it was not a big deal. The next weekend, she backed into something. It cost her $500 to fix both bumpers and we told her if she hit something a 3rd time, she would no longer drive.

We like to give clear expectations. We also know we have to be reasonable. Most au pairs are still young. And can't be expected to be perfect. The important attributes are how they care for our child.

I think that most our our dealings with bad au pairs is often dependent upon the quality of au pair company coordinators. Our current one hasn't even made the effort to meet with us even though we moved here only 4 months ago. She finds it hard to plan au pair events close to us.

 
At 27/7/08 , Blogger The True Consumer's Voice said...

Hi, it's been a while. After a year of not having an au pair and having someone who comes to my house daily, I am extremely happy! Trust me, with the economy the way it is, you save alot of money. $10 an hour seems like alot, but you choose who you want. And.. if you are worried about a childcare deduction, pay $12 an hour and take out taxes. People know people. Good trustworthy people are getting laid off from their jobs and would be happy to watch your child. These agencies need to be put out of business. They are just an easy way for someone between the ahes of 18-26 to gain entry into our wonderful country...
Today I got an e-mail from an aupir that left my family after being with us for a few weeks..."I finally got my green card."
Why she felt compelled to rub it in my face, I don't know. She is the one who let my child sit in a puddle of urine on the floor until I found him. Nice reward! My family gets plenty of heartache and looses plenty of $$$$ and she gets rewarded with a green card.
Good luck to you all. Please don't act impulsively when clicking the I accept terms on the contract, Remember, it's YOUR child!

 
At 24/8/08 , Anonymous nicole said...

We are first time host family, we did not expect what we had just experienced. After prepairing and getting excited to host we came out very dissapointed. We hope to find a better one. Our experience was totally different from anyone, we have a girl that had an eating disorder ( too bad she came to a family in a medical field). She present both physically and mentally to have anorexia, it didn't take me long to diagnose her. My suspicion was confimed more as I talked to my medical colleagues, and the last straw was when he got our kids involve with her negative view of foods as unhealthy in front of my husband. So, I decided to take her away from my home. Luckily we have a good community coordinator who took her. I wrote a letter to the agency, hopefully they will address my concerns and not just send this girl to another family.

So, beware host parents if they say dietary restrictions as other...need to really investigate more. In our case she did not reveal to us...

 
At 31/8/08 , Blogger JULIANA said...

Hi! My name is Juliana Roland. I wonder how much the program is. How much do you spend to get an au pair?

 
At 3/9/08 , Anonymous Misty Young said...

It seems like there were several problems that were posted about hosting Au Pairs, however hosting an Au Pair can be a wonderful experience for both your family and your Au Pair (AP). I am a local care coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair, a young mom, and a host mom. I have found in my experience in dealing with host family (HF) and AP problems, is that the root of the problem is mis-communication. All of my HF have had no complaints on the AP’s childcare, it is more of personality issues or mis-communication between the two. First, I want to address your problems with Au Pair Care, what Cultural Care does to help this from happening, and our AP screening/training:
- If your AP leaves, goes AWOL, etc. we will immediately begin the matching process with both in-country and overseas AP for you. We have a personalized matching service, so you will be provided only with AP that meet your criteria.
- 24/7 emergency care and local care through your Local Care Coordinator
- Full background check, reference check and health/mental evaluation
- An interview and English skills test done before acceptance
- Cultural Care only accepts about 30% of its applicants
- All AP have 300 hours childcare experience
- Infant Qualified AP offered at no extra charge- these AP have at least 300 hrs caring for a child under 2
- Some countries have training in their home country before arrival
- All AP attend a week-long training course upon arrival taught by Cultural Care’s full time staff
- Continuing education given by Local Care Coordinator on seasonal topics (water safety, fire safety, etc.)
Now- how can you make sure that the AP is right for you before she/he comes? Planning should begin before you finalize your AP. When you are interviewing, ask her open ended questions like “What would you do if ________?” and find out more about her personality and home life. Why does she want to become an AP? What does she hope to gain while she is here? If you don’t like any of the answers, move on to the next applicant. Once she arrives, be very clear about your house rules and expectations. It is better to be more strict and loosen up than to go the other way. If it is your first time hosting, ask a local family or your coordinator what are the common problems that occur and how can you prevent them? Ultimately, communication is key. I liken this to a marriage, just because one does something to annoy the other, you don’t end the relationship, you talk about it and try to work things out. Finally, the more you talk, the better your relationship, the happier you will probably be. As this is a personal business and a close living situation, not all matches work our perfectly, but constant communication, planning and patience can help tremendously.

 
At 13/9/08 , Blogger Melissa said...

I have had an au pair from Thailand for 2 years almost. We have had our share of problems but she is a good hearted girl. I can tell families that the agencies lead you to believe these girls will want to take care of kids and keep house clean. I do not think the girls expect to clean as much as we would like and that is a big problem. I very much dislike working all day and coming home to total chaos, with toys everywhere. I am very seriously considering another au pair or not just based on how my house is turned upside down...but the other side is the kids love her and she is very good to them. It is all compromise...you put your kids in daycare they DO NOT get to do what they want, with the au pair they can go to parks, play in backyard, do so many things they want to do instead of being in an organized system and that is the real benefit here.

 
At 25/9/08 , Anonymous momof3kids said...

