June 6, 2013

Comparing au pair agencies: matching and au pair training

3 minutes
Childcare options

This is the last in our three-part series on au pair agencies.  In this article, we will look at the differences in the matching process once you have decided to host an au pair.  Additionally, we will discuss the training that au pairs undergo before they come to start their year as an au pair.

How you find an au pair: the matching process

Finding the right au pair for your family can be daunting.  It is as much an art as it is a science.  Like dating in the online era, finding an au pair can be done almost entirely online these days.  Most au pair agencies have online databases you can browse to find an au pair for your family, though generally, they only show a limited number of au pair profiles or just a preview of the au pair profiles until you register with the au pair agency.

Once you have decided to host an au pair and have registered your family with an au pair agency, you can start reviewing the full profiles of that agency’s au pair candidates.  Some of the au pair agencies’ online databases of au pairs have filters where you can narrow your search of au pairs by the language the au pair speaks and whether they are infant qualified.  Cultural Care Au Pair offers a range of filters including au pair’s country, gender, age, driving status, age of children cared for, and whether they are OK with pets.  You can also exclude older profiles if you just want to see au pairs who have been added to the database recently.

These filters can help you narrow your search for an au pair to a more reasonable number of candidates, but you may still feel overwhelmed or not know where to start.  If you have narrowed down your candidates based on all of the criteria that are important to your family, be sure to review the au pair profiles carefully.  Au pair agencies generally require a letter from the au pair along with photos as part of the au pair application, and some agencies also offer the ability for au pairs to submit videos so you can get an even better feel for the candidate.

If you need more help selecting the right au pair, some agencies, like Cultural Care Au Pair, offer assistance in this process.  For example, with Cultural Care, each family has a dedicated placement manager to help guide you through the process.  Your placement manager will review your family’s needs and gain an understanding of what you want from your au pair.  S/he will then research the database and propose candidates for your review.

One important thing to consider is how an au pair agency handles au pairs who are under review by a host family.  Some au pair agencies allow multiple host families to review and interview au pair candidates at once.  This can lead families to feel that they are competing for the same au pair and that they have to rush through the interview process in order to get an au pair before another family does.

Alternatively, Cultural Care Au Pair is an agency that ensures that host families have exclusive rights to review their primary au pair candidate without other host families having access to that au pair’s profile.  Your placement manager will reserve your primary candidate and make her profile visible to you exclusively through your online account.  Additionally, you can reserve 2 comparison candidates to review exclusively for up to 48 hours.

You should feel supported by the au pair agency throughout the matching process, but only you can decide who the right au pair for your family is.  Make sure you have covered all your important questions and concerns during your au pair interview and don’t hesitate to talk through any hesitations you have with your au pair agency.

Au pair training

Once you have selected your au pair, the au pair agency will help the au pair secure her visa and make her travel arrangements.  The U.S. Department of State requires that all au pairs receive 32 hours of childcare training before they begin the program, but each au pair agency can create their own curriculum.  Cultural Care Au Pair is the only agency that provides au pair training in a formal academic setting at our Au Pair Training School, on the campus of St. John’s University in Oakdale, NY.

Most au pair agencies cover topics like American culture, childcare safety, childhood development and program rules and requirements.  Below is an overview of what is covered in Cultural Care’s training curriculum:

This week at the Au Pair Training School is an important part of the au pair’s American experience, and it is a great time for them to meet other au pairs from around the world, as well as refresh their childcare skills before joining their new host families.