Au Pair Community Counselors: Conflicts of interest?

by cv harquail on March 13, 2010

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.

Caveats first:

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


Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 7:51 am

It is funny because so many aupairs feel absolutely convinced that the LCCs are on the side of the family : they think that LCCs and families are friends and neighbors. My aupairs and their friends admit that they think the agencies always back up families because families pay the fees. And we read here over and over that the LCCs really are not supportive of the families. It is very ironic.

Former LCC March 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Agree – I noticed this when I had questions regarding safety issues for au pairs. My questions went unanswered and brushed aside for over a month before I gave up (i.e. fire safety and an au pairs room in the basement).

Anna March 14, 2010 at 9:09 am

An agency I used at some point (AuPairUSA, or Interexchange) has a rule about no local rematches. Now I see how wise it is and how it makes sense from a lot of angles.
There were several articles here over time where such a rule would eliminate problems (au pairs finding a better situation behind the family’s back, LCC’s not adequately supporting families in such a case, gossiping au pair who rematched or extended locally….)

Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I am afraid that Facebook, aupair blogs and chat rooms and other social networking tools make it easier than ever to match anywhere in the country . It is harder than ever to prevent gossip.
The good thing about gossip is that it usually goes away. Maybe not right away, but over time.

Anna March 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm

But not easier than locally! Families still prefer to interview the caregiver in person

Carol July 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I disagree that this eliminates any problem. In the age of facebook, and other media it is easy to communicate among each other. Besides what if the au- pair got used to the city? Found friends? It would be very hard for her to relocate to another state. Au- pairs are people and should be treated accordingly!

anon for this one July 31, 2011 at 1:32 pm

But the agency is there to provide a service to the family (as is the au pair) – and whilst an AP can just move on if a family bad mouths them – it is not the same if an AP bad mouths or gossips about their host family – the host family most likely will not be moving on within the next x months and will have to live with the gossip/lies long after the AP is gone – hence the extra protection for families.

Oh yeah – like you said earlier – we are the ones paying the big bucks

azmom August 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm

very true – interexchange doesn’t allow local rematches. afterall, if the au pair is okay, but not enthusiastic with the family, but finds out another family has bigger and better perks, why wouldn’t they demand a rematch to the new family?

Mom23 March 14, 2010 at 11:38 am

Our last au pair went through three families in less than a year. As a result of that disasterous experience we are not using the agency at the moment. I understand that the first family is not using the agency either. I am not sure about the third family. I feel certain that if the agency had been more careful in its evaluations of the au pair that she would have never been allowed to be in the program. She certainly should not have been matched with other families.

Carol July 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I have a very good friend who came to US as an au- pair and was placed in the family that went through three au- pairs within nine months. Au- pairs were treated with disrespect by the family. Agencies should be more carefull in its evaluations of the family as well. It is really unfortunate that families seems to get away with a little bit more than au- pairs just because they pay $$$$.
Luckily she ended up getting another family (localy). They liked her so much they even paid for her college education over next 3,5 years in exchange for working for them.

Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I think there is a definite conflict of interest if the LCC is paid by how many families she has and keeps in her cluster. There are a few ‘bad’ families I am aware of in my area, it is a shame that some girls are placed in those families with repeated issues and rematches, rather than the LCC or agency just saying ‘perhaps the AP program is not for you’. Of course they are going to, whether knowingly or not, side with the host family on many issues if they feel it will jeopardize their paycheck. It is not to say that there are very honest LCC’s out there, but it certainly gives the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Karin Six March 14, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I am an LCC so I can answer this! Let me just first preface by saying that I was a former au pair (with an innate passion for international exchange) and why I am an LCC at my agency. The one thing that strikes me about the LCC compensation system (at my agency) is that it was obviously well thought out and well, fair! (I was previously in a corporate job and was very tired of all the unfairness there.) My first priority as an LCC is my host families and au pairs. For this, I am compensated monthly, however, it is not enough of a financial incentive to have inadequate host families in my group and therefore not a conflict of interest. It just wouldn’t make any sense to operate that way as a problem host family would mean lots of problems for me! As far as bringing in new host families, I am compensated in either of two ways. If I spread the word and find a new host family who is interested in an au pair, I am rewarded $300. (This is how much it is worth to my agency.) If someone else directs me to a new potential host family and I help that family apply, I will get $135. In short, the party that finds an interested host family (i.e another host family) gets the larger incentive amount. (At this time, it is $250. Again, this is how much it is worth to my agency.) This justly rewards those who spread the word of the au pair program. Not just for LCCs but for host families! (I am personally honored when one of my host families recommends our program as it reflects upon me and the job I’m doing for them!) As you mentioned, no one is getting rich. It is just enough of an incentive to keep spreading the word (or gain discounts in childcare). When I interview a new host family in my group, I evaluate them (no matter who gets the incentive for bringing them on the program and they only are compensated when the au pair actually arrives). If they are not suitable for an au pair or for some reason cannot follow the State Department’s rules, I am NOT allowed to accept them into my group (even if I really like them!). The same thing goes for au pairs. If an inadequate au pair slips through the screening process and is picked by one of my host families, I will be there to assist the host family and the au pair. If the problem cannot be resolved through mediation, the au pair must move on… (This is probably why au pairs feel we side with the host families. I think they will understand once they have children of their own.) Since I have personal contact with the host family and au pair, I am in a position to assist my agency on what type of host family a particular au pair can best be suited. There are too many variables to list but I have personally seen au pairs fail at one family and be a star in the next! I can also suggest that we send an unfit au pair home. (An au pair who demonstrates poor judgment or is unsafe is automatically sent home!) Together as an agency and with the requirements of the host family, we can usually find a suitable replacement au pair in a very short time! (This is a major strength and benefit of a large agency as not all agencies can do this so efficiently. For obvious reasons, the host family is encouraged to really get to know an au pair before accepting them. More often then not, a switch works out very well for both the au pair and the host family as both have also gained insight and knowledge for what works/doesn’t work for them.)
I think what really makes this program work is the integrity of the agency, the LCCs, the host families and the au pairs. (In fact, at one time, my agency was non-profit.) Speaking for myself and other LCCs, we believe in this program for a myriad of reasons (not excluding spiritual) and many LCCs are host moms or have degrees in social work. Some LCCs bring in other insights such as being a single parent. (I really admire the diversity and wisdom of my peers. I continually learn from them.) For me personally, I took to heart Gandhi’s quotation, “Be the change you wish to see in the world!” and love the personal contribution I can make in making the world a better/safer place. My personal philosophy is to do the best job I can for my host families and their au pairs. I love this program and the idea that we can learn from each others cultures so caring about this job comes naturally to me. I also realize that families are putting their most precious assets in my hands. (Au pairs are walking-talking billboards for the program so I make sure they are very happy too!) I also love the personal development that takes place in being an LCC. The training is on-going and much more intense than I have ever received in my corporate positions. (An LCC must commit to on-going training and is not compensated for his/her time. By the way, we are not compensated for many things that we do!) What people might not see online is that more often than not though, this program is truly a positive experience for all involved. (I personally love that American children are learning foreign languages too!) In fact, I see myself more as a Loving Caring Coach. (A coach does what is best for the team!) Money or no money, I would have a very hard time promoting something I didn’t truly believe in. (Therefore, a “people person” has much more success than a “salesperson” in this program.) This is my quote: “Expand your children’s minds via a friendly person from another country. Host an au pair. The whole world benefits when the understanding of another culture is achieved.” To sum up, when an LCC sees her job as a personally rewarding career (much like a social worker sees her job) it is very different than when an LCC sees herself as just a salaried employee or just a volunteer who helps from time to time. (Please note that I am not trying to put anyone down here but just emphasizing the level of commitment it takes to be an LCC as described in the above question.) In other words, even though one is rewarded for helping his/her agency find new host families, one is certainly not going to compromise the system for it! That would not be wise at all!
To Mom23 – I am truly sorry for your bad experience in this program. If your LCC was not supportive to you, please notify the agency. There is too much at stake….

cv harquail March 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Karin, thanks so much for such a complete response… I really appreciate hearing the LCC side of things! You make it very clear that the most significant compensation is being able to contribute to the international exchange and personal growth that can happen in great au pair/ host family relationships. cv

Karin Six March 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm

You are very welcome and your question is understandable… If anyone feels their LCC is not doing their job adequately or perhaps knows of a situation that looks like a conflict of interest, please notify your agency. (I know my agency splits groups when they get too big for one LCC to handle.) My group and I also love as it is a great resource for us! Btw, Karin Six is my real name… I am not merely the sixth Karin here.

Former LCC March 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm

If your LCCs believed in the program so much they wouldn’t leave your company and go to other ones. Based on your compensation model I am guessing the one you are with.

Calif Mom March 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm

fascinating. My initial conversations with counselors have all initiated when I have called them. Never been pitched.

