Do Bad Host Families Get Blacklisted By Au Pair Agencies?

by cv harquail on October 23, 2016

How might Agencies keep bad Host Families from cycling from one Agency to the next, without getting removed from the program entirely?

We worry not only about bad Au Pairs getting recycled though the system, but also about rematch Host Families getting one chance after another to strike out with an Au Pair.

4854218970_bab6a3b020_mIt should be relatively easy for LCCs and ARs to identify families who’ve gone into rematch for taking advantage of their au pairs and/ or not following the rules, and then drop them from the Agency’s roster.

The harder challenge, though, is preventing those same Host Families from pretending they’ll follow the rules and joining up with another Au Pair Agency.

“Do we know if au pair agencies maintain a list of banned families?”, asks the Host Mom, below.

Some LCCs and ARs from different agencies but in the same community might informally share information about bad families, but I doubt that Agencies coordinate. I’d love to be wrong about that.

Writes the Host Mom,

Do we know if au pair agencies maintain a list of banned families?

We live in an area where there are a lot of au pairs. Our former au pair had a very good friend who found herself in a horrible situation – the host parents were in the process of divorcing and the host father made a pass at her. I knew this girl very well and she had a breakdown in my kitchen after it happened. I made her call her host mom and tell her about it and the LCC. She was immediately placed into rematch last year.

We have a new au pair and she met a friend who is watching two children of the same age, with the same unique names, in the same town as the au pair who was rematched. I can only believe it’s the same family, but I think they just went with a different agency.

Am I to assume there’s no “inappropriate host family” list shared among agencies? I shared the former story with my au pair and she mentioned the dad was “weird.” What do you do in this situation? I have no idea who the LCC would be since she’s not with the agency we are using.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Emma October 24, 2016 at 2:03 am

If your personal au pair continues to spend time with this new au pair I’m sure she could get the name of her LCC!?

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NBHostMom October 24, 2016 at 9:03 am

I’ve witnessed a similar situation, two years ago a good friend of our au pair left what I’d consider an abusive host family (60 hours / week and very questionable treatment)

The family left the program after her to hire a “local nanny”. Surprise, surprise… family is hosting APs again via a different agencies, about to go on to their 3rd AP in less than 6 months. I can’t imagine the new agency will continue working with them for much longer.

Long story short, I don’t believe there is an official channel of “banning” bad host families however word does get around! I can’t imagine that all our local LCs aren’t wise to this family, regardless of what agency they represent.

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Frankfurt AP Boy October 24, 2016 at 11:08 am

I don’t think blacklisting is the answer unless you can have a system where it is a independent body. There are many unjust motives for why an agency would want to blacklist certain families.

The important thing is that au pairs feel empowered enough to request rematch if they dont feel comfortable.

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SA_Au Pair October 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

I think there should be a system in place that reports families who have mistreated their au pairs (and I’m guessing that system will have ways to make sure that families aren’t blacklisted just because they didn’t allow their au pair to use the car after 11pm). Yes, au pairs have the option to rematch, but to know that a family has had 3 au pairs in 6 months (for example) and continue to send au pairs into that family’s home without conducting some kind of investigation is not right. There are au pairs out there who unfortunately don’t report questionable treatments by their host families because they’re scared they won’t be able to find another family and will be sent home. I’m pretty sure that LLCs are not blind, if there’s a family that’s dodgy they’ll probably hear about it from someone, and after seeing au pair after au pair come and go in a short space of time they’ve got to start asking themselves what’s going on.

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AlwaysHopeful HM October 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm

I agree that blacklisting is not the answer, and having used 3 agencies for 4 au pairs, I also would not ban migrating agencies. I do think it makes sense to require families to disclose how many au pairs they have had, and how many rematches. That way, au pairs can dig deeper and find out more by asking questions. When i was inrerviewing au pairs during a rematch, I was shocked to learn that they had no idea I was in rematch until I told them — it wasn’t anywhere in the info my agency provided them. Surely at least that could be communicated.

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WarmStateMomma October 28, 2016 at 9:09 pm

@Frankfurt AP:

I generally think HFs should be able to migrate agencies if they feel they weren’t treated fairly. However, there are some rare situations where a family presents a danger to an AP and they should be blacklisted. I’ve seen agency emails to an AP in a family that should have been blacklisted but was continuing to receive replacement APs. My impression is that you have to do something really awful to get blacklisted. HPs who are abusive know how to identify an AP who won’t have the confidence or cultural background to leave. Regardless, an AP should not be in a position to have to institute rematch once a family is known to present a danger. If you have low odds of finding a rematch family (APs who can’t drive, speak English well, etc.) and spent thousands to be an AP, you don’t have the privilege of requesting rematch until things get really, really bad.

