What Au Pair Agency Selection Process Works Best For You?

by cv harquail on April 9, 2014

A guest post comparing Cultural Care and GoAuPair, by MultiTaskingHost Mom

On AuPairMom we spend a lot of time sharing tips for matching with an AuPair. It makes sense that we focus on the interview questions, how to evaluate experience in a certain skill, and how to interpret the vibe given by the potential au pair — these are all ways that we can test for a good fit between the candidate and our needs.

I wonder, though, how much our success at selecting an au pair depends on the way that any particular AuPair Agency actually structures the matching process.

il_570xN.333202554For example, the first agency we used, Cultural Care, assigned us a placement manager. The placement manager would suggest three au pair applicants for us. Then, we had 48 hours to decide which one we wanted to continue to stay “matched” with. At this time, no other host family was able to view the application or talk with the au pair, until we “released” them or the time limit expired.

This process did benefit someone who liked the more time saving and hands off approach, and who appreciated the help of a placement manager.  But for me? Honestly, as someone who likes to take my time to make decisions, the short window of time stressed me out.

Next time around, I also searched with a second agency, GoAuPair, simply because we were matching at an off-time and I wanted to increase my pool of au pairs who were “special needs willing”. While GoAuPair also had a placement manager available, host families were able to look at all au pair’s complete applications using a sorting feature through the website.

For a week, I did nothing in the evening but read/scrutinize au pair applications. I was able to contact potential au pairs when it worked for me, and could speak to as many as I wanted at one time. This way I was less stressed about running out of time.

I was surprised, too, that I also liked that the au pair we ended up matched with was also being interviewed at this time by a few other families. I didn’t feel like she was picking us because she was “afraid she would not get a family.” She was able to make an informed decision.

Yes, this was a much more time consuming way to do it, and might not work for everyone, but it fit my style. I liked how I felt much more in control of the matching process.

This experience leads me to wonder what other host families think about the benefits and frustrations about how their agency sets up the matching process.

Let’s focus not on whether the Agency has the right au pairs, or on how they select their candidates, but on the structure of the process itself:

What is it about the matching process that you Agency uses that has worked well for you?  Not so well for you?


Be A Guest Poster!   If you’d like to write a guest post for AuPairMom, email me. We’d love to have you. 

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See also: When Matching With An AuPair, Which Signals to Trust?


Should be working April 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm

CCAP’s method is different now.

It used to require HFs to rely on the placement manager to suggest matches. Now you can see mini-profiles of all candidates (or I believe it is all of them) and request to look at 3 at a time. One is your “primary match” and you can keep that one as long as you want. The other two are “comparison matches” that you can keep for 48 hrs (but it’s easy to just ‘refresh’ them and keep them longer). I think this is pretty fair; you have exclusive, open-ended matching with one and basically non-open-ended matching with two more.

You can also just ask the placement manager to make suggestions. I spoke to an HM (about taking her AP for an extension year) who just let the placement manager DECIDE for her.

It’s a decent system, as they go. I like having exclusive matching with my favorite, plus the chance to do a little comparing at the same time. It means the APs can’t comparison-shop but deal with one family at a time.

I tried looking at 3 at a time and got overwhelmed. I realized that for me, one at a time makes me focus on THIS candidate and how she strikes me and if I reject her, what does that mean for others and what I am looking for. I would hate competing with other families at the same time.

Should be working April 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Correction: If you have ‘joined’ CCAP you get access now to the entire profile of any applicant who is available, except contact info. It used to be a mini-profile, but now it’s the whole thing. But you can’t see this if you are just agency-shopping, you have to apply with them.

AussiePair April 9, 2014 at 7:03 pm

You also can’t see any au pair who is “matched”, so you can see all candidates that are not currently held in another family’s account.

Seattle Mom April 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm

And if you need infant qualified you only see IQ candidates. If you don’t need IQ you only see non-IQ candidates.

I discovered this by accident when I met a CCAP candidate on FB and couldn’t find her on the website- it was because she was IQ, and my kids are now all 2+.

I understand why they do this, but it annoys me that they are not transparent about it. And I would love access to IQ candidates- not all the IQ candidates are really that good with little ones.

Host Mom in the City April 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm

I didn’t know that. How annoying!

Taking a Computer Lunch April 10, 2014 at 7:21 am

I’m with APIA and my LCC gives me special access to IQ candiates who are special needs willing. However, I have found that IQ candidates really want to take care of babies and not teenagers in diapers, so I’ve never matched with one.

If you find a candidate with whom you want to match, see if your LCC has the same power to put her in your profile. If you’ve been with the same agency for a couple of years, remind them how much you’ve paid in fees.

But also put yourself in the shoes of a parent with an infant. There are relatively few IQ candidates – they don’t really want to compete with parents of toddlers who want an IQ AP.

Seattle Mom April 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I was under the impression that if I really wanted someone I could get access to them by asking, but the one girl I met on FB wasn’t really good enough for me to ask for her profile.

I can definitely understand reserving the infant qualified applicants for those with infants… so I’m not complaining too heavily about it.

Julie April 10, 2014 at 10:19 am

You can get access. You just have to ask them to switch the settings.

Seattle Mom April 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Ah, interesting…

Emerald City HM April 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Right now we have an infant and APC has that extra Infant Specialized program. So I have mixed thoughts about only showing the IQ candidates to people that have children under two or those that ask.

There were a lot of IQ candidates that I wouldn’t hire, 200 hours of under 2 experinence was too low for me to consider. Yes, they are technically IQ qualified, but when we were matching for someone that was going to be caring for a 3 month old and a toddler full time, it just wasn’t enough. Now that our youngest will be just under 2 when our 4th au pair arrives, we did put less emphasis on the infant hours, but we are in the weird place where we almost don’t need an IQ candidate.

The agencies really need to be clearer about that to the candidates. Because if they have 10,000 hours of childcare experience and even 200 hours of that is with an 18 month old, they will only be seen by families that have babies. This seems a bit unfair to the au pair.

