Amazing Au Pairs, Candidates

Why You Should Host a Younger Au Pair

Looking for the Perfect Addition for Your Family? Why You Should Host a Younger Au Pair

Ana Babcinetchi (3)Hosting an au pair is a fantastic childcare option for many families because it is more cost-efficient than daycare and allows host families to participate in a cultural exchange with a young man or woman from another country. Whether you have hosted an au pair previously or are new to the program, you may be wondering what qualities would work best for your family in an au pair candidate. Younger au pairs are a great option for families who would like to add a valuable new member to their household, who can act as both a mother’s helper and a big brother or sister to the children. Hosting a younger au pair is a great option for many host families, and here’s why:

Younger au pairs are energetic: One of the best qualities that younger au pairs possess is great energy and excitement. They enjoy caring for children of all ages and have the stamina to keep up with busy schedules, sports activities, tidying up, and playing games.

 

Age does not reflect maturity: Although younger au pairs may seem inexperienced by American standards, most of the younger candidates who apply for the program have extensive hours from a variety of previous childcare experiences. Most of the candidates also come from large families and have spent years caring for their younger siblings and cousins. They may only be 18 or 19-years old, but they have developed great maturity from their work and personal experience. The important thing to remember is that an 18-year-old au pair candidate from abroad, is quite different than an 18-year-old American high school graduate.

They are coachable: Since younger candidates are still growing and learning themselves, they have a willingness to experience new things and learn about childcare from their host family. Younger au pairs are still forming how they best relate to children and thus are more willing to accept advice and tips from their host parents.

Although hosting a younger au pair might not be your first choice as a host family, it may very well turn out to be your best choice. One of our current host families, the Notos, explained that age was not a deciding factor at all and they encourage new host families to look for an au pair whose personality and interests best matched with their own family instead. They went on to say that “they would recommend a younger au pair a million percent, because their younger au pair became like a daughter to them, was always excited and willing to play with the kids, and faced every new challenge with determination.”

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If you would like to learn more about our available younger au pair candidates or have questions about the au pair program, contact us today!

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Cultural Journey – Jamaica visit

jamaica_stream_water_221749Last month I had the amazing opportunity to visit our offices in the country of Jamaica. This was the first time that I had been to Jamaica, so I took everything in as I arrived. After a layover in Miami, I was on my way and landed on the ground in pitch black. I headed through immigration, customs and then waiting for my ride to my hotel, I confirmed with our offices our meeting for the next day. I was so excited to see the island and to meet with all of our prospective au pairs at the office in Mandeville.

The next morning, I had a driver pick me up to drive me from Montego Bay to Mandeville. The drive was beautiful and I feel as though I was able to see the real Jamaica as I rode in the passenger seat (on the left side of the car) through the windy, hilly roads which were not always paved. Jamaica is very tropical and when the big storms surge through, they raise havoc on the road, creating very large potholes. As the country is full of poverty, you often see individuals filling in the holes in the road in hopes of making some extra money for doing the hard labor. This was my first introduction into how hard working the Jamaican jamaicapeople are and how much pride they have for their country and culture. The drive was beautiful and I couldn’t help but marvel at everything I saw. So many fruit and vegetable stands on the side of the road, people walking to school with their kids, dogs and sheep running around and people just enjoying their lives. I had all of the various trees pointed out to me and also the beautiful birds. We were in a hurry to get to the meeting and it took over two hours to actually arrive to the center of the island for the meetings.

When I arrived at the offices of our partner, I was introduced to all of the staff and had a tour of the facilities. The most impressive feature being the classroom where they offer various development courses for all of the individuals. The office helps the residents, from 18 to 80, in professional development in order to assist them in finding employment. They have a partnership with the Katrinauniversity, as well as the government, to provide these options to encourage all to continue to improve themselves. Every single person I encountered was courteous and kind, even given the fact that they are not used to seeing someone like me (a tall, very American woman) walking around their town.

Our wonderful partner meets with all prospective au pair candidates one on one and advises them on their opportunities, how to improve their background to make them a better candidate and screening them thoroughly for accuracy in their application. All applicants are advised on what it means to be an au pair in the USA, how to work with a host family and also go through a complete First Aid/CPR training program before they leave. Now, after discussions with the offices, they will even be educating the drivers on driving in the USA to better prepare them for what it is like to drive in our country once matched with a family.

After seeing the offices, meeting the crew and seeing how the operations works, the next thing on the itinerary was to meet some of the applicants, both current and prospective, in the classroom in order to talk more about the program, what to expect, what American families are looking for and what our agency represents. All I can say about this is WOW! I was so impressed with each and every one of the applicants. They were kind and courteous and had wonderful questions for me about the program. I actually made some notes for girls that I thought would be fabulous applicants for my own family in a few months, if they are still available! The biggest questions seemed to be what the families were like, what types of things they could do with the kids, how they could be classthe best au pair, etc. Now, normally when I meet a group of prospective au pairs, the questions are “where does the family live”, “how much time will I get off”, in addition to the normal questions about the families, but I didn’t get these questions at all from this wonderful group of ladies! They really were most concerned with having the opportunity to come to the USA, take care of children and experience the life. The energy that they gave off with their excitement and smiles was contagious! I walked away from the meeting truly feeling positive that we decided to start offering candidates from Jamaica.