I have commented here before and I just wanted to leave a new comment on how things have gone. I am now on my 5th au pair this year. I quit Au Pair Care after the second au pair. But after several months my family decided we really needed the flexibilty that an au pair can bring. So we tried again with CHI. I'd check them out, they have bent over backwards to help us. The first au pair through them ran away. We had talked to him for 3 months through a webcam, but found out everything was a lie. I would never get a male au pair again. I know he left us to go to New Jersey, and I've heard he may be in Boston now. As soon as he arrived we knew what was going on. He brought a very small bag, bugged us and the LCC 24/7 for his SSN # and then waited by the mailbox everyday after his 'friend' took him to the SSN # office (just 2 weeks after he arrived). He was gone in less than 30 days and even my 5 year old didn't care. Anyway, we chose a rematch with a girl who was being kicked out of her home after 9 months because she refused to work more than 45 hours anymore. They had been paying her a few extra $$ to work about 60 hours a week! She turned out to be awesome! We all care very deeply for her and she did not want to leave. At the end of her year, she had to cancel her extension with us because of a sick grandmother. However, the new girl has been absolutely our best au pair. I'm glad I stuck with the program just to have met her. I think I have discovered the 'secret' to finding the best au pair. It is all in the interview. Many girls do not understand the au pair program until the arrive in the US and recieve their 'training'. Make sure you give the au pair a schedule and list of chores before agreeing to a match. Tell her if she will have a car or cell phone, computer or TV, private bathroom, etc. But more importantly ask questions like, "What would you do if 2 kids began to hit each other?"; "What would you do if a child ran down the street while you were walking to the pool?"; "What would do if 3 kids all tried to talk to you at once?" I have recieved answers such as 'whatever the parents want me to' to 'I would separate them' or 'I would make a game so they took turns', etc. If an au pair says 'whatever you want' then they will not think on their own when you are away at work. I'm lucky that my kids are old enough to tell me if an au pair is sleeping or reading emails instead of watching them. Also I can pop in unexpectedly to see what my au pair is doing. I caught 1 au pair staring into space while my kids played by themselves in another room! If an au pair acts irrational, request a drug test! And of course always trying communication first. Confront them and see if there is just a miscommunication, if they really didn't know, or if they just don't care. And always go with your gut feeling. Tell your coordinator about problems in case you have a run away or a girl asks for a rematch, you will have documentated proof that you were having problems. Good luck to everyone! There are great au pairs, you just have to find the right person to match your family!

 
At 30/9/08 , Anonymous ex-au pair said...

Aye, I was an Au Pair and I believe it could be a GREAT experience if both Au pairs and Host family are willing to have all this. I have been both sides, and you can find horrible au pairs and host families, Au Pairs who only want to "enjoy" their stay in U.S and not willing to what they are supose to do over there which is "working" as an Au PAir, that's the deal thats why they're going over there, right?. Host families are sometimes too strict and too rigid, as if Au Pairs are nannies, and their schedule is too much of a "hard" job and I believe American babysitters could make way more money than Au Pairs.
There should be a good match, you need to ask every single question, first time is scary since you don't want to give the "wrong" impression, also it's useful to get someone (au pair) who obviously speaks "english" or that could be a horrible thing, I know!. The au pair job is sold as if you're going to "LEARN" english in U.s while working, as if "working" is a secondary thing, and in reality it is NOT! Au pairs are sold to the families as if what an au pair should do, the requirements needed, but most families or some, they take too muich advantages of them, that might be because somehow they had bad experiences with other au pairs. and I do believe there are good au pairs who want to do the job but also enjoy their stay, as if the family can appreciate them because it is also common seeing host families no appreciation all the work an au pair does. The good au pairs feel like their second mom to your own children, they care about them as if they are theirs, they take responsibilities but it's still a job, and au pairs are usually young so they also want to "have fun" while they're off, but sometimes for "host families" this is too much for them, and they put limits of their "off-time" schedules, as if they arrived there just to work.. I mean c'mon, Therer has to be LIMITATIONS in order to feel freedom.
There should be a good understandind before hand, before matching. Some host families do really really need help with their kids, as if au pairs must educate and discipline their children. seriopusly, these au pairs are pretty young and they came here for a job and also be part of the family. If you really need HELP with your kids, go look for somebody else. I mean seriously. Some host families are rewlaly caring and want to give a room in their homes to share with the au pair and thei family which is amazingl, because you both share their own culktures and it becomes a really great thing! It is all about "knowing" what you're getting into, and obviosuly it's hard to know when you dont know if the other person if lying, but that's something you're at risk.

and it happens. ALOT! i've been there, i've heard it all. from au pairs, and from host families.

 
At 7/10/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law and her husband just received a call tonight from AuPair Care explaining that her au pair had landed in New Jersey Sunday, cleared customs, and hasn't been seen or heard from since. Has anyone had this experience? I am hoping that nothing unfortunate has befallen this young girl, but after reading this blog, I am beginning to see this whole thing in a new light. My sister-in-law and family are obviously deeply disappointed about this, and are still optimistic about finding the "right fit" for their family. Again, I'm curious as to what experiences others have had with this situation and if anyone has some good insight into finding a good match, and hopefully decrease the chance of this type of situation happening again. Thanks so much!

 
At 16/10/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

AUPAIRCARE (located in San Francisco) as an agency IS AWFUL!!!!! I would never recommended this agency to anyone! The staff is terrible and the "Area Directors" do not support the families at all. 15 of my close friends have been with AuPairCare and none of them are happy. The au pairs are NOT screened as mentioned and 95% of the au pairs arrive to the states without being able to speak a complete sentence in English. The au pairs can not drive, 6 of my friends had their cars totaled. ALL the au pairs are mislead by the agency by telling them they will be placed with rich people and will be going on vacations to gods knows where....THERE IS TOOO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT AUPAIRCARE AND BUT PLEASE LISTEN TO ME!!!!!! If you want to save $20,000 don't sign up with the agency!!!!!!! It's awful awful...Oh and the au pairs lie about their childcare experience!!!! What is on their application is a total lie...the over sea's agency who supposedly "screens" these girls gets a certain % if the au pair is accepted by a family, not to mention the huge $$$ the agency makes. The over sea's agency will stop at nothing to make anyone an au pair. I actually had an au pair in my group that said the agency paid some random daycare to sign off on the au pairs application employment reference!!!!! I heard of an au pair who arrived in the states with some infection and ended up severely injuring the 2 kids the family had....to be fair on both sides, the au pairs are young girls who really don't have the experience to know what they are getting into...it's all AUPAIRCARES fault for wasting peoples time and money. AND YES a lot of the au pairs do end up with boyfriends here and 65% of them will run away and stay here illegally. The agency will not refund your money if that happens!!!!You have to pay %500 out of your own pocket for the au pair to attend school. You have been warned!!!!!!!

