How to Choose the Perfect Agency for You and Your Children
Choosing an Au Pair Agency is a very important decision that will affect everyone in your family. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. By doing your research and taking the right steps, you can hire an Agency that will find the perfect Au Pair for you and your children. Our Au Pair Agency Selection Guide is designed to make the process simple, painless and even fun! Simply follow the tips below to start your search and find the right Au Pair for you.
Have immediate questions about choosing an Agency?
Call (949) 545-8191 and a ProAuPair representative will be happy to provide answers.
Au Pair Agency – What Does It Do?
Using an Agency is the safest and easiest way to find an Au Pair who can provide the right level of care for you and your children. It is very important to understand what kind of Au Pairs an agency specializes in, and how they recruit their candidates.
“9 Most important questions to ask when hiring an Au Pair Agency”
- Do you serve my area (ZIP-Code)? You want to find out if an agency services your area, because if not, you don’t need to waste your time.
- How many of your candidates have either one year full-time experience or a degree in a child care-related field? You need to understand the depth of qualified candidates. It’s easy to have a large pool, but most agencies only have very few really experienced candidates.
- When will we have access to all your available candidates? You need to know before you spend hours completing an application if the agency has candidates available who meet your minimum criteria.
- How do you recruit your Au Pairs? You want to understand if they do in-house recruiting or if they rely on external agents in foreign countries who are paid on commission.
- What are your criteria to accept an Au Pair applicant to your agency? You want to understand if the agency applies more then the minimum Department of State standards, which usually just qualify for a mothers’ helper Au Pair.
- How many of your Au Pairs who entered the U.S. last year stayed with the same family for the entire 12 months? This gives you an idea of the agency’s success rate in matching and what you can expect.
- What are the 3 most common reasons for Au Pairs/Host Families wanting to change(re-match)?
- Do you have a dedicated Infant Care or Special Needs Care Program? If you have a child under the age of two or if you have children with special needs this will help you understand if the agency will have the right candidates for you.
- What is your refund policy? You want to understand what your options and financial obligations are if a match doesn’t work out.
First of all, you need to make a decision how experienced your Au Pair should be and if you need a Traditional/Regular Au Pair (Mothers’ Helper with limited child care experience) or a Professional Au Pair, which is someone with at least one year experience in child care or/and a degree in a child care-related field, so they know what it means to work for 45 hours a week with children.
Most Au Pair agencies recruit only Regular Au Pairs, of which most are high school students who are looking for a gap year experience before they start their studies at the university. The difference between a Traditional/Regular Au Pair and a Professional Au Pair is also reflected in average hourly cost.
While there are many online matching platforms available, especially in Europe, most first-time host parents in the U.S. don’t know that hiring someone from abroad without the use of an Department of State designated Au Pair Agency is illegal, because your Au Pair needs a J-1 visa to legally enter the U.S. as an exchange visitor and to perform child care duties for your family.
Think about it. Without the extensive screening an Agency provides, you don’t have any reliable way to know who the person is that you’re inviting into your home or what their true qualifications are. Do you really want a complete stranger looking after your children and your home?
A Professional Au Pair Agency gives you peace of mind by screening Au Pairs for you. They do the work of finding caregivers who have extensive experience with children, professional training, great references, and clean backgrounds, among many other requirements. You do not have to make a blind decision or endless international phone calls or Skype interviews to find someone yourself. An Agency will do everything for you. You’ll get to choose from a pre-screened list of candidates that meet your needs, and you’ll interview only the Au Pairs that you’re interested in.
What is an Au Pair?
An Au Pair is a young person from a foreign country, usually a woman between ages 18 and 26, who lives in your home and helps take care of your children, as well as taking on light household responsibilities as they relate to the children.
Regulations require that Au Pairs be hired through an Agency that is designated by the U.S. Department of State, such as ProAuPair. There are many regulations in place that an Agency must abide by, affecting things like the age of the Au Pair, qualifications, and so on. Au Pairs are also expected to enroll in educational classes while they are in the U.S.