We finalized the meeting and then I was treated to a delicious lunch with the staff of the office who could break away from helping their candidates and chatted more about how we could continue to improve. The staff of the Mandeville office is really interested in continuing to build the program, support the candidates and make sure that they are well prepared to offer the best to our host families. Again, making me more sure that we made a great choice by chosing Jamaica as one of our source countries for applicants.

20131003_144703Well, lunch was finished and a quick pop-in the offices to say good-bye to the crew and I was back in the car for my long journey back to Montego Bay. Again, I cannot even express in words how magnificent this drive was for me. I love to travel and getting to see the country from the road was a real treat. I did not have the opportunity for any photos, as the driver was keeping time, so no side trips or pulling over to the side of the road! Back at the hotel and I couldn’t stop thinking about everyone I met and saw on my one-day trip to Mandeville and back. I feel so fortunate that I consistently get to visit new places and meet the wonderful participants of our program and partner offices and this was a trip that I would always remember. I spent the next day on the beautiful beach, snorkeling and really getting to know some of the locals who worked at and around the hotel. I loved learning more about the cultural and the people of Jamaica, what a determined and hardworking nation of people!

This posting was written by Katrina Vanderhulst, Director of International Programs for Au Pair International.

API has some amazing applicants from Jamaica currently. Please take a moment to review their profiles and consider interviewing a candidate to be your next au pair so that you can also share in the learning of the Jamaican culture, teach them about American culture AND have a reason to visit Jamaica after their program year is complete! Ya mon!

Bonus: Match with an au pair from Jamaica by the end of 2013 and save an additional $100 off of your program fees!

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Stacey-Ann H.

“I am 24, have 7300 childcare hours, and love to make people smile!”

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Sammijoe H.

“I have nearly 15,000 childcare hours and know First Aid!”

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Ava-Gaye J.

“I have 3500 childcare hours and want to be a nurse!”

CharnelleWolliston2Charnelle W.

“I am a teacher with 60,000 childcare hours and First Aid certifications!”

ShanekeRicketts2Shaneke R.

“I have 6000 childcare hours and plan to become a Pastor!”

Or check out our other au pairs from Jamaica on our website.

Host Family Questions

HF Q’s – Can I take my au pair on vacations with me?

tropical-84537_640 (1)Absolutely!  Who hasn’t been on vacation and wished that there was someone who could take the kids for a few hours?  Many families bring their au pairs along with them on vacation and have a fabulous time.  When preparing to go on vacation, please keep the following things in mind.

1) If you are requiring your au pair to accompany you need to provide for her expenses.

2) You will need to give your au pair a schedule of on and off-duty time so she can plan her free time.

3) You still need to remain within the regulations, meaning no more than 10 on-duty hours per day and 45 hours per week.

4) During vacation, you can have your au pair sleep in the same room as your children, but most au pairs are uncomfortable sleeping in the same room as the host parents.

5) Be sure to make your au pair aware of any additional hazards that she or your children might not be aware of.

6) If you are traveling outside the US, your au pair will need to get a travel verification signed by Au Pair International and she might also need a visa for the country you are visiting.

 

Do you have more vacation questions?  Feel free to ask them here or any other questions about the Au Pair Program or Au Pair International.

Au Pair Advice, Host Family Questions

Performing a Balancing Act: What it Means to Live Like a Member of the Family

AupairLiving like a member of the family… that’s easy, right?  It means spending time with them, but how much time, and when?  Is there a certain amount of time that is expected?  What if the family has plans?  Should the au pair go to?  What if the au pair doesn’t want to go?  Au pair’s aren’t supposed to do heavy housework, but wouldn’t a member of the family pitch in and help clean?

Obviously there isn’t an easy definition for the cultural exchange component of the au pair program where the au pair lives with the family like a member of the family.  Each family is unique and each match is unique so there is going to be a transitional period where host families and au pairs are feeling the situation out.  Here are some hints that might help that adjustment.

Personal Time vs. Family Time: Au pairs and host families are going to want to spend time together, but also time apart.   It is important for families to still have time together without their au pair, just like it is important for the au pair to have time to relax as well as explore the U.S.  No one can say for sure what the perfect balance is, but if the au pair is spending all of her/his time in their bedroom or out with friends, then that is not meeting the intent of the program.  On the other hand, if the au pair is spending all their free time with the family, then he/she is not getting out and experiencing all the opportunities that are around.