 
At 30/10/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello
I´m Brazilian and I was an au pair in USA in 2007. It was the worst experience that I have had during all my life!!!!!! My families used to abuse of me. My first family pretended to be my friend, but they weren´t, because I had to work more than 45 hours in a week and I had to clean the house and did hard housework. I didn´t have all weekend off once at a month. When I complained to my host mother that I was working more than 45 hours a week she asked me " Do you want to be a part of the family or not?" She always gave me a wrong schedule. I had to ask about my schedule during all the time. I stayed there for 3 months and I asked for rematching when my host mother made the same question " Do you want to be a part of the family or not?" for the 10 time. I had to do the floors, clean the windows, and do everything fast. My host mother told me that I had to be fast to do things and that I have to work a lot, because I was living in America. Work very fast wasn´t good for children, because they need love, pacient and they can´t eat their food very fast and playing fast and go to the bath fast. So, I changed my family. But I wasn´t luck at my second host family too. My second host mother was really rude to me. I could stay with my first host mother. However, it was impossible to live at the same house with my second host mother. I had to clean up the dog´s mess all the time and the dog was at my bedroom all the time. My host mother let the kitchen a really big mess and I had to clean up in the morning, because I stayed alone with the little girl. When the dog did pup around the house and I didn´t clean it up, my host mother complained with me and with her husband about my services. The dog used to sleep with me in my bed. She used to shout at me. In this family, I´ve never had a schedule and I was working more than 45 hours a week and more than 10 hours a day. Conclusion: I was working more in this house than in my first host family!!! Once when I kept a piece of chicken (that I hadn´t have cook it yet) inside the refrigerator, my second host mother shouted at me very impolite and told me that I was cooking poison food for her daughter. And she was telling me that things were missing at her home and that it had never happened. So, she was telling me that I was stealing things from her house, because she had thought I was a poor girl from Brazil. But I´m not poor. I´m a business administrator and I work for Brazilian Govern now. I have my own money, my car and my house and I´m only 26 and I´ve never stole anyone. I´m a honest person. If things were good at Au Pair Care Program, I should have been telling you good points now. I called to Au Pair Care and told then that I was depressed and that I want to come back to Brazil. I couldn´t be a good au pair any more. I couldn´t be happy to take care of children any more. I was in USA to do my best. I was there to take care of children and learn English to be a good professional here in Brazil. Unfortunately, I need to speak English to get good jobs here. But I was very unluck in USA with my host families. My children were very nice, but their parents weren´t. Au Pair Care didn´t help me. They only believed in families and they didn´t want to put me at a third family. They told me that the problem was all mine. They told me that it was my fault. In my second family I became very depressed I didn´t was doing a good work with the very nice little girl. So, I was feeling very bad that I couldn´t take care properly of her. I´m a good person and I have heart and I can´t pick any advantage from anyone. I didn´t have a good mind to be a good au pair anymore, because I was getting depressed and depressed. When I came back to Brazil, I had to go to the psychology to be good again due to the terrible experience at Au Pair Care. My second host mother was really impolite and rude to me. She shout at me a lot. She told me I was crazy and spoke in portuguese the word crazy (louca, louca). I was crying and she was shout at me. I was scared at staying at her home. When I was going to the airport, she told that she was going to airport with the police if I was picking something from her house. I didn´t pick anything from her, because I´m honest and I didn´t want anything from her, either the gifts (that she had gave me in my first week) and I let lots of clothes for she donating for poor people in USA that need them.
Now, I´feeling that I´m a winner, because I got goods scores in a test to work for Brazilian Govern. So, I have my onw money. The next time, I´m going to USA only for Vacations to see a beautiful culture and beautiful scenes from this amazing country. I didn´t like the families. But I loved USA. I know and I understang that there are lots and lots good families for au pairs in USA. But we have to be luck.
Thank you for reading this.
Sincerely
R.S.B.

 
At 13/11/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are so many "complaints" to list from the experience i have had directly with the company but i will wrap up solely our au pair experience thus far with them.
1. first au pair was great with kids. after 2 weeks she lied to us about not smoking (she was "trying to quit but couldn't") and of course had listed herself as a non smoker. a month later she said she wasn't happy because she was usually waited on hand and foot by her mother. then she said she wanted more money because she wasn't making enough. we went over backwards to put up with her lying because quite frankly i was desperate so i had to bend quite a bit. much to my dismay...after 6 months she met a local man online and started dating him. i was supportive of this until the lies escalated. breaking curfew, lying about where she was, who she was staying with, why she was "too tired" to work the next day. you get the idea. so after several weeks of this we confronted her on the lying, etc. we cancelled her contract and she was able to swing another visa within the 2 weeks and stay cushy in the US for more than 2 years. she lived her "dream" here. not working, new convertible, eventually a masters degree and traveling to several states and countries. i suppose we got her in the country easy so that she could do this.
#2. we got in haste after #1 split. she was ok, not great but of course we try to be accommodating. she was here about 2 months until we went to be with extended family during christmas (which she didn't celebrate due to religious prefs). we asked if she wanted to go with us and she said no. we asked then if she wouldn't mind watching the house--she was getting 2 weeks extra vacation so what is the big deal to feed the fish? and turn on the lights? literally...minimal expectations.
my mother in law went over to check on the house since we had called several times and she wouldn't answer the phone or emails. she said that the heater was left on around 85 degrees and the fish were dead in the tank.
eventually i contacted her through email and got her to call my husband.
my husband of course asked what was going on and she said that she went to visit her cousin in CA and had now decided to stay. we asked if she was going to fulfill her 2 weeks notice and at least come back to the house to get her things and she said "do i have to?". hmm...
i am sure you know how it went from there.
#3 has been great. lazy, but loyal and trustworthy. as her 2nd year has nearly passed, she feels like she has a free pass to do what she wants to do as far as obligations. this all began when she reunited with her boyfriend and decided not to renew her visa (to a student visa since the other would run out). maybe this is typical of someone in their early twenties? i have no clue but i am ready for #4. now we know exactly how to do this.
ok so briefly, my complaints with the company:
1. the whole health "insurance" they pay for their au pairs is completely bogus. we have had to pay over 2000$ for dental emergencies for our au pair and we were reimbursed nothing. do they expect her to pay for that on a tiny stipend? also, just antibiotics for a cold?? nothing. that is a rip off.
2. the local "coordinators" haven't been great. they check in every now and then to see if things are ok but won't intervene when something IS wrong.
3. if an au pair doesn't work out, you still have to repay the fees like you did something wrong. it felt at times like i was paying for *free tickets* to the US with no wait to get in if you're an au pair j1 recipient!! i was footing the bill!
i know it seems strange that i am still with this company. quite frankly i would change but every.other.company i have researched has the same reviews. none of them ever get even 3 stars. what is the difference? it's like a restaurant...get them in, get them out.