I mean, yes, as a parent with a child under two it would be difficult to compete with families that have school aged kids, but I also want an au pair that is in the “wants to take care of infants” rather than “only available to families that have infants”. We did have IQ au pairs tell us that they wanted to care for older children, and that’s ok, but I didn’t know until now that they might not even have that option. So if as a host parent I wasn’t aware, I actually assume the IQ au pairs probably don’t know their application is only shown to a limited number of host families.

Emerald City HM April 11, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I mention the IS program, because it does make sense to only have IS profiles shown to families with infants, but (to me) it doesn’t necessarily make sense to restrict the IQ candidates.

I always ask au pairs what the preferred age of children to care for is and honestly, very few have said “babies”, typically the answer we get is between 3 and 5.

LookingForwardToBeAP(made it!) April 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

I was under the impression that if one of the children was under 2, the AP HAD to be IQ, by department of state law, in which case it would make sense that those families only have access to IQ AP, because that is the only they can have.

It does not seem fair that IQ profiles can only be seen by those families, because IQ AP can work in houses with no infants, and many of them do, specially in their extension year, because they realize they need to talk to improve their english and infants don’t really talk. I’ve seen a lot of girls complaining that they are only matched with babies when they specifically asked for older kids and they have to call CCAP offices a bunch of times to actually get some attention.

Over all I think this process is much more unfair to the AP than it is for HF.

Gizmo April 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I like Au Pair Care’s system (sounds like it’s similar to Go Au Pair’s) where you can see every AP’s profile except for those who are already committed to 2 interviews with other families. This type of selection process works best for me; in fact, we switched from CCAP to APC because we felt more in control of the candidates were were presented.

5kids=aupair April 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I wish APC would let you see everyone, even candidates in interviews. I’ve already suggested this to them, so you can also be put on a waiting list to interview those candidates or at least put them in your favorites. Otherwise, you’re constantly checking to see if anyone new gets “released.”

TexasHM April 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm

We left APIA during our last AP search in late January. At that time, their process was that you could see all the profiles except those that were already assigned to 3 families, they did not appear until one or more of the families released them. They also were not exclusive so all the APs could talk to up to 3 families at a time. Honestly, at first I liked that the APs talked to other families and I felt like were really picking us because they had options but we were the one for them. This last round I saw this process backfire in several ways. 1 – I had two APs that we were very serious about not work out because of the process. One felt horrible because she had already been talking to another family for almost 3 weeks and felt like she owed it to them to hear their decision even though she felt like we were the one for her. It ended up not working out with that family (they jerked her around and she asked them not to contact her anymore) and she checked back in with us but we were about to offer to another AP and didn’t feel like it was fair to her to go back to the other AP. This first AP didn’t ask us to reconsider her (she said she felt like she had her chance and understood that) and ended up matching with a great family in our area but she was distraught over the multiple family interactions at the same time. 2 – Had another AP that we looked at almost pull out of the program because of her interactions with the host families. After some crazy families interviewed her she began to doubt the whole program and when another family tried to win her over with perks she really wasn’t sure if it was what she wanted. While she took a step back we made a different decision. She later tried again, got a bad match, rematched and is now in a good situation. She told me she wished it was one to one interactions so that both the families and the APs had less stress and more serious interactions.
We switched agencies to Interexchange – full disclosure we are 2 months in and did a rematch not traditional so I think I have all this right but someone please confirm. Interexchange allows you to see all the available profiles, but once someone selects that APs file as a candidate to interview they disappear from the database until that family releases her. This did not at all stop our current AP (came from rematch) from interviewing with several families before she came. She said she wished the freeze time was shorter because some families sit on profiles and the APs have to just wait around to be released. She was very vocal about wishing that this process was different for rematch APs (they also get assigned to one family at a time and do not appear to the rest) and I have escalated that with Interexchange and have been told they are looking at that process. I liked that it was exclusive because I was sick of the free for all honestly. I am sure its partly because we are in an alternative location and because it was rematch and I didn’t have time for the analysis paralysis. The transition coordinator called to get my feedback on what I was looking for, within an hour I had two awesome profiles and we matched with one and I apologized for days to the other. :)
At APIA there was a placement coordinator but I never accepted any of the files (we look for 21+, swimmer, nonsmoker) because they honestly usually missed one or more of my criteria (19 yr old non swimmer). I know Interexchange has a placement coordinator too, if she’s as awesome as the transition coordinator then I will be a super happy camper come next round.

Host Mom in the City April 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Totally agree that I never a single time have even interviewed anyone the placement coordinator suggested for me at either APIA or CC. They always missed one or more of my absolute musts. Very strange.

Seattle Mom April 9, 2014 at 7:35 pm

My first time around I thought my CC placement coordinator was on drugs or something, because she kept sending me these awful weird candidates- then she went on vacation and I got her back-up who sent me GREAT candidates right off the bat- I ended up matching with one of them and she was our superstar first AP.

Since then I have entirely relied on just looking through the candidates on the website myself… with mixed results.

Anna April 10, 2014 at 7:59 am

I had the same experience with CC – their matching coordinator not only assigned me the applications I didn’t like, but the ones I truly was turned off by! And she did it consistently, every time. I kept giving her feedback but she didn’t get it. It came to a point where one of the candidates she assigned to me messaged me, asking me to release her because she thought we were a bad match!
If I stayed with them I would insist on getting another matching coordinator assigned to me; I don’t know if it’d work because it seems those coordinators are assigned by region.

I wonder if those “matching coordinators” are just people who have no other job to do around the office, and if they have any experience or understanding of childcare or people.

Returning HM April 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

This was exactly our experience with CCAP. We were searching for a male AP last time around, so you can imagine our surprise when the “matching expert” kept assigning us females!

hOstCDmom April 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm

We MATCHED with a male AP via CCAP and our Matching Coordinator kept referring to him as “she” “her” etc. — even when supposedly addressing direct questions about HIS profile! It was as if the match coordinator were answering me w/o even looking at the actual profile!

Should be working April 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I gave our CCAP placement person a DETAILED list of what I’m looking for, including normal weight (never underweight); a particular country of origin and NOT particular regions of that country; siblings of specific gender and younger; speaks a third language that we use in the house; middle class working parents; a particular DiSC profile; and a few other things. She stopped making recommendations. I think the placement people use some simple search filters that don’t work for idiosyncratic combinations of qualities.

