Au Pair “Shopped for a New Family” with Agency’s help — behind our backs

by cv harquail on April 11, 2011

Our au pair came to us last Tuesday, out of the blue, to inform us she “wants to be by the beach” and wants to enter rematch. She has refused any attempt at mediation.

We learned today that she had listed herself, over a month ago, on a third-party site for in-country au pairs and we learned also that she has been in touch with, directly or indirectly, an LCC from in another state. Neither of these facts were revealed to us until yesterday, though our LCCs and regional coordinators have known about this for a month.

She has had no complaints about our family at that time. She simply wants to be by the beach, and says our house “doesn’t feel like home anymore.”

201104111529.jpgWe have a two-year old and a 4 month old. (Btw, our au pair has never been asked to care for both children at the same time.) She has always, and continues for the time being, to provide great care for our children. And they are very, very attached to her. (This morning, my two-year-old said to me “and we all love [our au pair].” It’s breaking my heart.)

We are now scrambling to find excellent care for our children. It has become a full time job for both my husband and myself.

Is host family shopping common in general?

  • The agency seems to know that they cannot give us a replacement au pair since their pool is so weak, and expects us to leave the program. As a result, they have little incentive to help us. Our LCC’s have been great, but the regional director is really, really awful. It is likely our current AP will go into rematch (or, as they say, transition)
  • It has also become clear to us that with our current agency and with our current cluster that, at least here, it is quite common for au pairs to go host family shopping. They seem to search for a rematch in hopes of a better deal (more wealthy family, or simply a chance to see another part of the country).
  • Is it more common for certain agencies to have this problem based on the culture of that agency? Do some agencies make it easier for their au pairs to go into rematch?

Has anyone else found that their Agency has left them in the dark about key events going on in their own home?

To be clear, this is breaking our hearts. My son is very attached to her. We invested a lot of time (and money) into this au pair. I stayed up late (while pregnant, working full time and trying to be a mommy to my toddler) to edit her college essays.We never set curfews, gave her almost full reign with our car, asked her every morning how she is doing and what is going on her life, etc.

We’re infuriated at our Agency, so very disappointed in our Au Pair, and feeling taken advantage of in every way. Any ideas for us?

Deflated HostMom

image: JUN062009 from colemama


Tristatemom April 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Very timely topic for me. We had to rematch recently and I was trying to be proactive and went in search of rematch au pairs on my own. I came across a few websites. One of those has been mentioned on this site. Anyway, I saw a profile of a rematch candidate that I was interested in. I contacted the website host and discussed the girl. It turns out that the girl was not officially in rematch yet but wanted to leave her current family. I had a bad feeling about this girl’s ethics for not being on the up and up about wanting a rematch. She basically wanted to secure a new host family on the sly and then officially go into rematch without having the risk of being sent home for not finding a new family in time. I don’t want this done to me and I won’t do it to another host family. What I am still wondering about is what is in it for the website host to provide this service???
Deflated hostmom, don’t feel bad! It was not meant to be and someone way better is out there for you. At least for us, we found a wonderful AP!

Karin Six April 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

There was nothing in it for me. Just wanted to be helpful and support both au pairs & host families in crisis. You would not believe the amount of emails LCCs get from au pairs. I saw a Chinese au pair go home after only two months on the program. As she was staying with me, it really broke my heart. I made this clear on my blog. I added this below but maybe it should be a little higher in this article just to clear up any misunderstandings:

Just wanted to chime in (as the person who is probably being spoken about initially) that I like to help au pairs find new host families however, it is a strict rule with me and at my agency that they already be already in transition. It was one of the questions I would ask in an email right after an au pair would apply to be on the site. If the au pair lied, someone usually would let me know right away and I would take the au pair off the site. If the au pair contacted me because he/she was thinking of transition, the first thing I would tell the au pair is to talk to their host family. There have been many times when I have talked an au pair out of a transition (due to the uncertainty of rematch) or have gotten an au pair to try and arrange a transition conducive to the host family’s needs. I love my own host families and they are the reason why the au pair program works to begin with. The website was an altruistic project for me… Sadly though, I must take down my site due to new company rules. I will still help au pairs and host families in crisis find each other just not through an independent website.

