It breaks my heart when we get emails and comments from au pairs who are being taken advantage of by their host parents. We know that the host parents’ behavior is out of line, and we’re happy to tell au pairs what host parent behavior is inappropriate or downright exploitative.
We tell au pairs to go straight to rematch if their host parents exploit them (e.g., asking them to do host parent laundry, working every weekend, cleaning the whole house, etc.) We also try to help when au pairs aren’t sure of their rights (easier for US au pairs than au pairs outside the US, since we know the US rules).
And, we recommend various strategies for talking with host parents and trying to resist specific kinds of bad behavior (e.g., never paying for any gas that the au pair uses to drive kids around).
But everyone’s biggest challenge, the Host Parents who behave badly, are hard for us to reach. Why? Pretty simple — they don’t care enough about their au pairs, or their relationships with their au pairs, to follow a blog that is essentially about being a better host parent.
Intentionally bad Host Parents don’t read AuPairMom.
So how do we reach Host Parents who are doing things wrong and mistreating their au pairs? We can’t, and that’s why the entire au pair community — host parents, au pairs, and agencies — depend on the Local Community Counselors (LCCS).
We depend on Local Community Counselors
We expect, hope and pray that LCCs have their ears to the ground, listening for tales of host parents that are behaving badly. We know, of course, that LCCs have to sort the drama from the reality. But, we also know that someone needs to be paying attention, looking for patterns of au pair complaints over time, because SOMEBODY has to weed these bad host families out of the system.
Au Pair Agencies do try to ‘screen’ host parents, to eliminate ones that clearly don’t get what the program is about. They ask host parents to sign legal agreements that confirm that the parents know the rules and will abide by them. And, LCCs visit with the host family two weeks after their new au pairs arrive, to check that the rules are being followed.
But then, what?
I would like to hear some LCCs chime in here.
Do you LCCs/ADs ASK your APs during your monthly meetings if they are getting properly paid, have appropriate responsibilities, etc.?
Aren’t the LCCs required to have monthly contact with the APs?
What do LCCs do when they hear of these kinds of abuses?
LCCs– we’d love to hear from you on this one!
— What do you try, and what works best?
— Are there any ways that we (other) Host Parents can help you?