Seattle Mom April 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I realized a year later what had happened- I had made an offhand remark that “it would be nice if they played guitar” when talking about an ideal AP, and this matching coordinator was looking for APs who played guitar and ignoring ALL OTHER ATTRIBUTES. So weird!

5kids=aupair April 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I usually never like the candidates that APC matching experts put in my favorites, either. Sometimes there is a note that says “Chosen by your matching expert” but not always, so when I go through my favorites and find one, I’m thinking “Why on Earth would I have favorited her?” LOL

WarmStateMomma April 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

APC’s matching “expert” gave me the impression that the candidates were selected at random. I did just check to see who they have available who speaks Mandarin and at least claims she can drive – they only have 4 candidates (one non-IQ and three IQ). Since those are our only non-negotiable criteria, a matching expert is not going to help us narrow down such a tiny field. I’d be interested to hear how other HMs fared when searching on their own for APs with hard-to-find characteristics.

Emerald City HM April 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm

We had the same experience with the picks from the placement coordinator at APIA. We had our “list” of minimums and she even replied to my email explaining why our minimums weren’t realistic. Drove me crazy.

I like how APC has the short profile, but do wish I could customize it. I find there are specific pieces of information I tend to look for and sometimes it takes me too many clicks to get all of those items. For instance, right now, we don’t personally care about swimming, at all. However, I do like to know whether or not both host parents work.

I like that APIA has a phone app, however I dislike not being able to see the full application on the phone app. I really disliked the staticness of the APIA host family profile. I couldn’t just edit online when I received feedback that part of our letter wasn’t clear, I had to email a new letter in.

I’ve only tried those two agencies so far, and I think I want to try a different one next time. For ease of use, I think APC is much easier to navigate than APIA.

Host Mom in the City April 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Ohhh that drives me crazy about APIA – once you apply, you have to ask them to release parts of the application to make any edits.

ReturnAupair April 10, 2014 at 10:35 am

I signed up with 2 Agancys APIA und CC:
WIth APIA i had usally like 5 Profiles in my Account and i was happy with that. I had ariund 15 Matches and then i had the family in my account where i was just happy about it. After skyping i was sure in wanted to match with them. I was not shopping around i picked a family with 4 Kids beetween 0-6.

With Cultural i got my first match after a minute beeging online and the family waited forever a long time after contacting me the first time after 1.5weeks without mail i asked to be relaised and and got a new match what had sounded great also but i just got so scared in case of a rematch to be on hold and only talking to one family at the time and only having 2 weeks. So i decided to drop CC and match with APIA. And i made the best descion in my life. :)

If an APIA Aupair chooses you, you really know she wants you and is not just afraid that theire are no other familys who want her.

Host Mom in the City April 10, 2014 at 11:59 am

I like your description and the way you describe it is a huge reason I choose the APIA model instead of the CC model. I think it evens the playing field and is more fair to the au pairs, who should also have choice and control in this equation. I recognize that the host families are the ones that are paying the big bucks, but anything that looks like treating the au pairs as the “product” the agencies are selling to the host families makes me very uncomfortable. It’s one of the big things I’m struggling with right now actually in considering whether to continue with this program.

Returning HM April 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm

We are with CCAP now because of having a male AP, but I agree that this is a downside to CCAP’s approach. I *want* an AP to pick us because he knows that we are the right family for him, not because we are the only family who has picked him. For whatever reason, with the two male APs with whom we have matched from out of country, we were their first family to contact them. I didn’t know this with our first until after he arrived in the US, but with the second, this was a concern of his right from the start. I actually directed him to greataupair.com and asked him to look at other families’ profiles, so that he could know more about what he was getting with us and how it compared (he really wanted CA, so I sent him about 5-6 profiles from families who matched what he was looking for who lived in CA so he could know what was out there). He also got to speak to four of our previous APs (and frankly could have talked to all of them – he is very networked on FB) and heard from those we were with in APIA that they had picked us over many other families, so we all felt more comfortable about him committing to us without comparison within CCAP. But I do think this is a downside with CCAP’s approach.

We start selection very early (January for August) in part because I want to be able to hold onto applications for a while (it usually takes me about three weeks of interviewing before I make a decision) without rushing, but I also don’t want to be unfair and hold onto an application a long time during the “prime matching season,” a little later. I think CCAP families need to be very conscious of this and not hurt an APs’ chances of matching by holding onto their applications too long in the prime selection times.

I really came to appreciate CCAP’s “exclusive matching approach” during rematch a month ago, because this helped me NOT rush, the way I have in the past, and NOT commit to someone too quickly just because the AP seems good and I don’t want to lose him or her. I did this twice in the past – both times we rematched, we had to rematch again almost immediately because I had rushed and picked too quickly – but this time around, we were able to take our time, I was able to “dodge the bullets” that I can absolutely see would have gotten me in another context, and we picked a good AP for us. The “near-mistakes,” both on paper and in the initial skype interview, seemed great and very strong for us, but with a little extra breathing room, I was able to see they weren’t right for us at all. OTOH, the AP who at first seemed too reserved and laid back in personality for us, showed himself to be much more on-the-ball and engaged as we skyped a second and then third time. We ended up matching with him, and we couldn’t be happier.

So for rematch situations alone, I now appreciate CCAP’s approach.

Host Mom in the City April 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm

We have been with both Cultural Care and Au Pair in America. The process now is not all that different in that the host family can go through and select who they interview for themselves. The main difference, and one of the reasons why we we will not go with CC again (among other reasons), is that the candidates are held for the host family that is reviewing them such that no one else can see them – both ones that were put into accounts by placement managers and ones that were selected by a family through their “search and select” feature.

I found that this didn’t appeal to me for three reasons:
1) it made me neurotic that there were all these great candidates being held in other accounts and that only the “leftovers” were shown to me.
2) it made me neurotic about checking the website CONSTANTLY because I would literally see a candidate pop up, think about it for five minutes, and then she’d be totally gone as if she never existed because someone else had grabbed her.
3) I WANT candidates to choose our family as much as we choose them. I don’t think it’s healthy for candidates to feel like they are beholden to whatever family picks them or to not have the opportunity to interview around themselves. I don’t want to hold someone for a week and restrict them from having anyone else to talk to – it feels very unfair to me.

