Can the role of the Local Community Counselor (or Area Director), and the compensation strategy for that job, set up an implicit conflict of interest?
I think the answer to that question is: Yes.
Each agency is different. This concern addresses only those agencies with the structure I describe below.
First, let me say that I don’t know much about the compensation structure, nor which specific agencies have flexible compensation (e.g., bonus payments per family enrolled). I don’t have official inside information. There may be subtle details related to the LCC job that I don’t know about, that address some of these concerns.
And, let’s remember that most LCCs, like most host families and most au pairs, are involved in this program because they believe in the benefits. Nobody is getting rich working as an LCC.
However, in some agencies the LCCs are compensated by bringing new families into the system, and on the number of families in their cluster. It is important to consider whether LCCs who are compensated by the number of host families they bring into the program feel a conflict either when evaluating these families or when these families have au pair problems.
LCCs have complicated jobs with a complicated set of alliances, regardless of how they are compensated. A good LCC manages the interests of the au pair (who is usually quite vulnerable even when a rotten apple), the interests of the family, the interest of the cluster, and the interests of the agency.
All these interests are served when the host family and au pair have a good relationship, but as things fall apart, the tensions among these interests can influence how the issue is resolved. If an LCC chooses to serve her /his financial interests first, over the interests of the host family and/or the au pair, that can lead to some parties experiencing a bad outcome.
Frankly, if I wanted a rematch because my au pair did something wrong or unsafe, I would want her out of the program, not shuffled off to some other host family so that the LCC’s income is unchanged. Similarly, I would not want an au pair to be placed with a family that wasn’t capable of treating an au pair fairly and kindly, but that decided to try au pairs because they were not properly educated or vetted by the LCC.
So, look at this advertisement that I found on CraigsList a few months ago… I’ve seen ads like this a few other times more recently:
International established growing au pair agency seeks responsible, outgoing “people-person” who enjoys working with students from abroad and local host families. Job entails seeking out new families for the program, growing local territory, supervising existing family/au pair placements and communicating directly with au pairs and host families who require mediation. Being a local community counselor (LCC) is a fun, collaborative job where you can learn new skills, meet many other LCCs in the Bay Area and receive on-going training. Pay is monthly paid at a fixed rate, plus large bonuses for finding new families ($300 finder’s fee).
Work on your own time posting flyers while you are out-and-about, mentioning the agency in meetings and/or local mother’s groups or parents groups and speaking with customers on the phone. You will provide program advice and support over the telephone and via email – working during flexible hours from home. You will be provided with training and all materials. Training is in (nice city, usa).
Please write “LCC position” in the title of the email and … Please be sure to write where you reside on your resume, as you must live near our families. Agency is looking to hire LCCs in many nearby territories. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to receiving your resume!
LCCs and AD, not to put you on the defensive, but I’d love to learn more about how these jobs are structured and compensated, and what checks and balances exist (or should exist) to protect everyone’s interests.
Today I am particularly stressed from mastrobiggo