AnnonaMom OP April 25, 2011 at 7:24 pm

That’s very interesting Karen Six. If you are the person who has been supporting AP’s who want to go into transition, I would just like to let you know that by assisting AP’s who want to leave a current, perfectly fine hostfamily for a “better deal,” then you have created a lot of heartache for this particular hostfamily. The turmoil that we had to go through to find alternative care, the amount of money we lost, and the absolute heartache my son and daughter are experiencing is inexcusable. I had a whole plan for the transition to a new AP this summer (including AP overlap) so that my son would gradually get used to a new situation. That was all thrown under the bus, and my two-year-old keeps asking for the old AP. He doesn’t understand why he has to go to daycare instead of the children’s museum, etc. It’s just awful.

Karin Six April 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I am truly sorry for the real pain you and your family have been caused by your former au pair. It truly breaks my heart when au pairs/host families do not work out. I would like you to know that I would never support any au pair who just wanted to up & leave and go into transition for a better deal. Just like I would never support dishonesty or cruelty in any way, shape or form. I am into helping… That is what I am all about. Btw, I have no record (and I searched) of contact with an au pair who wanted to change their host family just for a better location. Plus, if someone was listing themselves inappropriately, one email would have stopped them. Like you, I am planning on becoming a host family one day (when I adopt foster children) and became involved with this program searching for future childcare. Again, I am truly sorry for your negative experience. Please email me so we can continue our conversation in private.

Steff April 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I really got to chime in, and it really is just to sympathize and say how much I hope you get to find another girl soon or talk some sense into your current- You actually sound like a good HF.
& TBH, that’s one of the things I really don’t like and feel is just sad. I personally don’t think it’s a matter of the agency so much but the AP’s personality and personal values more. I’d heard of many many girls complaining about how they don’t have a match or it’s taking so long (those APs w/ 5-6+mons in the matching process) Yet, those are the same girls who you see commenting sometimes things like “I have a new match” one day, and the other,” No, I called the agency so they took them out of my profile. I’m waiting something in NewYork or California better” or “No, I didn’t like them because I didn’t know the part of the States they were” Lame excuses which most of the times I think agencies are mostly blind to. Of course they should take more action into that, but I just think there is only so much agencies, any, can do to make an AP think differently.
Feel very sorry for you and your children especially though, and it’s actually disappointing the “shopping” doesn’t stop in the matching process but continues after match…Good luck I guess :)

Au Pair in CO April 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Out of all the au pairs I have met and hung out with here in the last 15 months, which includes girls from at least 4 different agencies, I have never heard of anyone trying to go into rematch just to get a “better” family or location. I have actually not met a single au pair who has rematched at all here. Something about Colorado I guess..:)

It sounds like you might as well give up on this au pair, as it’s hard to change her mind once she’s set on doing something like this. Try to contact someone higher up in your agency than the regional director, ask for help with finding a replacement, and if nobody’s willing to help – demand some of your program fees back. It is really not fair for the agency to be helping the au pair out like this without ever mentioning anything to you..

HM in CO May 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

My AP here in Denver comes home frequently with news of AP’s here who’ve gone to rematch. I’m thinking of around 5 or 6 girls I know of in the last 6 months. I’m surprised to hear you haven’t met a single one in 15 months!

Anna April 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

How horrible for you!
Unfortunately I have no words of wisdom or advice, but it seems extremely unethical by the agency to assist your au pair in doing such a thing to you. They are contractually obligated to stay with you for one year, and rematch should be reserved for those special cases when nothing can be done.
I know agency policies differ, but make sure when she leaves she settles all financial accounts – i.e. pays you back the prorated amount for the college education she used up, for vacation she used up that are proportional to her time left with you… I would also demand from the agency a full refund for the remaining time, not reduced like they like to offer. How to get it? I don’t know.

Can you please name the agency?

AnnonaMom OP April 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I am the original poster. We are with Cultural Care Au Pair.

Should be working April 12, 2011 at 3:34 am

I’m surprised to hear that you are a CCAP family and are having difficulty finding a rematch candidate. I actually switched TO CCAP because they had tons of rematch candidates. In my experience CCAP is very interested in retaining host families (read: sales-oriented) and will bend over backwards to send profiles immediately and offer a new one as soon as you nix an applicant.