I have noticed that Interexchange does hold the candidates too, but with an important difference that eliminates my issue #2 above – you can still see the candidate, you just can’t select them.

There is also the matter of search features, which CC obviously kills on. I do worry, though, that some of the search features might eliminate people that I would otherwise consider. You can select, for example, someone that has teaching experience, which sounds great, sure, but that eliminates anyone who doesn’t, including some candidates that maybe have a ton of nannying experience. You have to be careful with what you search for and eliminate. The swimming, boyfriend/girlfriend, and piercing/tattoo question in particular make me nervous as there are a number of different interpretations to how good of a swimmer you are, whether you have a significant other, and whether you have a piercing. I’ve seen candidates say yes to the piercing question, for example, and they have their ears pierced only.

APIA has recently included more search features – the sibling one I particular like as we (my own bias here and I apologize in advance) don’t consider only children at all. Interexchange doesn’t seem to have very many search features and I think I’ll have difficulty with that when I go through matching this next time (coming up soon!).

Seattle Mom April 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm

YES YES YES that makes me neurotic too about CCAP- I always feel like the great ones are visible for like 5 minutes and you have to get them in your account right away or kiss them goodbye.. but choose carefully because once you have your 3 you can’t get any more until releasing one. Thank goodness now you can release your non-primary match immediately- that takes away some of the craziness.

I also tend to continue conversations with candidates long after releasing them from my account. I always tell them that I encourage them to talk to other families while I’m talking with them, and if they are the right match for us we will get them back in our account. My current au pair was in and out of my account a lot when we were matching, it wasn’t really an issue. Of course it helped that her internet access was very limited during that time so it was hard for her to talk to any other families.

Seattle Mom April 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Oh yeah and our last AP… she was never even visible to us and I never had her in my account until we were ready to match… She found us through greataupair.com – she was extending (with CCAP) and we were in rematch so an odd situation. She said some other family had her in their account and she was having difficulty getting released- the family wanted to match with her but she didn’t want them (because they were in NYC and she didn’t want to live there- how many APs say that?). She wanted us because she really wanted Seattle, turns out she had a ton of friends here.

So if I had relied on CCAP’s matching process exclusively I never would have found that AP, who turned out to be AMAZING for us. She was invisible because she was in another family’s account for so long- they wouldn’t release her becasue they wanted her, and she didn’t understand that all she had to do was email her program manager to be released. Eventually she did that, after I found out that was all she had to do. It was a small red flag that did show how our AP was not good at dealing with administrative details (she didn’t quite get all her education credits for much the same reason) but it really wasn’t a big issue for us. No one’s perfect.

Seattle Mom April 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm

I am really interested in trying Interexchange after reading the comments here and in another post on this blog.. plus I have a good friend who has worked for them at their HQ for years (not in the AP program- something with their international intern program) and loves them.

The only drawback is that they only have ONE LCC in the whole Seattle area and not a big presence here. But there are so many APs here from other agencies, I wonder how much that really matters?

TexasHM April 10, 2014 at 7:53 am

Seattle Mom we chose APIA over interexchange years ago for exactly the same reason (APIA had bigger cluster) and I’ve been kicking myself for that. All the APs know each other anyway and don’t care who is with what agency. They meet through other APs, host families connect them and most agencies will allow APs from other agencies to attend their cluster meetings so we switched to interexchange and are literally the first family in our area and I’ve seen zero impact on our APs socialization. We’ve also lived in the area 3+ years now so I knew if nothing else I could connect her with several other APs but they all beat me to it. Between Facebook, WhatsApp (there’s a local group for APs) and the usual haunts (kids activities, parks) they find it easy to connect.

Returning HM April 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm

This is a great point. The first time we looked at Interexchange, I didn’t go with them because they only had three APs in the entire Metrowest/Boston area (in comparison, there are three clusters of 25+ in our town alone with CCAP and APIA). But this is absolutely true that the APs no longer need the cluster for anything meaningful, and in fact, our APs regularly say that the cluster meetings are so big and loosy-goosy (meet at the mall food court, go disperse after five min) that they don’t meet anyone there anyway.

Host Mom in the City April 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Agreed – my last two au pairs have found their friends through Facebook rather than through the cluster and have friends from all different agencies. My one concern with a small agency is limited rematch au pairs. Does anyone know how the agencies compare in total au pairs at any given time?

Momma Gadget April 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Our APs meet APs from our cluster, APs from other agencies, as well as American people who share common interest- (church, team sport etc) .Our LC plans both great activities and excursions, along with a monthly Starbucks meeting for anyone not wanting to go/pay for the bigger meeting. So initially they do start hanging with their cluster mates, but eventually start branching out to social media to find other APs from their home country, or when they click with their friends neighbors AP from another agency.

Should be working April 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Yeah, I got obsessed with checking CCAP’s database too. But you could sort the available candidates by “profile most recently added” and quickly see if you’d missed anyone.

Host Mom in the City April 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

But you still won’t see anyone you’ve missed that either got snatched up by another host family or that was put into someone’s account by the placement manager. That’s what drives me crazy.

Angie host mom April 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm

We’ve only used AuPairCare, though we have had their placement coordinator “add au pairs” to our profile when we felt like we weren’t finding anyone, we’ve always matched through our own search.

It is really irritating when you talk to someone and they match with someone else – but the flip side is that I feel like I can have a positive conversation with a Maybe match with lower pressure, where I can suggest things to think about when talking to other host families, and then see how she responds without only making the conversation about her in our family.

Screening is a pain in the neck but a valuable one. We are just plain picky and rely on the screening of documents provided that we do rather than the interviews most of the time to pick top candidates. I can’t imagine any placement coordinator actually finding us someone we would select. We throw people out of the pool for apparently random reasons to anyone but us – but they are important to us because otherwise we know we will have conflict after arrival.

