When discussing the au pair program, the first questions I usually answer are about the au pairs (background, qualifications, screening) and the arrival process (time frame, matching, program fees and payment options). However, there is often an expectation that a host family is required to provide all sorts of “amenities” to their au pair. Therefore I thought I would clarify what the actual requirements are versus added benefitsthat some families choose to provide to their au pair because their situation enables them to do so.
All participating host families must be:
- Committed to cultural exchange and willing to welcome a young person from abroad into their home as a family member
- Both parents must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents
- The parent(s) or guardian(s) of children requiring up to 45 hours per week of childcare
- Able to provide a private bedroom
- Available to attend at least one orientation meeting and family conference per year
- Willing to abide by the guidelines set forth by Cultural Care Au Pair and the U.S. Department of State.
The reason behind the host parent residency status…
Just as much as American host families expect cultural exchange and exposure to a second language for their children, au pairs expect to have the opportunity to experience the American way of life and improve their English. While multicultural and bilingual families are a great fit for the program (with an au pair reinforcing the language of origin of one parent), there is an expectation for the parents to ensure they communicate in English to their au pair. They will also have the ability to expose the au pair to their home culture as well as the way of life in their corner of the USA.
Should the bedroom have a private bathroom?
While a private bathroom is a nice additional feature for an au pair, it is not a requirement. Your au pair can share the children’s bathroom, however, you can help to welcome your au pair by creating a locked or separate shelf space for her to use. Also her own area to hang towels or keep styling tools will help to keep the kids away from her stuff.
Do au pairs have their own car?
Au pairs are 18- to 26-year-old students from abroad and will not have their own transportation. If your au pair is required to drive the children, a family car should be available for her to perform her duties. You will have matched with an au pair with a driver’s license, however, it will be important to give time to your au pair to familiarize herself with driving your size car in your area.
You should also let her know what your expectations are for personal care use (gas usage, distance, curfew) if available. Not all au pairs have access to a car for their off-time, especially in large metropolitan area with public transportation. Maybe there is an au pair in your neighborhood she can “buddy up” with that can take her places with her. You will be required to drive her or provide car access to one au pair meeting per month.
Do au pairs have a driver’s license?
Most au pairs have a driver’s license and their application will describe whether they are comfortable driving your children and driving in the USA. Although her international driver’s license will be valid for up to 90 days in South or North Carolina for example, you will want to encourage her to take the driving test at your local DMV as soon as possible. An American driver’s license will be best for use as I.D., to open a bank account and for adding your au pair to your car insurance.
As always, contact me for any questions or comment here so your question can be shared with our readers.