It is a big decision to add an au pair to the family. Most people choose to hire an au pair because they wish to have consistent and reliable child care for their family. Because this person will be living in the home, however, it is important to thoroughly research the au pair agency before committing to a working relationship.
Because there are so many agencies offering au pair services, it makes a difference to research which ones in particular are best suited to address individual family needs. By following these simple steps, a family will ensure that the agency they choose will be the best fit for their family and situation.
It almost goes without saying that every reputable au pair agency will run background checks on their au pairs. Most families treat their au pairs like part of the family and there is an underlying layer of trust that goes with that feeling. These young girls (and sometimes boys) are entrusted with children, most family's prized possessions. Choosing an au pair agency that conducts extensive background checks is essential.
Don't rely on the au pair agency to do all the work, however. Take advantage of the pre-contractual phone calls to get to know the selected au pair. Most people have good gut instincts. If something seems off, choose to get to know a different au pair.
Choosing an au pair agency that matches a family's hourly needs is essential. Au pair agencies typically dictate how many hours their au pairs can work in a week. Sometimes they are only required to have two consecutive days off and other agencies require that their au pairs have at least one weekend day off. That is why it is important for a family to sit down and map out their childcare needs before choosing an au pair agency.
As with any business arrangement, money is a factor. Au pair agencies have different combinations of registration fees, enrollment fees and au pair pocket money requirements. Choosing to hire an au pair can be an expensive decision. It is important to determine if a family has the discretionary income available to honor the contract before beginning. Be sure to check on the exact fees and monthly obligations each au pair agency requires. Work these into a budget, keeping in mind the additional expenses of food, transportation, etc, that also come with hiring an au pair.
English As A Second Language
Different au pair agencies have available au pairs from different countries. Most of these girls take the position of au pair as an opportunity to live with an American family for at least a year and learn the language. Most au pair agencies will advertise that their au pairs speak English. It is important to have a realistic expectation when it comes to language, however. These girls are almost always in the process of learning English as a second language. If a family has a particular knowledge of a second language such as Spanish or German, it may prove beneficial to work with an au pair agency that places girls who speak these languages.
Sometimes even with the best planning things do not work out. Before hiring an au pair agency, it is important to confirm the process for selecting a new au pair. Are there any charges associated with an au pair change? Can a change be made with no direct cause or do only particular situations warrant an au pair change? Is there a minimum amount of time an au pair must live with a family before making a change? These are all questions to ask before signing a contract with an au pair agency.
Hiring an au pair is an enriching and enlightening experience for most families. Some au pairs and families keep in touch long after they have returned to their home countries. When done correctly, it can be an amazing and rewarding relationship.