Considering adding an in-home caregiver to your family? You may be wondering how to get an au pair. Let's take a closer look at this process.
We understand that finding the right childcare solution for your family can be a challenge. This important decision will have long-lasting impacts on your family and how your household runs each day.
Over the last few years, more families are making the decision to seek in-home childcare. There are many reasons why families are making this switch: in-home childcare is convenient, it has lower adult-to-child ratios, it creates a cultural exchange opportunity, and it takes place in an environment your child '” and your entire family '” is comfortable with.
With factors to consider like remote learning, unpredictable school closures, and the constantly-changing work-from-home schedule, more families than ever are making the decision to trust an au pair with their childcare needs.
An au pair can do an immense amount to help your home run smoothly. These caretakers lend a helping hand with childcare and much more.
However, the process of hiring a live-in caregiver like an au pair can seem complex. It's straightforward to register a child at a daycare center or to call a babysitter, but how do you get a live-in au pair? It's simple: When you partner with AuPairCare, we make it easy to find your family's perfect au pair.
If you're interested in getting started as a host family to an au pair, read on. In this article, we'll break down how to get an au pair, and what life is like once a reliable, skillful caretaker joins your household.
The first step in hiring an au pair is deciding that these live-in cultural exchange visitors are the right childcare solution for your family. For many families, this starts with first finding out what, exactly, an au pair is. We'll give you a quick overview of who au pairs are and what makes them unique.
Au pairs are international exchange visitors that come from around the world to live, learn, and work in the United States on an au pair J-1 visa. They live with the family that hosts them, allowing them to keep a flexible schedule to meet the family's needs. During this time, they also participate in a cultural exchange with their host family. They learn about life in the U.S. while sharing their own culture and customs.
The main job of an au pair is providing childcare. As live-in caregivers, they have a great deal of flexibility in how they provide care to their host family. Whether a family needs early morning care, help during the work day, or a schedule that changes every week, an au pair can work with them to reliably provide the care they need.
An au pair's role isn't limited to childcare alone, either. They can also help with light household tasks that relate to childcare. This means an au pair can lend a helping hand with many different aspects of raising kids, including:
- Driving kids to and from school, practice, and outings
- Bathing and dressing kids
- Preparing kids' meals and cleaning up afterwards
- Helping with homework
- Getting kids to sleep at bedtime
The flexibility of their role is one benefit of hosting an au pair, but they also bring another unique benefit to the host families. Au pairs are exchange visitors that come to the United States to learn about American culture, and to share their home culture with their new community.
Sharing in an au pair's culture has a number of benefits for every member of a host family, including:
- Organic learning opportunities about a different culture
- Chances to learn a new language through immersion
- Experiencing new elements of a culture like food and traditions
- Fostering tolerance and empathy in children as they learn about differences between people
As live-in caregivers, au pairs form close, familial relationships with their host family. This is one of the key benefits of entrusting your childcare to an au pair vs. a nanny or daycare. These close-knit relationships don't just add joy to a family's life, though. They also impact how kids grow and develop.
Particularly during early childhood, close relationships with caretakers are essential for the healthy development of the brain. Nurturing relationships with the adults that look after them help children develop self-confidence, cope with stress, manage their emotions, and learn to treat others with kindness.
Having an au pair at home allows children to add another loving caregiver to their network of support. This means au pairs do much more than lend a helping hand with the kids '” they also play a key role in supporting their growth and development.
An au pair can help to completely change the dynamic of the households they join while making parenting easier and enriching the lives of their host family. Now, let's break down how to add one of these incredible care providers to your family.
Au Pair Information Visas Au pairs travel to the United States on a J-1 visa as participants in a cultural exchange program. Program Duration An au pair's program duration is 12 months, with an option to extend to 18 or 24 months if the au pair and host family both agree. Requirements Au pairs must meet many requirements set by the United States Department of State. They must have a high school or equivalent education, pass a background check, and have good English proficiency. Typically, they must also be between 18-26 years of age. Responsibilities The main responsibility of an au pair is to provide childcare for their host family. They may also help with light household tasks related to childcare.
