How Should Au Pair Candidates Choose An Au Pair Agency?

by cv harquail on December 8, 2014

Here’s something we’ve never talked about:

o hai pierre catHow Should Au Pairs who want to come to the USA choose the agencies to represent them?  

(note: let’s only do US Agencies in this post– I’ll do another one for ‘international’ agencies)

We Host Parents know that there are a few differences in Au Pair Agencies that might shift us towards one or the other.

Criteria like:

can all add up to make one Au Pair Agency more attractive than another to a host family.

But what about for Au Pairs? How should they choose among the legal agencies in the USA?   

I’ve always assumed that it was a random process for au pairs, more about word-of-mouth or the energy of a particular local recruiting agent. But of course it makes sense to consider what might make one agency a better option than another for an au pair candidate.

Here’s the email from Famke that prompted the question:

I´m a 24 years old university student from Germany and planning on going abroad on a gap year as an Au Pair. The problem I´m facing is, which agency to pick?

I´m taking this extremely seriously and have learnt through my research that picking the right agency is crucial in order for this year to become a success.

You do offer some tips on your blog on deciding on an agency but I´d like to get some more specific input on which agencies American Au Pair Mums have had the best experiences with, which ones are the largest, have the best LCCs, etc.

I think it might be best to pick a large agency that can offer you a wide range of families and has the necessary resources to rematch you, just in case. Is this the case?

I’d really appreciate any guidance that you host parents (and au pairs) might offer. ~ Famke

This question is one for Au Pairs to chime in on. Each of you chose an agency —

What criteria did you use? What criteria do you recommend?

What matters most to an au pair when s/he chooses an Agency?


See also:

Choosing an Au Pair Agency: Two questions that might make a difference
How Much Does the Au Pair Agency You Choose Really Matter?
Reading the Fine Print: How do Au Pair Agency contracts differ?
If you were an Au Pair: Agency or Website?


Image: o hai pierre, by romana klee on Flickr


ILHostMom December 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I have used two different agencies, Eur AuPair and Cultural Care, and if I were an Au Pair, I think I wouldn’t like the Cultural Care selection process. A family can “reserve” you for a few days while you guys arrange a time to talk. In the meantime, no other families can see your profile. So, if this family decides to pick you, you haven’t had a chance to talk with any other families. Personally, I want to know that the Au Pair is choosing us as much as we choose them. Eur AuPair lets you talk to any number of families that reach out to you. The downside is that they are smaller, so there may be fewer families (fewer Au Pairs, too).

German Au-Pair December 8, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Here’s the thing: In the end, the agency won’t matter. Once you’re over there, you can either be lucky and get a good family, or you won’t. You can either have a good LCC or you won’t. They actually had a transition to perfect to terrible while I was there, so you really never know. First one was a trained counselor who didn’t have an AP, the next one had APs herself but she had no qualifications for the job and no one liked her. She made every situiation more terrible for the APs, while the first one tried her best to be neutral and supportive. The LCC from the other agency in that town is a great lady who sort of adopted us for her cluster meetings (but also didn’t see, that engaged when it came to solving problems). So the potential LCC is not a factor you can consider.

Here’s what I’ve gathered from my own application process (2010-2011 but I haven’t heard anything that would have changed.) Some things may online apply to the German partner agencies if anyone else is reading this.

APIA and Intrax are two of the biggest and charge about the same but Intrax has a better insurance. APIA offered additional insurance while I applied.
CC is much more expensive but doesn’t offer any additional services. So while I don’t think all the bad rep is they get is that relevant, I do find them terribly overpriced. Plus the matching process doesn’t appear to Ap friendly to me tbh.

I personally would not go for one of the smaller agencies. While I’ve heard they take better care of you while you’re still in your country, they simply have a smaller pool should you end up in rematch so I would not take that chance.

What I did, and what several others did, is to apply both with Intrax and APIA to have access to a bigger pool. It’s a bit of a drag to apply with two agencies but if you do it at the same time, it’s manageable. You don’t have to pay any fees before you match with either of them.
One thing that might have been relevant for me had I not already matched before they changed that, is that Intrax shows the photos you take with the children on their public homepage now. Especially if you want to take pictures with your kids in schools or kindergartens (ALWAYS get a permission signed by the parents) that may be problematic. I could add “the photos will only be available to registered host families” in my slip, which made it much easier.
On the other hand, I found Intrax to have a weird application process when it comes to dealing with the truth, so both have their pros and cons.
In the end, I’d really apply to both and then see where you find a good match for you.
Hope it’s okay for me to mention this, CV, but for German speaking APs there’s actually a nice au pair usa forum. You’ll find tons of threads about this topic (and many others) there, too, but essentially they all say what I’ve just told you.
Hope it helps.

Dorsi December 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

I think the process may be quite different for AP candidates from non-european countries. I was under the impression that they paid a large application fee even if they didn’t match (with APC and APIA).

SeuteDeern December 9, 2014 at 10:39 am

That has now also started in Germany.
My old agency now charges 5% (approx. 200 Euros) if you leave the program after having handed in your full application and signed the contract but before matching with a family. I don’t know about the others but assume if one starts, others will soon follow.

Julie December 9, 2014 at 11:53 am

Actually, there are a couple of differences that would be important for au pairs when it comes to Cultural Care. First, you receive Aetna insurance. This won’t mean much for au pairs overseas, but it’s a major “name” in healthcare and if you do get sick in the US, you will likely have a very different experience versus some other agencies, which have less coverage or only travel insurance. I’ve had a few families switch to Cultural Care because of an experience previous au pairs had with insurance through a different agency–this can be very costly & time consuming to the au pair.

Second, historically, Cultural Care is the only agency that does background checks on families. This helps to ensure that your family has been truly vetted when you arrive and helps to make sure you are in a safe situation.

Third–your contract. I’m and LCC and host mom and have au pairs from many agencies at my meetings. One significant difference I’ve seen is that if you go into transition and we cannot find you a family within the two weeks (given that you are actively interviewing and wanting to stay), Cultural Care will pay for your flight home. It’s the right thing to do. Other agencies may say that if the au pair did not find a family, they did not successfully complete their year and need to pay their flight home. I’ve seen it over and over again with several agencies–including with an au pair who was 3 months short of 2 YEARS in the US. Right before Christmas, her agency made her pay her flight home. Look at the contract and get that in writing–it’s totally unfair and can cost the au pair a great deal of money–again, you save up front, but if something goes wrong, you can be left stranded.

In terms of matching with only one family at a time–it may seem like a disadvantage initially, but this process does lend itself to a sort of honesty. Families aren’t competing with other families by telling the au pair things about having a car or free time that isn’t true. It gives each party a way to pause and see if they are the right fit. If they aren’t, they move on. And, in most circumstances, the au pair can only be held for 48 hours. Most au pairs do find a home and it’s good to really take a look at options closely.

