Kim is just one of the countless families Au Pair Foundation has helped by offering alternative childcare solutions that provide peace of mind, reasonable cost, and flexibility. Read on for her perspective and how an au pair could be the right choice for you and your family!
My mother always told me that if I waited until I could “afford” to have a child, I’d never have one. I guess she was tired of hearing me worry about the expense of basic things (diapers, formula, car seats, doctor bills) and the biggest thing – childcare. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have family close by to help watch a child and I didn’t have the option of staying home for longer than standard maternity leave (and boy does THAT fly by!).
She said I’d do what everyone did: make it work somehow. And she was right.
But now I’m having a second child and I really can’t imagine paying for daycare for TWO, even with the multiple child discount that is available. Paying for one child is already $1,000/month (even with a discount I get due to my employer). Home-based childcare is more affordable, but they are permitted by law to only take care of so many kids, the ages can vary considerably, and I have a personal preference that my child’s day has an educational component that includes socialization with kids of his own age. A sitter is expensive (paid hourly) and so is a nanny (plus that makes me an employer, which brings a lot of other headaches).
Finally after much agony and stress, my worries were alleviated when I discovered au pairs! No matter how many kids I have, the fee is the same. There is a larger fee to the Department of State-approved agency (covers administrative expenses, supervision, visa sponsorship, au pair training orientation, etc.) and then there is a weekly stipend payment to the au pair of less than $200. No matter how many kids they care for. The agency fee can be paid a variety of ways, including by credit card, and in various increments using a payment plan.
There are lots of agencies to choose from but, for me, the choice was easy. Au Pair Foundation is smaller than most, and has a family feel I’ve come to truly value. I’m getting very personalized service and, while I know they must sleep, it sure doesn’t seem like it! My contact has communicated with me at 5 a.m., at 5 p.m., and on weekends. I can’t remember the last time I got that kind of service from anyone.
Some of the other agencies have set au pair arrival dates, but Au Pair Foundation allows me to choose the date that works for me AND I can use frequent flyer miles to book the au pair’s flight. Some of the other agencies just roll it all into one fee, one that is significantly larger than Au Pair Foundation’s.
I really couldn’t believe that the stipend to the au pair was less than $200 per week for up to 45 hours of care, but I found out that the Department of State uses a formula to calculate the stipend that includes the value of room and board, (au pairs live in your home and become a member of your family) basically equaling a fair wage. I’m also required to give them the opportunity to attend college classes while they are here.
Matching with an au pair has proven to be fun! I’m interviewing young women and men from all over the world, and will soon have to select the one I feel would best fit with my household. I’ve learned so much about what to ask in the interviews with the guidance of the agency and by asking questions of other families who already have an au pair. There are so many wonderful people that the hardest part of the process is choosing just ONE.
I’m so looking forward his or her arrival in my home. While my oldest child will no longer be in a structured preschool, my au pair will be able to drive him to soccer, play dates, activities, library story time, and more. Having an au pair in our home feels like the perfect fit, and I’m forever grateful to Au Pair Foundation for the guidance and support I’ve received so far on this journey.
Stay tuned for a follow-up on Kim’s experiences once her au pair has arrived and is integrated into her home! Follow Au Pair Foundation on Facebook, visit the website, and call 1-866-428-7247 for more information.