Do you pay your Au Pair for her orientation days?

by cv harquail on January 27, 2010

When do you start paying your Au Pair? Do you consider her training days to be ‘work’ for you, or do you wait until the Thursday night she arrives in your home before the clock starts?

For our first au pair or two, we just paid them starting when they arrived, because it didn’t occur to me to do anything else. (We did send each of them $40 to orientation so she’d have some souvenir money for the NYC trip and for snacks on the train ride to Virginia.)


Then, I had the idea to pay our next au pair starting with the Monday of orientation– my thought was “hey, she’s working to get trained, so I should pay for that.”

I thought we were being pretty generous since other families didn’t do this, and I thought that this would be appreciated by our new au pair(s). And it was appreciated– until it wasn’t, buy the first au pair arrived with “I’m entitled” stamped on her forehead.

Still, I think that the preferable thing to do is to start her first work week & pay with the Monday of orientation— and feel comfortable having your new au pair be on duty the first Friday and Saturday she is with you. (Remember, most host parents & au pairs agree that the sooner your au pair is on duty with something important to learn and do, the less likely she is to have time to feel super-homesick.)

Assuming that no agency requires you include your au pair’s orientation as time she should get pocket money for, what does your family do?

Do you pay your Au Pair for her orientation days?

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See also:

Au Pair Advice: Send a welcome package to your Au Pair’s orientation

Advice: Resist the Amenities Arms Race!

Owl Watch from Hoots4u on Etsy!


Should be working January 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm

How timely this is! New (rematch) au pair arriving in 48 hrs, and I’m not sure when to start paying her. I guess it depends also on what day of the week she prefers to get her stipend. I’m thinking I’ll pro-rate the pay per day, starting with her first day after arrival.

Anonymous January 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm

With rematch it’s a little more complicated. It will be good to see how a bunch of parrents handle
that to get a sense of the common practice!

Mom23 January 28, 2010 at 12:46 am

For rematch au pairs, I have always paid them for the days that they are with us. I figure that they have already done orientation.

Should be working January 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Let me clarify: my au pair is from rematch, as am I, and so I am considering her ‘orientation’ to be the first 3 days she is at our house. Her agency’s orientation (au pair school) was a few months ago.

NJMom January 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm

This never occurred to me. I feel like the au pair manual (Cultural Care) advises us to pay them the first Friday after they’ve put in a full week’s work, including their in-home orientation days. This seems totally fair, especially as I always buy them one of those Tour New York City plus Gift Basket things that the agency sells.

franzi January 27, 2010 at 6:41 pm

the stipend is to be paid for 51 weeks. that does not count in the orientation time and 3 days in training. so you do not have to pay the AP for that very first arrival week.

regarding when to start paying her (beginning of first “real week” or at the end of that week), i suggest you talk to your AP and ask her if she is short on money or not.
some APs spend all their pocket money in NY while others don’t spend anything and thus have something to cover the first weeks in your family when there is no pay.

Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 7:38 am

Funny but my boss never asks me if I’m short on cash and need to be paid early! :)

Darthastewart January 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

These are mostly young kids. And Iv’e had a number of them end up short. They bring money for NY/first week, but dont’ really realize how much they’re going to need in NY. It’s a shocker for some.

My 2 cents January 28, 2010 at 11:42 am

Whatever! I was a young kid once and never would dare ask any employer, even the boss at the restaurant I waited tables at for years, for money! Maybe it’s just a generational thing. Where are their own parents?

Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Funny, my boss never asks me that either. Welcome to the real world and budget your money!

Anna January 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I was specifically directed by my LCC that we do not pay the au pair a stipend for the orientation week (I asked!)

PA au pair mom January 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm

We pay the first Sunday when she arrives to our family. We also take her shopping and give her a Target gift card to buy some essentials…toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc.

Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 12:41 am

I like this idea. A shy aupair will use it and for the not-so-shy au pair it sets a limit.

former au pair January 28, 2010 at 8:33 am

A gift card from Target/Walmart/etc. sounds great to me!
It’s welcome gift that’s definitely useful and the HPs don’t feel like they didn’t pay the au pair (which they’re not supposed to, but anyhow).

Au pairs from my agency come to the family Thursdays, so I was payed first 1 week after my arrival.
The weekend I was with the family, they showed me some things, and my HD was home the first weekdays, too.

New AP Mom January 28, 2010 at 4:45 pm

A note about gift cards. Some au pairs don’t understand the difference between a gift card and a business card. I think my last au pair threw out at least $100 worth of gift cards.

'sota gal January 28, 2010 at 12:40 am

I have always paid the au pair stipend on Fridays (starting the Fri of first full weeks work) and have included an additional 2 days pay for Friday and Saturday of her first week. I like the idea of sending cash to be used in NYC and I think I might do that for our au pair that is arriving next month. Rather than a Target gift card, I stock the AP bathroom with full size lotions, hair care products, blow dryer, toiletries and what not for their arrival. I’ve found that a place like Target can overwhelm, even WalMart overseas is so much different from here and the choices can be a lot to take in. So, they get products that I love and then we go shopping together after they have had some time to adjust to being in the States.

So looking forward to having an AP with us again, went into rematch in December and had NO LUCK finding an in country au pair. We found an incredible (*I hope*) AP from Denmark that arrives next month!!!

Darthastewart January 28, 2010 at 10:18 am

That’s awesome. We’re looking at being without an AP until July. (But have some friends visiting in the meantime.. and have backup care. It’s just not “ideal”.)

PA Au Pair Mom January 28, 2010 at 10:31 am

Good Luck with your new AP!!!

