Most of the time the au pair/host family relationship works out really well and it’s a positive experience, in many ways, for everyone involved. Sometimes, though, it just doesn’t work out, usually for personality reasons and that can be difficult and stressful for everyone involved. If you set expectations ahead of time about how things will be handled if you are not getting along, it can make a transition much smoother. Your local childcare consultant will cover all of this at your host family orientation once your au pair arrives.
Cultural Care Au Pair has a clearly defined set of steps that it follows when it’s not working out with a host family and au pair. First, we encourage you to always keep the communication lines open with your au pair. You should both be comfortable talking to each other about how things are going and if things aren’t going well, trying to resolve problems between yourselves.
If you don’t feel as if you can resolve things on your own, you need to let your local childcare consultant know and he or she will schedule a mediation meeting with all of you. The consultant will come over to your house and sit down with all of you and see if you can come up with a possible solution. Then she’ll ask all of you to work on it to improve the situation for a couple of weeks.
If after trying to work things out the situation just can’t be resolved, an exit interview is conducted. At this meeting, everyone comes to an agreement about what will be happening in the coming weeks. The au pair has to stay with the host family for up to two weeks during her replacement. If she continues working during that time she has to be paid, but if you decide not to have her work, you don’t have to pay her the weekly stipend. At the exit interview the au pair’s working schedule is also decided as well as when her last day is going to be as well as any modified household rules like curfew and car use.
Your Program Director will give you a call after the exit interview to confirm everything that was decided and answer any questions you have. She’ll also talk to you about what you want to do about rematching with a new au pair and she will give you contact information for your placement manager. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee continuous childcare so it’s important for you to have options for back up child care in case there is a gap between au pairs.
Transitions, fortunately, are rare but they do happen and they are not easy. The more you set expectations ahead of time and talk openly with your au pair, the more likely you are to avoid a transition or be better prepared to handle one, with our help, if it should occur. However, there are happy endings to some transitions! Swati Sharma, a Cultural Care host mom who nominated her transition au pair for Au Pair of the Year says, “What makes [my au pair’s] story so remarkable to us is how it began: we were her third family after two re-matches in her first 3 months as an Au Pair!” She fully believes that her transition au pair is a “testament to the idea that there is an amazing family and experience waiting for every au pair, and sometimes it does not happen right away.”