Lastly, I’ll add that how agencies interpret “contact” is different. For Cultural Care and some others, that means face to face contact each month with the au pair. We also have to speak with families each month by phone (though some are hard to reach!) We must hear back from the family or it’s not considered contact. Some agencies just send an email and consider it contact. You really need support. If I were an au pair, I’d ask any family I’m interviewing to put me in contact with the LCC so that I can learn more about the group, her support and responsiveness. The LCC can play a really vital role in making the au pair’s experience great.

I think the best way to be successful is to know yourself–understand what you can deal with, how many kids and what ages, what makes you happy or stressed, how clean/organized you are, and the kind of people you are drawn to. Give every family that is a good match with your personality a chance–regardless of geography. There are miserable au pairs in California and au pairs that LOVE their families and cities in the middle of America. Good luck and I’m always here if you need help or have questions: julie.dye at

Taking a Computer Lunch December 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm

As a HM who was been with another agency for 14 1/2 years, I’d like to say that my agency also did a background check – they talked to my and DH’s supervisors, the neighborhood contact we provided and the LCC came and checked our home prior to approving our application. If your LCC doesn’t come into your home, meet with your AP, and see her room within 2 weeks of arrival, then she isn’t following State Department regulations.

I will agree with Julie that finding the right match is essential. When I’m in a great match, I hardly ever contact my LCC, but when it’s going badly – it can be pretty constant.

anonymous December 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I think Julie is referring to the CC “criminal background check” for which they use a 3rd party agency, and the HP must give their SSNs to check for criminal convictions etc.

NoVA Twin Mom December 9, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I just want to emphasize this from Julie’s response –

I think the best way to be successful is to know yourself–understand what you can deal with, how many kids and what ages, what makes you happy or stressed, how clean/organized you are, and the kind of people you are drawn to. Give every family that is a good match with your personality a chance–regardless of geography.

This is HUGE. Although I’m partial to my agency (which I believe is the same as TaCL’s, and I remember a background check as well) as I think we all are, if you can find the right family using this advice, you’ll be fine no matter which agency you go with.

If you have an outgoing personality and are willing to do a little research on your own (and if you’re contemplating a gap year as an au pair you probably fit into this category) you’ll even do fine if you’re in a small cluster, because you’ll be willing to try new things and meet new people, even those that aren’t other au pairs.

Another piece of advice from having been on the host parent end of rematch, though – make sure (no matter which agency you’re with) you get to know your LCC. If you do end up in rematch, you want your LCC to be working on your behalf to find a new family. You don’t want her only possible answer if a prospective rematch family asks her to be “well she seems nice but I don’t really know her.” GO to the meetings, yes, even the one about tax preparation, so that she knows who you are. Be seen as the au pair that will take new girls under her wing to help them out, for example, so that your LCC has positive things to say about your personality even if she knows little about your child care skills. BE the au pair that everyone wants to help find a new host family for. No matter which agency you’re with, this will help you if you end up in rematch.

And DON’T match with the first family that shows interest just to get here, figuring you’ll just go into rematch if it doesn’t work out. No one – on either side – wants to deal with that kind of stress. :)

German Au-Pair December 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm

CC gets a terrible reputation amongst German au pairs and I guess you are an example of what I mentioned above: the reputation of the agency doesn’t matter, if you have a good LCC. You seem really involved and great at your job.
I did not know that CC pays the return flight. That would be something to consider.
As for the insurance, I was with APC and my insurance paid for everything that needed to be paid for. It was time consuming indeed -it didn’t help they only seem to have French people working for them, so the accent is a drag.
The thing about the matching that would bother me -especially in rematch- is that my friends had to contact their LCC (or their in-country representative) to get rid of matches that wouldn’t work.

In the end, it all comes down to luck regarding your match and LCC so the agency won’t actually matter. I’d definitely choose based on practical reasons.

Skny December 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I agree that the right LCC makes all the difference. 11years ago, when I was an Au pair, I was in a not good situation but scared of a rematch. My LCC “forced me to ask for it”, and gave me all support. She also assisted all other Au pairs in rematch. She was fair.
I extended my second year in another area and my family was not following rules (id work 30hs a week or 2, and would be left with kids 3 days in a roll while parents went away on a long weekend (day and night). That LCC said I should not complain because I never worked a lot and kids were older. There were some really abusive families in that area and LCc did nothing.
So yes, same agency different LCCs

exAP-nowHM December 12, 2014 at 7:04 am

Does any au pair consider the fact that at some US au pair agencies you have to pay a daily fee (USD 25?) if you are in rematch and stay at the LCCs home during this time ?

[cv note: can anyone say whether this is true for all agencies, and/or for which one(s) if it’s true? I’ve never heard of this before…]

As a former au pair and also host mom I consider this terribly unfair to au pairs. I have seen several host families in my area who ask their au pairs to leave their home and stay with the LCC immediately after initiating rematch. Looking at the weekly stipend and where many au pairs are from, this is quite a lot to ask. With this approach I was worried, that some au pairs may feel forced stay in abusive situations just because they are afraid they can`t afford rematch.

What if the HF aks the au pair to leave and she has not the financial means to stay at the LCC? For me this felt appalling and it was a reason enough for me not to chose one particular agency.

WarmStateMomma December 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm

The Chinese AP we pre-matched with said the agency costs in China range from $3,500 to $6,400, and that service varies a lot by agency. (The more expensive agencies provided lower levels of service in her opinion.) My first two APs have said they paid $5-6k each. Most of the fee is paid prior to matching, so registering at multiple agencies is cost-prohibitive.

It’s also worth noting that the first agency we used had so many more APs in their system than they could place and a large number were from China – the local Chinese agency was selling far more AP applications than they could realistically place. That same agency used a Thai local agency that basically uploaded the same application for each Thai AP – they each had the exact same 7 hobbies (photography, cycling, etc.) – so that we didn’t really consider any of their applications.

The OP should look at the agency’s US website if possible to see how many APs are in the system from her country and if their applications look different from each other. My guess is that German agencies are more AP-friendly than Chinese agencies, but other APs looking at this may not be in the same boat as the AP.

CAtoTXMom December 9, 2014 at 8:44 am

I can only speak for our two Au pairs that they had a good experience with Go Au Pair which is a medium size agency. They offer decent insurance, they could talk with multiple host families at the same time, and had some good support during transition. One of our Au apirs was not a good match for us but we felt would be a good match for another family. In a week she had four host families interested in her. Our LAR is fantastic but I would agree that it they could be good or not depending where you are.

WestMom December 9, 2014 at 9:09 am

I take a different approach and prematch with au pairs before bringing them to our agency (InterExchange). So in most cases, I find an AP who is already registered with another agency and I pay her extra registration fees to move her to our agency. It’s a lot of extra work for the au pair, but it saves us about $1000 compared to going with the other big agencies. And in the case of our cultural care transfer, she almost saved $1000 too.