Housework:  Au pairs are not supposed to be doing housework that isn’t child-related (they are not maids) but they are also suppose to be pitching and helping out like a member of the family.  This is a hard balance to find, but it is important.  A good way to look at it is if the family is working, the au pair should be helping, too.  So if the host parents are making dinner, then the au pair should offer to help or entertain the kids.  She/he should also offer to make dinner sometime or clean-up after dinner.  Working together is a great way to feel closer to each other and learn about each other.

Vacations: One of the wonderful aspects of the au pair program is au pairs can travel with their host families and help them out.  It can also cause some confusion because schedules are off and roles are less defined.  If a family needs their au pair to travel with them, then they still have to provide them with room and board and a schedule for their on-duty and off-duty time.  It is a good idea to discuss the different needs that the family will have ahead of time so everyone understands what the expectations are.  If the family doesn’t need the au pair to come, then they need to provide provisions for him/her while they are gone.

Dining and Activities:  A great way to spend time together is for host families to invite their au pair to the different activities they have planned, whether it be a simple dinner out to something that is more of a special occasion (say a sporting event).  If they are inviting the au pair along, then they should be prepared to pay for her/him, like he/she is a member of their family.  If the family doesn’t want to bring the au pair, that is fine, but they need to make sure she has the resources to make her own meal at home.  On the other side of the coin, host families need to be sensitive to the fact that au pairs will sometime decline an invitation.  They might have plans or just want some time alone.  Like was mentioned before, the important thing is to find the right balance for each match.

Just like most relationships in life, communication is the key!  When host families and au pairs can be open and honest with each other, then they can find the right balance.

Want to learn more about the Au Pair Program?  Contact Au Pair International or view some profiles on our website.

Amazing Au Pairs

Childcare for Children with Autism – Finding Someone You Can Trust

According to the Talk About Curing Autism website, “More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined”.  They state that as of April 2012 1 in 88 children have autism compared to the CDC’s December 2009 report of 1 in 110 children.  Obviously this is a growing issue that presents new challenges to families.  One major concern for working families is child care.  Many child care facilities feel they cannot meet the needs of these children and parents are left feeling frustrated and hurt.  The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports “Thirty-nine percent of the parents of children with autism spectrum disorder reported that child care problems had greatly affected their employment decisions.”

KidsHealth offers these tips to people caring for children with autism.

  • Follow the child’s routine, especially at bedtime or mealtime. Kids with autism prefer structure and can get upset if routines are different from what they’re used to.
  • Ask the parents about the child’s favorite toys so you can play with them. Go slowly. One tactic is to sit alongside the child and mimic his play. That might attract his attention and lead him to join you.
  • Special toys can help you encourage the child to cooperate. For example, you might say, “If you brush your teeth, you can play with your toy car.”
  • Don’t be offended if the child decides to play alone or limits interactions with you. This is part of the disorder.
  • Maintain a calm environment. For example, skip a trip to the playground when you know a neighborhood gathering is likely there. Avoid bringing your friends or other people the child may not know into the home.
  • Go slowly when it comes to physical contact. Find out from the parents how their child reacts to affection. A quick hug or light tickle could set off a child with autism.

 

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Celeste is an au pair from South Africa for a family in Arizona with a child with autism.  She has shared her experiences with us.

Did you have experience with special needs or autistic children before you went to your host family’s house?

I had worked as a high school teacher back in my home country for two years.  In a school environment you deal with a lot of different children.  I have a special needs friend and family members with dyslexia, but other than that I can’t say that I have experience in working with special needs children.  I was aware of the fact that it wasn’t going to be easy, and I also knew that I would gain a lot of experience and personal growth in working with this family.
2.       What did the family do to help you get to know their children?

They gave me a neat family handbook with information on each person’s personality.

3.       What is challenging about working with children who have autism?

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One needs a lot of patience and understanding, and I think the most challenging for me is that a lot of the things they do and the way they act will sometimes seem like its naughty child behavior.  But truth is that they act in certain ways we don’t understand because of things they’re struggling to cope with and because the understanding of social cues doesn’t come natural to them.

4.        What do you love about working with children with autism?

I love that every day is a challenge.  I love how much I learn each and every day, not just about them and autism, but also how much I learn about myself.  They helped me look at the world in a different way and appreciate that I have health and friends.  I love how they find things fascinating that we overlook every day.  It’s fulfilling to see how they make progress every day and how far they have come.  They are remarkable kids and I’m very proud and feel very privileged to be a part of their lives.

5.       Do you feel you make these children’s lives better?  How?

I feel that they make my life better.  Being with them every day is fun and they put a smile on my face.  They get really excited and enthusiastic about things they’re really interested in.  Even just hiking or baking brownies.  I guess I make their lives better by showing them love and understanding and by helping to teach them live skills every day.