Karin Six March 14, 2010 at 7:17 pm

CalifMom – If you still need help in getting an au pair, please contact me at: I would be happy to help you! There’s your pitch! :)

Anonymous March 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

It is very, very painful for an a host family to hear and perhaps see that an aupair who was not happy or successful with them is very successful in another family. When that occurs in there own area and they cannot avoid knowing about it, it is particularly painful.
That does not make the LCC dishonest or overly ambitous. On the other hand, some aupairs can tolerate a lifestyle that another aupair cannot handle. Sometimes, to spare the family’s feelings the LCC gives a diplomatic reason for rematch without hurting anyone’s feelings. Maybe the aupair doesn’t like the fighting between host parents or the way a family treats their children. In that case, the aupair may jump on an issue like working extra hours that she would overlook if the general atmosphere were nicer. Why should an aupair have to leave all of her friends, her school and go through the whole process again in another part of the country just because she asked for a rematch ? Many aupairs put up with dreadful situations just because they don’t want to leave the friends they have made in this part of the world. Being shipped off to the middle of nowhere just because a family is insulted isn’t nice. The money the
LCCs make isn’t very much after all. It isn’t easy money if they do everything they are supposed to do.

holly morgan March 15, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I am usually a “lurker” and never respond but appreciate Karens statements. I too, am an LCC for the same company that Karen represents and agree with her philosophy. Many LCC’s go above and beyond the expected, turning for some a part-time job into full time with part time wages. I would never want to put an au pair into a situation that was not conducive to a good experience. I am sure it does happen for the “sale “but I think gut instinct and a good conscience has to overrule the money aspect. Just recently I was in the position of making the “sale” which would of helped me qualify for some incentives but just felt it was not the appropriate setting for the au pair and did not qualify at all. I think anyone would agree an extra “sales” bonus is a nice addition to ones paycheck but it should not compromise the integrity of the program. I am first and foremost an LCC so that I can work from home, help educate those who are interested in hosting an au pair while contributing something towards my family budget. I enjoy what I do-in the short time of being an LCC-6 months, I have had unhappy au pairs, unhappy families. We rectify the situation-whether it being the au pair is rematched or goes home or the host family rematched quickly, takes a break or leaves
the program. Many times an au pair may have to come to your home to live for a few nights, into weeks if they are in slow in the rematching situation.
I also enjoy the “sales” side. but would never ruin my own reputation or that of the company to make the “sale.” I am not a sales person by career or nature but do enjoy educating, posting and talking about what the au pair program has to offer.
I also would like to add that the LCC’s that I have had the good fortune to meet have all sizes of families. In my area- 4 of us cover a nice sized city. Our range is 7 to 25 families- depending on our locations. I have also had the pleasure of networking with other LCC’s across the country to find a good family for an au pair that is extending or in transition.
I feel that I am the local representation of my company and if I do not go above and beyond what is expected that reflects poorly on
the company and myself.
Of course if you need affordable childcare, please contact me….

Anonymous March 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I personally enjoy hearing the LCCs side of the experience but I am always disappointed when these posts turn into sales pitches. The ladies seem intelligent, kind, and well informed, but all of these posts
devolve into a sales spin. I find it a little off putting. It undermines the credibility of the valuable information they are sharing. Does anyone else feel this way ?

TX Mom March 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm

This site is such a comfort for host parents to share ideas when the program doesn’t work like advertised. Most of us found this site looking for support that we didn’t get from our agency.

I think on this topic it’s hard for an LCC to not be defensive.

Lee March 15, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Yes…but unfortunately when sales (not service) is the main focus of the company – it’s hard for it not to be an important focus for an LCC when it’s been hammered into them at every turn. It is impossible for an LCC to remain unbiased regarding this topic…it’s not their fault that they can’t be unbiased…it’s just a reality of the situation.

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Lee, we cannot be biased! Host families and au pairs are our first priority! This is made clear in our trainings! We are even evaluated by how many families we keep. Right now, my agency is conducting a host family survey. Thus, if you are with an agency conducting a survey as of today, then please respond and let them know how you feel. The last survey brought some very good ideas from host families! (Don’t want to sound like I am selling here but lets just say that one suggestion had to do with an extended payment plan and another had to do with matching.) Sure companies like to grow but it makes much more sense and is much cheaper for them to keep our current host families! LCCs must put you first and not sales! If you feel there is this conflict, notify the agency. They will put you in touch with your LCC’s Program Director!

Lee March 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Hi Karin – How long have you been an LCC for?

