This is the first article in our three-part series comparing au pair agencies. Not all au pair agencies are the same, and we hope to help you understand some of the primary differences between them so that you can choose the best au pair agency for your family. This article will cover differences in au pair agencies’ costs.
Au pair agencies—the basics
The U.S. Department of State officially recognizes 14 au pair agencies. According to their website, au pair agencies or sponsors are required to screen host families and au pairs, provide au pairs with training and orientation and ensure that au pairs do not work more than 45 hours a week and 10 hours per day. However, au pair agencies are not all the same. Agencies can vary significantly on many aspects including costs, how au pairs are recruited, screened and trained and the level of support they provide to host families.
Au pair agency costs
Au pair agencies charge fees to host families in exchange for recruiting, screening and training au pairs as well as managing the matching process, visa process and travel arrangements for the au pair and host family. Once the au pair arrives to the host family, au pair agencies provide year-round support to the au pair and host family, both locally and from the central office.
Au pair agencies do not all cost the same, however. Fees can vary significantly. Some of the fees au pair agencies generally charge are:
- Registration fee: This fee is generally charged by au pair agencies when a family registers be part of their program, and is ready to start reviewing and interviewing candidates.
- Processing fee: Many au pair agencies also charge a processing fee to secure the match once a host family has chosen their au pair. Upon payment of this fee, the agency will begin helping the au pair obtain their J-1 visa and making travel arrangements for their journey to the U.S.
- Program fee: The program fee covers the costs of the services the au pair agencies provide. The Cultural Care program fee includes:
- Recruitment and thorough screening of your au pair
- Your au pair’s training at the Cultural Care Au Pair Training School
- The matching services of a dedicated Matching Specialist
- Host family and au pair orientations
- Round-trip international airfare for your au pair
- Medical and travel insurance
- Year-long support from Cultural Care Au Pair office staff and your Local Childcare Consultant
- Flight supplement fee: In order to keep the program fees uniform nationwide, you will also pay a separate Flight Supplement Fee of between $0-$400 related to your specific location and closest U.S. gateway. (This cost may also reflect services related to transporting a transitioning au pair to your home.)
It’s important to note that some au pair agencies charge extra for different programs. For example, they may charge a higher fee for au pairs who are infant qualified or for au pairs who have professional childcare experience. Cultural Care Au Pair does not charge for additional qualifications.
Au pair weekly stipend
- Au pair weekly stipend: In addition to what the au pair agencies charge, you are responsible for paying a weekly stipend directly to your au pair. This stipend amount is determined by the U.S. Department of State and will be the same regardless of which au pair agency you use.
- Additional costs: The U.S. State Department requires host families to contribute up to $500 towards their au pair’s Education Requirement. It’s also important to consider the additional cost of utilities and food, adding your au pair to your insurance policy if they are required to drive, as well as the costs of including your au pair in family outings and experiences.
Au pair agency discounts
Au pair agencies may have discounts you can qualify for. For example, Cultural Care Au Pair offers the following au pair agency discounts to host families:
- Military family discount: save $1,075
- Make the Switch: Families who come to Cultural Care from another au pair agency save up to $1,075
- Pre-arranged match discount: Families who find their own future au pair are entitled to a $300 program fee discount
- Host family referral program: earn $250 for every family you refer who welcomes an au pair
Most families find that the cost of hosting an au pair is competitive with hiring a nanny or babysitter and offers improved quality of life and great benefits! Learn more about the program cost on our website.