Partnering With an Au Pair Agency
Once your family has decided to add an au pair to your household, the next step is to partner with an au pair agency like AuPairCare. In fact, au pairs can only arrive in the U.S. through au pair agencies, since these agencies are approved by the Department of State to sponsor au pair J-1 visas.
Partnering with an au pair agency has many benefits for both au pairs and potential host families. An agency will make the process seamless by:
- Helping you find the right caregiver
- Facilitating interviews
- Ensuring they meet all au pair requirements
- Coordinating their travel
- Ensuring their placement is a success
So, why choose AuPairCare to guide you through this process? At AuPairCare, we're committed to making it simple to find your family's perfect au pair. We support both host families and au pairs every step of the way to ensure the entire program year will be an amazing experience for everyone involved.
We help with the matching and interview process when seeking an au pair. We even help au pairs secure their visas and schedule their flights. Plus, our team of local Area Directors provides ongoing support to each au pair and host family throughout their entire program year.
Our team at AuPairCare is here to help each family find the perfect childcare solution to meet their needs. Partnering with us is the first step in finding your family's new au pair.
Finding Your Family's Perfect Caregiver
After partnering with an agency, the next step in getting an au pair is to find a candidate who will be the right match for your family. Our team of experts takes a hands-on approach to matching each family to a caretaker.
Most of our team has been or hosted au pairs, so we know how important it is to find the right person to add to your household. We bring our dedication and expertise to every au pair placement. We'll make personalized recommendations for exchange visitors that may be the right fit for your family.
We also have an award-winning database you can use to search through our au pair candidates, as well as powerful tools to focus your search on caregivers that meet your family's needs. For example, you can search au pairs who are skilled with infant care, who have a drivers' license, who speak particular languages, or any combination of these.
Once you've found an au pair you're interested in, we'll help you set up and conduct interviews to get to know one another. We can schedule the interviews over online video chat, or, if needed, we'll connect your international phone calls.
After getting to know the au pairs you interview, take some time with your family to think about who you would like to welcome into your home for the next year or more. After interviews have been conducted, it's up to the au pair and host family to both decide if they want to move forward.
Our au pair placements are made through mutual matches, meaning the host family and au pair must both agree they think it will be a good fit. This helps us ensure each placement will be a resounding success.
Getting Ready For Your New Au Pair
With a mutual match made between your family and an au pair, you're almost ready to welcome your new caregiver into your home. You'll work with your au pair to set a date for their arrival. Then, you can focus on getting ready for how your exchange visitor will transform your home.
Au pairs are live-in childcare providers. This means their host families will need to set up their living space before they arrive. You'll need to provide your au pair with a few things, including a:
- Private bedroom
- Adult-sized bed
- Adult-sized closet
- Safe exits from their room in case of emergency
Once your au pair's space is ready for them, you can start planning for the kinds of tasks they will help your family with. An au pair can work for up to 45 hours per week with a maximum of 10 hours per day. You can utilize their time in many different ways to best serve the needs of your family.
Some families will need their au pair to keep a set schedule, like taking care of the kids during work hours. Others may need their au pair's schedule to change every week, or even every day. You can work with your au pair to create a schedule that will meet your family's needs.
Plus, each family will also need their au pair to help with different tasks. Families with school-aged kids may need help with school pick-up and drop-off. They may also want an au pair who is comfortable helping the kids with homework. Support from a caregiver like an au pair is an important part of helping kids learn.
Conversely, families with younger children may want their au pair to help with different tasks, like engaging in imaginative play or practicing social-emotional skills. No matter the ages of a family's kids, an au pair can help with a huge range of childcare-related tasks, including:
- Taking kids on educational outings
- Helping the kids keep their rooms clean
- Reading stories at bedtime
- Helping with school projects
- Bathing and dressing kids
Another thing to consider as you prepare for your au pair is how to make them feel welcome. Adding an au pair to your home is like adding a new family member. Au pairs travel from around the world to provide childcare to your family '” but they are also young adults experiencing life in a new country!