Calif Mom January 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I find Target overwhelming, myself! :-)

Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 7:37 am

We pay every Friday starting after the full week that she’s been with us. Since our AP rarely works on weekends and her first day here will be a Friday (we’ll be touring the area, etc and she won’t be working) I don’t consider her to be working until the Monday after she arrives to our home. As far as the training school, although she doesn’t see any of it – I’ve already paid the agency 7195.00 for that week, I’m not paying any more ! LOL

NoVA Host Mom January 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

I think it might be important to all be on the same page in terms. When I see “training days” or “orientation”, I read that as the 4-day program in CT (where APIA is located) that takes place between the time that the AP arrives in the US and when she arrives in our home.

The (supposed) 3-day in-home training (which seems to be much longer in reality) is something I consider “local training”. To me, that is without a doubt part of her working time with us and is paid without question.

For our first AP, we did not pay her for the time she was in training at the national office because our LCC told us not to. Having never had an AP previously, we said okay. Our current AP is a rematch, so she had already completed the 4-day training orientation before she was even assigned to us.

For our rematch (the current AP), her pay began the first day with us (she arrived in the evening, and we considered her work days to start the next morning, with her “local training”, so to speak).

My husband and I will likely revisit this when it comes up again in 2011. As it is, with our one AP who came through the orientation process, we sent her a pretty full welcome package (including in international phone card) as well as paid her trip to NYC for an evening of touring. We will certainly continue that.

Dorsi January 28, 2010 at 10:00 am

I have to say that I am thankful that my agency doesn’t allow packages, flowers, etc to be sent to the APs in New York — it just seems like the beginning of the host family arms race. I prepare a welcome package for my AP (toiletries, a few gift cards, maps and brochures) but don’t really want her comparing that to what everyone else is getting.

Franzi January 28, 2010 at 1:17 pm

very true! many girls at orientation did not receive anything (and we didn’t expect it) while some were overwhelmed with gift baskets and stuff.

it’s like the popular girls at high school and the rest of the bunch ;-)

also, what i felt many families did not consider is the travel from orientation to the family. the contents of these baskets somehow need to be hauled from one place to the other (with the current baggage restrictions in place!)

CV January 28, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Hi All-
There was a big conversation on welcome packages at orientation:
Au Pair Advice: Send a welcome package to your Au Pair’s orientation — Also, link is after the poll…..

MommyMia January 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I agree with you! Having a “welcome basket” in her room when she arrives (I think this has been covered in another posting) I think is more useful & I’m glad that APIA doesn’t have the set-up that Cultural Care does.

NoVA Host Mom January 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm

MommyMia, I posted in the welcome basket topic, but when reading ours, please be aware we are with APIA. This was fall 2008 when our 1st AP arrived.

Calif Mom January 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I knew we were in trouble when we were the family who *didn’t* have 20 balloons, flowers, handmade signs and a tapdancer when we picked our AP up after her orientation. The arms race had begun, all right… we didn’t do well with that AP. She started out disappointed. Sorry–I absolutely hate the competition!–but I won’t make that mistake again. I won’t drag kids along at 9 p.m., either. It’s going to be just me picking her up if it has to be after bedtime next time. Better to ease her into it.

Honestly, I don’t remember, but I probably paid them for orientation. I get paid for training at work… Probably did whatever my LCC told me was customary.

Sara Duke January 29, 2010 at 8:23 am

I always arrange to have the hotel deliver a platter of food: cheese, crackers, fruit and vegetables. Why? Because my au pairs have tended to arrive in the crowded months (August) when the hotel is packed. Most arrive after the dinner hour and the food is gone. All have been thankful to have something to nibble on (and share with their roommates). It’s nothing fancy, but it staves off hunger for a new arrival.

One or both of us greet the au pair with flowers upon her arrival to our city. (Our kids are either in bed or in summer camp.)

That being said, I don’t send anything else up to orientation. It’s simply not in my budget. However, I do go to Target to the dollar bins, and buy a selection of small toiletries for the au pair to sample. I also purchase pads and tampons on the grounds that those might be culturally difficult to request. I tell the au pair that anything she absolutely doesn’t want can go into the medicine cabinet in the other basement powder room.

In addition, I make sure there is a $10 phone card in her room, stamps, a pass for our transportation system, her cell phone, and stationery.

Within her first three days at our home we include a trip to the grocery store at our expense (on the grounds that visually identifying food is easier than talking about it) and pay for a tour of our city using the public transportation system. My husband takes the au pair out for a driving test (often to a local store that carries goods from her country) to determine whether or not she may drive independently immediately.

While our agency (APIA) says that the in-house orientation lasts 3 days, in my opinion it really takes a month for the au pair to settle in.

While we wait until the Friday after the au pair starts working to pay her (come on, it is standard to get paid AFTER you put the time in), if she is really short on money we either loan her money or just purchase items outright. Usually they have had enough money to purchase what extras they want.

StephinBoston January 28, 2010 at 10:03 am

With CC, our au pair doesn’t come until Friday afternoon. I spend the weekend doing fun activities with them and driving around. I start really training them on Monday since I work from home that’s possible. I then pay them the Friday of the first week in my home. That being said, I send a nice welcome package at school (with $40 for NYC) and they get over $150 of “stuff” in their room when they get here. Treats, Shampoos/Soaps, PJs, key chain, Starbucks, Dunkin and Target gift cards… So no “pay” but plenty to get them going.

Poor AuPair January 28, 2010 at 10:17 am

I arrived on Friday so my HM paid me next Friday (a week of training and work), they didn’t send me any present at the training in NYC (is kind of sad see how other girls received present for the families and you don’t, you start thinking how much they are going to really care about you. Like a game the other AP started saying my HF love me more than yours, specially when CC offer things from $40 really that is soooo expensive for you?) and when I came home I had on my bedroom sample size of Shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant… From there just one time my HM offer pay for my toiletries and she gave my $5.00!! I wonder If she expected me too go to a dollar store!!

Darthastewart January 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

This is the arms race we’re talking about. I think that if you did not see the “welcome baskets”,then you probably would not be feeling this way. I will point out that sending baskets to training sounds great, but since you likely already have a full bag, and it’s at the weight limit, adding more isn’t helping an AP get across the country. It might very well be more practical to NOT send stuff.