If you are relatively open to time frame (how long the rematch AP has left in her contract) and country of origin, I think you should try communicating again with your placement director.

Is there any reason that this AP could be leaving you that you are unaware of, and the beach thing might be an excuse? Perhaps there is something going on here that has just not been stated.

AnnonaMom OP April 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm

They have very few infant qualified, in-country au pairs who were available while we were in “transition.”

Anon for This April 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm

You should reach out to Cultural Care’s Natalie Jordan. She’s in charge. I could have sworn I read on their host parent forum where she instructed another HF whose au pair also was leaving to go be by the beach to contact her directly with the details so she could handle it from there. Are you by any chance that same HF?

This behavior is truly odious. I don’t know how you’ve kept it together enough not to have thrown the au pair out on her ear along with any positive references.

NOVAHostMom April 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I’ve had 4 very successful au pairs and I am on my 5th one. I was with Cultural Care for a very long time, but have moved since to another agency due to their lack of Host Family support which I noticed starting to degrade in the past year and a half. I am sorry to hear that they did not give you a heads up about your au pair’s feelings. In my opinion, this sounds like a breach of contract for not keeping you in the loop.

maleaupairmommmy April 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I would go to the cultural care website and go under feedback and ask them. Also there is natalie jordan email vp of CC and I would send her an email detailing as much as you can with names etc and that this match should be stopped immediately and go into rematch anyways and demand your money back. Good luck.

Karin Six April 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Just wanted to say that I am very sorry for your negative experience.

eastcoastcounselor April 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

As a counselor that found this site a few weeks ago and is now addicted, I just want to tell you that I agree that this was dishonest of both the au pair and the agency. I suspect that my agency would have sent the au pair home for advertising herself in this manner, and we certainly wouldn’t have supported her trying to match without the host family’s knowledge. I once had an au pair that went into rematch at the host family’s request, and she then posted herself on an au pair site. I found out when she gave me the name and number of an interested family, and I immediately asked her to remove herself from the site. The agency is her sponsor and it is the agency’s job, and especially her local counselor, to give an honest and thorough effort to finding her a new family within the agency (since her visa is tied to that agency) if and when a rematch is agreed upon by all parties. I feel awful for you, and especially for your children! To answer your questions, I actually worked for another agency years ago and it is my experience that different agencies may have different focuses. I prefer the agency that I am with now because I feel that the focus is much more service-centric to the host families and the au pairs than my previous agency was.

Jennifer L. April 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I am also a counselor who enjoys reading this site and want to add my voice to those who have already spoken. I am so sorry for the way you have been treated and am frankly horrified at your LCC. This behavior is not supported at the agency I work for and we have told au pairs they will be sent home for trying to locate a family themselves without going through mediation etc. first.

HRHM April 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I too am sorry for your predicament. You don’t say how long she has been with you but based on the story, it sounds like longer than 6 months (since baby is 4 mos already) Has she already found a “new” family and do they know how she went about this process? If I was the new MH, I would want a reference from the previous HM and once I’d found out about this subterfuge, you can be sure I’d be rethinking my decision.

Having said that, APs need to realize that geography is a SMALL part of what goes into making a situation happy. Our most recently departed AP DEMANDED to rematch in CA. She made it less than a week before requesting a rematch and is now (fortunately for all HFs of America!) heading back to her native country. I predicted she wouldn’t make it 2 weeks but I guess I overestimated her!
APs take note – A great family in a not-so-great area is WAY better than a lousy family in the best area. And you need to realize that if you have a good relationship and nice work situation, you risk losing that in favor of abuse and being treated like the “help” at the beach!

AnnonaMom OP April 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

HRHM, she will be with us 9 months after her two week “transition.” She told us one day after returning from her second week of vacation (for which we gave her extra time) that she wants to rematch to be “by the beach,” and because “she just doesn’t want to stay here anymore.” According to the regional manager, we cannot ask the AP for the education stipend or vacation stipend, both of which have been paid in full, because those are the rules of the program.

hostmom April 12, 2011 at 7:48 am

This is not correct. You should get education stipend and vacation money you paid back that she did not earn. You really need to call the corporate office at CC and **demand** to speak with someone above your local and regional coordinators about this, a full refund of the final 3months (do not let them give you a “credit” as they will push you to take since it is after 6 months), and the entire situation.