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6.        What activities do you like to do with them?

We like to go hiking, play at the park and swimming.  S. enjoys painting, singing, dancing, reading and playing dress up.  They like to play “Just Dance” on the Wii.  A. loves to talk and watch videos about the weather, fireworks and explosions.  He also loves to sit outside when there’s a storm coming and watch the clouds and lightning. The boys really enjoy to do science experiments and to make their own crystals.  J. likes to swim, watch cartoons, play board games, read and help me bake cookies or brownies.  We also enjoy going to the Children’s and Science Museums together.

Au Pair International has au pairs with experience with children with autism.  Check out some of their profiles.

 

Maria G.

Marypaz A.

 

News

Bill Clinton Believes Supporting Tourism Encourages Peace

Bill Clinton. Image by CAPAF
Bill Clinton. Image by CAPAF

“What I have seen is that peace works better than conflict, and one of the best manifestations of it is in travel and tourism,” – Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was in Abu Dhabi yesterday to speak at the World Travel and Tourism Council summit.  Alex Francis with Cheapflight travel blog says, “Bill Clinton has said that tourism can be a force for good in the world, and has the power to bring peace and change things for the better.”

I personally have seen the truth of this in my work with the Au Pair Exchange Program.  Most people don’t realize that the Au Pair Program was established by the U.S. Department of State to promote peace and understanding throughout the world.  From their website: “Through the Au Pair program, participants and host families take part in a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity. Participants can continue their education while experiencing everyday life with an American family, and hosts receive reliable and responsible childcare from individuals who become part of the family.”

Through my work with Au Pair International I have had the opportunity to have women from Japan, Paraguay, Thailand, Germany, China and Moldova come and stay with me and my family.  It has been an amazing experience for my children to learn about these beautiful countries and their rich cultures.  It has instilled in us a desire to see the world and meet different people.

The au pairs also have the opportunity to learn so much.  Many come to the U.S. only knowing what they see in the movies.  They have the unique experience of staying with a family and participating with them like a member of the family.  They come away from this experience having strengthened their English, broadened their global understanding and gained a personal confidence in their own abilities and worth.  Many go on to do amazing things.

So I encourage you to take the opportunity to travel and really experience a different culture and people.  Don’t be afraid to really get to know the people and places you visit.  Share with your children the value of each culture, language and people.  By doing so, you will be helping to promote worldwide peace and understanding.

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Lisa Kempton is the Director of Domestic Programs with Au Pair International. She has been helping families and au pairs in the Au Pair Exchange Program for 5 years. You can follow her on twitter.

Candidates, Day to Day

Top 7 Unexpected Reasons to get an Au Pair

The typical reason for getting an au pair is “I go to work and need someone to care for my kids” and sometimes “I want my kids to learn a certain language”.  While these are great reasons that people get an au pair, there are some other benefits that people don’t always think about.

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1. Your au pair can move with you.  One of the hardest things about moving is finding new childcare for your children, especially if you work odd hours.  We have several families who move a couple of times per year or have several houses that they split their time between.  They love that they can bring their au pair from location to location and have consistent, loving childcare.

2. Your au pair can travel with you.  If you go on lots of business trips or family vacations, you can bring your au pair with you so you don’t have to be away from your children or try to find childcare along the way.

3. Your au pair can tutor your children.  Many families get au pairs to teach their children a new language, but most of our au pairs have some college and a lot of au pairs have graduated with degrees in things like Economics, Physiotherapy, Law, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Political Science, Social Work,  Tourism Management, Environmental Science, Advertising Design, Medical Assisting, or Business Administration.  These au pairs have a lot of knowledge that they can pass on to your children.

4. Your au pair can coach your children in different skills and hobbies.  Many au pairs are experienced in different activities such as  violin, painting, tennis, dance, guitar, baking, piano, swimming, aerobics, and yoga.  Wouldn’t it be great to get a childcare provider and piano teacher in one?  Or maybe your au pair can teach you whole family about yoga or some other activity.  Most au pairs have many skills that they would love to share with your family.

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5. Your au pair can be a taxi driver.  Some families don’t need childcare as much as a taxi driver, especially if they have older children.  Whether it’s running kids to school, activities or appointments, au pairs can take over those responsibilities so you can focus on your responsibilities.

6. Your au pair can be the night nanny. Some families choose to have their au pair take the night shift so they can spend more quality time with the children during the day.

7. Your au pair can be a nurse.  Some of our au pairs are trained as nurses (Aliona, DeuRe) or speech therapists (Ju Yeon).  Others have experience with special needs children (Anna, Karen, and Thandeka).  If you have a child that has special needs, many au pairs are uniquely qualified to give your child the one-on-one attention that will help your child learn and grow.  Also, all au pairs can care for your children when they are sick so you don’t have to miss work.
What are some different reasons that you would like to have an au pair?