Host Parent Clients of Au Pair In America received a distressing letter from the Agency this week, sharing information about the ongoing legal action against all 15 of the approved Au Pair Agencies in the USA.

The letter updates parents on the current status of the suit filed by lawyers from Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP, and alerts us to a few key issues:

Highlights from the letter include:

  • The federal court has ordered all 15 agencies to provide host families’ names and contact information to plaintiffs’ attorneys by March 31, 2017;
  • Au Pair in America (and other Agencies) fought to keep our family information private, but they lost this motion.
  • The plaintiffs’ attorneys intend to survey host families and/or to communicate with host families using telephone, email, and other methods.
  • If contacted, you are not obligated to respond to plaintiffs’ attorneys.
  • Plaintiffs’ attorneys are obligated to tell you that they are working for clients who are working against the Au Pair Agencies.

2889437201_71a56cd11a_mAs it stands now, there is the possibility that each and every host family active in the Au Pair Program between 2009 and 2014 will be solicited to share feedback on how they followed the US State Department guidelines while they had an Au Pair in their family.

I appreciate that APIA has taken the proactive step of alerting families about what’s coming. With a little advance warning, each of our families can consider whether or not we want to respond if called upon by the plaintiffs’ lawyers, and if we do want to respond, what we might say.

When you think about what the plaintiffs and their attorneys are doing, it rather boggles the mind.  They are suing 15 small organizations — some of which are non-profits, none of which has huge revenues — with the intent of shutting down the Au Pair Program.   They are highlighting the rare abuses of the program, stoking resentment and ill will among the Au Pairs named in the suit, threatening the opportunities of future Au Pairs, and doing nothing that will actually help Au Pairs or Host Families have better experiences overall.   This is a program that is, actually, well-regulated and usually well-administered.

Once again, let me note that no one — no one — has contacted the Au Pair Mom community to gather any of the overwhelming data that show how useful, how important, and how positive the Au Pair- Host Family relationship usually is.

Host Parents Who Are Attorneys 

Do you have any advice for us?  

Would speaking to the plaintiffs’ lawyers do any harm or good?

What responses (and proactive actions) should Host Parents consider?

A final note — the email was sent to all APIA families, with the subject line “confidential.”  I understand that by sharing a summary of this information with AuPairMom readers, I may be getting in the way of APIA’s effort to keep everyone as calm as possible in response to this news.

At the same time, let me note that almost one dozen Au PairMom readers sent me copies of the letters that they received — so I’m assuming that this issue feels critical to the Au Pair host family community — that’s why I’m raising it here.

I don’t know what efforts other Au Pair Agencies are making to address how the suit might impact their client families. If there’s important information, please share it with us.

 

 

 

See also:

How Should Au Pair Host Parents Respond to Charges Against the Au Pair Program? (March, 2015)

Image from Flickr, by Kelly Teague, A Bit Bruised

 

 

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It’s usually a bunch of things, all tangled up in a knot, like when you put tights and long-sleeved T-shirts in the dryer.

Just as with a laundry knot, you can’t just pull on (or fix) one thing, and expect the all the little pieces to unlock, unkink, and fold themselves up into nice packets ready to go back in the drawer.tangled clothes

… So how do you decide where to begin? What problems to address first?

My working response is — start with the problem that has the clearest boundaries.

Usually, this would be the one where either the Host Family or the Au Pair was breaking or pushing the rules.

It’s easier to deal with “rule breaking” and its less black& while cousin, “rule-pushing” because we know what’s wrong and what’s right. Usually, the fix to this is for the Host Parents or the Au Pair to simply follow the rules.

If the Au Pair or the Host Parent doesn’t begin to follow the rules, you have grounds for a rematch.

If folks do begin to follow the rules, both parties have a “success” they can build on with the next problem or two.

This question of “where to begin” came up when I read the email, below, from an Au Pair in the southwest USA.