 
At 14/11/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These Au Pair Agencies are something I would avoid altogether, particularly Cultural Care Au Pair. There is very little effort to recruit suitable au pairs and very little effort to check their backgrounds. We were given a woman from Thailand who brought with her a whole host of issues. Her uncle would call us from Thailand, threatening our family because of money he claimed she owed him. On one occassion, he made sexually explicit remarks on our answering machine for our other school-aged children to hear. She was also extremely immature and very, very dirty. In spite of our numerous requests to eat in the kitchen, she left dirty dishes in her room regularly attracting cockroaches to our brand new home. She partied all night and slept all day, even when she was supposed to be working. We caught her sleeping while our two year old twins ransacked the house. When we confronted her, she announced she was quitting and left immediately. She called the agency to tell them this, but they never bothered to warn us. It wasn't until 24 hours after she left that we were finally able to reach someone from the agency. Instead of giving us a refund for program fees we had paid, they tried to force us to take another au pair from their agency.

 
At 16/11/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if anyone had any resources regarding au pairs and child abuse. We unfortunately were victims of sexual molestation during our au pairs time with us and am looking for other families or au pairs that could help share and guide us with their own similar experiences. Places to call? suggestions for our children? How you got through it? Any help would be most appreciated from abuse victims on either side. We have tried working with the agency who has been extremely polite and sympathetic, but are limited in their knowledge of how to help us. I will check back here hoping someone else has commented for us. We greatly appreciate your help. Would be a great sense of relief to feel like we are not going through this alone. help us!

 
At 23/11/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very touching to hear these stories, but another fact is that families also ask for Aupairs so that they can have a slave at home, threatening them with telling the police they have stolen, or giving them a bad reference. Some have even been sexually, physically and verbally abused. So it goes both ways, to me it sounds that this is just focusing in one side of the problem. Aupairs are not maids or slaves and many families have to understand this, but yet again the whole point is getting someone and paying them such a low wage. Because they know that in their country they will not fine anyone else to do it cheaper. Just keep it in mind.

 
At 28/11/08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have our first au pair from Au Pair in America, for around 3 months now. We screened numerous candidates both agencies and then au pairs. I have heard a lot of horror stories of local au pair's re-matching through our own au pair!! she is wonderful the children love her and I no longer have to deal with day care the negatives have been out weighed by the many positives. The hidden costs for us are car insurance, much higher than we thought, food -- she eats all my favorites :), a third car, just became necessatry in our climate. I was given advice about treating the au pair like a step daughter and it really does help. She is 21 years old, gradutated university and I now realise that I would never of been comfortable with anyone younger or less experienced. I do agree that the payment to the agency upfront did and still does cause me angst. I am not sure if we will do it again, our goal was to get our youngest son out of communal care due to sickness. If I could guarantee someone as good as our current au pair for sure, and so far we have been delighted with the agency, they paid extra travel costs due to delays etc.. and were available at 3am.

 
At 4/1/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's painful to read these comments and see not only the unavoidable problems between au pairs and families, but also to see where a little bit of good advice might have changed things for the better.

I'm a bit believer in au pairs as childcare providers and have had several -- all but one being great. Now, I'm using the blog at www.AuPairMom.com to get advice, insights and tips from other host parents, to have a better relationship with our au pair.

 
At 16/1/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize that this is no positive but I need to warn folks of the au pair that just walked out on me two hours ago. I have not given up on the au pair experience and am hoping that I will get one soon more carefully screened but please my ex- au pair wants to go to another family even though I told him I can give him a ticket back to Mexico. HE CANNOT HAVE THE CHANCE OF HARMING ANY children.
BEWARE OF THIS AU PAIR DO NOT RE-HIRE CARLOS ARTURO EMERY ALMAZAN
Edit Review? By Daisy P.
CARLOS ARTURO EMERY ALMAZAN - please do not hire if Cultural Care au pair presents him to you. CARLOS wants to go to another family and I unequivocally told the LCCs that CARLOS IS NOT SAFE TO BE WITH ANY OTHER CHILDREN AND WE WILL PURSUE LEGAL MEANS AND HAVE BEEN IN TOUCH WITH COUNSEL IF HE GETS PLACED AGAIN BY CULTURAL CARE AU PAIR.He just literally walked out of my home just now after saying that he doesn't want to give two weeks notice. I had red flags the first week since he came into our home in October but did not go through with finding another one since it appears that my kids like him.
Here are the sample actions that this immature 20yo had done the past 3 months that he was here:
1) the security alarm went off in our home when we were gone and he was by himself. The alarm went off at approximately 430am and he slept right through it. The security company called to let me know from out of town that this was going on. I was calling our home but there was no reply. I told the security co to have a silent alert and not call the police because we live out in the woods and it could be likely our cat which has happened before. I came back home at 930am and had to knock at Carlos' door and wake him up. I asked him if he heard the alarm and he said yes but he said he chose to ignore it because he doesn't know what to do. I told him then that he needs to have called me and this inaction was unacceptable.
2) He doesn't seem to know where my kids are when I come home from work - the basic common reply is: " I don't know"
3) He does not get up until 12noon and when asked why - he just smiles and says " I don't know".
4) Sleeps while the kids are awake.
5) very, very poor command of English. He told me that he's here to visit New York City and Boston and to study English and go to architecture school in London and his father will finance it all because his father works for the American Red Cross in Chihuahua and has lots of money and connection ( likely kick-backs).
6) uses one of our family car without permission.
7) mother calls every day - when asked why his mother calls every day - Carlos states that she tells him what to do about the kids.
8) cries and mopes when you correct him with a task ( i.e. told him to please do not put onion on the boiling water for spaghetti and started crying and moping in his room).7) told me that he was told that if he doesn't like it in our family that he could get another family.
9) wants to meet a blond girlfriend so he can stay longer here perhaps on a student visa- he's got a chip over looking "Mexican" and not like his mother who is lighter-skinned.
10) very materialistic and spends all his income on electronics and then is constantly short of money.
11) complains that he doesn't get his 1.5 days per week off but is given 4 consecutive days of a week off aside from his work hours are only from 530a-730 and 3p-9p M-Th only. Has already taken 7 days vacation aside ( last week of Christmas 12/27 onwards but decided to not go to NYC until 1/31 since his friends can't go) - this aside from his days off .WE ARE IN CONTACT FOR AN IMMEDIATE REPLACEMENT FOR CARLOS. I asked a lot of questions when I got him but he definitely answered all the right questions and lied as to his experience. I WILL NOT TRUST HIM WITH ANY CHILDREN. Please email me for any other questions: blackeyedsusan@hotmail.com