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Just over one year. My bio:

Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 8:27 am

We are even evaluated by how many families we keep !
That is the answer. If the counselors are evaluated by how many families they keep – then sales is a main priority ! It is a maxim of marketing in this economy to bring in new customers and hang on the ones you have. If you have a bunch of bad families-
and you bring them all back and keep them on board – then you are rewarded. This is not looking out for the aupairs. Maybe this is why LCCs supposedly cooperate with aupairs who bring in their on families.

Former LCC March 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Why don’t they have the Au Pairs evaluate their LCC?

Perhaps the feedback would be too bad to publish?

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm

This was meant to be comical!!! :)

Calif Mom March 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm

“fascinating. My initial conversations with counselors have all initiated when I have called them. Never been pitched.”

Karin Six March 14, 2010 at 7:17 pm

CalifMom – If you still need help in getting an au pair, please contact me at: I would be happy to help you! There’s your pitch! :)

Deb Schwarz March 15, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I’ve been an LCC for 6 years, and have personally been responsible for taking 4+ “problem host families” off the program. The compensation per host family is not very much per month (typically between $21 and $30 per host family per month) which certainly doesn’t cover the amount of time that it would take to constantly mediate issues and rematches involved with a problem host family. I would hate for an au pair to get into a bad situation (I always apply the rule – “what if it were my daughter?”) so I am “on alert” for host families that aren’t right for the program. I have sold hundreds of host families on the benefits of the program (I have personally hosted 15 au pairs so I know and value the program), and it is sometimes difficult to “vet” each and every family over the phone. Having said that, prior to getting an au pair, each potential host family must be interviewed in their home, submit two references and “vetted” by the local coordinator who similarly doesn’t want a headache in their area. At times, like with any interview, the host family may be on their best behavior, and it may take an au pair or two (or three) to tell us the “inside scoop” on the family, but I can tell you, there is no conflict of interest – any LCC will tell you, a “problem host family” is not worth having on the program (even if we were compensated better than we are :-)

Deb, LCC in CA

Should be working March 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Deb, this is what I’ve always figured about compensation to LCC per host family. $30/month is definitely not worth hours of mediating, listening to complaints, and so forth. Owing to timing circumstances, both of my 2 au pairs were from transition, and the LCC’s input was the singlemost important component, because they know what they are talking about with regard to whether an au pair is match-worthy or not.

In fact, I’m wondering whether in the future I will specifically REQUEST a transition au pair. It saves us the big homesickness, the ‘breaking-in’ regarding what au pair work means, and gets me the invaluable perspective of an LCC who knows the situation, plus an au pair who already understands what being an au pair really means. Especially where an au pair has lived with an LCC–then I feel I have a perspective I can trust on how the au pair would work for us.

Deb Schwarz March 18, 2010 at 2:47 pm

“Should be Working” (love that name!)
You make a really good point. There are some host families (including our former agency President) who would only take transition au pairs because they deserve a break. There are some great au pairs looking for homes right now due to job losses, etc. – no fault of their own. I have personally had 3 transition au pairs (and 12 overseas), and 2 out of the 3 transition au pairs were wonderful. I always tell my host families that are looking at transition au pairs, that it’s like panning for gold – there are some real nuggets in there! You also, as you point out, get much more information about the transition au pair (from the host family and LCC) – so you know more about them. Many transition au pairs are very grateful to find a host family – so there is a bigger motivation, perhaps, to make things work.

Deb, LCC in CA

Should be working March 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Deb, you were actually one of the LCCs who gave me helpful perspective on a possible transition au pair last fall . . . thanks.

anonymous March 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Fantastic response!

holly morgan March 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

My posts are not ment to be a “sales spin” . I added my last line jokingly since it was the subject of discussion. I love to get sales but again not at the stake of my reputation and strive to give the best service to my families as well as educate those who want to now more. Typically, I respond to someone who has inquired about what hosting an au pair entails-only educating them further from a personal perspective and not a website.

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Hi Holly!

Glad you posted too! I know all of us posting here are very committed to our jobs otherwise we wouldn’t be here!


PS I got your joke! :)

Lee March 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Hi Karin and Holly – I heard that LCCs with your agency get extra points/compensation for posting good thing on the web about your agency. Any truth to this? There seems to be only Cultural Care LCCs posting here and not LCCs from other agencies…

Should be working March 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Gee, if what Lee says were true there should be TONS of websites devoted to positive posts for that agency. LCCs could spend HOURS making up positive things to say everywhere. And another well-known website about au pairs would also presumably be flooded with positive, rather than excessively negative, feedback about CCAP.

Doesn’t make sense in my book.