SingleHM April 9, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I’ve looked at CC, APIA (had two APs from each of them), APC and Interexchange. I think I like the sites that allow APs to be in multiple families accounts at the same time. I think that if I had a girl in the CC matching pool in my account, I would try to make a decision quickly (as to whether to talk with her or not / release or not). I would also email them and tell them that I would release them because of limits, but offer to keep talking to them.

Any one have experience matching with ExpertAuPair (out of Florida)? They seem to have a more familial process…

Eastcoastmom April 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm

We are with CCAP and are in the matching process now. Our placement manager has been useless. Sent me one candidate who not only didn’t fit what I said we were looking for but wanted to arrive 2 months earlier than we need. Useless. We’ve been hosting since 2007 and I remember the paper profiles we used to get. Things have improved since then! But I’m not crazy about the CC process. I also get stressed out about the fact that I’m reserving someone and no other families can see her during that time. If we don’t match with her then I’ve wasted her time. If I release her I’m afraid she will think I don’t want her. I find it interesting that some of you release an AP and end up matching with her/him anyway. I’d be too worried I’d lose her. I like the sound of being able to view the reserved candidate’s profiles, even if I can’t reserve them.

Should be working April 9, 2014 at 9:50 pm

I am surprised that several HMs report feeling anxious or bad holding onto an AP’s profile exclusively because she might miss out on other matches. I guess when I start to feel that way it’s a signal that she is not impressing me much. But mostly I’m fine holding a profile for 1-2 weeks before I start to feel any sense that its time to either move forward or let her go.

Should be working April 9, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Separate note: I try to stay very ethical about not being in contact with candidates after I let them go. Once I accidentally lost a 48-hr-candidate who I had emailed and liked, she got matched right away with another family, and she wanted to maintain our email exchange while talking to the other family. I said I really had to wait until-if she was unmatched. That family didn’t keep her, she emailed me that she was available, and I immediately grabbed her profile again.

Julie April 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

East Coast Mom, send me an email and I’ll help you. I’m a CCAP LCC (and host mom). I work a lot in the matching process. My email is julie.dye at lcc.culturalcare.com. I’d be happy to help you find great candidates.

hOstCDmom April 9, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Why do you feel it is unethical to stay in contact?

Should be working April 10, 2014 at 12:42 am

Because the CCAP system is that when they are yours, they are yours alone. No comparison shopping on the AP’s part. I like exclusive matching, a lot. If you are actively pursuing a match they should be in your account and if not, not. I guess “ethical” is overstating it, but I think HFs should play by the rules. Otherwise they can go to,APC where matching isn’t exclusive.

Host Mom in the City April 10, 2014 at 10:23 am

This is really interesting and hadn’t occurred to me. A great point.

Seattle Mom April 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

My problem with this is that it often takes longer than 48 hours for a potential AP to respond to my first email. So, do I hang onto them when I have no idea if they are interested and will ever write back? I think about 50% of the APs I contacted did not write back in a timely way initially.. of those 80% never wrote back at all. I could just decide to not consider anyone who doesn’t respond to an email right away, but there are legitimate reasons why they wouldn’t respond. My current AP was living with her father in a new house without internet/wifi, and could only use the internet at her grandmother’s house across town. Communicating with her was excruciating, but it wasn’t her fault. I didn’t keep her in my account until I knew that she was really interested.

Should be working April 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Wow, I have never had an AP not respond within 2-3 days, and most respond within 1 day. This might be a connectivity issue, since my APs are all western European and so internet is likely not a problem. My impression was that the not-responding was more a problem with non-exclusive matching (e.g. APC), because indeed with exclusive matching (CCAP) the AP feels some pressure to see if this family might be a good match instead of fishing around for another family in a more desirable location.

I understand that HPs prefer nonexclusive matching so that an AP truly “chooses” them. But in my view the APs don’t really know what they are getting into and the boost of “choosing” fades really, really quickly. E.g. they “chose” a family who lives in a good location, with school aged (“easy schedule” in their mind) kids. Then they arrive and realize that school schedule and weekend work disrupts their weekend socializing, and good location means expensive to go out. That feeling of having had “very free choice” during matching for the AP I think doesn’t carry past about week 2.

TexasHM April 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Great point and I have to agree with this. At two different times we were in the final round with candidates and found out they were comparing us and another family nothing like us! One AP said she wanted to live somewhere warm because she hates the cold and wanted to watch little kids so we thought that was perfect (In TX, young children) and the other family was teens in Chicago – WTH?! The other AP this happened with wanted to travel a lot and was talking to us (center of major metro of 7M people right next to major airport) and a family that lived in RURAL NC center of nothing and an hour from the nearest (small) airport. I am not knocking one or the other, it just showed me that those APs (both smart, driven girls) had no US perspective. From halfway across the world we probably looked similar on paper and those families all said the same thing when asked – yes, close to anything you would want or need, lots of fun things to do here, plenty of college options, etc so while yes, I in the past liked the idea of them interviewing with lots of other families I have since changed my tune a bit. I am looking for the “zing”. The AP that just gets it, that I get excited about, that I start comparing other candidates to, etc. Our last AP I watched her video only and said – this girl is it. We spent another week vetting and she was it. This rematch round I felt the first day that our current AP could be the one, vetted 3 more days and she was it. I think like relationships when you know, you know. I had a couple I thought I knew but even then I had reservations I was talking myself out of or I was settling in my mind and then one comes along and blows everyone else out of the water. It might take a day or a month to find that one but going forward I am going to stick to my process because its working and keep the faith that the next “one” is out there and worth the wait, however much time that takes. So just like telling your future spouse to go date other people before you get married, I think as long as you have done your diligence its not necessary to have them talk to other families or worry about them talking to more families before you match. Even with exclusive matching, I have yet to hear of an AP that had matched with the first family that reached out to them.

Returning HM April 11, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Our last Ap and our next ap both matched with us as the only family they spoke with. I didn’t know this was the case with the last one. He just seemed so perfect for us and we seemed perfect for him, and indeed, it was a great match from beginning to end (he tore his ACL and had to go home early but not before we sang his praises here for AP appreciation week).

This summer’s ap was very stressed about us being his first
Match so I sent him a bunch of profiles of families off greataupair.com so he could compare a bit (and look there himself). He also spoke with several of our previous aps, and I know this helped him feel comfortable ultimately matching w us.