So an alternate approach to consider would be for AP to create a great dossier with all the necessary documents, photos, videos, and taking a chance doing your own research on some of the third party web sites out there, making it clear you would only go through an agency, but you are flexible about which one. You never know, maybe a prospective family would be happy to pick some of your fees too! This process can be more lengthy, but it allows all parties to take their time while interviewing many candidates/au pairs without the agency time pressures. And in the end you still get the agency rigor since they have to go through the registration process like any other AP.

That being said, you should the agency you end up signing up with. I have been very pleased with InterExchange, but having just survived our first rematch, I can say that there is a much smaller pool of families/APs in rematch. They handled the process ‘offline’ and it turned out to work great for us, but our ex-AP felt the process was not very transparent. In the end she did not find the right family and had to go home. She was very unhappy about Interexchange because of this.

Seattle Mom December 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Did Interexchange pay her flight home?

Just curious, because I just switched from Cultural Care to Interexchange. I didn’t pre-match- I found someone in Interexchange’s candidate pool. But if I made someone switch to Interexchange to be my au pair I would feel slightly responsible if the policies ended up being worse than where they were originally signed.

This is an interesting idea… I may look at doing this in addition to the usual methods next time around. It might be worth the extra cash if I get more control over the process. It seems like each year matching gets harder.

WestMom December 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

They did not pay her flight back, which is find pretty sad considering there weren’t that many available families out there. I ended up giving her an extra $200 to help her out in the last few days.

In a way, I am glad I didn’t know this before we decided to rematch because I might have felt too guilty to rematch at all. AP had to pay us pack $450 for tuition (we had paid for tuition already and she was only with us for 8 weeks), pay for her flight back, and lost the cost of a ticket she had already purchase for a December vacation. And that’s not even counting the fact that her parents have plane tickets to come ‘visit’ during the holidays.

Big lesson for next time… Don’t pay for too much upfront, and let AP know that if she decides to make all these plans, they might be blown out of the water if things don’t work out…

WestMom December 10, 2014 at 11:25 am

I’ll just add that we found a great extension AP as a replacement, so remind myself every day that we made the right decision, but I definitely felt bad that this was ending up so sourly, and expensively for ex-AP.

SeuteDeern December 9, 2014 at 10:36 am

I agree with German-AuPair – in the end, the agency won’t matter that much.
Every agency has “bad apples”. No matter how good an agency is in general, you might still end up in an area with a LC/AC who doesn’t care about their au pairs’ well-being (for whatever reason, maybe LC is going through a divorce, has been diagnosed with cancer, has a problem child at home, maybe they just don’t like the job in general). Or you might end up in a wonderful family and your only contact with the agency might be during your monthly cluster meetings.

For the family it’s so much easier to pick an agency with regards to the quality of the local counselor. As an au pair you will only know what kind of support you get or what size your local cluster is after your arrival.

So yes, it’s indeed difficult to know which agency to pick.

“and have learnt through my research that picking the right agency is crucial in order for this year to become a success.”

I don’t think so, actually. Picking the right family is crucial. Your agency won’t matter much if you match with the right family.

“I think it might be best to pick a large agency that can offer you a wide range of families and has the necessary resources to rematch you, just in case. Is this the case?”

A clear German: jein ;)

Yes, the largest agencies of course have a larger family pool thus a bigger number of families to chose from. But… you run the risk of ending up as a number instead of an individual. I was with one of the smallish agencies and while there was only 8 of us in my cluster, my friend was in a city where they had to have two clusters – I think they were 80 au pairs from that agency in the city (not NYC, not DC).

Also, just because the agency is larger that doesn’t mean that you will more easily find the “perfect” family for you. You might still end up in a family that is not the perfect fit for you. And just because they will have a larger family pool if you go into rematch that still doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome.

And yes, a very small agency might have problems to place you in a family that suits you and your needs, especially if you go into rematch. Was it on here that a host mom complained her (small) agency only had a rematch pool of two au pairs when her au pair decided to go home?

Go with an agency where you feel you get the best price performance ratio and where you feel most comfortable. What is included? Flight? Health insurance? Where is the workshop? Which states do they place au pairs in (some place in AK and HI while many don’t)? Can you reach them easily? Do they pick up the phone when you call? Can they answer your questions? Do they reply to your emails? Do you need to pay an additional fee if you don’t fly back home from ‘your’ state after your travel month? 1 1/2 days off consecutive or not? Maximum number of children in family? Age limits? Do you want to become a ‘regular au pair’ or are you interested in the more specialised programs (educare or au pair + / extraordinaire / whatever it’s called), which might limit your choice?

I picked my agency because they didn’t want a full application before inviting me in for an interview. Why? Because I didn’t want to spend hours and hours on writing a host family letter, making a photo collage and getting my references to fill out forms if 1) I didn’t know if I would be accepted by the agency and 2) I didn’t know yet if I would like the agency (or their representative) during the in-person interview. I wanted to learn about them and meet somebody from the agency before deciding that I trusted them enough to place me in a host family. Also, most other agencies didn’t have an interviewer nearby (I already traveled 3 1/2 hours to get to my interview).

I also wanted to sign up with an agency that included a full medical insurance. CC even back then already charged about twice what every other agency was asking for plus additional charges for a “basic” and “full” health insurance.

And when picking an agency I went with one that was nonprofit because I had hoped they would be more interested in the personal aspect than the financial part. No idea if that was true ;)

Today I might also have a look at how their matching progess works. I am not fond of CC’s approach of putting applicants on hold for one family exclusively. I know that I also couldn’t handle the au pair room approach that APC offers. While I see where that’s great for many I would totally overanalyze everything and worry too much… I just wouldn’t want to know who is looking at my application (or worse – that nobody is interested in me, yikes) as every time a family disappeared I would start doubting myself and my abilities.

In the end, I was very happy with my German agency. They were very reliable, supportive and inexpensive (won’t name them as I am now interviewing for them and am kind of biased).
I wasn’t overly happy with the US partner agency. I went through four communitiy counselors – the first one just disappeared on us, the second one would have been wonderful (Canadian ex-au pair, married to a US American, heavily pregnant with their first child and lovely, supportive and warm hearted – but in the eyes of the agency probably a bad role model), the third one had no idea what she was doing, had three kids and an au pair and moved a couple of months before my year was over, I never met the last one but was told by my host family that she was wonderful. However, as I never really needed their support, it didn’t matter to me that much. And I know they were great in other areas.

Good luck, Femke :)

Host Mom in the City December 9, 2014 at 11:59 am

I only have experience with Cultural Care and APIA. We’ve had one au pair through CC and three through APIA. All of our au pairs have had friends with all the major agencies. It seems like everyone makes friends through social media now instead of through their cluster. All of our au pairs have said don’t go with Cultural Care for a variety of reasons. We also weren’t pleased with CC the year we used them (bad LCC, bad au pair, and I don’t like their matching process). Our au pairs from Germany have noted that CC is more expensive for au pairs than APIA (not sure if this is true or not).