It’s not a fun place to be, as we had an AP leave very abruptly at about 9months – but i will tell you that it led us to one of our most favorite APs we have ever had. And we did switch agencies at that point due to some issues and have been very very happy with our new agency – so don’t be afraid to look at other agencies as well. best of luck

AnnonaMom OP April 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Thanks for the advice hostmom. We have been in contact with the the corporate “customer care representative” who is treating us like absolute garbage. She wrote us an email a few days ago (my original post to CV was a week or so ago), saying that we have a “credit” of over $2,000. Now she telling us over the phone that our “credit” is $1,300. We already made arrangements for alternative childcare, and we were already counting on that $700. She also reiterated that we cannot ask our AP for any education money and vacation money. (Anna is right. This is an agency rule, not a program rule.)

We are being jerked around and treated like trash. Clearly the demand for certain au pairs is up and the supply is down (read: record low unemployment in Germany: And the agency feels like they can treat us any way they wish, especially since they really cannot provide us with a replacement.

AnnonaMom OP April 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm
Anna April 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

This is wrong. These are not rules of the program, these are rules of your agency. My current agency (Interexchange) prorates the amounts of vacation and education money used in case of rematch, and has parties settle the accounts (for example if the au pair earns one day of vacation a month starting in her second month, and leaves you after six months but having used all her vacation, then she owes you for 6 days of vacation.)

MommyMia April 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Yep, unfortunately some agencies make their own “rules” about the education stipend and vacation (as well as caps on amounts to be paid in case of automobile accidents) so you need to go over the contracts with a fine-tooth comb and figure out what will make a financial difference to your family. This is one of the reasons we decided NOT to switch to CCAP after gathering much information – we’d be out of pocket too much money if we got a not-so-great AP who suddenly decided, like this one, to leave us. Sadly, I think some of them are very calculating and have this all worked out in advance, trying to “maximize” their year abroad by taking advantage of agencies and families! Best of luck, OP.

AnnonaMom OP April 15, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Yes, I suspect that this is what our AP is doing. She didn’t find the boyfriend she was looking for, which added a dimension.

German Au-Pair April 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

It’s horrible what happened to you. Seems like the location is a big issue for some au pairs. I myself wanted to be in the NYC-area and ended up in TN :D just because this family seems worth it.
But I actually think that the location is not UNimportant. There are a few areas I wouldn’t have gone to, mainly because of the climate (like Nevada, Arizona and so on) but also because I feel that this au pair experience is about feeling good about EVERY aspect. I want to be comfortable with the area I live in, too and I want to have something to do in my free time.
I really wanted to be near the ocean, too but well…in the end this compromise wasn’t one, because I wanted this family and nobody else.

But I think that the location preference of some au pairs is not the issue here. You can have preferations, nothing wrong with that. But this au pair knew where she was heading and already lived with a family for quite a while…and I just don’t get what kind of personality you have to have to just throw this away to leave for the BEACH.

I really hope you find a nice au pair and I really hope that she finds a horrible family at the beach.

AnnaAuPair April 12, 2011 at 3:01 am

I agree on the point, that location isn’t UNimportant. But I think you have to have a good reason for not wanting to go to a certain area. wanting to be “by the beach” is definitely NOT a good one.
A very outgoing and social person would get lonely in an area where there are miles to drive to the next AuPair or town. – but the AuPair should consider that BEFORE s/he matches.

Anyways, apparently something on her vacation or in talking with her friends triggered her to want to rematch.
Here’s what I would do concerning the kids: The AuPair would have left in three months anyway. How would you have told your kids about it? What were you going to do about the AuPair leaving? Try to do the same now.
If you want to: try to get the AuPair to help make it easier by letting her e.g. tell them that she needs to go away but that she still loves them.
I know families who just let the AuPair go (when the year is up) and don’t tell the kids because they think that the shock is easier on them than the slow talking about it.
I talked to my hostkids about it and told them all the fun things they would do with the new AuPair and with their parents when I was gone. My girl was 4 at that time and she had the cutest ideas about my parents coming over so I could stay and so on. But she understood, that I had to go and when I left, she was fine with it.