Benefits of hiring an Au Pair:
- Exceptional level of childcare
- More affordable than a full-time nanny
- Less expensive than daycare
- More personalized, full-time attention than a daycare center can offer
- An Agency will help you find someone with the exact skills and qualifications you’re looking for
- A specialized Agency, like ProAuPair, has Au Pairs who are experienced in caring for children with special needs, such as Epilepsy, Autism, ADD, ADHD, Down Syndrome and other conditions
Tips for Choosing an Au Pair Agency
When selecting an Agency, you must look carefully at the agency’s requirements for Au Pairs to join its program. While all agencies must follow the requirements mandated by the U.S. Department of State, not every Agency offers the same level of standards. For example, some Au Pair Agencies such as ProAuPair have stricter requirements for their Au Pairs, requiring more qualified, experienced individuals.
Be sure that your Au Pair Agency provides information on:
- Age of the Au Pairs
- Experience with children
- Level of education
- Professional training
- English-speaking ability
- Experience with special-needs children (if applicable)
- Background checks
A Typical Au Pair Agency vs. ProAuPair
ProAuPair is unlike a typical AuPair Agency in that it offers highly educated Au Pairs from Germany, providing a higher level of service. While the total average costs are higher then for a Traditional Au Pair, they are still much lower then a domestic Nanny or Daycare in most metropolitan areas in the US. ProAuPair is strict about the individuals it accepts into its Au Pair Agency and has many Professional Au Pairs who have extensive training and experience with special needs children too.
ProAuPair’s Requirements for its Au Pairs
For candidates to be accepted into the Professional Au Pair Program at ProAuPair, they must:
- Meet all the “Regular” Agency requirements
- Be 19+ years old
- Have 1+ years of full-time childcare experience and/or have a degree in fields like:
- Early Childhood Development
- Occupational / Physical / Speech Therapy
- Pediatric Nursing (Baby Nursing)
- Elementary School Teaching
- Nursery / Kindergarten Teaching
For candidates to be accepted into the Regular Au Pair Program at ProAuPair, they must:
- Have 400+ hours of experience in childcare
- Be between 18-26 years old (on the projected date of arrival in the U.S)
- Speak English proficiently
- Have completed secondary school
- Provide 3+ references with a minimum of one related to specific childcare work experience
- Pass a criminal background check
- Pass a psychometric test
If an Agency is unclear about this information, or if its requirements are not as strict as above, then you should STRONGLY consider another agency. ProAuPair was founded by a host family like yourself, so we go to great lengths to make sure we offer only the most professional Au Pairs who have the experience and skills you’re looking for.
Process of Working with an Au Pair Agency
When deciding on an Agency, another important thing to consider is the selection & interview process. You don’t want an Agency that is slow to answer your emails and calls, or one that doesn’t respond to your requests.
A typical application process should take about 6-8 weeks, mostly due to the requirements of obtaining a Visa. If an Agency does not respond to your requests and questions promptly, this process could easily be dragged out several more months.
Quick, Simple & Hassle-Free
In contrast to other Au Pair Agencies, ProAuPair offers a simple, step-by-step process that makes it easy to find the perfect Au Pair for your family.
- You fill out a short application to make sure your family qualifies to host an Au Pair.
- You identify what types of training and experience you want your Au Pair to have; review candidates’ profiles and begin interviewing by phone or online via Skype.
- Our Area Director will meet with you for a required personal interview in your home.
- Once you’ve selected a candidate, we help you complete any required materials and steps outlined by the Department of State
- Au Pair will apply for her Visa.
- Finally, the Au Pair will complete 38 hours of childcare training before arriving in your home.
Take the Next Step: Start your Family Profile at our Professional Au Pair Agency to Find the Right Person for Your Family
For official government information and to get more details about the Au Pair Agency Visa program in the U.S. visit the Department of State’s website.
If you’re looking for the highest level of childcare and lower costs than domestic care, contact ProAuPair at (949) 545-8191. ProAuPair will match you with the right Au Pair for your needs and show you how easy it is to work with a professional Au Pair Agency.