Host family requirements

Hosting an au pair with Cultural Care can provide many benefits for your family, and also for the au pair. As part of a cultural exchange program, you are expected to ensure that your relationship is reciprocal and mutually-beneficial—and filled with respect. 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. 

“As a first-time mom, I feel so lucky to have Paloma by our side during this crazy adventure of parenthood. She is more than an au pair, she is our family! We have shared our culture with her by including her in everything that we do, including all our family events, gatherings, and holidays.”

— Alexandra Wrigley, host mom in California

What is expected of me as a host family?

Some of the basic requirements to be eligible to host an au pair with Cultural Care include:

In addition to the qualifications required by the U.S. Department of State and Cultural Care Au Pair, it’s important that our host families fully embrace the cultural exchange spirit of the program. This means treating your au pair as you would an extended family member—and being patient as they adjust to life in their new home and new country. It means being thoughtful about including them in family dinners, holiday celebrations, and fun outings. And it means being willing to introduce them to all the ins and outs of American life, while showing interest in their traditions as well. 

What do I need to provide for my au pair?

As a host family, you’ll need to provide the following:

Room, board, and weekly stipend

You’re responsible for providing 3 meals a day and a minimum weekly stipend of $195.751 paid directly to your au pair. Make sure your au pair is included in your family food shopping and is welcome to join in on meals as a member of the family.

Education

Au pairs must take 6 credits during their term, and families are responsible for paying up to $5002 towards their education requirement as well as ensuring they have time to attend the classes and transportation back and forth.

Communication

How will your au pair stay in touch with you and friends and family back home? Many host families provide a cell phone and add au pairs to their family plan for ease of communication throughout their term.

Transportation

You may want to provide your au pair with access to a car if you don’t have easy public transportation options in your area. Be sure to contact your insurance agent, as you will need to add your au pair to your policy.

Have more questions?

Schedule a call with a Program Consultant.

Watch our ‘is my family eligible?’ video

Learn more about whether your family meets the requirements to host an au pair.

‘Is my family eligible?’ video transcript

To become a host family, there are certain requirements you have to fulfill. The first and probably most important is the willingness and desire to welcome an au pair into your home like an extended family member. You want to ask yourself these questions: Am I excited about having a young person from another country join my family? Am I ready to help her adjust to a new culture and language and learn about my routine and household? Am I prepared to invest time in getting to know her? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then you would most likely be a good cultural fit for the program.

Beyond embracing what Cultural Care Au Pair refer to as the “spirit of the program”, the U.S. Department of State requires families to meet certain criteria too. According to the State Department, host parents must be:

1. U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents

2. Fluent in English

3. Able to provide a private bedroom

4. Willing to participate in an in-home interview (with a local childcare consultant), orientation meeting (once you au pair arrives) and attend at least one host family conference per year; which is a wonderful opportunity for you to meet other host families in your community.

5. Willing to follow program regulations, many of which relate to an au pair’s on-duty hours. For example, parents must limit their au pair’s hours to 45 per week and 10 hours per day.

If you like the idea of welcoming a new family member and you meet all of the State Department criteria, the au pair program could be a great fit for your childcare needs.

Frequently asked questions

Can two families “share” an au pair?

No. Au pairs are required to reside with and provide childcare for only one family during their program term. 

Can my au pair come on vacation with us?

Yes! You can feel free to invite your au pair to join your family on vacation. However, eligibility to travel outside the U.S. will depend on your au pair’s home country and whether they are a first-year or extension au pair. Before bringing your au pair on vacation, it is also important to define whether they will be on-duty (and therefore be performing their normal childcare duties) or off-duty (in which case they have agreed to take vacation time and should not be expected to work).

As a single parent, am I able to participate in the program? 

Absolutely! Cultural Care Au Pair welcomes families of all shapes and sizes. 

My child has special needs. Can we still host an au pair? 

Yes, you can. We will want to thoroughly review the needs of your children to ensure that this program fits your needs and that the au pair you are matched with has the required experience per the regulations.  We do have some au pairs who have experience caring for children with special needs and have interest in doing so while here in the U.S. Our current host families who have children with special needs may have waited a little longer to find an au pair who suited their needs, but it is very possible.

1The U.S. Department of State has determined that au pairs are required to receive from their host families at least $195.75 per week. Host families and au pairs are free to discuss and agree to compensation higher than the required stipend minimum; however, this cannot be in exchange for the au pair exceeding the regulatory limits on working hours (10 hours per day; 45 hours per week) or performing duties beyond childcare-related tasks. The State Department formula is based on the federal minimum wage and applicable room and board credits. Any change in the federal minimum wage or the applicable credits will result in an increase in this minimum stipend amount. Please note, should a family extend beyond the first year, they would be responsible for the stipend for each week of the extension term. 

2This contribution towards an au pair’s education requirement is determined by the U.S. Department of State, and families agree to comply with any increase that is issued.