Gianna April 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I am so sorry this happened to you. It seems to me pretty clear why your agency is backing this aupair : $$. She brought in a new family. Your area director probably figures that they can support her and gain a family or have her drop out. My guess is that they care very little about the aupair herself – it is the business she is bringing to the table. It seems that they are pitting LCCs against each other and prioritizing the value of families.

Calif Mom April 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Or at least, agencies are prioritizing the value of NEW families. They should really think about the one they are losing. I’d bail on them likety-split, even if the did have rematch candidates available.

I would think the agency has shown her they are not acting in good faith. Any lawyers want to weigh in? Maybe she could get the rest of her program year refunded?

This is despicable.

But as for your kids…they will also thrive under a new au pair. ONe who isn’t a beach brain. I promise!

New Au Pair April 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm

I get so frustrated when I hear about girls like this! She knew what she was signing up for when she matched with this family and now she wants to shop around and move somewhere else. I feel in matters like this the agencies should really consider sending the girls home as it is clear that they are not prepared to live up to the terms of the programme. The host families pay so much money for this programme and the agencies should make them their number one priority! I have been in the country only three weeks and I can see huge flaws in the way the au pair programme is managed, and how girls come here and take advantage of families who only want the best childcare possible for their children!

azmom April 11, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Absolutely horrendous. I feel for you and while I doubt there is any true issues that arise for the agency, they gained another family and you’re in for the percentage of the agency fee that you already paid, PLUS if you get an au pair from overseas, you get to wait it out and pay another plane ticket to you.

AZ HM April 12, 2011 at 1:30 am

I also agree that if the agency supported your AP in her search for another family without you knowing that it is unconscionable. And no matter how hard it is to unexpectedly loose this AP – the concern for your children’s loss, your own emotional loss, the loss of trust, and the real burden placed on you – know that your family will be better with someone who appreciates you. Our family unexpectedly loss a nanny (before we had APs)…she announced one day she was leaving and didn’t have a reason as to why. She assured us it wasn’t anything with our family — “it is something personal”. I was shocked, angry and felt so worried about my children missing her. As I was scrambling to find another nanny I found her listings on a couple of other sites, one had been up for over a month. I was so hurt…I confronted her in an email and I was honest saying that I wished she would have just told us upfront that she was looking for another position and had been respectful allowing us to also look for a replacement at the same time. Not surprisingly I never got a reply…but I did feel better having told her how her actions affected our family. The one thing that really surprised me about that situation was how my 2 year old, who really liked this nanny, very easily transitioned to our next nanny. She actually never asked about her after the transition. I think I worried much more about my daughter missing this woman than she actually did. Finally, I use this past experience when I interview nannies and APs as an example of how our family really promotes honest communication and how by not communicating this former nanny really hurt our feelings. In any case, I very much sympathize with you and am very sorry you are going through this. On the bright side, I’m sure you’ll find a better match for your family — it sounds like you really deserve it!

anon host mom April 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

This scenario is truly horrible. I have nothing to add to that, except that if you are looking for a faster solution you could contact the agency that places Mormon nannies. The process takes a week or two. Just a thought…

AnnonaMom OP April 25, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Mormon nannies? What agency is this?

MommyMia April 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm

One that I’ve heard of is Your Child’s Nanny (disclaimer: no relationship, no personal interest, don’t know other than what I’ve seen on their website – just FYI.)

BBBG June 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Hi, We had a Mormon nanny and she was terrible! Not honest, not squeaky clean, and so crazy writing boys on their missionary trips that it edged into the time she was supposed to be with my children. Don’t even get me started.

Also a victim April 12, 2011 at 10:54 am

Wow, this is just in time. I am so sorry to hear about your situation. It’s so dfficult to deal with when the aupair just up and want to leave. My 2nd aupair left after three weeks. I came home, her bags were already packed and ready to go. I believe these agencies fail to train these girls on the impacts of their actions. These agencies make it so easy for them to shop for a new family when things don’t go their way. I think this whole aupair program should be restructured, like not paying the agencies the total amount up front, but perhaps in quarterly installments, that way they will work with to keep the families. Also the contracts to these agencies should clearly spell out the rematching process, like a rematch should only occur after three attempts at mediation. Please report this incident to the State Department, also report the agency to the Better Bussiness Beurau. I wish you all the best in search of a new aupair.