I will also point out that even though your HF isn’t giving you _stuff_, it doesn’t make them a bad HF. It doesn’t make you a poor AP, either. Many host families can afford an au-pair just barely, and another $40 might be a hardship. (You can’t tell by looking) Maybe you should try to look at it in another light? Maybe look at what you do like about the HF?

NoVA Host Mom January 28, 2010 at 10:43 am

Thank you, Darthastewart, for that. When our AP first arrived, I was on maternity and 3 weeks of that was unpaid (in a high COL area). We were meeting our basic financial needs, but there was absolutely no leaway for anything extra. I sent gloves, scarf, hat (cold in NYC, not in Thailand), and little snacky things along with the phone card and NYC trip. It was all I could do, and I set aside some of what I consider to be basics for me and my husband in order to do that (we did a lot of spaghetti for dinner that week). I have no doubt that many, many others are in similar boats.

HM in VA January 28, 2010 at 10:56 am

I am with an agency that does not allow any gifts of any kind to be sent to NY on arrival. I was with a different agency previously where they sold things and you could ship things – actually encouraged too. it is way less pressure/expense on the HF and i think on the APs. no need to start the instant comparing of HFs which happens well enough once they are in your house and talking with other APs :-)

I think all agencies should go with NO gifts during orientation for all of the above reasons.

PA Au Pair Mom January 28, 2010 at 11:20 am

I wish our agency would go with no gifts. We do purchase a gift for our AP’s through the agency because we have heard the stories of disappointment about APs that do not receive the gifts. Not a good way to start out the year, before even meeting in person.

I have suggested on every agency survey that they do away with the gift baskets, but their claim is that families and au pairs alike LOVE them.

Mom23 January 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

I can’t imagine having to purchase a welcome basket. I have never really seen the point of the orientation. Our second au pair arrived off the bus crying because the facilities had been so dismal (at that time we were with Cultural Care). She didn’t end up working out for us, mostly because she was so homesick and I think that orientation got her off on the wrong foot.

My 2 cents January 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

Amen to that!

I’m disgusted by the gift baskets our agency suggests we can send. They are expensive and don’t contain an iota of our personalization or our region. And then what do you do when they physically arrive? Have nothing there because they have the one size fits all basket?

The way I’ve dealt with this, and will continue to do so, is to send a note to the incoming au pair that we can’t wait for them to arrive and that we have a surprise waiting for them (or some other not so subtle hint that we haven’t forgotten them and the gift basket is nothing to fret over).

My overall experience is that the au pairs that are here to truly value the experience are the ones who don’t care about the baskets or the amount on the phone cards, but treasure whatever personalized welcome home treats/things/posters, etc. you and your children put together for them. I say we ban together and avoid the gift basket fever!

TX Mom January 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I wish we have a “like” button on this bog, like FB! Thank you.

PA Au Pair Mom January 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Great point!!!

Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I really like the idea of sending a note!

Hill Mom January 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Dartha – you said it! Stuff does not = a happy, helpful, supportive host family. I have heard some real horror stories about the way some au pairs are being and have been treated. I personally cannot afford many material items for our au pair, but we cook for her every night a healthy family meal, drive her to the store, ample time off, etc. And yes, $40 for some families is a challenge to part from.

MommyMia January 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Right, and as I’ve learned from my four APs, they really don’t have any clue as to the agency fees we pay and how expensive it really is – they just see their weekly stipend and think “I’m underpaid.”
Our current AP, the brightest one of them yet, even asked how much we get back from the agency at the end of the year and I started laughing! She thought if she completed her year successfully with us, we too would get part of our fees back as she does! I had to give her a reality check, which I think really made her stop and think.

Poor AuPair January 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Darthastewart, I am not Poor Au Pair because of that, I pick the name because in a previous topic an Anonimous says she doesn’t pick poor au pairs because she feels they are going to stole her things, and I said I am poor but honest…comeback to the point, I just say my family didn’t send me anything and gave me $5 for buy stuff, in general I love my family, but been honest with yourself what you think I can buy with 5 dollars? I’m extending with them, for other reasons and I think they are great, even they so far never bought me things, but in my last jobs any of my boss did and in my country my mom doesn’t buy my shampoo neither, so I really don’t expect they to do it, I just share my experience.

Poor AuPair January 28, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Darthastewart, I am “Poor Au Pair” because on a previous topic an Anonimous HM said she doesn’t pick poor AP because they are going to stole her things and I said that I am poor but honest as well. Anyway, comeback to this, I think my family is great, (I am extending with them for other year) and I just say my experience with the gift at the training school. But been honest, with 5 dollars she really expected me to buy: shampoo, condicioner, toothpaste, deodorant, cream (if she already knows what kind I use) I rather prefer she never give it to me (she give me extra $5 on my check and told me was for that) anyway my boss from my last jobs never give me money for buy toiletries and even my mom in my country doesn’t! ….just my experience

NoVA Host Mom January 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm

You don’t think that maybe the extra $5 was *towards* the cost, rather than to pay for it all? None of us, including your HM, think $5 can buy it all, but if you are not from, for example, my state, than the sales tax can be a surprise at the checkout counter. Maybe it was more to defer the “surprise” costs such as sales tax and you misunderstood or she did not explain herself well. Just playing devil’s advocate.

Poor AuPair January 29, 2010 at 1:56 am

I understand your point but she give me the money when I had 6 months with them and she said… I put MORE money in your check so you can buy your shampoo and all the stuff you need to buy, by then I already know the 6% tax here (in my country is 5% and yes make a big different), but I was not expecting she gave me money for that so how I went with my 2 kids I bought ice cream for them and I paid like 3 dollars more for the ice cream.
I think been a doctor don’t make you good in Math! I told my real mom and she said she will start giving me $5 too, when I comeback to my country, we take it as a joke!

Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 10:19 am

We pay on the Monday of the first full week of work. So AP arrives late on Thursday night, they get paid the following Monday. To be honest, it never occurred to me to pay them for the time at au pair school, or for the three “orientation” days in our home. Our AP doesn’t work much those first few days. Instead, we help her get settled in, take a tour of our town, take her shopping if she wants to go, stuff like that…. As mentioned by several people above, we have a welcome basket in her room on arrival with nice bath products, snakcs, gift certificates to Target and Starbucks, and a soft, fluffy robe. Our AP has to share a bathroom with the kids, and it is down the hall for her, so I think the robe is an appropriate welcome gift.

Southern Host Mom January 28, 2010 at 10:54 am

Maybe the “orientation gift issue” would be an appropriate topic on its own. I’ve discovered that most foodie-type gifts (cookies, fruit, etc.) can’t be delivered reliably on Monday (day our APs arrive to orientation) without crazy expensive overnight shipping! I also once had a gift basket that never made it to the AP, though it was delivered to the hotel. (Urgh!)

We do not pay the stipend for orientation week away from our home. For Friday and first weekend at our home, I suggest the AP “get as much sleep as she needs so she’ll be ready for next week!” I’m home all this time, and she never has responsibility for the children, so I don’t consider it work-time until Monday.

I take our APs to Wal-Mart as part of our “welcome to our community” tour the first weekend. I explain that I am happy to pay for all basic toiletries “to help get them started” and these items will be their responsibility for the rest of the year. I also make a point of visiting the “feminine hygiene” aisle, and offer to help select items if they like. This seems to be appreciated.

AnnaAuPair January 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

It never occured to me to be paid for the orientation-days. As Anonymous pointed out, the orientationweek itself is quiet expensive.
I think that preparing a welcome basket is nice.
When my HD picked me up, he had some balloons, which is not much, but made me feel welcome (which unfortunately changed when I was told that I would have to buy sheets for my bed -.-).

PA Au Pair Mom January 28, 2010 at 11:23 am

Your HF made you buy sheets for your bed????? that’s crazy. I consider that a part of “room and board”. We take each of our new APs to Target and allow them to purchase a new set of queen-size sheets and a new comforter. Then they can rotate their new sheets with the ones used by the other APs and the “stock” sets we keep in the house. Makes the room feel more like theirs if they have some input. We also donate the old comforters to the local animal shelter for bedding for the animals.

I still can’t believe they made you buy your own sheets.

AnnaAuPair January 29, 2010 at 7:11 am

I couldn’t either. They took me to Bed, Bath & Beyond and we looked at sheets. At first I thought I’d just pick one… until when my HD said “Yeah choose any. I don’t know how much you want to spend” o_O
Anyway. There were several other things that didn’t quiet went so well with that family.
They were a first-time-HF so I guess just as I didn’t know what to expect, they didn’t either.

Anonymous January 29, 2010 at 9:56 am

Yes, that is true, been first time HF make the family (at least mine) clueless about a lot of things, like a week of stipend for Christmas present or what I read a lot of families does save $10 or so and give it at the end of the year, but I with my family is a good thing too, because they dont know a lot of the rules, so I love my family even if I receive a $20 gift!!

NoVA Host Mom January 29, 2010 at 10:57 am

Not “a lot” of families put $10 aside for an end-of-year bonus. It’s something that some do, and certainly nothing to do with the rules. And we don’t give an additional week’s stipend for Christmas. Again, nothing to do with the rules. It’s each individual family, and there is not a “right or wrong” to gifts or extras. We each do what we can in our own way and not all of it involves cash.

PA Au Pair Mom January 29, 2010 at 11:18 am

I agree with NoVa Mom. Not every family can afford what every other family can. Sometimes we can afford more and sometimes less depending on our exact situation at the time.

We try to be generous with other things, like time off, extra groceries, small impulse buys, dinners out, trips to local places, etc. We actual have found that our current au pair appreciates them more than fancy, expensive gifts, or money.

My 2 cents January 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

I’m more interested in what you pay that last half week they are with you. We were told if they work so much as a minute into their last week, you pay the full week. We decided to just to have those be vacation days since everyone is distracted anyway.


NoVA Host Mom January 28, 2010 at 11:50 am

We paid (at least for the outgoing one) up thru her last full day. She packed in the morning (and was prodded to pretend to clean) when the LCC came to get her, so we was not paid that departure day. Only up to the day before. And it is pro-rated.

Now, with this current one, we might change our tune. She’s a hard worker and has never shirked her duties. After a full year (and most of a second) with us, I have no problem paying her for a full final week even if she is packing or not even with us during half that week.

Jane April 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

I need help on this one regarding departure dates!!! When does the program really end? There is nothing in our literature that says directly the last work day. We have had all our au pairs for exactly one year with us–a year from the time they arrive at our house and start working (Fri. after NYC orientation), NOT a year from their flight to America date. This has worked for all of our previous au pairs, but our current and last au pair says she should be officially done when it’s a year from her US flight date, which means no work that whole last week that I thought she would still be working. In trying to find info on the Internet, I think she’s right–though I see this forum mentions half weeks.

Her travel month trip will not start until the Sunday after what we percieved to be her last working Friday, so she’s still living with us that week either way. I would like her to continue to work that week, and she will get paid and have all her other entitlements–leisure car use, room and board–which I eblieve she wants. However, is she decides she is not working that week because she doesn’t “have” to, well, I’m not so cool with her staying and using us for room/board until her trip departure, especially as I need to get alternative care that I hadn’t counted on. She has not exactly been a gracious au pair, so I’m not feeling generous…she has asked for things our other au pairs would have never dreamed of. Still, I get that she has the right to stop work when it is officially over–I’m not looking to force her into anything–I just want her gone if she is “done.” Advice and thoughts appreciated!!!