But mainly, it’s the matching process. We knew one very sweet au pair that was in rematch with CC and was absolutely losing it during the two weeks she had to find a rematch host family. Because CC allows one host family at a time to hold your profile, it seems to me to be really unfair to au pairs. This au pair went into rematch on a Monday. A family held her profile for five days and then decided they didn’t want to match with her. That was a whole week of her rematch period wasted. Same thing happened over the next handful of days. Finally, she found someone on the very last day of her rematch period, after only talking to two other host families. Of course, she took that third family just so she could stay in the country, but it was another bad match, and she ended up just going home.

With APIA, au pairs can talk to lots of host families and they are not invisible to other host families when a host family has them in their account, so they can talk to many families and find the best match. This seems much more fair and a much better way of getting a good match than restricting the au pair to one family at a time, both for the initial matching process and for rematching.

Seattle Mom December 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

I’m pretty sure CC has changed their policy about holding onto rematch au pairs since then. Now HF’s still have exclusive access but only for 24 hours and the placement managers are pretty strict about that- they want to hear that you are skyping and emailing and seriously considering the AP in order to keep them in your account. I’m basing this on my rematch experience of 2 years ago. And I guess it depends also on the skill of the placement manager in knowing when to let a family keep an AP and when to make them let go- I might have had a better placement manager, because she really didn’t let me dawdle with the rematch candidates. Although I did find an extension AP who I liked and eventually matched with- but I never found her on CC because she was being held up by another family- that family wanted her but they were in NYC and she did not want to go there. We met through and she wanted us, and we had to both call her program manager to get her released from the other family. I guess they aren’t used to au pairs rejecting families from NYC.

Now I’m with Interexchange and I hope I don’t get experience with rematch. It feels like a risk because the applicant pool is definitely smaller. We’ll see.

Luana December 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Simple – don’t go with Cultural Care. Au pairs and host families are equally dissatisfied with their profit-driven policies. Even a stranger who worked for CC’s parent company when he was younger nearly tripped over himself to cross the room at a party to warn me away from CC when he overheard I was considering getting an Au pair!

Anna December 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm

agree 100%

BritishAuPair2Be December 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm

**My first comment :) I’ve been reading for months now whilst I’ve been considering being an au pair. I am in the early stages of my application now! So this is a very fitting topic for me**

I actually spent a LONG time researching and then choosing an agency. I still hope I’ve made the right decision!

I narrowed it down initially to APIA, CC and Interexchange. Then I put in an enquiry with all 3. I had ultimately decided by then based on a range of different things and having read lots of things about all 3 agencies online.

It’s an overwhelming task, and I can’t imagine how much harder it is if English isn’t your first language. Obviously for me being from England, with English as my first language, that wasn’t such an issue.

My decision was confirmed for me as I heard back from the agencies and their local partners. One agency took a week to get in contact! Another it was about 4 days and I heard from my favourite the next day. The coordinator from the local agency was really friendly and helpful from the very start.

So I have proceeded with Interexchange. I like the fact that it is non profit, the matching process seems sensible to me and I just like generally what I have heard/read about them.

I’m only in the early stages of my application but I am happy with what I’ve seen and the help I’ve had so far. I just hope I continue to be happy with my choice!!

Seattle Mom December 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm

If I were an au pair I would look at the US/Host Family website for the agencies and see how the au pairs are presented. As suggested by someone else check to see that the applications look different from one another, and see how many are from your country.

I think there is a lot of demand for German au pairs so that might not be a huge problem, but it could be for Asian au pairs.

I also think it doesn’t hurt to put an application on one of the 3rd party web sites (like in case there are host families looking for an au pair who haven’t committed to an agency yet. Or if they are willing to pay the au pair’s fees to switch to their agency, like someone mentioned above. I found one of my au pairs on I was only looking at au pairs who mentioned that they were registered with CC (my agency at the time and we were in transition so had no flexibility) and I happened to find a great extension au pair.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Having now experienced 3 agencies, I can say that I believe the quality of the LCC and the amount of overall support the agency gives the AP should make a huge difference for the APs. But, since an AP won’t know who the LCC is until she is interviewing, I would recommend looking at the overall philosophy of the agency. For example, APC seems to have a hands off approach, whereas CC can be involved to the point of feeling intrusive. APIA was somewhere in between those two extremes. I really believe that rematch policies are where the rubber meets the road. During our family’s recent rematch, I really felt like APC completely abandoned our AP. It took nearly a week to get his profile in the rematch system, although his clock continued to run. So, essentially, he a about a week to find a family. They didn’t communicate with him at all, unless he initiated it, and ultimately, he had to scramble to find and pay for a crazy-expensive ticket home. Even though I felt that rematch was the right choice, I was really horrified by what seemed like incredibly shabby treatment. But even before rematch, AP had little support from the AD. When he had questions about, for example, taxes, the education requirement, etc., he pretty much gave up on getting info from the AD, and starting asking his friends with another agency to ask their LCC his questions!

Another note– I agree with Nova Twin Mom about getting to know the LCC. When I was in rematch, an LCC not knowing much about an AP was a red flag for me (because the time is so short in rematch, you have to make quick, arbitrary cuts and move on). On the other hand, our previous AP was known to the AD as the person who reached out to new APs and tried to introduce them to others. As time went on, she just started sending him names of incoming APs and asking him to contact them. Unfortunately, that connection didn’t matter much at rematch time.

I have to say that, while I’m now quite happy with CCAP, particularly because of a fab LCC, I truly hate ccap’s matching process. 2 things in particular bother me– 1) having the AP disappear from view seems kind of crazy to me. Why not keep her visible, but unavailable? (Although I don’t like exclusive matching). 2) It drive me crazy to have the match coordinator place APS in my queue as matches. I constantly felt like a heel releasing (rejecting) APS that I never would have even considered– but now they know thet were specifically considered and rejected, not justb overlooked. It jist seems much more personal, when sometimes i was releasing hem because they were placed in my queue at a time that i didnt have sufficient time to fully review their app, and i didnt want to block them from other families’ view. It has improved, in that APS can release familes on their own now (I believe), but it still doesn’t allow an AP to truly evaluate whether a family is the right one for him/her, or just the first one that seems nice. And, as a HF, I quickly released folks that i sometimes later wished i hadnt because i was acutely aware that he AP was ‘trapped” in my queue, and i didnt want the pressure of having to decide so quickly. So, in evaluating agencies, an AP should consider how fair the matching process will be.

WarmStateMomma December 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I also hate having the match coordinator place APs in our account for me to reject. We have only 3 non-negotiable criteria: the AP must be female, speak Mandarin and having driving experience. None of the APs placed in our account by a match coordinator at any agency has met these 3 criteria even though they are pretty objective and easy to spot. They have also put rematch or extension APs in our account – even though the AP needs a new family months before we need a new AP. I have to scramble to reject her so her application is not tied up with a family who isn’t interested.

