Au Pair: Live-In Child Care Provider

Filed under: Expert Advice: Babies, Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Expert Advice: Big Kids

Au pair is French for "on par" and is used to refer to a foreign person, usually a girl who is employed to care for children in exchange for room and board in the family's home. An au pair is different than a domestic servant because she is treated as an equal member of the household, including getting a private room in the host family's house and being asked to work no more than 45 hours per week.

Au pairs come to the United States from many countries through a State Department-approved program. Though they usually do not have any formal child care training or education, they must be between the ages of 18 and 26 and have the ability to speak English. They must commit to staying with a host family for a year before they are given a J-1 Visitor Exchange Visa.

Au pairs are compensated according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. For most au pairs, this means they will receive a weekly stipend of $195.75. Host families pay program fees to the sponsor agencies which can total more than $8,000 for a 12-month contract.

While in the country, au pairs are required to complete at least six hours of academic credit through an accredited post-secondary institution at the host family's expense. Additionally, the an au pair must agree to take child safety and development training through the sponsoring agency.

For more information about becoming a host family, visit the International Au Pair Association. To find an au pair sponsor program, visit the U.S. Department of State Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation.

Read more about child care at ParentDish.

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