Mom23 April 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

It sounds like your au pair is trying to get paid and not work. I don’t know what the rule is with your agency, but every single au pair that I have had has worked up until the date of departure, or within a couple of days. I have usually tried to make the last week a fairly light week with the understanding that the au pair is wrapping things up, sending packages home, packing, saying good-bye to friends, etc. but all of our au pairs have always provided some childcare during her last week.

Anna April 14, 2010 at 10:13 am

With the two agencies I’ve been with, the last day of work for the au pair is the calendar day of her arrival to the USA (start of her orientation) last year. Formally, she is right I think. But of course you don’t owe her a stipend for that extra week before her trip starts, because her year is over.

Darthastewart April 14, 2010 at 10:29 am

We pay them for time worked. If she’s not working that week, she’s not getting paid. – unless she’s using her vacation days for that time.
I’m not really sure what your AP is trying to get out of it, other than to really hork you off.

Jane April 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Seriously, right? I don’t know what her point is in pushing this point either other than to get more paid time off. If she wants to work and get paid until her trip starts, fabulous–if not, she can leave on her official last day and pay for her own lodging/food for the week prior to her trip. Unfortunately this relationship is souring…

PA AP mom April 14, 2010 at 11:53 am

Our agency says their last “working day” is one day prior to their arrival date in the US. Example: Our AP arrived August 31st, 2009 so her last working day is August 30, 2010. You do not have to pay her for the time she is not working.

HRHM April 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I find this more than mildly irritating, as I paid fees for a year of child care, not 51 weeks.

Taking a computer lunch April 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm

The bottom line: ask your LCC to give you the last date your AP works. If it’s before that Friday, then negotiate with the AP to complete the week if you have no overlap. In my experience everyone is really tense just before departure, you’re bound to have disagreements as you get ready to separate. And both AP and HP are done with each other. If she refuses to work, you don’t have the right to force her, but do you really want to end the year by kicking her out of the house? Has it gone that badly? Can you sit down and talk with her, telling her that you will continue privileges like cell phone use (if you provide her with one), access to the car, and perhaps even shorter working hours, knowing that this is also her time to say goodbye to friends, buy last-minute gifts, and try to squeeze everything into suitcases, in exchange for her good will toward your children and working until Friday?

APIA, the agency we use, calculates the year from the day of arrival to the U.S. (which is generally the day before orientation starts). Most of our APs have extended, which usually made it work until the next AP arrived, but last year our AP did not. However, we gave her the option of when the next AP would arrive, and she chose the week the kids were in camp and agreed (wink, nod) to work until they went to camp (e.g. for over a week after her official year ended). We paid her a bonus for agreeing to work past her official end, but if she had chosen not to, our next au pair would have arrived earlier (I was not in a position to stay home with kids).

We are not extending with our current AP, and her official end date is the middle of the week our kids are in camp. We have told her she is free to rematch the weekend they leave, and if she cannot extend with another family, to stay with us for her 13th month. We’re not taking a new AP until after our family holiday (we learned the hard way that it’s too much stress on an AP not to have any down time in a crowded vacation home for her first week).

In my experience, the last three weeks before an AP leaves is extremely stressful for everyone. She’s conflicted. (In my own experience, I’m done and find fault with everything she does.) I try to back off on the schedule as much as I possibly can, buy a phone card so she can call friends and family at home, and let her host her own good-bye party so she can see all her friends at once. I find that I have to take a deep breath, bite my tongue, and let the little things go. I didn’t with my first AP, and it was a huge mistake.

Jane April 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the good advice, Taking a compuer lunch. I admit, my emotions are talking at the moment. Logically if she wants to end on her official end date, there is no problem with that and we should not kick her out of the house. Unfortunately, she has pushed and manipulated to the point where I can’t help but WANT her out.

This is such a different experience for me, because my last months with previous au pairs were such fun, relaxing times, as everyone knew the time was almost up, rules were lax as trust had been gained, and extra vacation days were given freely as the giving went both ways. In the past, my last 3 months with each au pair was the best in many ways. Not so with this one…things seemed to have gotten worse recently as her expectations and entitlement has increased and helpfulness has decreased. I suspect she is just homesick at this point and wants to go home–she has not had the same connection to back home as my past au pairs have had. So, knowing this logically, I am trying and trying to be the bigger person, but then I already give a lot of extra time and extra help, and can’t help but get ticked off when it isn’t appreciated or enough. So, she doesn’t want to work until the day we had agreed upon since she set foot in my house? Okay, no problem. But please stop wanting your cake and eat it too…

Jane April 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm

BTW, do tell about your experience with not biting your tongue with your first au pair. Sometimes I blame getting to this point on myself because I am not speaking up and telling her the things about her behavior that are upsetting to me. After all–everyone keeps saying–talk things out, be open, etc. Sounds like you were open and it didn’t go well…

TX Mom April 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Jane, there is also a thread on keeping the upper hand when you are a lame duck HP. Hopefully more HP’s will share on this topic. :)

Taking a computer lunch April 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm

First I will tell you about the time I did bite my tongue. My 2nd AP was fantastic, and as perfect for that point in time as my first had been when she arrived. She extended for 6 months, and we had been generous with extra time. For example, when her parents came, we gave her an extra week off. However, while her parents were visiting I found I out that I had not one but two exhibitions that had to go on the wall in the next six months. Instead of being generous in her last six weeks, I had to assign her extra hours, so I could make the exhibitions happen. She felt hurt and I had to sit her down and say, “You have been great and we were able to be very generous to you. Now things have changed and they’re not my fault. I know you want to see your friends, have a great time, and say good-bye to everyone. I need to you to work.” She pulled through and we remained friends. She has come back to visit us on a couple of occasions.