It’s frustrating and doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in the agency.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

The agency works for you, so tell the match coordinator she’s not doing a good job and to pay attention to your needs. In my agency, my LCC is able to override some limitations (although getting to see the perfect application of an asthmatic highly allergic to cats is just plain frustrating) – for example, I can see infant qualified candidates with special needs experience (I’m usually barred because I now just have teenagers). Sometimes, it helps to remind the agency that you are paying their salaries.

WarmStateMomma December 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The pool of APs who meet these 3 basic criteria is so small that it’s easy for me to sort through them. I just get annoyed with the match coordinators and should just ask them to stop “helping” next time around, but it feels so rude. In the end, our current AP found her successor in a Chinese forum and helped arrange a pre-match. HD and I both have a great feeling about her, but it’s just so hard to know and our success rate is 50/50.

Boys Mama December 10, 2014 at 5:18 pm

I just had this same experience with our matching coordinator again. Drives me crazy. Candidates who are so plainly NOT what we are looking for put on hold for us again and again. I found our next AP through a Facebook group, that makes three of our (fingers crossed, this one looks outstanding) best APs the ones we found ourselves without the help of our agency.

Seattle Mom December 12, 2014 at 6:33 pm

I’ve had differing experiences with this, based on the match coordinators. My last one was pretty good, we talked on the phone a few times and she really helped find some candidates I would not have otherwise found. I really tried to give her a flavor for what we were looking for. In the end I didn’t choose any of her suggestions, but I skyped with a few of them and found it helpful.

The first one I had was so bad I thought she must have been smoking something. I thought she was purposefully messing with me and putting candidates who I would never choose into my account. I realized afterward that she was hyper-focused on an offhand comment I made that “it would be nice to have an au pair who plays guitar” and she was exclusively finding people who played guitar- when there were SO many more important factors! The funny thing is that this match coordinator went on vacation or sick leave, and her substitute got us AWESOME candidates right away- one of them ended up being our first au pair and she was great. And no, she didn’t play guitar, but she was a dancer and creative and musical and fun, and that was the spirit of what I was looking for.

It is sort of funny that I had a good matching coordinator this time around, because I ended up finding my match (on my own) through a different agency. I actually had one or two candidates in CCAP that I might have matched with but they ended up not wanting us because we were searching in September for someone to come in January, and they were hoping to leave sooner. I also made a huge tactical error- I was emailing with my “main match” and I had high hopes for her, but she became unresponsive. In the meantime I met another au pair who was a “comparison match” who I really liked but I couldn’t keep her in my account for more than 48 hours. We skyped and she was really great, but I was still holding out to skype with the “main match.” Anyway the second girl fell out of my account automatically and got swooped up by another family who were ready for her to come much sooner. She had been saying she liked us and was willing to wait for us, until she got an offer for 2 months earlier. All because I was holding out for that other girl, who suddenly stopped returning emails!

Oh well… I think we have a great au pair coming in January, so maybe it turned out for the best!

SingleHM December 13, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Seattle mom, you can always make your secondary match your primary match (ergo…swap them). This will extend the 48 hr limit with the second match. you can always swap them back, if needed.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm

In my case, is asked if she could mark them as favorites (as with APC and, I believe APIA). Not all of her choices were inappropriate– it’s just that I move on a different timetable, and don’t mind losing out on someone if they find a match before I’m ready to consider them. And, once I release them, I’m reuluctant to go back amd consider them later, when I do have the time, because we’ve already started out on a negative note (with the initial rejection). In response to my request to make them favorit’s rather than matches, the match coordinator simply stopped finding matches for me altogether, which was overall better, but seemed a little bit like taking her ball and going home.

Emerald City HM December 10, 2014 at 7:34 pm

I think knowing whether or not the agency restricts your application based on IQ hours would be critical.

If you do happen to have only 200 hours of infant experience, but would rather be an au pair for school aged children only, then you need to know that your application won’t be seen by host families with only school aged children.

I still feel this is really unfair to the au pair. Even she has thousands of hours of experience with teenagers, but at the same time has a measley amount of infant experience, you wouldn’t see her application specifically becasue of that small amount of experience (well TACL does, but that because she knew to ask).

WestMom December 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

Same is true the other way. We were contacted by a great APC candidate via Facebook a few years back. I decided to register with APC so I could have access to her full profile. She wasn’t showing up in the search. I had to call the office to ask to see her profile. Turned out she had been labeled ‘infant specialized’ and since our kids were 4,4,7 at the time, her profile only showed up for families with infants (despite also having tons of experience with school-aged kids). We ended up matching and she was fantastic.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 11, 2014 at 9:14 am

I’ve had the opposite experience. I’ve only matched with one IQ AP (that is, after my kids were no longer 2 and under) – most have preferred to work with babies, despite having special needs experience. We did match with one IQ AP last summer, and it didn’t go well. She found a family with an older toddler and I hear she’s happier. We’re so much happier with our new AP — it was a win-win.

I do push HQ to give me newly processed applications. I figure after 14 1/2 years and 11 APs, they owe me that. The day is quickly approaching when we won’t be able to use APs to care for The Camel. Despite the expense, I’m not looking forward to it (actually, nursing is far more expensive and rigid in scheduling – I’ve been spoiled by the flexibility of hosting APs).

Seattle Mom December 12, 2014 at 6:38 pm

It’s a pet peeve about Cultural Care, really annoying to know that you can only see a fraction of the candidates available. Maybe that’s why matching was harder this time around, now that our kids are a bit older.

Should be working December 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Wait, Seattle Mom: If we have non-infants are we still only seeing a “fraction” of the candidates with CCAP??

Seattle Mom December 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Should Be Working: if your kids are all over 2 then you only get to see non-IQ candidates through Cultural Care. They don’t tell you this, but I figured it out by accident when I met an IQ candidate from Cultural Care and I couldn’t find her application on the website. She gave me her ID number and everything, and insisted that she wasn’t matched with another family so I should have been able to find her. Then I heard from someone on this blog that is how CCAP and maybe some other agencies work.

I think it must have been different for extension APs, at least in the past, because back when we needed an IQ au pair (only by a couple of months) we found an extension au pair on the website who we really liked but she was not IQ.

I can understand not showing people with infants those who are not infant qualified, but the other way around is pretty annoying. I never asked the agency directly to see the IQ candidates, but maybe next time I will if I’m having the same trouble finding good candidates that I found this year. Someone else has pointed out that most IQ candidates probably prefer toddlers/babies, but I don’t think that is always the case. I’d be willing to wade through some more applications to find the one.

Seattle Mom December 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

(oops meant to mention I met the AP candidate on facebook- I ended up deciding not to pursue her further so I never asked CCAP to see her application. She actually did email me a pdf of it so I could see it, and I decided she wasn’t right for us afterall.)

Taking a Computer Lunch December 16, 2014 at 8:08 am

The way I understand it, is that there are few infant-qualified APs compared to the people who want them, so the agencies try to give those families first access. (And to be quite honest, the majority of people who do use au pairs, only do so in the first few years of their children’s lives – although it does seem like there are a number of long-termers, like myself, who have older children and participate actively here.)