She’s got a bunch of problems — depression, homesickness, children who hit, parents who don’t seem to have her back, and on and on.

With emails like these, it’s really hard to know what kind of help to offer.

Assuming — and it’s a big assumption — but assuming that the Au Pair isn’t really just looking for permission to rematch, what appears to be true is that the host family has a lot of work to do before they can really host an au pair effectively.

The best way to begin is with the issues that are the most straightforward — AP program rules, family directions, and anything specific. Once you address these, it’s easier to go on to the issues that require more finesse. Issues like children’s behavior and discipline, Host Parent supporting the Au Pair’s authority, and the like are all easier to talk about when the Host Parents and Au Pair have a working relationship. (A relationship that follows the rules, shows basic reciprocal respect, etc.)

My personal default is to tell Au Pairs to make the effort to talk with their Host Parents to resolve problems.

In the best case, the conversations get people to revise their behavior, and the AP-HP relationship improves.

In the worst case, at least the Au Pair has challenged him or herself to try having a difficult conversation. This is something we all need to learn to do, so an Au Pair at least gets some life experience with this critical skill.

As you scan the concerns of Southwestern AP, what advice do you have for her?  None of her problems are new to us, but oddly every combination feels unique…

 

Dear AuPairMom– 

I’ve been an au pair in the Southwest USA for almost two months and I feel sad.
I was thinking about rematch because I feel really depressed.
When I came here to my new house everything was happiness.

(First Problem)
Until I saw the first bad thing:

One of the host kids hit another host kid in the chest. The host kid did that without any specific reason.

Then, the Host Parents told me that host kid 1 has ADHD. Also, they told me that host kid 2 also has ADHD. Of course, they NEVER mentioned this before I came here-I wish I knew that-.

Second problem:
The host kid 2 gives many problems to anyone; even to their parents. I saw her hitting her father. The parents are always fighting with herl

Host kid 2 always tells me to shut up, and “I don’t have to follow your orders. You are not the boss in this house. I am not listening to you. I am ignoring you”. The HP always say “oh. It is because of the ADHD”.

But! If they have told me she had this issue I wouldn’t have said yes and matched with this family.

Third problem:
They want me to clean all the dishes and messes they don’t want to clean.

I had my full free weekend and when I started to work on Monday, I saw they didn’t wash the dishes for the whole.weekend. I didn’t wash the dishes on Monday.  The next day the HP told me”the cleaning lady is not coming, wash the dishes”.

I got really angry because they didn’t wash everything during the whole weekend for me to do it. It isn’t fair they are disorganized and they are not clean. They never wash the dishes and I know I have to help, and I always wash the dishes when I’m working. But..waiting for me to come home to do it? You don’t do that!

Fourth problem:
The car. They said they had 4 cars and they will offer me one. When I arrived at their home the HP told me that one of the cars is not good and I won’t be able to use it. Then, I was one month stuck in the house because they didn’t have the car insurance for me. I talked about and they fixed one month after (they just needed my personal information and that was it. They took so long and I don’t know why). Then, when I finally got the insurance, I drove one of the cars for 2 days. On the third day I noticed that the car I was using wasn’t outside. I asked the HM about it and she told me “oh. Use the black car, the HD took the car you drove”.

I just did it and then  I realized THE CAR IS NOT WORKING. They left me a car that is not even working. Now it has been almost two months and I am still stuck in the house and they don’t care. I talked about it and they still don’t care.

I am sick of this situation and I know I have many things to offer.  Should I ask for a rematch if things don’t change? Thank you

-Southwestern AP

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The Worst Thing an Au Pair Can Overhear

by cv harquail on March 17, 2017

Quick — what’s the worst thing your au pair could ever overhear?

You telling your Host Parent partner how much the Au Pair bothers you?

Some kind of grumpy food-related complaint you should be too adult to even have?

You announcing that  you’ve tucked a speed tracker into the Au Pair car, so now you’ll have proof?

Or, how about …  never mind.