My first AP gave us four months notice, but it was a tough year: my daughter had brain surgery, my husband burst his appendix, and I got pneumonia from stripping paint in the basement shower so I could reseal it. We completely cleaned out the back of the basement to make a bedroom for the 2nd AP where our study had been – I sold my books and gave my dissertation notes to a friend working in the same field. I think the AP resented what we were doing, but we had to separate our son from our daughter (she was screaming through the night – something that a microdose of Prozac finally eliminated). The AP pushed and pushed, and it was the wrong year, and I snapped. At one point, in her failure or unwillingness to listen to me, I got snarky, and asked “Do you not understand English or do you refuse to understand me?” The relationship ended badly, but by that time we were more than done with each other and my husband was stressed out from his role as peace-keeper. She quit three weeks before AP #2 arrived, and I bent over backwards to make it work without her (since it wasn’t his fault). AP #1 had stayed with us for 3 1/2 years and we had attempted to sponsor her as an employer, so we had no contract, and at that point, no agency.

My advice is not to get snarky. Try to sit down at the table and say, “I know you’re ready to go home and you want to be done working here, but I’m not happy with the way things are going. You might want a letter of recommendation from me some day, telling your future boss what a great person you are and right now I don’t feel that way. I need you to listen to me and to take your remaining weeks (days?) here seriously. It will be much more fun for both of us if we’re not angry at each other all the time.” But also give her time to air her complaints. Don’t give her a list of all her sins, just the things you absolutely need her to correct. And really try to listen to her, too.

Susann January 28, 2010 at 11:51 am

When I was an au pair (2005 – 2006) CC did not yet offer the welcome packages to be sent to the school in NY. Yes, there was some comparison between the au pairs, as to which family had sent something to the au pair’s country etc. My family had never sent anything, yet I felt very welcomed by them as they always kept on top of when I had my exams, they sent me picture updates of the children and they made sure to wish me good luck for my two important surgeries I had (which, thinking back could have gone horribly wrong and would have left the family without childcare. But the surgeries were set after we matched and they never once reconsidered). We matched in February, I came to the US in July.
I didn’t get paid until the end of my first working week, but I didn’t expect to be paid for the orientation week anyway. I only arrived on Saturday, due to Monday being July 4th the whole orientation was a day later. But when I arrived in California, I was greeted with balloons and there were little gift cards in the house (Jamba Juice, Starbucks) and lots of pictures made by the children. That for me, made me feel much more welcome than any gift basket in NY could have done. I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate the gift basket much anyway, being completely jet-lagged and homesick. I think CC should stop the git basket sending. It does create unnecessary comparison, disappointment and jealousy.

OhioHostMOM January 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

We did not pay our AP for orientation week. Our AP (and subsequent rematches – we had a rough start with homesick girls!) arrived on Thurs. evenings and we paid them one week and one day later, on Friday of their first full week, their first stipend. Like others, I think the welcome baskets are a lot of pressure at orientation, but we always provide fresh flowers in our AP’s room at our house when then arrive and a special welcome gift from the kids, and I make a point of treating them to coffee and taking them to the grocery store to get whatever staples they might need right away that first week. It is always a light week of work with on-the-job training anyway.

I am a new poster (been a lurker for awhile) I am curious as to the rate of rematch and would love to see how often this happens. We just finished our first year. We had our original AP for 3 months, before she left for her home country homesick. Our second AP, a rematch, for 5 weeks, before she too left for her home country. Finally got our wonderful current AP, another rematch, who has been with us 8 months. When we signed up for the program, we were lead to believe rematch was a “rare” thing….but obviously, found out it was actually very common.

Mom23 January 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I think that a lot of host families seek out this site when things start going wrong or have gone wrong with their au pairs. That was certainly my history of seeking this site out.

I think that rematches are far more common that the agencies tell you. When I think back over the times that we have rematched twice it was because of poor driving skills, once because of homesickness, but only once was it a major personality conflict.

Anytime you mix different cultures, family dynamics and personalities you are going to get conflicts.

Darthastewart January 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I think that the rematch rate is probably 30% or higher.

Calif Mom January 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm

That’s exactly my best guess — about 30 percent. Some of it is preventable, some of it is just “goodness of fit”.

Darthastewart January 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

I know my AD was about to climb the walls last week/this week. She was out of town, and while she was gone, 2 AP’s let her know they are going home early (don’t have details on who decided), and we decided to let our au-pair go.

Midwest Mom January 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Now I am recalling the conversation we had with our LCC when we first started the program. I swear she said they only had two rematches in the prior year. I know of three since then (including ours) and it’s only been about 8 months.

TX Mom January 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm

LOL. I recall a similar conversation with our LCC about the % of AP’s who stay in the country (illegally.) I counted on my 2 hands – that I was aware of – and she mentioned an absurd statistic like 1 in 9 years. (I still like our LCC. :) )

I know this is off topic, but it seems like the re-match rate is really high this past year in our cluster. I wonder if it has something to do with the economy. (motivations, stress, etc.)

Anonymous April 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I am wondering how many aupairs went into rematch because of family economics. A number of my own friends have lost jobs but everyone felt that they needed childcare in order to look for a job

OR_HM April 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm

We eventually went into rematch with our AP due to economics– we kept her until just now, and my husband was laid off in December (~4 mths). We wanted to make sure we did have childcare and didn’t want to chang our situation when he did get a job, but it’s taking too long. Fortunately, she was able to find another family locally (which we have encouraged the agency to allow). My son will be going to preschool a few hours a week to let my husband look for work; it’s still an expense, but much less than the cost of the full-time AP.

Sara Duke January 29, 2010 at 8:40 am

I lived abroad when I was a young woman. My husband studied in the Soviet Union for a year. Both of us know how hard it is to adapt to a new country, new food, and new people when you suddenly miss your home so much.

When confronted with a homesick au pair, I have found that if I am sympathetic and open about my own experiences, it mitigates her sense of loss. I purchase an extra $10 phone card so she can call home. I try to make myself more available – by coming home earlier, by inviting her to have tea with me after the kids go to bed. I also make a point of inviting her to join us in all of our family activities during her off hours.

