Hi mamas, I'm posting this here even though I'm not technically working (I am a freelance writer and have not *worked* in many many months. ) I have a special needs dd who has major major sleep issues and I just can't do it alone anymore (no family to help), so we're finally going to break down and hire one. In fact, I filled out the application and submitted it today.
If you have an au pair will you give me some tips on what to look for when screening? What kinds of questions to ask? Things we might not have thought about?
we have had two au pairs and love the experience. Some of the above threads talk about good questions to ask.
A few key questions:
Driving if you want her to drive your kids. Check how long she has had a full driver's license - if it dates from around the time of her application she may not be a very experienced driver.
Also, they ALL say that they don't smoke, regardless of whether they do or not.
I tend to prefer older au pairs (over 25 and your insurance won't jump massively) who have lived/worked away from home before. Less chance of a young lady who expects you to be her mother or who is overly homesick. Though there will be homesickness as they get used to being away from their friends and family.
Au pairs need more psycho-social support than a nanny (or a daycare center) - you will have to spend more time on getting her set up - bank account, driver's license, social security number, healthcare products, etc. Her language skills may not be great (they are all supposed to be proficient, but that varies a lot.
I am looking into this, too. I don't want to go through an au pair agency because I really need help with housework and I've heard you can't ask them to help when you go through an agency. Has anyone figured out how to get the visas when we're not going through an agency?
I am pretty sure you can't. The visas are J1 educational/cultural exchange visas - so the rules are set by State Dept NOT by the companies (they may have slight variations on the rules, but the core hours and duties are set by State Dept).
Regulations pertaining specifically to the Au Pair category are found at [22 CFR 62.31].
Through the Au Pair program foreign nationals between 18 and 26 years of age participate directly in the home life of a host family by providing limited childcare services for up to 12 months. Childcare is limited to no more than 10 hours per day, and to a maximum of 45 hours per week.
Also, household workers are considered "unskilled labor" meaning that professional visas are impossible to get as well.
Au pairs DO help with the children's housework - i.e. making beds, cleaning their rooms, doing their laundry, and making their meals. Our au pair often makes me lunch too since she is making lunch already for the kids and herself - but she doesn't have to. She also does her fair share of household tidying - but she doesn't clean the house. We hired cleaners for that.
You get quite a bit of information about the candidates, actually. Depending on the company, you either get a bunch at the same time or one at a time. You receive:
* her application to the program
* a letter to the au pair family introducing herself.
* pictures of herself, her family, the kids she is looking after now.
* writeups of three reference interviews
* writeups of the company interview of the au pair
I felt like I had TONS of information about the young women even before we interviewed.
I do recommend, however, to not rely on the phone interview - especially if you do not share a common language as your mother tongue.
With all three interviews we performed, we emailed the girls first with information about us, links to photos of us, and gave them some questions we would be asking. Most girls will reply with answers before the call. I also conducted one interview on AIM (much easier and free!).
I also share the house rules with the young women too, before they have a chance to accept, so they know what they are accepting. After all, they need to know where they are living, conditions of work, whether or not they will need a car and whether they get access to one, etc.
Thanks so much for all the info. I appreciate all the little things you're sharing that I hadn't thought of yet.
In re: to the car. We live in a pretty rural area and I don't want her to feel isolated. Our closest major city is about 45 mi. away. I'm worried about her driving to and from there since the roadways here are horrendous to say the least and there are accidents constantly. I also don't see myself driving her back and forth.
Of course, there is a community college close by. I suppose she could meet others there and then we wouldn't have to worry about her traveling on the interstates.
Have any of your au pairs saved $ for a *temporary* vehicle for themselves? How do you work out the transportation?