As an HP, I can tell you the agencies absolutely try harder to keep me than an AP. It’s pretty disturbing how easily bad host parents can continue to host. I’m confident that the very few families who are blacklisted should never host.

I do agree that a family’s rematch history (and an AP’s!) should be disclosed. The family can explain any crazy circumstances but the AP is in a place of vulnerability living with adult strangers and should be able to get enough information to make a good decision.

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West Mom October 24, 2016 at 4:31 pm

This sort of assumes that agencies talk to one another, which is highly doubtful. If they did, they would be smart enough to share their list of au pairs (which would help them reach more families, like MLS for real estate), they would normalize their rules and adjust their pricing to be more competitive with one other. These agency are stuck in the stone age. And forget government intervention… If our tax money starts to go towards ‘bringing foreigners to take our jobs’, this program will be cut in a jiffy.

It’s really buyers beware. Thankfully for HPs, APs get few chances to abuse the system before they get sent back home. Au Pairs need to be very diligent in choosing families and should in all cases request to speak with past au pairs, LCC and other references if possible.

There are also Facebook groups where APs post warnings about ‘bad families’. Not fail proof, and likely that some poor families were badmouthed wrongly by disgruntled au pairs, but if I were an au pair, I would definitely start there…

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hOstCDmom October 30, 2016 at 2:23 pm

They have some antitrust constraints regarding what they can communicate.

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Marian the Librarian October 24, 2016 at 9:59 pm

I wish they did. :/ There are lists of host families that are a problem + the reasons as to why in many AP groups, tho.

Not related at all to the post but I’m going to be an AP next year and am working on having around 1000 hours of child care work but the place I’m currently working at doesn’t allow pictures that show the face of the child, so I’d have to take them from the child’s back and you wouldn’t be able to see our faces and interactions properly. My questions to host parents who are reading this is – what do you think I should do? I’m obviously going to respect the school’s wishes and won’t take photos showing their faces but does this impact my application negatively? Will families turn me down for not having a child’s face in a picture, because I am not allowed and won’t disrespect the rules? You won’t be able to see it very much. :/

/endrant haha

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TexasHM October 25, 2016 at 8:27 am

When we were with I.E. A couple years ago the LC there told me that there was a “blacklist” where agencies could report families to the DOS to ensure they couldn’t host through any agency BUT that LC was certifiably nuts! I’ll spare you the stories – her behavior is legendary and she killed IEs presence here single handedly. A few months after we left I.E. her husband reached out to me explaining he was filing for divorce and asked if I would testify to her insane behavior (um no).

It got me thinking though that if it was true, how would they verify? This LC was CRAZY and threatened families and APs alike. We went from her “favorite family” to “unsuitable for hosting APs” in a flash and if there truly was a list I have no doubt she tried to put us on it. I too wish there was a channel to prevent host families from migrating as I know all too many that just float from one to another and sometimes back again when there’s a new LC in the previous agency!

So my guess is that the blacklist was an empty threat/scare tactic by that LC because even if there was one how would the DOS verify? The families apply to the agencies – so the agencies would have to check the “blacklist” and who would keep the list updated and how would they track? Meaning if they moved, got divorced, etc. Weve got some LCs on here and all the agencies read this blog – hopefully one of them will chime in. We did have one horrible scenario locally where the APIA LC contacted some of the LCs of the other agencies to warn but that LC even told me she was taking a big risk and it was a major personal liability to do so but she felt like she couldn’t live with herself if that HD got another AP given what had happened. :(

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Au Pair Sis October 26, 2016 at 11:09 am

There is certainly a “blacklist” of Host Families for extreme situations to protect the Au Pairs. However, if the behavior of the family is questionable, like if the agency deems them inappropriate for the program based on the LAR or LCCs suggestion as well as the Au Pair, the agency might refuse to work with the family but not blacklist them. It would be left up to the other agencies to make their own decisions. Agencies do their best to protect everyone involved but don’t want anyone to miss out on the opportunity of the experience if families behavior is questionable and could be left up to interpretation or different guidance.

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