Woodlandsmom April 10, 2014 at 8:19 am

I searched through Aupair Care and Go Au Pair and liked Go Au Pair much better. Go Au Pair you can see all of the candidates and their applications. The getting three applications at a time through Au Pair Care was frustrating to us. Besides, as an agency Go Au Pair has had amazing customer service and our LCC is great. Very supportive. In matching we didn’t get the first Au pair we offered to but we got the second one. It all worked out for the best though. The first one was sent home after only 2 months and ours has been a perfect fit for us.

WarmStateMomma April 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm

How many APs do you think are in the metro area for Go Au Pair? We switched to APC in part because API didn’t have other APs for ours to meet and it’s hard to meet young people in the suburbs without an established network.

HRHM April 10, 2014 at 11:36 am

I’ve used CC, APC and now APIA. This year, with APIA is the first time that I ever had an AP tell me that she had already talked to other families. She chose us based on actually knowing what else was out there and that feels really good and more than a little reassuring.

I understand that HFs that offer a less desirable location or a daunting number of kids may feel at a disadvantage using that type of process, but having tried it now, I’d be hard pressed to go back to the one-on-one.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm

This is the approach that I have used. I don’t think we’re a desirable family – a teenage child in diapers who needs total care, so that when the AP is on, she’s really on! It’s like looking after an older infant or young toddler, except The Camel has been around the block and knows what she wants and likes.

I want candidates to talk with other families. I don’t cry over spilled milk when they match with other families. I want to match with someone who wants to live with us (only once did that go wrong – a young, immature AP who wanted to be close to her favorite garage band). I want to talk with several APs so that when we start comparing candidates to X, it means we should match with X. I haven’t always matched with the candidate that would be my first choice, but by the end of her year with us, I feel like she was a perfect choice (except in 2 instances – one of which really, truly loved The Camel but wasn’t a good match for the rest of us).

What’s my trick to matching with 9 APs? First, I prefer extraordinnaires. Sure, they’re extra money, but all the ones I’ve hosted have held a job, have cared for children with special needs (rarely like The Camel, but that’s ok), and are ready to work (and have fun). Second, I’m really really really picky. Perhaps 1 in 5 of the applications I see lead to my “Dare to Match with Us” email. Of all of those emails I send out, maybe 10% lead to an actual Skype or Telephone interview.

I make HQ work for me. Both the match coordinator at APIA and my LCC can put new applications in my profile – my LCC can override the defaults and put IQ candidates into my profile. I am paying APIA to give me what I want and I’m not shy about saying no, asking for new applications, and retaining candidates in my pool after 7 days.

I take 3-4 weeks to match, mainly because it’s so hard to slot a Skype interview into our day that we usually call at the weekend. Want to know how a candidate handles stress?- call a European candidate at 10 pm her time! After 3-4 interviews, when I start to compare everyone else to one candidate, then it’s time to match. A few of you might have experienced that mythical perfect match. We have had APs we have truly loved, but they’ve all been human beings, with their ups and downs. We’ve been willing to look the other way for the best of the lot.

In the old days (2001), APIA sent me a paper packed by FEDEX and I had 48 hours to decide whether or not I wanted to contact the AP. We cold called our first AP – she didn’t have email at all! By the time we matched with our second AP, it was a mixed computer/paper system.

5kids=aupair April 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I have 5 kids and a less-than-desirable location! I use APC and this matching process I found I was being turned down left and right. Girls saying “no” to 5 kids, fine. But a lot of my interview candidates were mid-match during my interview times which was frustrating. Families with APC can interview and release and still remain in contact with the girls so even though a candidate seems available, she could be in contact with several of families. Some of the candidates said it was hard to keep them straight. With APC, once a family releases the candidate from an interview, the family profile disappears from their Family Room so they only have e-mails to go on. I did ask the matching experts to cull some girls who were new to the pool so I had a fighting chance and put them in my queue but they never did.

Although I wish I had private access to candidates to give me a better chance, I agree that I want an AP to match with us knowing what else is out there and that she wants us for us.

I don’t like, however, not being able to see the whole pool. I would like to see everyone who is available and be able to place a girl in my “Favorites” even if she is not currently available to interview so I can check back on her later and pick her up to interview.

There is nothing stopping people from choosing to interview a candidate, getting the contact information, then releasing them to get another candidate and have access to more than the # allowed at a time.

I do like APC’s pool, though and all it’s search capabilities. I spoke with a matching expert who took down all my suggestions and they said they are putting in a bunch of new search functions and upgrades to the pool database and are always receptive to suggestions from HFs.

You can also call APC and ask the matching experts how many families have interviewed a candidate and what their notes on them were.

WarmStateMomma April 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

We found someone on APC who looked like an incredible fit for our family, but when I tried to schedule the interview, another family who had already released her jumped to make her an offer. It was frustrating to try to review the 6 or so applications when they kept disappearing and reappearing. The mini-profiles weren’t useful to me because it just said the AP’s country, age, whether she thinks she can drive/swim, and that she’s a patient person who loves kids. I probably couldn’t match my AP’s profile to her now without a photo.

The HPs are frustrated with the matching system and clearly the APs don’t love it, so why can’t the agencies come up with something better?

Returning HM April 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Wanted to add: Our AP, with whom we matched a month ago through rematch, is looking to extend with a family somewhere out west for 9 months starting in late July. He is awesome: if we hadn’t already matched with our next AP back in January, before our then-AP got hurt and we had to go into rematch, we would be begging this one to extend with us even though he found the New England winter brutal (it was!). If anyone on aupairmom who lives somewhere towards the west is looking for an awesome male AP (German, 21, a huge help, very athletic, great at connecting with both my second grade son and my fifth grade daughter), please buzz me at aupairsearch99@gmail.com. He is through CCAP.

Momma Gadget April 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

We have only seriously searched through interexchange.When we first started looking into the AP program the placement Manager would email us 3 dossiers at a time, with 3 days to decide if we wanted to pursue it further. They would extend that period if you were having trouble coordinating (then) a phone interview. I really felt under pressure. It annoyed me to no end that the PM would send me matches that were so off my criterion, that we questioned whether the PM was purposely sending us bad matches so that the later ones look better.