My LCC has been explicit when she has over-ridden the agencies’ default settings to give me access. In my experience, however, most infant-qualified au pairs really want to care for infants and not older children (but then, it just may be the idea of changing a teenager’s diapers is not their cup of tea). The one infant-qualified AP with whom I matched (after my children were no longer infants) ended quickly in rematch.

But, after 14 1/2 years of hosting, I do urge HF to make the agency work for you. If you aren’t thrilled with the selection, then ask to see IQ candidates. Ask to see applications that have just been processed. If you’ve been sticking with the same agency for years, remind them of your loyalty – push for deductions in the matching fees. They’re businesses, and they aren’t going to give you anything unless you ask.

Julie December 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

WarmStateMomma, are you looking now? I can help you. I can see all candidates, so just let me know. Just send me an email.

WarmStateMomma December 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Thanks, Julie. We have already matched and our future AP just passed her visa interview. We will probably try the pre-match route first next time around because we’re looking for a unique combination of skills and this was an efficient way of finding that skill set.

I’d be interested in knowing more about how other families find APs who speak Chinese and drive – most agencies have few to no Chinese candidates with any driving experience. (Maybe they just accept they won’t find an experienced driver?) I only saw one agency that claimed to support Taiwanese APs (Europair) but they didn’t actually have anyone available from Taiwan.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

We had a Chinese AP who had a driving license who damaged our van and the vehicle next to ours by backing out of a pull-in parking spot. She claimed not to know how to park. (My question – how the hell do you stop a vehicle in China?) I felt I knew her skills better after reading Peter Hessler’s Country Driving.

There were too many cultural differences for it to work well for us (a Filippina friend who had gone to grad school in Taiwan gave me some insight into why), but when it came time to extend/not extend, we used our AP’s failure to get a US driving license against her (including the three months of Snowmaggedon during which she didn’t drive an inch and we had to take extra time off from work to drive The Camel to doctor’s appointments) against her. She was such a beginning driver that when the snow melted, DH had to start from scratch on her driving skills – it took 6 weeks for us to clear her to drive alone again.

I know having someone speak Mandarin is really important to you. Can you suck up the fact that you’re going to have to pay for driving lessons to get the AP you want?

WarmStateMomma December 12, 2014 at 1:13 am

I’m not sure what we will do if the next person doesn’t work out. Driving lessons aren’t going to bring a person who doesn’t know how to drive at all up to the level needed to safely navigate the freeways in a major city. I guess we would have to give up either on the language or hosting APs. It’s just not possible to go anywhere without a car and my daughter is too old to be homebound again with an AP who can’t drive.

The answer to how you park in China – you don’t. Most of the APs have never driven a vehicle on the open road and if they did, they were cautioned to drive absurdly slowly. My APs have struggled to understand that it’s dangerous to drive at whatever turtle speed you want or brake wherever you want when you feel nervous/uncertain/lost.

We will pay for driving lessons again for the next AP, but only after verifying that she has basic control over the vehicle such that she can be taught in a short enough time to make it worthwhile. We were hoping to find a Taiwanese AP since the driving there is more comparable to driving in the rest of the world (according to Taiwanese-Americans I spoke to, and my state’s reciprocity laws), but they are few and far between.

Nina December 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

As a HM who went through few rematches I also think that what matters most for au pairs is that they find the right match and LCC. As a HF we don’t really know how much they have to pay for the application etc.

Famke December 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Hey you guys,

I´m still not done with reading all the comments but I just wanted to take the time and say THANK YOU for throwing that much of useful information at me! Seriously, you cannot imagine how much your discussion helped me in my search for the right au pair agency.

Anyway, have a nice weekend!

Famke December 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Another thing I wanted to ask all those who have registered on Do you rather pick one of those Au Pairs who have can be found in the J1 section or isn´t that of any matter to you? I´m planning on putting a profile up there but nor sure if I should apply as an J1 Au Pair or just skip that though I fit the criteria.

WarmStateMomma December 13, 2014 at 12:22 am

Skip it. There are extra hurdles host families have to jump through to see those J-1 applications, and the website doesn’t always allow the host families to see them once they jump through the hurdles. We looked hard at APs on a few months ago and never got anywhere with their J-1 candidates.

Famke December 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for the tip!

gianna December 11, 2014 at 9:52 pm

When I was newer to these programs I would have agreed with Nina about an aupair finding the right LCC as a primary requirement. But now, I agree with the aupair who said that the agency really doesn’t make so much difference for the aupair. An LCC can quit with little notice or be overruled by the higher ups I think there is a lot of turnover in that job. My impression is that most aupairs come to the US with the idea that the LCC is an advocate for the host parents and it is very hard to convince them otherwise. On the other hand, I think that host parents need a good LCC . I read many complaints on this board about lax LCCs and I have heard some aupairs express relief that they have LCCs who blink at rules like meeting attendance and school. Aupairs might have different criteria than host parents for determining who’s a good LCC. I think that most aupairs would agree about what makes a good family – kindness and fairness.

SeuteDeern December 12, 2014 at 6:21 am

I went through four LCCs during my year and what I would have wanted from an LCC was to show some interest, support and encouragement.

We were eight au pairs (max!) in our cluster. It shouldn’t have been difficult for an LCC to be somewhat involved or to at least remember all names even in addition to having a family or a “real job”.

I only met #1 at my first cluster meeting. We had arrived with three new au pairs and I was the only one who could make it to the meeting (less than 36 hours after arrival). While I agree that it is important for the LCC to meet the new au pairs soon after arrival there must have been a more convient date for a first cluster meeting – which happened at a Chuck E. Cheese and that she left after 10 minutes (I wasn’t driving yet, had no car and my host parents had just left), dumping me on the only other au pair that was present and telling her to take me to the movies and drive me home (I hardly knew where I lived).
We then quickly discovered that she had given up on being an LCC. How? We called her to ask about the next meeting and she never returned our calls or answered the phone. One of the host parents eventually called the main office and was then told we didn’t currently have an LCC. Oups. Sorry. No in-home visit either.

#2 would have been amazing. I don’t know if she ever was our LCC officially but she took over when she heard from a friend (current au pair) that we were without support. She just called everybody, arranged a date and made us meet. She had an amazing personality, was engaging and warm. Those were my two best cluster meetings. She had been an au pair herself, she was young and energetic. Probably not the best role model in the agency’s view (ex au pair who had married her US boyfriend and stayed) but she would have made a great LCC for her cluster.

