In my video series, Au Pair Answer Mom, I answer families’ frequently asked questions about au pair childcare such as, “How are au pairs screened?”
As a mother, I understand how challenging it is to find the right childcare provider. So it’s nice to know that, before au pair candidates are ever accepted in to the au pair program, they go through a rigorous au pair screening process.
It begins with initial contact, when an applicant first inquires about the program. Someone from our recruitment office contacts them by telephone and determines the applicant’s experience, motivation for applying, their childcare aptitude and discusses program requirements. If they are considered a suitable candidate, they are invited to a Screening and Orientation Meeting and asked to submit an au pair application.
The application the candidates complete is very extensive. Much like the host family application, it includes a four page information section, as well as reference forms from previous childcare experiences – like babysitting jobs, daycare centers, etc. We also ask the au pair to write a personal letter to the host family and put together a photo collage that may include pictures of his/her family, friends and children they have worked with. I love looking at these because it really helps give further insight into the candidate’s personality, their background and their motivations for wanting to be an au pair.
It is important to note that, at any point along the way, an au pair candidate can be rejected. However, the Screening and Orientation meeting is critical to determining a candidate’s suitability for the program. These meetings take place in difference cities and are lead by Recruitment Leaders, which are similar to an LCC overseas. During the Screening and Orientation meeting, candidates spend several hours reviewing Cultural Care Au Pair program requirements and expectations. They are then personally interviewed and their English is evaluated. The meeting is also meant to give them a realistic picture of what it means to be an au pair – often with the help of a former au pair – so they can self-select out if they are not up for the challenge.
The next critical step in the screening process is to review the candidate’s written application. The Recruitment Leader will ensure the candidate has at least 200 hours of childcare experience and will verify their references. They will also write up an interview synopsis and grade their English ability. The candidate’s information is then sent to the recruitment country’s central office to be reviewed again and the au pair is officially accepted or rejected. If accepted, additional documents are collected, including a criminal background check and a health certificate issued by a doctor.
Before an au pair becomes a final match with an American Host family, the application is also thoroughly reviewed by staff in our main office in Boston. Any questions or concerns will go back to the recruitment country and at times, references may rechecked, or an au pair may be called to clarify something on their application.
You are the final step in this process when you screen the applicant. The U.S. Department of State requires all host families to conduct a phone interview, and Cultural Care also encourages host families to conduct a second reference check. Because host families offer yet another perspective on each au pair candidate, we welcome any feedback on each pre-match.
By the time the candidate is accepted by a host family, they been thoroughly vetted, and you can rest assured that you have the ultimate say on finding the best fit for your family.