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Hi Lee,
This is taken out of context (see below). Like ALL businesses, we are encouraged to use social media, newspapers & TV to spread the word (so to speak) but nothing in the incentive says anything about slanting it positive. (You can see that not everything written here from LCCs is positive. In fact, we are encouraged to be honest. I, for one, value my personal integrity more than a couple of points.) The PR incentive is mostly for letting people in the community know about our au pair and host family events. Not a lot of points and nothing to make a lot of money on. Again, it is fair as it rewards those making an effort.) Regarding the negative remarks, I honestly believe that most (not all) of these comments are from competitors and not actual host families. For example, and I had to laugh at this, there was one host family who said that they were held hostage by their au pair. Remind you of any movies? Seriously, the program does not work that way! We have sent au pairs packing for the slightest of judgment errors. When you compare the average cost of a nanny in my area (26k) and the cost of an au pair in my area (17k), you can see why some nanny agencies are upset! We are instructed to NEVER put down another agency. In other words, we refuse to run a negative campaign. We run by being positive and honest. I would not work for an agency who was unethical and did not put their host families and au pairs first and foremost! We have some fun sales activities but we are a company who wants to continue to grow! And the bigger we are, the better we can support our host families and au pairs! This is one of our major strengths! Here is the exact words of the PR media incentive: If you are responsible for press coverage about Cultural Care Au Pair or have posted articles or comments online, you can earn points. To qualify, you must send an original newspaper/magazine clipping of the article or a tape of the television/radio segment to the Boston office.

Lee March 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm

It’s the reality…unfortunately…

Anonymous March 16, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I read the same thing Lee read. I believe it was in an advertisement for LCCs. In the past, they also got a bonus for bringing families back for a repeat placement. It seems to me that this is a HUGE conflict : it pays for the LCC to side with the family. What is weird is how so many host moms keep complaining about their terrible LCCs and then we here all these things about conflicts that indicate that the LCCs back up bad families. Go Figure.

Should be working March 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I stand corrected regarding points for publicity.

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 6:33 pm

From my veiwpoint as an LCC, there is absolutely no reason to back up a bad host family. Maybe we can all agree that there are some inadequate host families out there, some inadequate LCCs and some inadequate au pairs. Instead of continually attacking the system (which I think works), lets all do what we can to weed out the bad players! As host moms, if you have terrible LCCs and there appears to be a conflict of interest somewhere then you should call your LCC’s Program Director and if that doesn’t work then please change agencies! Use that consumer dollar to do what you believe in. That sends a huge message!

Former LCC March 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

It’s true…I racked up enough points last year to get a $500 Amazon Gift Card – that’s what you get, there are other options like travel reimbursements. I think for a post back to your own website (like she posted above) she gets about 2 points and if she directed back to the corporate website it would be 4 points or 6, I don’t remember.

Dee March 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Uh…yah, but!

When you have been a host family for 8 years with impeccable reputation, and even understand that the LCC has to be “in the corner” of girls who are far away from home, many for the first time, it is not OK for the LCC to pooh-pooh issues that involve my childrens’ safety, or allow an au pair to slander our family, or look the other way when she is “playing footsie” with single dads in our neighborhood, lifeguards at the community pool, the tennis pro at our private association…all while the au pair is friends with an another au pair who is dating the LCC’s son. (Um, conflict of interest, much?)

Dirty deeds do go on, and there is very little recourse for the host families, when there is something not right in the balance. The agencies protect their own.

Sure, there are good LCCs out there. But not everyone has the high standards of some who have posted, and woe to those who are on the short end of the stick!

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Coming to Fox soon “Desperate Au Pairs”… :) (Again injecting some comedy here!) Seriously… Dee, I am really sorry for your bad experience! Please let the agency know of this type of behavior. Safety is nothing to “Pooh Pooh!” Every LCC has a Program Director to answer to! Btw, my Program Director would not protect her own! She would eat her own! She is known to be tough! (Hopefully, she doesn’t see this.)

Dorsi March 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I wonder what issues regarding your kids’ safety the LCC blew off? Your big complaint seems to be that she did not get involved when your AP flirted with the single dads, tennis pro and lifeguard? Seriously? Young women flirt with men. Sometimes impractical men. This is not the LCCs job to take care of. It is probably not your job to deal with either.

Anonymous March 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Thank God she was flirting with single dads and local boys rather than married men or host dads. On the other hand, my neighbor’s
aupair was offended because her host parents would not speak to the construction workers in their house and tell them to stop making inappropriate remarks to the aupair.