#3 must have been forced into becoming an LCC. She was always reluctant to do anything for us or the host families. When a new au pair asked her a questions about classes she went upstairs to get her folder… which was still shrink-wrapped after four months. While in retrospect I can see how busy she must have been (working full time, having three young children and preparing a cross-country move) we (families and au pairs) were really lacking much needed support. One of the au pairs in our cluster really should have been forced into rematch (violence in the family, which the LCC knew about) but was told to bear with it because of all the little extras she got (working fewer hours, having a designated car, having all the freedom she could ask for).
All our meetings happened in her kitchen, with her children running around and we were really happy that she would just sign off on previous meetings that we had not attended because those were the three most useless hours of our month. Our cluster was so small that it was easy for us to keep in touch without the meetings. And as she didn’t seem to care about us much, there really was no reason in going.

I don’t think the criteria for what makes a good LCC is so different for the families and the au pairs. I think it’s similar to what makes a good host family (and au pair)- kindness, fairness, reliability, trustworthiness and support. The difference is that as a family you have to possibility to pick your LCC – if you don’t like the support you get from your LCC you can switch agencies or you can complain to head office (you are a paying customer). As an au pair you are stuck with what you have, you don’t get a choice – you pick a family and then the LCC gets assigned to you. By the time you first meet your LCC “it’s too late” and if the LCC doesn’t offer you the support you need you run into the problem of being a young adult in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language and the fear of being shipped off back home and being made pay for your own flight. I think it’s in the agency’s responsibility to find someone to support and advocate for both sides (family and au pair) but I can only imagine how difficult that has to be.

gianna December 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

That is a really sad story and I suspect that it is not such an unusual story. It really is a shame and we hear about these things all the time.

WarmStateMomma December 13, 2014 at 12:17 am

That sounds terribly unfair to the APs in your cluster.

ReturnAupair December 12, 2014 at 3:01 am

If i talk to new aupairs, i will always tell them the same. Dont make the mistake to pick a small agancy. If you go into rematch what can happen easyli, theire want be a lot familys in rematch at the same time and you cant really choose or you have to go home. Also a Small Agancy needs theire Familys really badly.. Every Family makes the difference. So likely they will not really kick out a bad family out of the programm.

Also i look at the price and compare. Why should i pay 500 Dollars more anf got the “same”. Really importand also for me was the matching system. I did not want to go with CC that i only had one family into my account. I liked it the way with APIA i had always 4-5 familys in my account. And let them go fast, when i was sure that was not the right match. And Sykped with the other ones.

Just a Sitenote of my experience. Once i Had a family they wanted to skype with me, and canceled the appointment because they told me the aupair cant be at home at this time because they want to send her home and she doesent know. That was mean and i told them i dont want to match.

TexasHM December 13, 2014 at 7:25 pm

As a family that just had to rematch I have to agree with some of the comments above about LCs and small agencies.

At our first agency there was a lot of LC turnover (3 in 3 years) so we didnt rely much on the LCs there. We switched this year to a smaller agency and got a rockstar AP and while I love their policies and how they do business, once we started to struggle it became a mess and there were not any rematch candidates for us to consider! Our departing AP hadn’t heard from any families either in the first week and if she doesn’t find a match she has to pay for her own plane ticket home and she doesn’t have the money!

At this agency the cluster meetings are mandatory which I like but I know CCAP compensates the LCs based partly on performance and that is very attractive to us right now (and I would think would be to an AP as well). CCAP also pays for the flight home if it doesn’t work out. We are not with CCAP but I can’t help but think how much easier these two factors would have made our current rematch situation and that combined with being a much larger agency (more options for both sides in rematch) are making us think hard about where we go from here.

Good luck to you!! We would love to host a German AP – when are you looking to come here? ;)

AlwaysHopeful HM December 14, 2014 at 8:54 am

Texas HM, I’m sorry to hear about your situation! I had no idea you were going through rematch. Just fyi, I’m pretty certain our German AP will be in rematch soon. (I just have to talk with him and the Lcc, although the LCC is kind of expecting it). He is a friendly, earnest guy. He’s just not a good fit for our less structured family. I don’t recall your family’s position on male au pairs, but I do recall that you’re very organized and structured. I think he would thrive in that type of environment. I really do hope he finds the right home in rematch! If you want to know more about him, please feel free to ask CV for my email!

TexasHM December 14, 2014 at 2:46 pm

AlwaysHopeful you are too sweet. Our family’s position on male APs is that my husband says no way. ;) I personally love the idea but our youngest two are girls and still need help in the bathroom etc so its a dealbreaker at least for now. We are VERY blessed in that our first AP (married an American) was very close to this whole thing because she was worried about us and was able to step in and take over as a nanny. She is newly pregnant though so this is a temporary situation but she is thrilled because she had to quit her retail job due to it being too physically demanding. Now she makes more than double and oh yeah – loves our family and knows the job already! I dont know what I would have done without her! She brought me flowers and a card and told me “you did the right thing” on Friday because she could see the toll it took on us having to make the decision to transition. We also have a lot coming up in the next month (I had a business trip one week, then kids out of school, in laws coming, christmas, new years and then anniversary trip – my parents coming in) so I honestly didnt see how we could reset and welcome a new AP properly so this is great. Gives us a timeout to get reorganized and get excited again and see where we go from here. I reached out to a few frequent posters on here (those of you that had emailed me at some point) and I can’t thank you all enough for your advice, guidance and support! We knew it was the right decision but having all of you write back enthusiastically that we needed to transition and there was nothing more we could do really helped me stay strong because we were considering trying again to keep her if she didnt find another family but our LC got involved and picked her up when I was out of town anyway so its all over now. If CV wants I might write a guest post about it because you all know what a screener I am and we actually got the qualities we were looking for (which made it so hard to rematch) but she was missing a crucial skill – awareness and I dont know how you could ever screen for that!

AlwaysHopeful HM December 14, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Glad to hear you have a solution, Texas HM! That sounds like the perfect plan for regrouping and giving yourselves time to get back in the groove. I’m feeling really guilty about my AP because, as I said, he is nice and quite earnest. I just don’t have the time (or inclination or energy) to provide the type of structure that could bring out the best in him. I guess the sooner I rip the bandaid off, the sooner we all can heal, right? ????

Taking a Computer Lunch December 15, 2014 at 8:33 am

AP #8 had absolutely no common sense, and our LCC wisely told us, “In my experience common sense cannot be taught in a year.” We should have rematched, but DH was too squeamish. When AP #10 acted miserably depressed all the time and decided to start pushing back on every little thing by week #8, it was a no-brainer to go into rematch. When you start thinking, “Do I really want to limp through the year with this person?” and the answer is “No,” then the only option is to go into rematch. Glad you had someone willingly and available to make it work (because I agree with you – it’s very hard to be a new AP right before Christmas).