One au pair arrived at a point in the year where it was not possible for her to go to a typical American college, so we enrolled her in an approved language school for an intensive 4-night-a-week course. That got her out of the house and busy. We encouraged her to call other APs in our cluster (our counselor has a buddy system, but not all of the buddies are up to the task of welcoming new APs).

I have found that if you can get homesick APs through their difficult first weeks, that their bond with you is especially strong. You don’t need to spoil them with “things” just a little attention.

OhioHostMOM January 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Yea…well I tried that with both our homesick girls. Beat the dead horse with the first one for 3 months. Her depression was overwhelming the house. And I could say I knew what she was experiencing, as not only had I myself lived abroad as a graduate student, by my children and I were spending the same year apart from HD, who was deployed overseas. I was sympathetic, and tried with whole hope some of the very things you suggested (believing they would help), but our first girl was just mentally not capable of overcoming the homesickness. I suppose I might have given up a little early with the 2nd girl when she announced she too was homesick and was returning home as well after only 5 weeks. She even refused to speak with the LCC about staying or rematching, she just wanted to go home. My own children and I had not seen our husband/father in 4 months (and would not for another 7 months), had already weathered the frustration of welcoming and saying goodbye to 1 au pair already (and I have young children on whom that was very difficult given the absence of their daddy already), and I just let the second one go. She on the other hand wrote months later saying she wished she had stayed! Oh well. I almost gave up…..but was glad I didn’t. We have the best AP now who has been with us 8 months, daddy is home safe, and we finally feel like this can be the great programs we hoped it would be from the start!

I agree…there are somethings we can do as HF’s to help a homesick au pair. But I also learned….there is sometimes nothing we can do!

PA Au Pair Mom January 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I asked our LCC about rematching when we were selecting our very first au pair. She said in her cluster, her experience has been about 1 rematch for every 40 au pairs.

Not sure if that helps.

Should be working January 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I find that statistic hard to believe–1 out of 40?? Anyone look at Cultural Care’s “Community support” site? There was a question on there asking for full disclosure of rematch rates, but the president declared it was confidential info (or something like that).

PA Au Pair Mom January 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

disclosure: I am not by any means saying that is an ACTUAL figure!! just sharing it for reference.

I saw the question on CCAP’s community board and was a little put off by the refusal of Natalie Jordan to answer honestly.

MommyMia January 28, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I,too, find that hard to believe, just from my four years’ experience in our small cluster. I think if we all keep lobbying for the agencies to disclose this information so we can better compare what we’re getting for our money, it will lead to better customer service. I think Edina’s AuPair Clearinghouse site has touched on this previously, but the agencies are very closed-mouthed about the rematch rate.

Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I would like to know , too, but honestly I can see why they think it is none of our business. Then we would ask the reason for the rematches and they would get in murky waters. I think we can figure this out by asking to interview the rematch candidates everytime we apply. Then we can draw our own conclusions. My agency never has a lot of rematch candidates and that impressed me.My agency is a ” see the whole group ” agency

JJ January 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

First of all, our agency specifies that we start paying the au pair after her first actual week of work, so no, we don’t pay her for her orientation time.

I may be opening a can of worms here, but I honestly don’t think the orientation (for non-English speakers) is anything more than a way for her to get over jet lag, meet some other au pairs, and see New York. That’s a lot of specialized vocabulary crammed into a few very short, very jet-lagged, very overwhelmed days. So I don’t particularly see a need to pay for that (any more than, as the poster above pointed out, I’m already paying to the agency.)

My cynical 2 cents.

Susann January 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Exactly, this is what I believe orientation is for. Did I learn anything in the lessons? No. But it helped me to get communicating in English, get over the homesickness (because you just don’t have time to be homesick! The orientation days from CC are so tightly scheduled) and to eventually get over my jet-lag.
I would be very surprised if any au pair actually expects to be paid for that.

Anonymous January 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I have been told that the orientation is a federal regulation – the State Department mandates it. I cannot believe that the agencies would take on that expense if they did not have to. Also, have you read the training manual the aupairs receive ? It is pretty good.
My mother in law read it and said she wished she had had a similiar book when she started raising children. I do not know if anyone actually reads the manual but they have an opportunity to do so. Also, the training includes first aid and CPR.

That is my cynical outlook. It is an opportunity that most people do not take advantage of. I heard once of an aupair who took off from the training and went home or AWOL …. has anyone else had this experience ?

Anon January 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Here’s what APC says in their “Host Family Thrive Guide:”
• Au pairs typically arrive on a Thursday or Friday. They officially begin their job on the day that they arrive into your home and should receive their initial weekly stipend at the end of the following week (that next Thursday or Friday). The first couple of days of the au pairs arrival should be focused on acclimating your au pair to their new home/community.

Au Pair in CO January 29, 2010 at 12:53 am

My host family had prepared a gift basket for me, but what really made me feel welcome happened the day before I left home, when host mom sent me an email and asked what my favorite dinner was, so they could make that for me on the day I arrived. It’s the little things that count;)

And in reply to Poor Au Pair; I never expected my host family to pay for my toiletries when I got here, why should they? If you don’t pack enough to make it till you get your first paycheck, you should bring cash and buy it yourself.

Poor AuPair January 29, 2010 at 2:03 am

Au Pair in CO as I said above I never expect they to buy me anything, when I arrived on Friday evening I have all my toiletries, because of the same I bought everything in my free time in NY.

Au Pair in CO January 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

“From there just one time my HM offer pay for my toiletries and she gave my $5.00!! I wonder If she expected me too go to a dollar store!!”

Just sounded like you were so disappointed by this, that I got the feeling you were expecting more.