 
At 19/1/09 , Blogger kate said...

I read about a Swiss au pair who took pornographic photos of the 5 year old child and posted them on a website in Sweden. The mother found the photos and the police were called, however the au pair was just sent home and no charges were brought up against her.

But the family is suing the agency, Cultural Care, for 5 million dollars in a civil suit claiming emotional damage to their child and neglect. The case is pending and the trial has not begun yet. The company will probably settle out of court for a bundle. It would be very bad publicity for Cultural Care to have lost such a case, or even be in the courts for this.

I wonder what kind of psychological screening this girls get before they come over?

 
At 24/1/09 , Blogger Edina Stone said...

There is a breaking story that appeared today about Cultural Care and one of their host fathers who was arrested and charged with the sexual assault on his 20 year old au pair. The dangers of hosting an au pair can go both ways - screening of both host families and au pairs must be done and monitoring in the home once the au pair is placed in paramount.

The police requested information and files on this family from the Vice President of Cultural Care and she allegedly told them there was only 2 au pairs placed with the Bhatti family and there were not complaints from au pairs about the host father. However, police received a court order to search the company and when they looked at the files on this family they found not 2 au pairs but 7 had been placed in this home and at least 4 of the girls reported feeling "uncomfortable" about incidents that happened between them and the host father.

Thank goodness the girl who was assaulted had the judgment and courage to report the assault to the police.

Why would the agency deny full access to this host family's file? Please read the entire story at aupairclearinghouse.com under Current News.

We will be following this story as it unfolds. The next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 3 2009. The au pair in question, who returned to Slovakia after the assault, told police she would return to testify in court, if necessary.

Edina Stone
Founder and CEO
aupairclearinghouse.com

 
At 27/1/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had the experience of dealing with two agencies. The first one was au pair in america. Our first au pair was good. She loved my son, my first child, and she was overall very warm and friendly with the family. We started having problems with her in the 8th month when she started going out and managed to catch an older man as a boyfriend. She wanted a car but didn't know how to drive. She was very good with our son so i did enroll her in driving lessons and spent hours teaching her how to drive. She was still a problem and called the au pair agency, au pair in america, asking them why she didn't have a car. The counseler called me and i told her she didn't have a car because she didn't know how to drive. looking back i should have kicked her out but i put up with her because she was a nice girl and frankly i just didn't have other options. She stayed with us for two years. Our second au pair through the same agency was amazing. She managed two children remakably well, fit in with the family and did more than her fair share of the chores without me even asking her. She stayed for 1.5 years. Our third au pair was a disaster. She told us she could drive but couldn't. She crashed the car and actually ran into a police car her first day out. She also wasn't watching my 1.5 year old one evening and called us to tell us he had swallowed something. She thought it was diet coke but it was hydrogen peroxide. I rushed home, called poison control and completely lost it. We asked her to leave and when i told the counseler what had happened they sided with the au pair and she managed to match with another family. I dropped out and joined another agency, au pair care. Our first au pair was another disaster. She knew how to drive but couldn't speak any English at all and didn't really like children. I asked her to leave in 6 weeks. We then got another au pair from Brazil who once again lied to us on the phone. She is more interested in partying and eating than actually playing with children. She also put 200 minutes on the cell phone in the first two weeks. When i asked her about it she said she didn't know she couldn't use it during the day. I went over the cell phone rules with her for the fourth time and once again she said she understood. Fast forward two weeks and she has again put 200 minutes on the cell phone. I called the au pair agency and told them that what had happened and they decided to side with the au pair. I told the au pair things were not working out and she asked if she could move in with her friend. Never asked me what she could do to stick around.
My general conclusion is that good au pairs are very few and far between. Most of them come here to party and leave the program and stick around illegally. Au pair agencies want to side with the au pair and some of them are downright dangerous. We were lucky to get our second au pair but she was just a nice, amazing girl. Most of her friends didn't like their jobs either. They are given a false picture of their job responsiblity in the US. They think life is easy here which for them frankly it is. They don't have to pay rent or other lviing expenses and because they are taking care of the children most parents go out of their way to be nice to them. frankly in the end there are no cost savings and a lot of heart ache, stress and problems. Get someone local who wants to nanny and who speaks English. Someone you can meet and interview.

 
At 29/1/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

RECENT articles - January 2009 regarding Cultural Care Au Pair.

Host Families and Au Pairs NEED to read these articles about serious legal trouble that CC is involved in. It is so disturbing:

Cut and Paste these links to your browser:

http://aupairclearinghouse.com/node/53

http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2009/01/24/news/393583.txt

You tube video link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ukm1tAq2ENM

 
At 29/1/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

All Au Pairs and Host family's need to read these 2 Recent (January 2009) articles about some very serious legal problems Cultural Care is having. The articles are very disturbing.

Cut and paste these links to read the articles:
http://aupairclearinghouse.com/node/53

http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2009/01/24/news/393583.txt

You tube video link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ukm1tAq2ENM

 
At 2/2/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

After having 4 au pairs in just under 2 years through 2 different agencies, we are dropping the whole au pair thing and going with a local in-home daycare. I don't think it matters which agency you use, the whole system is flawed. These young people are promised a great time in America with just minimal childcare duties. The host families are promised loving, responsible, flexible childcare with just minimal costs. Neither one is correct.