Anonymous March 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm

It is just the fact that so many of these posts from LCCs promote themselves and their agencies I start thinking that the job really is a sales job. That’s all. If LCCs just shared information, I would feel that it was less self-interested I also notice that most of the LCCs who advertise on this site are with the same agency. I have no problem with
promotion, I just take it with a grain of salt, that’s all. I think that there are many unappreciated LCCs out there and I think it most be very hard to read this site and I give credit to those who do read it and make good use of the information which is so abundant on this site

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Hi Anonymous,

If it comes across as a ‘sales job’, I truly apologize as it is not our/my intention. We just are overly enthusiastic about this program and want to make ourselves available to you!


Darthastewart March 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm

But.. How many people do you talk out of the program? Do you ever turn families down? I know that I’ve had a number of friends that I’ve talked out of the program (and a number that I’ve brought into the program).

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Hi Dartha! I hated it but I had to turn down two families this month already. I had a single mom who traveled on business and even though the au pair would only work a few hours after school, we had to count the time the au pair would be sleeping as she was responsible for the child (while the child was sleeping). The other family had three different residences. One of the residences was outside the US and thus the au pair could not attend our monthly meetings for months at a time. Both of these families were excellent families. The State Department defines the rules and we must follow those rules. Btw, thank you for telling other families about the au pair program!

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I want to clarify that I hated to turn down these families because they were such nice families!

PA au pair mom March 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

One of my best friends got turned down for the program because she is a single mother, and has a job that they felt could cause her to go over the 10 hour per day, 45 hours/week limit. She did not have what they considered to be “reliable, backup emergency care” for those situations, so they rejected her.

Other pa mom March 16, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I had a very difficult time with the LCC situation in my area with CC and I had to give up and leave the agency. They have a reputation in my area of being unsupportive to both the families and the aupairs after the “sale” is made. They have been known to force girls into horrible families with the threat of being sent home as well as telling families there are no aupairs willing to care for families with more than two children so they would have to wait for applications to be found for them ( after fees paid of course). IMHO it is an agency that needed some work to make it honest and fair. I could write a book…

PA au pair mom March 16, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I wish other agencies serviced my area. I would at least interview LCCs from other agencies. Unfortunately for me, in my area it’s CC or none. There is no competition, so no push for excellence.

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 11:29 pm

I do not like to hear that an LCC from my agency is letting you down! I don’t get that it is all about the sale there? How can it be the opposite of my area where host families from other agencies are turning to us? You should let the agency know how you feel!

Karin Six March 17, 2010 at 2:41 am

Just curious… Has anyone who is dissatisfied with their LCC filled out the host family satisfaction survey?

PA au pair mom March 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I filled mine out yesterday. I was brutally honest, but not cruel.

I let them know that I am happy with the agency, adore my current AP, but have issues with the LCC.

Lee March 17, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Hi Karin –
Could it be that host families are turning to your agency because they are being lured away from their own? What is your agency’s policy on recruiting host families already with other agencies?

PA au pair mom March 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I am with Karin’s agency and I got solicitations from 2 other agencies yesterday by mail. One was for an agency that told me 3 weeks ago that they do not service my geographical location.

Karin Six March 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Hi Lee,
Yes, we do offer great financial incentives to host families who change over to us (disclaimer: This was not a sales pitch). I just recently had two host families come over to my group for other reasons though. One host family came over because their au pair had no contact with other au pairs. (The host family’s au pair was the one who suggested they change agencies. She had said our au pairs had more fun.) The other host family’s reason was because the host family could not get a hold of their agency’s LCC. (Seems like it all comes down to good local customer service from the LCC. I guess because I was an au pair, I find it all to be a very fun and exciting!)

"Other agency" March 31, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hello PA au pair mom – There are plenty of au pair agencies in your area. The main reason why you and plenty of others do not see this is because a particular agency advertises that they are the only designated sponsor for the J-1 au pair cultural visa. In addition, this same organization got hit for advertising costs over the cultural experience. The main focus and reason behind the au pair program is promote cultural exchange and I have noticed there are tons of organizations that do not do this and they solely focus on a sales pitch. This stands true after reading over these blogs above. I am familiar with an agency that I have done years of business with that has exceptional work ethics and support. Let me know if any families out there struggling with support need some support as I am more than happy to help.
And no for the record I am NOT an LCC or AD, I am just a mom.

PA au pair mom March 31, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Actually you aren’t totally correct. I have called 5 agencies and inquired about getting an au pair and all but one told me I am “geographically” out of their service area.

Karin Six March 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Thank you PA au pair mom for filling out the host family survey! Our program directors go over these results with us (plus a lot of our LCC incentives are tied to this survey) thus this is the BEST WAY to tell us how we are doing! Happy host families are our bread and butter nowadays so to speak!

Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 8:40 am

I have made a personal decision not to work with the agency whose sales reps ( LCCs ) are so aggressive on this blog as well as other advertising sites including letters to the editor of national papers whenever an article appears about nannies or childcare. I seems cleat to me that a major focus of that agency is sales. I do not like to go into stores where sales people are going to jump on top of me and hound me and I am completely turned off by these sales reps. In lots of businesses, the sales people come on with full court pressure until the papers are signed and then the customer is left high and dry. This is no different. When sales are so aggressive, I suspect that the company is doing poorly or that they operate by fast turnover of not only their sales reps but their customers. Not for me.

Karin Six March 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

I am sorry you feel that way… I just don’t get where you are going with this or how you can make those assumptions? I haven’t seen anyone (LCCs included) try and sell you on anything! When someone asks me a question about our program here, it is not to sell them, it is just to answer the question!

Should be working March 18, 2010 at 12:26 pm

There is also an issue here with a tension within the au pair program in general. It bills itself as cultural exchange, with all the feel-good language of ‘family member’ etc., but the agencies are for-profit enterprises. For-profit enterprises are by definition competitive. I would like to feel better about the agencies but they are businesses.

Also I think ‘fast turnover’ is not quite feasible in the au pair business, since there is a high initial investment, and returning families require much less labor to entice than new families.

Darthastewart March 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Maybe that’s part of the fundamental issue with the program… Should the agencies be not-for-profits? Or non-profits? I have to wonder if the customers would be better served in that case? Or not?

Should be working March 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I wonder the same, Dartha. The ‘mission’ seems like a not-for-profit type mission, if we believe the cultural exchange rhetoric. It would likely be less expensive for HF if agencies were non-profit, but maybe there would be less buzz and less ‘service’, and probably ultimately fewer agencies.

Anna March 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm

One agency for sure is nonprofit (it was my first agency, and this year I am switching back to it). It is AuPairUSA (part of Interexchange, a nonprofit organization). They even have and “org” web address!

Karin Six March 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm

You should do what you feel is right and everyone should do their homework when shopping for an au pair agency. You should compare fees and also find out where (or how far) your local LCC lives? (You should definitely find out how many host families he/she serves.) Also, how does the agency recruit their au pairs? Do they have their own offices within the countries or do they use recruiters? Also, compare the days of training they give their au pairs. There may be some other questions to ask that I have missed… Anyone else? (Btw, anyone can get a .org website.)

Anna March 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I have been with that agency already before, for two years, and was pleased. As I said, I am switching BACK to them.

I know the local coordinator well, and she is truly great at what she does, and we like each other. She serves fewer host families than the coordinator with the leading agency that I was with this year did (she had 50+ families for several years, until she left suddenly and the cluster was split in two)

This agency has the longest orientation of any other agencies (five days, the au pairs arrive to our homes on Fridays).

So yes, they are on the par with those large agencies who claim to be the “best”, and the au pairs they recruit have to fulfill the same requirements and submit the same paperwork an au pair for another agency does.
I really don’t believe the claims that agencies throw out there that their au pairs are “the best”. Any girl who wants to come to USA badly enough, will be able to pass through the screening, if she is not an idiot and is not a criminal. Having seen the candidate pools of the two agencies I’ve been with when I was in the matching process, they are very comparable.

Fees – they win compared to my old agency. The old agency offers only a free application fee to repeat families, no other discounts. AuPairUSA offers a free application fee, a $500 program discount to repeat or switching families, and an opportunity for me to arrange and pay for travel from the orienation to my home myself, saving me another $300. The listed agency fee is not much cheaper, only $100. But in total, I will save about $900.

I don’t want to make it sound like I am promoting one agency over another, but I was just trying to answer your questions. Of course any larger agency has the advantage of a larger pool of au pairs available at any given time. But the one I am going back to is not tiny either, I’d say average-sized. Plus the personal touch that I felt lacking in the other one.

"Other agency" March 31, 2010 at 11:58 am

Will the sales pitching ever stop? We clearly understand that there are several LCC’s responding to these blogs but I don’t think what people want to hear is a sales pitch about your organization. What people are trying to get to is the reality behind things.

Karin Six March 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

LCC Perspective: This is what I heard… Someone please correct me if I am wrong. All agencies pay a staff and when the lines begin to blur as to how much you are paying staff (in other words, courting the best people in the industry), it is time to move to a ‘for profit’ position. (Education First, is still non-profit as it deals with the foreign exchange program. Then there is ‘Kids First’, for charity.) I realize that there is a huge initial investment and a lot of trust put into me by host families. When something goes wrong, I ‘live’ through the crisis with them. There is a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ coordination to be done as well. In my opinion, you will get the best service from an agency that ‘incents’ its LCCs to do their best.