With this last AP they started the Passport system.
You can view all APs ( though I am not sure about IQ ). You can put any APs you are interested in a list, and then up to three in your “short” list for exclusive contact .
You can see the full dossiers of even the APs that other families are interviewing, and even put them in your interested in list, but you cannot contact them until the other family releases them. You can tell which ones are under review because their icons appear faded. It is still 3 day exclusivity standard, but you can ask them to extend it for another 3 days. This worked so much better for us, as far as making a decision.

I should point out that our 2 best APs were rematches, that we made without our usual scrutiny… go figure.

Peachtree Mom April 10, 2014 at 7:10 pm

To look at rematch profiles or extension profiles do you have to get special access. We are looking at profiles with Interexchange but I do not see any rematch or extension profiles. I keep reading that these can be fantastic candidates and would like to see. How nice to have someone already familiar with the rules of the road/driving and had an idea of what the job entails. Obviously if they are in rematch they want to succeed instead of packing up and going home.

TexasHM April 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Peachtree Mom, you do have to let Interexchange know that you want to see transition (rematch) profiles. They have a transition coordinator that works with you to get your criteria and assigns you profiles and I have to say there are two transition coordinators at Interexchange and they get rave reviews. I would reach out to the agency or if you email me at texashostmom@gmail.com I will send you the email of the transition coordinator that assigned us our rockstar AP that was everything we have been looking for the last 4 rounds less than 30 minutes after speaking to me. If you are not in her area she works directly with the other coordinator all day everyday so those two know and help vet all the transition APs. Good luck!

Deb Schwarz April 10, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I’m an LCC with Cultural Care and have hosted 15 au pairs. Every family that I bring onto the program, gets my matching advice – and I review every profile. I work with the matching manager and if they are not selecting the right choices, then I intervene. (sorry about those of you who have not had females put in when you requested males, etc). I would suggest that when you sign up with Cultural Care that you sign up with a very diligent LCC/sales person like Julie Dye (on this board) or myself (DebSchwarz@mac.com) who have had years of experience with matching and will continue with you through the process to ensure that you get the best match. Personally, since I have 4 children within 20 months, I liked the exclusive matching since I found that “star” candidates wanted other families with less children – I also like to look on my own so I like the hybrid model of CC.

I hope that helps!

Deb Schwarz

NJ Mom April 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I am getting ready to host my second aupair. Last year and this year I used both APC and CCAP. I found my current au pair with APC and my next one is with CCAP. I had a great experience with my matching expert Jeffrey from APC. He was very available and did a nice job with suggestions/advice. He serviced my account both years. I had two different matching experts with CCAP and both years they were not very good. I also like the APC system better. I think the questions and application is more thorough and easy to navigate.

All that aside, I think it mostly matters on finding the right aupair. IMO the system and matching process is less important.

TexasHM April 10, 2014 at 9:31 pm

A sidenote on “locking up” AP profiles. I was shocked to read how many felt stressed about the timelines. When we were with APIA I had no problem asking for more time on candidates and of course, only if we were still seriously considering them. This is a really big decision and I never thought about the time limit having anything to do with the family’s decision, I always figured it was to protect the APs from being strung along so I never saw it in this light.

Now that we are with Interexchange I did release the second candidate the minute we decided we were going to match with another (even though we weren’t telling our AP until the next day and she could have declined us). I told the runner up that we were further along in the process and were going to offer another candidate the next day, but wanted to go ahead and release her profile. Before I could even ask she thanked me for being honest and for letting her know right away and asked if for some reason we did not match if we could let her know and continue our process with her. I told her absolutely.

When we were with APIA and I released candidates I always emailed them first telling them why – bad timing, we think they wouldn’t be happy in our situation, we need a strong driver, whatever it was and offered any advice we thought would help them find a good match (you should tell other families you can play the guitar/have mission trip experience/speak 3 languages).

I guess my point is that as long as you take your time (remember the time limits are to keep APs from getting tied up not to pressure you to rush into matching – maybe someone is sitting on your next rockstar APs profile right now!) and are honest about your process I don’t think there is harm in the agency managing the process and it actually helped us by shortening our match cycle by reminding us that often APs are losing sleep over this process and it needs to be taken seriously.

The one thing I have heard universally complained about by APs from all agencies is that many host families (not the ones on here of course ;):
– do not take the process seriously and often no-show for calls,
– don’t know the rules of the program (APIA all day – I haven’t heard this from Interexchange APs but they make a point of book beating the rules into the prospective families and I am ok with that!),
_ sit on profiles without EVER reaching out to the AP, reschedule Skype interviews at the last minute (of course after the APs make arrangements or take off work to be ready) or my worst nightmare
– have a 20 minute conversation and then ask the AP to match.

It’s no wonder that the agencies have put time limits on profiles if that is what the APs are having to deal with!

We have looked at APIA, CCAP, APC and Interexchange and its no secret my vote goes to the non-profit. They created a model that tries to create a win/win that allows host families to look at all profiles while also limiting the number of families they are speaking to at one time and fostering exclusivity.

I learned this week that a brand new HM friend of mine matched with an awesome AP so quickly that the agency (Interexchange) and counselor intervened! They wanted to make sure that both sides really understood the program and had truly vetted each other in such a short period of time. They interviewed both individually and decided they had done their diligence and AP arrives next month but I was honestly SHOCKED that 1 – the agency even noticed 2 – that the counselor caught it too and 3 – that they executed a course of action that risked angering my friend and her AP for the greater good. I asked the LC about it and she explained that Interexchange closely tracks transitions and corporate’s goal is to reduce them in any way possible. Apparently their tactics include closely monitoring and assisting in the matching process, counseling /declining the overseas agencies that send “burnout” APs and increased education/expectation setting on both sides of the program.

Seattle Mom April 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Wow that is an amazing story.. I may have to try out Interexchange next time around..

Momma Gadget April 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm

With regard to holding dossiers, it is important that we HF do need to be mindful about holding transition APs and Extendion APs files- they have such a short window to match it is unfair to drag your feet, or hold onto their files unless they are in serious contention.