Whether it's a warm greeting at the airport or a kind gesture during their first days, many host families go the extra mile to help welcome their au pair into their new home. Some of our host families have even decorated their au pair's bedroom with pictures of their friends and family back home, or planned a special welcome dinner of traditional foods from the au pair's culture.
However you choose to welcome your au pair into your home, your au pair will arrive ready to jump into life in the United States with your family.
Hosting an Au Pair
Once your au pair arrives, your AuPairCare local Area Director will conduct an orientation within two days to help both your family and your new au pair prepare for their new roles. Then, you're ready to go! Your cultural exchange visitor will be able to jump into learning about your family and providing the highest quality of childcare.
Au pairs become part of their host family for their program year. In fact, many families say that they become like an older sibling to their kids.
Plus, many host families maintain a close relationship with their au pair well after their program year ends. We've heard from many of our au pairs and host families that they stay in touch, even traveling to visit one another and attend special events like weddings and graduations.
As your family and au pair adjust and settle into new routines, you can help them feel comfortable in your home by:
- Being open and clear about communicating expectations
- Respecting their privacy and alone time
- Making sure they know where to find essentials in your home
- Including them in some family activities like dinner and outings
Before long, your au pair will feel like an indispensable part of your household. Take it from the Franco family '” their au pair, Dayane from Brazil, has integrated into their family's life with ease.
The Francos admire the way that Dayane immediately formed close bonds with their kids. She's helped them find stability in the midst of an uncertain time by providing top-notch childcare. Her background in physiotherapy has made her an amazing supporter of their child with special needs. The Franco family says Dayane feels like she should have been part of their family all along.
Throughout your au pair's placement, the AuPairCare team will continue to provide support. Our local Area Directors will check in at least every month for your au pair's entire program year to ensure everything is going smoothly.
Many of our families love the experience of hosting an au pair so much that they choose to extend their au pair's stay, or host new au pairs year after year.
The Singh family in Virginia has been hosting au pairs since 2015, and their last three au pairs have been sisters! Paola, Estefania, and Lupita came from Ecuador to live with the Singh family, and each of these sister au pairs have loved both participating in a cultural exchange program, and supporting the children of the Singh family as they grow.
Every au pair experience is unique. From cultural exchange to finding a partner in parenting, these caretakers add an entirely new dynamic to their host families.
Adding an Au Pair to Your Family
If you're wondering how to hire an au pair in the USA, the first step is to answer questions like: Should I get an au pair? Is an au pair right for my family? These caregivers bring incredible benefits to the households they join.
Au pairs provide quality childcare, cultural exchange, and a new family member all at once. They expand your childrens' network of reliable, supportive caretakers, which helps to support their social-emotional development.
Every year, about 5,000 au pairs come to the United States to live as childcare providers. If you're ready to find your family's live-in au pair, AuPairCare is here to help.
When you partner with AuPairCare for your childcare needs, we handle the heavy lifting of adding an au pair to your household. From initial matching until the day they fly back home, our tenured team of experts will work to ensure your au pair's program year is smooth, enjoyable, and stress-free.
Finding An Au Pair Matching Our team at AuPairCare will provide personalized recommendations to help you find a match. To finalize an au pair's placement, they must mutually match with their host family. Interviewing We'll facilitate interviews by setting up video chats or connecting international calls to help you get to know your au pair candidates. Preparing When you're mutually matched with an au pair, prepare for their arrival by setting up their private bedroom and thinking about what kinds of childcare tasks you'd like them to help with. Hosting During your au pair's placement, they can help with many different childcare tasks. Our team will stay in regular contact with your family to ensure your au pair's placement is going well.
Ready to learn more about our program details? Register to begin your search, or contact us to find out how to get an au pair. We're ready to help you find your family's new caregiver.