Our first au pair was horrible, she ran up a huge phone bill and admitted that she threatened to throw my 3 year old son down the basement stairs because he threw a ball down the stairs from the 2nd floor. When my son told me that she was hitting him and I approached her about it, she suddenly decided that we were too unbearable to live with and needed to rematch. Beat us to the punch. Even though we made it clear that she was abusive to my older son and was neglectful to both children, the agency quickly found a match for her, citing her rematch reason as a "personality difference with the family."
We got a rematch as well, a girl who's family had dropped out of the program and, as such, couldn't be contacted for a reference. She lasted all of two weeks. She was rude and disrespectful to my husband and I, spent all night on our only computer, and told one of her friends that she didn't like our older son and was just going to ignore him and take care of the baby. The agency also found her what would be her 3rd rematch. We struggled to find a rematch and eventually got another au pair who was rematching from a family who also dropped out of the program. She was very good with the children, especially my older son. However, she had rematched from another part of the country and after about 5 months with us decided to pack up and run off to be with her boyfriend who was back where she was originally placed.

We went with a different agency at this point. The counselor told us they were better because she's more hands on with both the families and the girls, that we would have a lot of support, blah blah blah. We got an out of the country au pair. She seemed pretty good on paper and through the telephone interviews. She started out okay, but soon was demanding access to a car or she'd leave. We didn't need her to drive the kids. So, we went through the process of driving school and getting her a state license so that she could use my husband's car when it was available. She also ran up a large cell phone bill, even though we explicitly explained how the cell phone would work. What's more, most of the calls were during the day when she was supposed to be taking care of the children. We also found out that she was putting my older son in his room during my younger son's nap and telling him to stay in there even if he wasn't napping. She would then go into her room, lock the door and get on the phone or nap herself. The final straw was when my husband was home later in the morning one day and picked up the phone when it rang. It was someone for the au pair, he told him that he'd need to call back when she wasn't working and the guy flipped out at my husband.

My au pair, with about 2 months left on her year then decided that she wanted a rematch. Apparently, she'd been complaining about us to the counselor all along, mostly exaggerated stuff and some stuff that just was out and out untrue. The counselor took the au pair's side and said that we weren't being accepting enough of her. All this time, the counselor never once stepped in and said, it looks like there are communication issues, even after all the girl's complaints. She was hesitant to even tell us any of what the au pair said because she didn't want to break her confidence. How could we ever work this out when we didn't even know that the girl was brining up issues? We told them to let her rematch and that we were dropping out of the program. No refund to us, of course. The counselor told us that she thought it was a good idea that we weren't going to continue with the program. Most of all because we only gave the girl limited access to a car and most of her families have a car just for the au pair. We followed all of the stated guidelines, and actually gave her every weekend and holiday off.

The counselors have no interest in helping or looking out for the host families. We were never even told by our counselor when the next cluster meeeting was or what they would be discussing. There was no communication. The program gives host families very little support. And, yes, even though the costs they lay out to you make it seem inexpensive, the bottom line is that these au pairs expect certain unrequired perks, like their own car, cell phone, own computer, etc. Those costs really run up the tab, not to mention the emotional toll having this young person in your home has on everyone in the family. In my opinion you pay a lot for low quality childcare.

 
At 2/2/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

After having 4 au pairs in just under 2 years through 2 different agencies, we are dropping the whole au pair thing and going with a local in-home daycare. I don't think it matters which agency you use, the whole system is flawed. These young people are promised a great time in America with just minimal childcare duties. The host families are promised loving, responsible, flexible childcare with just minimal costs. Neither one is correct.

Our first au pair was horrible, she ran up a huge phone bill and admitted that she threatened to throw my 3 year old son down the basement stairs because he threw a ball down the stairs from the 2nd floor. When my son told me that she was hitting him and I approached her about it, she suddenly decided that we were too unbearable to live with and needed to rematch. Beat us to the punch. Even though we made it clear that she was abusive to my older son and was neglectful to both children, the agency quickly found a match for her, citing her rematch reason as a "personality difference with the family."
We got a rematch as well, a girl who's family had dropped out of the program and, as such, couldn't be contacted for a reference. She lasted all of two weeks. She was rude and disrespectful to my husband and I, spent all night on our only computer, and told one of her friends that she didn't like our older son and was just going to ignore him and take care of the baby. The agency also found her what would be her 3rd rematch. We struggled to find a rematch and eventually got another au pair who was rematching from a family who also dropped out of the program. She was very good with the children, especially my older son. However, she had rematched from another part of the country and after about 5 months with us decided to pack up and run off to be with her boyfriend who was back where she was originally placed.

We went with a different agency at this point. The counselor told us they were better because she's more hands on with both the families and the girls, that we would have a lot of support, blah blah blah. We got an out of the country au pair. She seemed pretty good on paper and through the telephone interviews. She started out okay, but soon was demanding access to a car or she'd leave. We didn't need her to drive the kids. So, we went through the process of driving school and getting her a state license so that she could use my husband's car when it was available. She also ran up a large cell phone bill, even though we explicitly explained how the cell phone would work. What's more, most of the calls were during the day when she was supposed to be taking care of the children. We also found out that she was putting my older son in his room during my younger son's nap and telling him to stay in there even if he wasn't napping. She would then go into her room, lock the door and get on the phone or nap herself. The final straw was when my husband was home later in the morning one day and picked up the phone when it rang. It was someone for the au pair, he told him that he'd need to call back when she wasn't working and the guy flipped out at my husband.

My au pair, with about 2 months left on her year then decided that she wanted a rematch. Apparently, she'd been complaining about us to the counselor all along, mostly exaggerated stuff and some stuff that just was out and out untrue. The counselor took the au pair's side and said that we weren't being accepting enough of her. All this time, the counselor never once stepped in and said, it looks like there are communication issues, even after all the girl's complaints. She was hesitant to even tell us any of what the au pair said because she didn't want to break her confidence. How could we ever work this out when we didn't even know that the girl was brining up issues? We told them to let her rematch and that we were dropping out of the program. No refund to us, of course. The counselor told us that she thought it was a good idea that we weren't going to continue with the program. Most of all because we only gave the girl limited access to a car and most of her families have a car just for the au pair. We followed all of the stated guidelines, and actually gave her every weekend and holiday off.