NY MOM April 12, 2011 at 11:46 am

Our au pair was shopping for a rematch. We discovered her advertising herself on an au pair website, and in fact we discovered that she had posted pictures of herself with our children on that site! The agency did at least back us up as this was a pretty egregious thing to do. But at least I can say that you are not the only one this happened to. Living with any family has its ups and downs and I can see why this would cause an au pair to feel that there is something better out there; all you can do is move on at this point.

CAMOM April 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I asked a very similar question a little over a year ago. I was furious when this happened to us. You can read my question and the comments here:

CAMOM April 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Sorry, I forgot to say that, while we had to scramble to get a nanny for three months (since we could not find a suitable rematch) after our au pair rematched behind our back, we were much more careful when we looked for our next au pair, who has now been with us for one year, has worked out wonderfully, and just extended for another year. It all works out in the end :-).

Calif Mom April 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

We have had this experience, too. The Princess we had absolutely shopped for a “better” family — nicer house, a car of her own. (Sadly, she also wanted to stay nearby, where her Princessy friends were, so my kids would later run into her at the fabulous park that I showed her.)

Many important points that the OP should really believe are coming up as themes:

1) It happens. Don’t take it personally.
2) The APs who do this are incredibly immature and selfish. You really will be better off without her, in ways you might not see yet.
3) Most young kids really do adjust quickly, even if they “love her sooo much!” today and draw cute pictures. Babies and young children are WIRED to adapt to caring adults–it’s a strategy that keeps social creatures like us going through the millennia. Don’t worry about them adapting — this is much harder on the host mom than anyone else, including the host dad.
4) You don’t want to try to fix this relationship with this au pair. Hell, who wouldn’t like to go lie on the beach now that Spring is here? Clearly, she’s young and stupid. Let her go, move on, and turn your efforts to finding replacement care and/or being forceful with the agency. Have a friend with legal letterhead? That can work wonders. The local office of your Congressmember can also help you reach the right staff in the State Department, if you really want to go there.
5) You can find second year and rematch au pairs who are already in country and will appreciate the thoughtfulness you can offer them. I strongly suggest meeting your next au pair in person. We just did, and so far so good! Hope springs eternal.

bcristino April 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I do agree that it is quite doubtful that the only reason your au pair is giving you to ask for a rematch, is to move to the beach.
But,being an Au Pair for the third time (never had to rematch or anything and all my three HF were a wonderful experience), and living so much among this universe, I know that a lot girls, when decide to be an Au Pair, don’t really take this as serious as it should be. Some of them, are dazzled by the whole idea of coming to America, be independent, that a lack of commitment comes along with them.
I have few friends that when they got in US, and faced the true about the program, realized that was not what they were expecting at all.
I have a feeling that some girls don’t even pay attention to the rules of the program, furthermore, they have no professional experience, so even those ones that take the program as serious a it suppose to be, have a hard time to discern when we suppose to be professionals or act like a member of the family.
We should also consider, that for some of the girls have more difficult than others to get adapted to a new enviroment, if this is very different from the one she’s used to, even though, she had agreed to live there, she probably would like to try and sometimes, didn’t succeed.
Thanks, love the website!

Calif Mom April 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Not to be cynical or suspicious, but if she just spent two weeks at the beach and wants to move there, there could be a love interest or such at play here.

LocalMotion April 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Sorry about your tough situation… Perhaps one helpful comment I can add is that its worth requesting and insisting on a larger refund than the $1300 (formerly $2000?) that a CC phone service rep is quoting you.