Karin Six March 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Education First & Kids First is part of our organization. Here are the links: &

Lee March 18, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Karin – Not all of EF (aka Education First) is non-profit…only some of the companies owned by EF (which is privately-owned) are non-profit, the others are for-profit.

Hula Gal March 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm

No one has really come out and said it but this thread seems to be devolving into a bash on Cultural Care. I know nothing about that agency or any of the other competitors to mine. I have been thrilled with my au pair agency and my LCC (or whatever my agency calls them). I think a for-profit would have more resources to give you better service so I’m not convinced that a non-profit is the way to go here. I did no research when I picked my agency except for a google search and they were at the top. They have an online matching system which I thought looked great and I liked their website. That’s how I made my decision.

I’ve been very happy. Maybe I have just been lucky? Of course I live in a medium sized city so I suppose I have more options and sometimes that leads to better services. When you live in a more rural area all that open space also means inferior service in some cases because there is less competition for your business and your service providers take you for granted. But I highly doubt that any complaints on this website are going to change the business practices of any of the agencies.

cv harquail March 18, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Hi Hula Gal-
Thanks for raising the concern– this post isn’t supposed to be about any particular agency. Many if not most agencies have issues about motivating and compensating LCCs appropriately. Tensions are build into the system, since the LCC job is ultimately to be the mediator between all three parties.
I think CC gets on a bit b/c it is one of the largest agencies (so there are more people with experience with CC).

Lee March 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Karin – As a representative of your organization it is very important you post correct facts about your agency (especially in respect to size). Perhaps less postings with incentives/sales info would also be best. As a relatively new LCC – it can be hard to see the whole picture. The host moms on this site are already with agencies, know about incentives of other agencies, and how the sales process works. It would be a great time to step back and listen to what they have to say and not necessarily respond each time with a post about how great your agency is or its incentives. Just some advice from a seasoned host mom :-)

Should be working March 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

CV, feel free to remove my eye-rolling, etc., esp. since the offending series of comments is disappearing. Thanks for keeping the blog focused on its purpose!

cv harquail March 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Hey folks, I’ve paused a few of the comments that were leading into an unproductive area. Apologies to all. cv

Former LCC March 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I have to add that when I worked as an LCC at another company I asked several times about doing family interviews and screening out families that were not safe in the event of a fire. My question was never really answered and I was sent on family interviews. So there is some of that at times with regards to just bringing on families without regard to the au pairs safety. But I feel like each situation is different.

Previous au pair April 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

Have to say my agency was amazing in supporting me however I had two agencies one from my host country and one from my home country. It looked like the agency from my host family had only the families interest at heart until they discovered they were looking for a new au pair elsewhere. My agency from my home however would email the other agency mostly everyday making sure I was being looked after and provided me 200% support.
my host agency…ha
they arranged for me to stay with a lady who made me clean her house without getting paid and treated me like some weird foriegner and with no respect whilst they were supposedly getting me a rematch which never came. I seriously think if I reported it they could be in trouble but I dont think its worth it..

Sally M August 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hi everyone,
I would love to work as a LCC, does anyone know who pays for the monthly meetings or trips of the au pairs?

Gianna August 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

As I understand it, some of the LCCs are volunteers. Others are paid a salary and may or may not have specific areas of coverage. Aupairs have to pay for their own activities and ” fancy ” meetings. Ask alot of questions because the agencies vary in their practices. Are you going to apply to a specific agency ? My guess is that you will be picking up all of your own expenses as do the aupairs. But I don’t know what agency you have in mind .

Taking a Computer Lunch August 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I know that APIA pays some of the expenses for some of the monthly meetings. Our LCC has one “free” event (a meeting at Starbucks or IKEA) each month and one fee-based event (a tour, mini-golf, a baseball game, etc). For some of the fee-based events APIA subvents the cost (and she is explicit about it).

HM who wants to be LCC August 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Hi- I’m a HP considering applying for an open LCC position in my area with Au Pair in America and hoping some LCCs out there (or others with knowledge!) can give me the skinny. I am wondering how APIA’s compensation structure works for LCCs? How much do LCCs get paid for each family in the cluster, per month? Are there minimum new family benchmarks that the LCC must meet? Do the LCCs receive “bonus” for each new family recruited? Any other relevant compensation aspects, i.e. a discount off the agency fee for the LCCs own au pair (if s/he has one)?


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