There is really no way to introduce this TOTALLY CRINGE INDUCING topic.

342834523_a649d83821_mExcept to say, from a Host Parent’s perspective, this might be a nice problem to have :-)

Here’s the Au Pair’s email:

Dear Au Pair Mom — 

First of all let me say that I love your blog. I’m an Au Pair and your posts and all the commenters’ advice have helped me see a lot of things from my Host Parents’ perspective.

My host parents have been wonderful so far and I love taking care of their baby.

I am their first Au Pair and this is their first baby (them being my first host family) so everything is pretty new to us!

About a month ago, the baby started sleeping in the baby’s own room as opposed to the parents’ bedroom. Ever since, I can hear my host parents having intercourse. Their bedroom is right above mine and the walls are thin so I can hear them pretty clearly.  They’re really loud and it’s making it hard for me to sleep at night, not to mention awkward to face them in the mornings.

At first I noticed this only happened during date nights, when they would go out on dates and come home later on the weekend. So I planned to sleep over at a friend’s house when I knew that would happen.

Now they’re doing it during normal week days, albeit at least trying to keep it down. But it’s become a great source of stress for me.

I spoke to other host parents who don’t know my host parents and their advice was to avoid mentioning it to my host parents at any cost.

But now I don’t know what to do. I would really like some advice from other host parents on the matter.

I don’t want to mortify my poor host mom by bringing it up! But if I brought it up, how would you like to be approached and what possible solutions can you think of? And other au pairs, have you had this problem too?

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Counting On-Duty Au Pair Hours When You’re In A Car or Plane

by cv harquail March 15, 2017
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How does your family handle the Au Pair’s time spent with the family over a long car or plane trip? Formally and officially, we are supposed to count all of this time as “on duty” hours.   But, if you have a long haul to get to your vacation destination, you can use up a […]

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Any New Advice About International Travel During an Au Pair’s Extension Year?

by cv harquail March 2, 2017
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There are some things I would never test. —  Whether the rope bridge across the gorge could hold me. — Whether that snake was was harmless. Or whether I could get my extension Au Pair back into the US after taking her with us on an international trip. With Federal Agents inspecting documents of passengers […]

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What If Only One Host Parent is a U.S. Citizen?

by cv harquail February 28, 2017
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Here’s one of those “finer points” of the Host Parenting situation where we need some of you Agency experts to weigh in. The US State Department (not the Au Pair Agencies themselves) “(1) Require that the host parents are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents”. What happens when one parent IS a citizen but the […]

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Au Pair Departs in a Huff, Then Moves In Next Door

by cv harquail February 20, 2017
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This LongIslandHostMom’s experience triggered PTSD for me.  All the feels. The ugly, angry resentful feels. All I could think about, after I readLongIslandHostMom’s email, was how awful it had been to run into our former, “flame out” au pair, when she showed up for a BBQ at my friend’s beach house with my friend’s nanny, acting […]

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When You Discover Your Au Pair was Driving Under the Influence

by cv harquail February 11, 2017
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Readers, I can’t really preface this one with anything but a request for some wisdom — Dear Au Pair Mom — We have just had an au pair debacle that we are trying to sort through and I was wondering if anyone has any advice. Our au pair asked to use our car to go […]

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Teach Kids to Apologize to The Au Pair

by cv harquail February 6, 2017

Hosting an Au Pair presents us with one opportunity after another to teach our children how to be kind. In many of our conversations here on the blog, we worry about being kind proactively. As adults, we Host Parents spend a lot of time thinking about how to be kind to our Au Pairs, to […]

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How to find South American/ Central American Au Pairs that fit our family’s style

by cv harquail January 30, 2017
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Hello Au Pair Moms! I am in search of our 3rd au pair, perhaps someone from Central or Latin America.  We really loved the German Au Pair we had, and would love another just like her… but I’ve noticed the European Au Pairs are not as available. I live in Chicago, which has a large Hispanic […]

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