After a series of truly disasterous au pairs, I negotiated a $6800 refund from AuPairCare which is far more than their “contract” obligation to us stated. Doing some online research, I tracked down email addresses for the several very senior InTrax Inc. (parent Co. of AuPairCare) directors and VPs – and Cc’d all of them in my emails to the local & regional LCCs requesting a full program refund. I pointed out I was happy to be a vocal, very negative reference to a large groups of local parents (several thousand families) who belong to multiple social and school networks where I’m a member or a leader. I believe the original refund amount “offered” to us was about $3,800, and we eventually received almost twice that amount after I wrote several emails. Hope this is helpful!

JJ Host Mom April 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm

We just had a similar situation happen to us with AuPairCare. Our au pair crashed our car (while driving the kids around). We wanted to work with her, but asked her to take (and pay for) driving lessons. Apparently she got mad at us for this, and went behind our backs and advertised herself on greataupair. We found out about her posting, at which point we told her we wanted to rematch. This was our second rematch in a couple of months (we had rematched with the first au pair because he smoked and lied about it, and talked on the phone all day – as evidenced by cell phone bills – while he was supposed to be watching the kids.) So because it was our second rematch, the agency kicked us out and made us re-apply, meaning we lost thousands of dollars in agency fees. Only they didn’t tell us they were making us re-apply until we had already selected an in-country au pair and she was scheduled to start the next day. She had already turned down other families in favor of matching with us and would have had to go home if we had backed out, so we went ahead and paid the fees. Furthermore the agency allowed the original au pair to try to rematch (although I don’t know whether she was able to find another host family.)

The whole situation (and the situation of this original post, and all the responses since) just makes me livid.

That said, our new au pair is the best au pair we’ve ever had. I’d go through it all again in a second to get her again. So hopefully you’ll find a wonderful au pair too, and this will all be a distant memory soon.

DCMetroHostMom April 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I’m sorry for your predicament. I am with Au Pair Care and recently they worked an approval of rematch of my placed au pair without even contacting me about it. The au pair told me she was leaving the following morning which she did. She flew to another state to stay with friends pending the rematch. What truly concerned me was that Au Pair Care must have had the au pair located at her friend’s home even before I knew about the rematch. I have tried to understand why this was allowed, without success. I do feel they are taking the au pair’s side without even wanting to hear anything I have to say. I was with Au Pair Care for three years and have given them thousands of dollars. I feel like they have thrown me under a bus.

Tristatemom April 13, 2011 at 8:51 am

I assume from your screen name that you are located in a metropolitan area. The beauty is that you have options :) I switched agencies after corporate and LLC mistreated me. We never pay the agency fee upfront but always in installments. That way we can limit our losses.

Should be working April 14, 2011 at 4:04 am

But my understanding is that you sign a contract that stipulates the full amount, so in principle the agency could demand the money even if your AP leaves and you switch agencies.

JJ Host Mom April 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

What agency is this, if you wouldn’t mind sharing?

cv harquail April 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Tristate Mom– I love your argument for using the installment payment plan. I suspect that agencies are unlikely to sue you for the funds– the worst they could do is kick you out of their program. So I might try this if I were ready to burn the bridge with the agency anyway. cv

Calif Mom April 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Absolutely! I hadn’t thought of this benefit to paying in installments — would have saved us a bundle in our last experience, when we ended up switching agencies in order to get a rematch in country, even when you factor in the “convenience fees” of partial payments. Something important to consider!

Taking a Computer Lunch April 13, 2011 at 7:11 am

I don’t have much to contribute to this discussion, except it should always be possible to negotiate with your AP agency – it’s just a matter of finding the right person. We had a situation when an AP pulled out 3 months early in her extension year due to a valid (in my opinion) family reason. We were in the process of negotiating with contractors to gut our house to put on a handicapped accessible extension for The Camel and could not find a short-term AP to fill in the gap before the walls came down. We jumped to nursing for The Camel and after-care for our son, but negotiated with the agency, who would not refund our money, to provide a complete credit for the 3-month extension period based on our length of participation. Our LCC also went to bat for us.

In the case, I would recommend documenting everything you can – especially since you feel that the agency and LCC were part of the subeterfuge of the au pair in finding a beach family (perhaps that “holiday” was really an interview?). Be polite, but be firm and persistent, especially if they can’t or won’t provide rematch candidates. I would also be persistent about the justification your AP gave for rematching after 9 months – because no agency should tolerate an “I want to live at the beach” answer.