Seattle Mom December 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Texas HM I would really appreciate a post about your rematch situation, to hear your story and also suggestions from other HFs (and APs) on how to avoid that if possible. It sounds like your outgoing AP might have some things in common with my current AP, who has one month left. Thankfully she hasn’t had serious safety lapses (as far as I can tell) because I think she compensates for her spaciness when it really matters. We are in the last month of our year with her, and the one thing that kept us from rematching is that she has a great loving relationship with the children. She also is careful with them, I don’t think there are safety issues. But she has broken a lot of things (small things- but very frustrating because it’s always due to a lack of awareness & common sense- very preventable in all cases), she’s a terrible slob, and she has no sense of direction. She is (thankfully) a reasonably ok safe driver, but I bet if parked our cars in the garage that would be a problem. She has left car windows open a few times and the inside of the car gets soaking wet, and then she leaves all her old water-damaged papers in the car. She’s just very poor at keeping anything in good condition. And I don’t understand why she can’t match my kids socks when they come out of the laundry, it drives me CRAZY every weekend when I go to get my kids’ socks and there isn’t a single matched pair.

It’s just a lot of small things with us, but in the end she loves the children and they love her, and I don’t worry about their safety. And she is a nice person who tries her best to be considerate.

QuirkyMom December 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Wow, TexasHM, I am sorry to hear about your having to go into rematch! I am adding my voice to the chorus — I really hope at some point you’ll have the time and bandwidth to write up a guest post, as I’ve learned a lot from your posts and emails about matching and I know your experience will be instructive to all of us.

TexasHM December 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Thanks so much for the support everyone! I don’t know what I would do without this blog (and you can bet I was reading all kinds of old threads while we were in the throws of all this!!). Happy to share but let me take some time to really think through everything and look back on the emails and notes (we documented as we went because we were struggling) to make sure its all constructive! ;) One quick thing I will say though is that I ignored a couple of very little things during matching/before arrival that now I am wondering if those were indicators. I will include that in the guest post and you all can weigh in if I am overthinking it now or if you agree I should have seen it/listened to my gut!

cv harquail December 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Always open for another guest post from you, TxHM!

TexasHM December 16, 2014 at 6:36 pm

;) I’ll try to make some sense of some thoughts and throw something your way CV – as usual please edit me down to a digestable amount!!!!

TexasHM December 15, 2014 at 12:00 am

To be honest we aren’t that structured either. We are organized yes, but the vast majority of things we leave to the APs discretion. The kids have classes and sports but everything outside of that the APs figure out (when to do laundry, dishes, go to parks, library, play outside, etc). I tend to be a softie and not have the heart to rematch, even in this current instance it took twice getting way lost driving with my kids, losing them in our house twice, letting them play outside alone (4 and 6), multiple other safety lapses with my children and hitting our car/garage doorframe twice. I know, I know, I am an idiot for not doing it sooner. In the end I was about to go on a business trip and couldn’t be confident they would be safe so I had to suck it up and do it. Of course AP completely agreed and said she was overwhelmed and that helped a lot but still really hard!

Returning HM December 15, 2014 at 7:04 am

TexasHM, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. I’m pretty similar to you in the intensity/thoroughness with which I sceen and interview and check and double-check, and I just wanted to say that in my experience, I think this makes facing possible rematch doubly hard for two reasons: 1) I have invested SO MUCH TIME AND EFFORT in choosing this person that it’s hard for me to see (and accept) that I have made such a terrible mistake and the AP isn’t right for us and 2) there is the added guilt-factor associated with having gotten to know someone SO WELL during matching and then presumably during those early weeks of the relationship that I like the person already and am invested in him or her doing well, and this makes it harder to clearly recognize if he or she doesn’t have the raw materials to be able to do a good job with my family. I’m not surprised that it took perhaps extra time and multiple incidents for you to see that this relationship was not going to work, so don’t beat yourself up about this.

FWIW, I had not been a fan of CCAP before we went through rematch, but the experience of working with them in rematch changed my views about the agency because our regional director was so great and supportive of BOTH AP and our family, and I really felt like she made it a much smoother experience than it had been years ago when we had had to rematch with another agency.

Anyway, good luck as you go through this, and I hope you find someone great in the process.

Seattle Mom December 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I have to agree- my whole rematch experience with CCAP was good for both the family and the AP.

TexasHM December 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm

This is good to hear because I will be honest, our rematch experience was a mess but I have give credit to IE corporate. After things fell apart and I reached out they did call me back quickly, seem to care about my concerns and were very supportive. Unfortunately at that point the damage was done (LC) so its for the best that we are taking a break. I have to agree with others that have said before though, I now believe having a great LC makes all the difference when you have issues because if you don’t or worse if you have an LC that miscommunicates or doesn’t communicate or creates problems even an amiable situation can disintegrate quickly. :(

TexasHM December 16, 2014 at 12:00 am

I completely agree. We were so bonded and didnt want to crush her dream despite endangerment issues. She had a great attitude, work ethic, bonded to kids, smart but if she can’t keep them safe then the rest doesn’t matter unfortunately. My husband said if we just wanted a foreign exchange student she would have been perfect! It’s so hard to screen for a roommate/full time childcare provider/kids role model/big sister/lifelong family member!!

NoVA Twin Mom December 16, 2014 at 10:22 am

We had the same comment about our au pair that lasted 3.5 DAYS before we realized it wouldn’t work – if we wanted an exchange student, she would have been great. Unfortunately, we needed an au pair.

ChiHostMom December 16, 2014 at 12:06 pm

So sorry to hear that it didn’t work out.

I think sometimes you just do what you can and realize that you can’t control everything.

AnonThisTime December 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm

One other comment on agencies. With APIA if you think you might have an infant in the coming year (i.e. pregnant or hopefully pregnant soon) you must get infant qualified. This has led to many awkward interview questions when I’m not pregnant during the interview but hope to be soon. I’m now listed as pregnant twice on their paperwork. Which is somewhat amusing since that’s not possible.

However, I agree that some of the IQ candidates didn’t want a toddler/pre-schooler. And some wanted a 1-2 year old but not an infant.

With our high energy 3 year old, we looked for someone that could handle her and hopefully also an infant if/when that happens.

Mimi December 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I’m late chiming in on this, but something to consider when selecting an agency (for both AP and HF) is definitely the LCC but also the group size and location.

For HPs: meet the local LCC. We have had 3 LCCs with CCAP in 7 years and the first two were a retirement (of sorts) and then a quick turnover issue. We met the group LCC before contracting and decided to contract based on that meeting and also on the fact that at the time HD found that CCAP was the only agency doing background checks on the families in addition to the APs. That impressed us. We’ve had our current LCC for 5+ years and she’s great.

For both: ask about the local group when considering a match. Is it small? Big? Are most APs close by? For APs: how does this fit in to how you make friends? A recent problem we’ve run into is social isolation. We have a small group (8) and we are 40 min away from the majority of the girls. This hasn’t been an issue in the past for our APs who didn’t mind driving to meet up for social time or who were able to reach out locally to other agency local APs on social media, but it’s become an issue that is playing into our second rematch since August. Not being able to find social interests outside a chaotic household and finding some age appropriate ways to let off steam (when you can’t do it by yourself) is a big thing. If you don’t consider yourself able to make friends easily, think about that before you match with a family in a rural area with not much close by.

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