The Au Pair Extraordinaire program offers host families the chance to match with an au pair who has additional documented childcare qualifications by paying somewhat more per week.
This option seems particularly attractive to families with infants and toddlers who seem to need a more experienced hand (e.g., a colicky child). The idea here is that someone with more experience will be less flustered by these additional challenges.
I’ve also heard of parents hiring Extraordinaires when the parents are unsure of their own parenting approach or when the two parents differ in their approach and need a tie-breaker. In these situations, the Extraordinaire’s additional experience or education fills in an empty space in the parents’ confidence.
Generally, Extraordinaires have either two years of full-time childcare experience or some kind of formal education/degree in childcare. (The specific qualifications vary by the Au Pairs’ home country.)
Au Pair Extraordinaires get a weekly stipend of $250 (versus $195.75 for traditional au pairs). Host families are charged an annual program fee that’s about 12% higher than the fee for a traditional au pair.
While there is a formal difference between the experience of a traditional au pair and an Extraordinaire, often the level of childcare experience is less important for achieving a good fit with the family than the personality of the au pair him/herself.
As we’ve said before (and as management science supports), we do well when we ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’.
So, from families that have had experience with Extraordinaires, —
Was this type of au pair significantly better for you? Or different?
We have 4 kids – ages 8, 6, 4 (twins). We’re looking to change up our au pair arrangements, and we’re wondering of we should switch from a traditional au par to an Au Pair Extraordinaire?
Since the twins were born, we have mostly had 2 au pairs at the same time. But now, I am going to go from full-time to part-time and we will only need one au pair.
(FYI…We never needed more than 45 hours of childcare, but instead preferred 2 sets of hands to care for the 4 kids. If only 2 kids were home (other 2 in school), then only one au pair worked.)
As we start our next search, I am curious about ‘extraordinaire au pairs’. We have had great luck thus far with au pairs, but I am worried about finding one person that can handle the demands of caring for 4 young kids.
My question is – do extraordinaires live up to their name?
Under what situations is it worth it to spend the additional money and look within a smaller pool of candidates to find an Extraordinaire?
What other concerns or challenges are raised by having an Extraordinare versus a traditionally wonderful au pair?