The counselors have no interest in helping or looking out for the host families. We were never even told by our counselor when the next cluster meeeting was or what they would be discussing. There was no communication. The program gives host families very little support. And, yes, even though the costs they lay out to you make it seem inexpensive, the bottom line is that these au pairs expect certain unrequired perks, like their own car, cell phone, own computer, etc. Those costs really run up the tab, not to mention the emotional toll having this young person in your home has on everyone in the family. In my opinion you pay a lot for low quality childcare.

 
At 3/2/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I wonder where the good stories are...I guess I should add something. I was an au pair 7 years ago and my experience was great (and my family was happy too). For the past few years I've lived here now and work as an LCC, because I've seen a lot of successful stories and want to be there to help those unsuccessful ones. Sure, there is both, like if you find a daycare that's dirty or a nanny that's always late and full of excuses.
I would like to state, that the fees that families pay, don't just go to the agency, but also cover au pair's flight or insurance. And even though I do have transitions happening (3 - 5 a year), there are also less severe reasons than those described here and the majority of "my" families are happy. Unfortunately those don't go and post on blogs as much...
I always say to everybody who is interested: "It is a wonderful program, but it does not fit everybody's needs. That's why I am here to help you determine that and make sure your experience is a success."
P.S. Are all au pairs great and trustworthy? NO. Are all host families warm, welcoming and playing by the rules. NO. We are working with people and that is the most unpredictable element...

 
At 24/3/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm looking to become an au pair for an amerian family later this year and au pair care was one of the agencies I was considering. Does anyone have any reccommendations for other agencies as I have only found one or two others that seem 'legit' if you like. I'm from England. Any suggestions would be helpful.

THanks

 
At 31/3/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We looked at several agencies before deciding on Au Pair Care primarily due to the LCC. We are currently looking to replace our current au pair and we are taking full advantage of our LCC's knowledge and experience. I am optimistic that this time will be better than the last.

 
At 4/4/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI I AM CURRENTLY AN AUPAIR FOR ALMOST 2YRS NOW. I REMATCHED FOR MY 2ND YEAR AS MY FAMILY COULD NOT AFFORD ANOTHER YEAR. ANYWAYS IM WITH A NEW FAMILY AND EVERYTHINGS GREAT, WE GET ALONG AND TALK ALOT. I FEEL MORE AT HOME AND PART OF THE FAMILY HERE. I DO ALOT FOR THEM AND THEY DO ALOT FOR ME.

I THINK IT IS IMOIRTANT FOR THE FAMILIES TO TALK AND BE OPEN ABOUT WHAT THEY EXPECT FROM EACHOTHER. YOU NEED TO HAVE MEETINGS AND SORT OUT PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY GET BAD. I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WHEN YOU CHOOSE YOUR AUPAIR YOU ASK ALL THE RELEVANT QUESTIONS AND TELL THEM AS MUCH AS U CAN SO THEY CAN GET AN IDEA AS TO WHAT THEY GETTING THEMSELVES INTO.

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT THAT THE AGENCY DO THEIR JOB PROPERLEY AS IT SEEMS LIKE THEY DO NOT REALLY CARE ABOUT THE FAMILIES OR AUPAIRS THEY JUST INTERESTED IN THE MONEY THEY GET FROM BOTH PARTIES.

I THINK SOME FAMILIES EXPECT WAY TO MUCH ALSO FROM AUPAIRS. I STAYED WITH MY FIRST FAMILY AND THEY PRETTY MUCH TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT I DIDNT MIND WORKING LONGER OR OFFERING TO COOK FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY OR HELPING WITH DISHES ECT IF I WAS NOT WORKING. THE FAMILIES NEED TO UNDERSTAND WE ARE HERE TO ASSIST WITH THE KIDS NOT EVERYTHING ELSE. I DONT MIND HELPING OUT AROUND THE HOUSE OR WITH THE KIDS IF IM NOT WORKING AS THATS THE WAY I WAS RAISED. NOT ALL AUPAIRS ARE LIKE THAT THOUGH.

WE CANT ALSO BLAME THE HOST FAMILIES SOME AUPAIRS SEEM LIKE THEY JUST COME HERE TO PARTY OR GET OTHER WORK OR MEET GUYS. THEY DO NOT TAKE THE JOB SERIOUSLY. WHICH IS WRONG. I HAVE MET GIRLS LIKE THAT AND ITS SAD AS IT REFLECTS BAD ON THE REST OF US.

I HOPE THAT EVERYONE READING WILL REMEMBER THERE ARE ALWAYS 2 SIDES TO THE STORY ITS NOT ALWAYS THE AUPAIRS FAULT OR THE FAMILY. MAYBE THAT WAS JUST THE WRONG MATCH.

TO ALL THE AUPAIRS KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND ALL THE HOST FAMILIES GOOD LUCK IN YOUR SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT AUPAIR AS THEY Are out there.

 
At 8/5/09 , Anonymous mv said...

From MV
I have been a lead counselor with one of the legal Aupair agencies (not Cultural Care).
Please go to www.aupairselectionadvice.net
Here you will find lots of advice for a good, or even great aupair experience.
In the end, it is all about asking lots of questions during the PHONE INTERVIEW, setting up your expectations, preparing the aupair, how to do EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION during the program year. The website has tons of advice on that.
Regarding the true cost of hosting an aupair, which was the original intend of this post. There is a breakdown on www.aupairselectionadvice.net as well.
And it is true, that it is somewhat higher that most State Department designated aupair agencies will claim. But it is still cheaper than a regular "American" nanny. There are lots and lots of good aupairs out there. You just have to pre-screen for them and prepare by means of written communication. Preparing written schedules, list of rules for kids and aupair, and much more. Again, check the website.
And some of you are correct, there are some aupairs out there, that are just not cut out for the aupair program. Girls that have an ulterior motive, party girls, and the like. But you can weed them out. www.aupairselectionadvice.net

I welcome you to that website and a great aupair experience.

MV

 
At 8/5/09 , Anonymous www.aupairselectionadvice.net said...