With all the reform focus on the international exchange programs, Interexchange has been proactive in setting up checks and balances to minimize exploitation of the rules, and minimizing many of the problems. It reslly shows me just how much they
are comitted to programs future.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 11, 2014 at 7:12 am

It takes me 4-6 weeks to match, and I’m very honest with the first candidate that we take seriously that it may feel like we’re stringing her along. I tell her that she’s free to match with another family if she finds one that’s a better fit while we’re interviewing other candidates. We have lost some excellent candidates over the years, but as I’ve written elsewhere, most of the women with whom we’ve matched have been fantastic – we have asked 7 of the 9 to extend with us (and 3 did). Most of the women with whom we match have serious education or career goals after their gap year with us.

In the time it takes us to match, we do tell candidates to contact our current au pair, especially if they want to see what the suite looks like (we would never enter our au pair’s room while Skyping with a candidate to show her ourselves – and it sends a message to candidates that we respect privacy). That gives them an opportunity to chat with our current AP and see that caring for The Camel is do-able and that DH and I are reasonable people.

I know it puts a lot of stress on candidates, but the matching season is actually our least favorite part of the year too. In fact, it took 3 weeks for DH to read this year’s HF letter that I wrote so I could upload it into our profile!

JenNC April 11, 2014 at 8:09 am

For those of us living in smaller areas sometimes the options are limited, we only have access to aupaircare.com and one other very small company I wouldn’t consider. So the other agencies aren’t available to us.

With that said, I have had no problem with aupaircare and their matching process, but I am an analytical task oriented person. I put in a search of spanish speaking only, specific ages, over 23, swimming and driving required and go to town reading and watching videos. In our first search the matching expert was of NO use, I specifically said the girl had to be a certain age, a good driver, spanish speaking only, and a great swimmer, then she would send me a profile of a 19 year old German girl, or a 21 year old who couldn’t drive. Useless. I have had great luck searching and interviewing on my own.

Granted it can be exhausting and time consuming this last time I had 2 weeks to find my girl and match it was stressful. I’m on my 2nd aupair and she is again awesome….. I wouldn’t want to be with a company who picked for me, I know what I like, I know what I want, and I know my personality, and for me when it comes down to matching I have to have sometime to see if I feel a connection with the aupair, even if she is great on paper I have to feel it so we have a good year. Can’t have someone living in my house I can’t talk with easily. The relationship between the aupair and I is crucial, I find if we click then it all falls into place, but of course that is with screening and also choosing the right type for the family first. Jen

NoVA Twin Mom April 11, 2014 at 9:47 am

We’re with APIA, and I had an interesting conversation with our “placement coordinator” a few weeks ago. I think she thought I was being too picky, but after five au pairs in three years, I think I’m justified. :)

I explained some of our concerns, and she said she’d turn off the AUTOMATED system that was adding profiles to our account, even though it looked like it had been added by a human. Very interesting. Since then, she’s adding profiles herself. While we’re still getting some I might not have added myself (200 hours of experience at a day camp for 10 year olds isn’t going to work for toddler twins) we’re at least getting candidates from our “preferred” country.

I will say that the placement coordinators I’ve had experience with don’t seem very good at finding candidates that meet multiple criteria (from a certain country AND lots of 10 hour day experience AND something else) but if you give them your most important item then go from there, it seems to work better.

Julie April 11, 2014 at 10:58 am

That is very interesting. As a host mom (and LCC), I’m really surprised (and a little annoyed) by an automated system. I work with a lot of families in partnership with a placement manager both when they match the first time and when they repeat with a new au pair. It takes a lot more than a few check boxes to find a strong match. Hmmm…

Returning HM April 11, 2014 at 11:27 am

I commented above how useless CCAP was during our out-of-country matching process, when they gave us female candidates in our search for a male AP (and then when they got male down, they missed the driving, German speaking, and other criteria), but it’s important to say that during rematch, our Regional Director was GREAT about pulling applications that met and only met our criteria. I was much more flexible during rematch (considered non-German speaking, considered females), but ultimately, the Regional Director did such a great job that I hardly wasted my time at all with applications where there was a red flag that didn’t match our needs, and the Regional Director also read through all the LCC/HF/AP notes to make sure in advance there weren’t issues that we really didn’t want to deal with (multiple car accidents, apathetic childcare, etc). In other words, I did almost no searching on the website, since those apps don’t contain the really important notes that explain why a match didn’t work out from multiple perspectives, so this kept me from starting to go down the road with someone who likely would end up not being a good fit for us.

The first match the Regional Director sent us after searching herself ended up being the AP with whom we matched, and he is awesome. So when someone actually TRIES to help with matching and actually pays attention to criteria, I do think it can be a huge benefit (and it definitely cut down on my hours spent searching and my frustration at starting to interview, only to find out I was wasting my time).

nyhostmom April 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

We used APC and liked the ease of looking at the profiles. I do have to say that we never liked any of the suggestions by our matching expert. We looked for them on our own. I liked to hear that the au pair we interviewed had interviewed with a bunch of other families. We just matched with an au pair that was interviewing with 6 families because even if the families release them, which they have to do after a certain amount of time, they can still speak to them. Our current au pair, who is a total dream and we love, was not recommended by her area director (she was in country) b/c she said she was not very social. We found quite the opposite. She has been the best thing for our family. So I don’t find that APC has the best matching experts, but it is not hard to do on your own.

NYC_APC_HM April 16, 2014 at 9:33 am

We have been with APC for 4 years. APC allows you to look at hundreds of profiles at once and sort them based on all sorts of criteria. I would not trust an overworked and underpaid “match expert” to know my family better than I do. If I were ever to use another agency, they’d have to at least have the same type of selection process as APC, if not something even better.

teresa September 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm

We have been with Au pair Australia for 4 years and we like their placement process, they have a database and they manually match the files of the au pairs to target our needs and preferences, then they send us about 5 profiles to choose from so that we do not have to spend hours in a huge database.

When i first contacted Miryam Aubert from Au pair Australia she explained to me by phone all the process and then in only 2 weeks i received my first au pair, since then we have been with her agency for years as we are busy parents and this process is the best for us.

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