In my experience (we have temporarily hosted at least one rematching friend for every AP we’ve hosted), some APs do tend to be shallow about material culture. It can be difficult to figure out the values that your AP will bring to the table, but one question that DH and I have started asking is “What are the most important values that your parents have taught you.” Sometimes we have to rephrase the question, but we have received excellent answers from the APs with whom we have matched. And while I’m sure all would prefer not to have a bedroom under The Camel during the nights she screams in pain, all have been happy that their hard work has been rewarded with flexibility and, within my means, generosity.

DC/MD Mom April 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm

This is really disturbing to hear — and then to scan the comments and discover it is not unique. It is egregious that the agencies don’t owe the families better treatment.

aupair25 April 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

I don’t think all the agencies work that way for example I’m with APIA and I was considering a rematch like a month and a half ago… My LCC just gave a bunch or reasons not to ask for it.. and scare me of doing it… I mean she is really but i think she was doing anything to keep me away of asking for the rematch… now.. I’m 3 months and half with my family and I want the rematch so bad. I’m not happy here and my relationship with my host mom is not good at least is what i sense… even when my relationship with the kids is so much better. I think if I had made the choice to ask for a rematch and had the help of my LCC I wouldnt feel the way i feel right now. I mean is not right to do that behind your host family back at least you need to be helped.

Calif Mom April 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm

aupair25 —

Are you a good driver? APIA is so big you could go into rematch right now and find a family easily if you can drive well and haven’t done anything wrong, it’s just a personality mis-match.

I think you should ask for rematch. 3 months is often a ‘watershed’ time, but if you wait longer to rematch it is harder, because you don’t have as long on your visa and your new family will have to look again in a few months unless you offer to extend if you are happy with them.

Don’t waste your year being unhappy! Many counselors do scare the au pairs about rematch, because it is a lot of work for the counselor, but there is a way to do this and be okay.

I encourage you to go back to the counselor and say that you are very unhappy and don’t see it getting any better.

Don’t say negative things about your host family, put a description of yourself on the au pair blog, mention that you are with APIA, and see what happens.

JBLV April 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Woah!!! Before going the re-match route – something that could have very, very negative consequences for both AP and Host Family – the AP should first:

1. Talk to the host mom! Ask her if there is something wrong!!! Ask to have a weekly time where they can both talk and “catch-up” on household/personal matters. It is unfair to everyone involved to ask for a rematch before you’ve tried to make things more comfortable in your current situation.
2. Figure out what is actually bothering her! Is it just a “unhappiness” that makes her want to change families? Could it be homesickness? She should talk to her LCC about ways to address the “unhappiness.” A “personality mismatch” is sort of a weak excuse to want to rematch – it sets the tone for AP’s to request rematch for any reason (like wanting to be by the beach, wanting to have a Mercedes, etc).

Calif Mom, rematch should be treated as an absolute last resort – in cases where the AP is being mistreated or not being treated as part of the family. The absolute first step the AP should take is to communicate to the host family and the LCC about why she feels unhappy. If there are no specific reasons, then homesickness should be suspected and dealt with. Additionally, if there are no specific reasons, rematch should not be an option. It is, frankly, unfair to the Host Family, especially if the HF is meeting all obligations (and then some). Host families should not be considered work-as-you-go hotels.

JBLV April 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Additionally, working through and communicating about any kind of “unhappiness” or perceived “uncomfortableness” is part of the maturing process and cultural exchange.

Calif Mom April 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm

After 3 months, I”m not sure it’s just “homesickness”. She said she has already talked with the counselor. Why do you think she would get different advice this time?

Having been talked into continuing with an unhappy au pair at month 3, only to have everything fall apart 6 weeks later (this was long ago), I’m never going to try to talk an au pair into staying if they aren’t feeling like it’s a good fit.

Sorry if that feels abrupt, but working hard on a relationship that doesn’t feel right is, IMHO, doomed to fail, or at least to be miserable on one party’s part or the others. And I don’t think that’s good for the au pair OR the family.

I’m not saying life should be all sunshine and roses, but neither should the au pair or the host family be absolutely miserable either. Life’s too short. Not to mention that it’s VERY damaging for the kids in the long run.

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