Hi Tiffany,
I know that you are checking all comments first before they make it to your website. I am addressing you directly via this posting.

I do understand that you are trying to say in this blog that aupairs are expensive and often are just a mess, not fit to do childcare, etc. etc.

While you are right about it not not neccessarily being very cheap. It does cost in real money: program fee, pocket money, $500 for education, gas money, food, extra electricity, warm water, and more. Aupair's do cost around $20,000 per year.
Main draw back is the live-in factor, but most families are OK with that, since they already loose much of their privacy as the kids get older. They are still cheaper than a regular "American" nanny, with salary and cost overhead.
I am not trying to be contrary to you.
If host parents do their homework, pre-screen aupairs themselves, prepare themselves by setting up an "Aupair Manual" with lots of rules and direction for the aupair, weekley work schedule, and details about what is acceptable for the kids; then it can be a really good experience.
And there are currently lots of great or good aupairs in the USA.
Again, the footwork needs to be done.
My website www.aupairselectionadvice.net is designed to help parents to have a great experience. I am not selling anything, don't want any money for it. Just the satisfaction to have helped parents to set up a great match.

You can reach me at mv@aupairselectionadvice.

Thanks for having an open mind!
MV

 
At 13/7/09 , Anonymous Jordi said...

Hi I am an Australian student and I am considering doing a year as an Au Pair in America before I start Medical School (I eventually want to specialize in Pediatrics). Which agency should I choose. I've looked on many au pair websites and I have found that the information given to potential au pairs is very different to the information given to potential host families. Au pairs seem to be told how much fun their time in America will be and how much freedom they will but it never really explains the duty of an Au pair.

I would want to work hard and fulfill the role my family needs me to but I'm just not sure what this role really involves. Can anyone explain what the "perfect" au pair would be like.

Also, my mother is worried about how well I would be treated by my family. I know she's read stories where the au pair was badly treated so is apprehensive about me participating in an au pair. How can I reassure her?

I'm sorry If I'm going on a bit but I just don't know if I can get unbiased advice from the agencies themselves. Thankyou very much.

Jordi

P.S I have traveled a lot so I can assure you I don't want to be and au pair just so I can see America. I want to be an au pair because I
A) Love children
B) Want to gain some life experience for when I become a doctor
C) Really want to observe/participate in American family (especially to experience American holidays, seasons, suburban life etc.

Thanks again

 
At 21/7/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm an au pair from brazil and i used to leave in maryland.
I didn't have any problem with the family, everything went well in our year together.
I'm from Au Pair in America program.
The family was flexible and also i was too.
I felt part of the family what was great.
I am happy, but a little tired after one hole year taking care of kids........

 
At 23/7/09 , Anonymous Klayfish said...

The initial story written here sounds like the angry venting of a family that unfortunately got burned. It's sad, but we can't take it and apply it to all situations.

My wife and I are the proud parents of 3 little children. We signed up with AuPairCare in summer of 2008, when our oldest child was 4 and our twins were just turning 1. We matched with our aupair with whom we thought would be great for our family. She was a nightmare. Thankfully, she was good to the kids in that she never put them in harms way, but she was interested in partying, not being part of our family. But this is not Aupaircare's fault or issue. This is a personality issue. I will admit I had a conflict with Aupaircare, but that was due to personality conflicts between myself and our area director (whom I still do not like. It took some work, but Aupaircare did not charge us for the rest of the unused year, we paid for what services we received. We rematched with someone, and she has been with us for 9 months now. We've had our ups and downs, but that's normal for any young girl coming to another continent alone. Again, I feel the level of support from our area director sucks, but that's just a conflict between me and her. I get along with her boss and have a respect for her.

Is Aupaircare expensive? Sure. But compared to putting 3 kids in full time daycare, it's a bargain. Besides, Aupaircare takes care of her insurance, airfare here (we picked her up in Jersey), visa documents, etc...that I just wouldn't have the time or interest to do. As a whole, I think an aupair agency is definitely the way to go, and we have renewed with Aupaircare for 2009/2010.

For those on the doubting side, think of it this way. If you hire someone yourself privately, how is that any better? They can leave just the same, if not easier. For whatever it's worth, there is no background check or oversight or administrative assistance. No resource to turn to.

 
At 17/8/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, good and bad stories everywhere! I am currently hosting Au Pair number 7 in 4 years. I had great au pairs, and bad au pairs, but except for one that gave me 2 hour notice (she came to party, stayed 3 weeks and her father bought her a ticket back for the same day after realizing she was out of control), things have worked ok.

With the 3 good stories, we're still in touch and have seen them after their year finished - either in their country or when they visited us for some days.

It's funny to hear the families point of view regarding LCC teaming up with the au pairs. I actually think it's more the other way around, that the LCC will usually take the HF side, but it may be just a matter of chance.

At the end of the day, we all need to be aware that the au pair program comes with its risks, but could also be a great opportunity for your kids as well.

You need to do a very good job at screening the candidates; the agencies do the bare minimum on this dimension.

You need to set very clear expectations with the au pairs before they get to your home. We screen 20-30 applications before even talking to a girl. If the answers seem too generic in their essay, well, it probably is because they just want to get here and havent' spend enough time thinking about it.

There are always two sides to any story. Have heard numerous stories from the au pairs as well about lack of respect or food related issues or lack of knowledge of cost of phone (it is very different in other countries).

Now, I have to say, I have also heard stories from friends with actual nannies doing the same - leaving the kids unattended, not showing up to work the next day, etc, so at the end of the day, it's our job as parents to ensure that we really get to know the person that will be spending so much time with our kids to avoid this type of problem.

Au pair # 7 just arrived. Will keep fingers crossed so that things do work out!

Regarding agencies, Au Pair in America tends to have better/flexible programs regarding reimbursement than Au Pair Care, the two agencies I have worked with. Au Pair Care, if you don't rematch with them, can end up making you lose several thousand dollars.

 
At 25/8/09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personailty matches are important. We no longer use Aupair from central/south america. Only 1st world countries European for now. Forntuntely we are in our last year or two. It has been a mixed experience.

Also a letter from our lawyer helps change the agencies mind about replacement cost if an Aupair leaves.

 

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