One of the most common misconceptions about au pair childcare is that only the wealthy can afford it. In fact, in many communities, hosting an au pair is less expensive than sending kids to day care or hiring a nanny. When families need coverage for more than one child, the cost of an au pair becomes even more attractive because the program cost is per family, not per child.
Actual cost of hosting an au pair
So, what is the actual cost of hosting an au pair? When you add the fees together and divide by 51 weeks (au pairs spend one week at our Au Pair Training School) the result is just $355 per week (no matter how many kids you have). That’s $1,420 per month or less than $8 per hour (assuming your au pair works 45 hours).
Au pair cost compared to daycare or nannies
When you compare the au pair cost to day care in many areas, the difference is significant. For example, I recently contacted Bright Horizons day care center in my area to find out that full-time care for an infant will run me $2,520 per month—$1,100 more per month than the cost of an au pair. And that is just for one child!
Of course, Massachusetts childcare costs are higher than most states. But according to the 2012 annual report put out by ChildCare Aware (formerly NACCRRA), the cost of daycare for two children (one infant and one 4-year-old) is higher than the cost of an au pair in all of the following 24 states (as well as Washington D.C.): Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The costs are about even in Nevada and North Carolina.
The cost of a nanny also varies depending on where you live but are there many nannies out there who are charging less than $8 per hour? (And if they are, I would wonder why…)
Au pair cost breakdown
If you are wondering how Cultural Care Au Pair arrives at the hourly/weekly/monthly cost of the program, here is a simple breakdown of the fees involved:
$75 registration fee
Payment of the registration fee will allow you to register online, begin our personalized matching process and access our online database of available au pair profiles.
$175 selection fee
Payment of the selection fee will secure your au pair match, allow us to process visa paperwork and reserve flights.
$7,795 program fee
The program fee is paid directly to Cultural Care Au Pair and covers the following:
Weekly stipend: $195.75
The weekly stipend is paid by you directly to your au pair for 51 weeks, including two weeks of paid vacation. Please note: the weekly stipend is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor using a formula based on the federal minimum wage. Any change in the federal minimum wage will result in an increase in the stipend.
$75 + $175 + $7,795 + ($195.75 x 51 wks) = $18,028.25 ÷ 51 wks = $353.50/wk
Extra costs to consider
Families who host au pairs will incur other costs unrelated to the program fees (just like daycare—think gas to and from, late fees, etc.) The amount of extra money families need to figure into their budget will depend on their specific needs and location.
Every family’s extra costs will be different but even with these added expenses, hosting an au pair is still a great value in may communities.
Consider the value of the au pair program
Regardless of how the cost of hosting an au pair stacks up to other childcare options nearby, we recommend families also consider some of the unique benefits they get from the program. When you factor in the value of these advantages, a Cultural Care au pair can quickly become the best choice for childcare coverage:
So…are au pairs expensive? We don’t think so. Considering all of the advantages of au pair childcare related to the cost, hosting a Cultural Care au pair is a great value for many families across the U.S.