Becoming a host family means welcoming an au pair—who becomes an extended family member—into your home. It means having a consistent and loving caregiver for your kids and a flexible schedule that works for your unique needs.
Being a host family is also a chance to open your doors to the world and build a lifelong bond with a person from abroad—someone who can open your hearts and minds to new experiences and perspectives along the way.
An au pair can provide up to 45 hours per week of childcare (up to 10 hours per day) on a flexible schedule, including early morning, evening and weekend coverage—but not overnight coverage. Au pairs can also care for your children when they are sick, out from school on snow days and during school vacations. Au pairs also receive 2 weeks of vacation, one full weekend off per month and 1.5 days off consecutively per week, so it’s important to keep that in mind when determining your schedule.
Because an au pair lives with you as a member of your family, after an initial period of adjustment, our host parents describe feeling a deep sense of comfort knowing their children are consistently cared for by someone who knows their children well, understands their routines and can be a helpful partner in the home.
Au pairs come from many countries all over the world and can expose your entire family to their language and culture, helping your children develop a more global perspective.
You can rest assured knowing that Cultural Care is an official sponsor of the government-regulated au pair program. Au pairs travel to the U.S. on a legal J-1 visa, allowing them to stay in the country (and with your family) for up to two years with the extension program.
Cultural Care conducts extensive au pair screening worldwide, coordinates round-trip international flights, provides a week-long online live instructor-led curriculum through our Au Pair Training School, and includes travel medical insurance coverage for all au pairs. We also provide host families with a dedicated Matching Specialist and year-long support from a Local Childcare Consultant.
“Our children’s lives and our own are better for having an au pair—not just for the childcare. In fact, that is a small part. The experience and the relationship is priceless. Our lives are fuller with our au pair.”
— Ashley Hockycko, host mom in Virginia
“Hosting an au pair has been one of the best decisions we’ve made as parents. It has not only meant additional support and stability for our children, but it has allowed us to grow our global family in an unexpected, yet delightful way.”
— Chantel Hazlewood, host mom in Washington
Cultural Care host families live all over the country and come from a variety of backgrounds but all share a need for trusted childcare and a willingness to open their hearts and homes to a young person from another country. We invite you to meet some of our host families to find out how au pair childcare works for them.
Register today to enjoy full access to all available au pair profiles.
Learn more about the benefits of hosting au pairs from Pooja Palimar.
There are lots of reasons why hosting an au pair has worked best for my family – and for a lot of families I know.
First—flexibility. Having an au pair gives families more flexibility than any other childcare option. As a host mom, I schedule my au pair for a few hours in the morning, to help my kids get ready for school, pack their lunches and drop them off. Then she is off for a couple of hours and picks up again in the afternoon. She picks them up from school, helps them with homework, takes them to different activities, prepares them dinner and even gets them ready for bedtime. You can also schedule your au pair on weekends if you need some weekend coverage for a date night. Or choose a more traditional route, a 9-5 weekday schedule, it’s completely up to you and you can change it week to week.
Your children also get one-on-one care with an au pair. That’s individualized and personalized attention. Our au pairs have gotten to know each one of our children so well and have understood their individual needs and personalities so deeply. That kind of love, care, consideration and peace of mind is amazing for my family.
Another great benefit to hosting an au pair is the exposure to another culture. Your au pair will share their language and food and customs of her home country with your whole family. I even know a few families whose kids are now fluent in their au pair’s native language! We love the fact that our kids are learning so much about the world in the comfort of our home.
Au pairs can also help with household chores that relate to the children. That means doing their laundry, tidying up their rooms and even preparing their meals. Au pairs can also take over official taxi duties and help drive your kids to and from school and to all of their appointments and activities.
Many families also appreciate that the cost of hosting an au pair is comparable to or even more affordable than daycare or a nanny in most areas.
Probably the biggest reason why families love our program is because their au pairs come to feel like part of their extended family. There is a deeper level of trust and comfort that can develop with an au pair who lives with you. For my family, hosting au pairs has been truly life-changing, and I’m so grateful to the three women who have now become part of our family forever.
We know that most families aren’t as familiar with au pairs versus daycare or nannies—but don’t let the “mystery” of our program discourage you from considering an au pair! Below are some of the common questions we frequently hear from parents.
This is a common concern, but one that usually disappears after an au pair arrives. Because an au pair becomes an extended part of your family, it will soon feel “normal” for them to live with you. Au pairs are entitled to a private bedroom so that they have their own space during off-duty time. (Privacy is important for them as well.) They also tend to spend much of their off-duty time with friends, taking classes and exploring new places. During the matching process, you should discuss the au pair’s desire to spend time with the family during free time versus their level of independence to ensure you are on the same page.
In addition to the host family qualifications required by the U.S. Department of State and Cultural Care Au Pair, host families should be prepared to embrace the cultural exchange spirit of the program. This means welcoming your au pair as you would an extended family member and helping them adjust once they arrive. You may need to explain household rules and routines not all at once but more than once. Asking how their day was, being thoughtful on holidays and their birthday, and including them in family meals will go a long way to making them feel welcome and supported in your family. While the needs of your children are of the utmost importance, it is also important that au pairs receive the benefits of an exchange experience. For a full list of your responsibilities as a hosting family, be sure to review the host family agreement thoroughly and contact us with any questions you may have.
Au pairs can only be asked to help with household duties related to the children, such as the kids’ laundry, meal preparation and tidying their rooms. Your au pair can also pitch in, as any family member would, with chores that everyone shares, like helping to load the dishwasher after a family dinner and picking up after themselves around the house. Au pairs’ responsibilities around the house should be reasonable and should not include heavy duty cleaning.
Au pairs cannot provide childcare for more than 10 hours per day or 45 hours per week. These limits would still apply when you are out of town, including hours when the children are sleeping. You would need to make additional childcare arrangements to cover any time beyond the au pair’s maximum working hours.