Darthastewart January 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I wonder if this is one of those cases where the HM shouldn’t do anything at all, or should, instead, do something different. Either do a nice gift, whatever it is, or don’t do it at all. I would guess that a $5 gift card to starbucks or a couple of fresh flowers and a card made by the kids wouldn’t have gone a lot further.

Cyndi August 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm

My host mom did the exact same things – sent me a text message while I was at the training school saying that she knew the food was pretty bad there (I am their 4th AP) and what was I craving for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights! It made me feel so welcomed!

German Au-Pair August 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm

My HM also asked me what my favorite kind of Pizza was and gave me a list of possible drinks she would buy for me and made me pick. So when I arrived, the pizza was already waiting for me and I loved it!
Also she bought everything I need in the bathroom that you could possibly imagine.
She stuffed my room with pictures from my application and the books I told her I wanted to read when I asked for the library.
I did not get paid for the orientation week but I appreciated all this stuff WAY more than I could have possible appreciated any money.

Nicole January 29, 2010 at 9:50 pm

We had 4 Au Pairs in 2 years. I definitely think the rematch rate is high and would love to see this as a topic.

franzi January 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

i also have the feeling that the rematch rate is higher than what i was told by the agency and LCC when i was an AP.

Anonymous January 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I cannot get an exact figure on rematch rates so what I do is to tell the agency I want to consider placing with a rematch girl. Sometimes , I have been told that there is no one out there and sometimes I have been told fine but there are only a few girls available. This is very encouraging , I think. I always tell the agencies that I want to see rematch people and new arrivals. I get an idea of how many rematches they have from this technique.
I don’t know what I would do with an agency that assigns people

Soccer Mom January 31, 2010 at 12:44 am

We do not consider the 4 days at AP school, or the Fri afternoon through Sunday at our house to be work days for our AP. We do pay our au pair “in advance” that first Sunday for the work week ahead by check. We write the work week it applies to in the memo field each week so there is not a misunderstanding at the end of the year that we owe an extra stipend since we continue to pay every Sunday in advance for the entire year. The AP needs to go, open a bank account and deposit that first check. It is likely toward the end of that week before those funds are available anyway. If we miss a Sunday meeting due to our or her travels (a handful of times throughout the year) she still gets paid “early” on Mon or Tues for the week she is currently working.

Melissa January 31, 2010 at 2:06 am

We paid our AP after the first full work week in our home and didn’t count the first three days of her arrival. If I recall correctly, we were told by the agency that these days were ‘get settled/get to know you days’ and shouldn’t be paid. And although during those first three days the AP is interacting and playing with the kids, and I do give her lots of info about our family and the kids, it is in a very general, conversational way, and I don’t break out the handbook and start really talking schedules and expectations until the first Monday. To be honest, it never even occurred to me to pay for their time during orientation.

Amy February 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm

We paid ours, I thought we had to.

Anna February 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

Now you know. :)

Anonymous February 2, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I’ll bet the drop out rate is high because the economy is awful and there are lots of unethical people who will steal someone else’s aupair. They can make their own deal with her and feel like they got over. I have no idea how many nanny jobs there are waiting but I will bet they don’t pay medical insurance or talk about gift baskets waiting in her room

Anonymous February 17, 2010 at 6:35 am

I pay the au pair for the 3 days in CT @ orientation with the company. Then I give them the Thursday thru Monday morning off. They start orientation on Monday thru Friday with me and I pay them for that week.

I make a point of sending them a basket of goodies @ orientation, have flowers in their room when they arrive here. And when they finally get settled in, after about a month, I offer them a welcome gift of either a Swedish massage @ a local spa or a new pair of hiking boots/snow boots since we live up north. It seems to work for us.

We have always felt that taking great care of our au pairs generally translates into better care of our children.

NOVA Former Host Mum April 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

I don’t think buying them ‘stuff’ makes them take better care of your kids but I do agree that a nice welcome basket and making them generally feel like part of the family is important.
I never paid any of our 4 Au Pairs for orientation. We had 4 Au Pairs and only 1 worked out..maybe it was us!!
1st one(actually a great Au Pair) got fired after 3 months as she did something illegal (and then went AWOL) and stayed illegally in the US and is now back in the US marrying an American (how does that happen?), 2nd one (was a rematch from 1 weekend with a scary sounding family )amazing, stayed with us for a yr and still in contact with her. Had a break from Au Pairs for 1 1/2 yrs, 3rd one stayed 5 weeks and went home as ”we were too laid back” (she was pointy boots’s cousin I think), 4th was a rematch from another family who was getting divorced and she finished up her yr (3 months total) with us and wanted to extend. We declined as she was terrible and she went home.

Anonymous April 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I once talked to an aupair in rematch who had not gotten paid for a couple of weeks due to the fact that she was not working for the family anymore. She presented well on the phone and looked great on paper. She went to a family who sent her a check for two of the weeks she had not gotten paid by her first family. She told me that the family could not welcome her for two more weeks so they sent her the check ( or money order ) . She was not a golddigger but a nice girl who was frightened at being without cash and deeply grateful to the woman who understood that. I had never even entertained such an idea but I thought it showed kindness and saavy.
That was a host mother who knew how to use money effectively.

OR_HM April 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm

We had a rematch AP, who had about 3 wks between when she “needed” to start and when we could have her start. She was staying with an LCC, but we gave her some money during that time. Not the whole stipend, but some cash so she could get around and take care of herself.

Anonymous April 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I really respect that

azmom December 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

We chose to not have our AP not to work while in rematch. We were rematching due to a few reasons and we no longer wanted her to care for our kids. Before we rematch she “knew” she had a good chance of not being with us, so she should know to watch her spending. She was still getting room and board.

No she didn’t get paid orientation week from us – our contract says she’s in our house for 51 weeks – those are the weeks we pay her. She did get extra pay for the vacation she did not take, so she did get some extra money. Had she not found a new family, I may have gave her a few extra dollars but she miraculously found a new family and I definitely want to know how *that* works for her, the actress :)

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