How Should We Start the Process of Finding an Au Pair?
The au pair is an excellent solution to the need for live-in childcare. However, finding and choosing an au pair to care for your child or children can be a daunting task. Many parents, faced with the prospect of hiring an au pair, find that they don’t even know where to begin. Fortunately, there are a few basic steps that you can go through to start the process of finding an au pair.
Choosing an Au Pair can be especially difficult, as you often don’t have a whole lot of exposure to the Au Pair before they travel to your home and begin living with you. The qualifications and experience that you look for are, therefore, extremely significant. In terms of personality, you want to find an au pair that comes across as loving and patient with your children. You should try to find someone that is cheerful, and has a generally positive attitude and outlook. You want an au pair that is oriented toward children and families. Finally, you want to make sure that she seems to have good old fashioned common sense.
There are certain skills you should make sure that your au pair possesses. If you have infants in the home, you should be certain that she has had some experience in caring for infants. Checking an au pair’s references is one of the best ways to determine what kinds of skills she may possess. If possible, you should choose an au pair who has had some paid work experience, whether in child care or in another area. This will help you determine the potential au pair’s work ethic, and whether she enjoys working or not. In addition, your au pair should have at least basic first aid knowledge, and you should help her to receive child and infant CPR training if she does not have it.
You may wish to look for other requirements in an au pair. These can include things such as no smoking, no alcohol or drug use, and good health and grooming habits. You might look for a high school graduate, and/or some college or nanny type coursework. Also, it is often best to choose an au pair who has lived away from home for a while, so as not to worry about losing her to homesickness.
Once you’ve decided what types of characteristics you are looking for in an au pair, it is time to decide how exactly you want to go about locating a potential au pair.
There are several au pair organizations that serve to connect host families with potential au pairs. Most of these organizations will assist the host family with the proper paperwork to obtain the necessary visa. Host families and au pairs sign a specific agreement that specifies the duration of the time they will be there, as well as details about their duties while they are in the United States. The specific visa is referred to as a J-1 au pair visa. There are eleven agencies that the U.S. government has authorized to make au pair arrangements. These agencies typically charge between $5,500 and $7,000 for their services.
If you select an au pair independently, you can also work through an independent immigration attorney to obtain an H1-B visa. This type of visa is a regular work visa, and does not have the educational requirements that the J-1 visa has. The H-1B visa typically requires the applicant to possess a bachelor’s degree or higher, and cannot be issued for an actual “au pair” position; rather, for this type of visa, the position would have be listed as a home-school teacher, educator, or other type of service that is not solely childcare related.
You also might be able to sponsor a student for an F-1 visa program who will work with your children. These types of students will carry 12 hours of college credit, and generally work for no more than 20 to 25 hours per week in childcare.
By knowing what you are looking for in an au pair, and by deciding how you want to go about finding one, your search for an au pair can be successful and relatively painless.