EduCare or Regular Au Pair?

by cv harquail on January 11, 2010

Have you ever compared the EduCare program to the the regular Au Pair program?

If you’ve chosen the EduCare, what swung you over? And, what’s your experience been with EduCare Au Pairs?

What’s the EduCare Program?

201001101615.jpgFrom the website of the US Department of State:

The Au Pair program includes the EduCare component.

  • The EduCare component is only for families who have school-aged children and require childcare before and after school hours. Accordingly, au pairs participating in the EduCare component may not be placed with families having preschool children, unless alternative, full-time arrangements are in place for their supervision.
  • The EduCare au pair may work no more than 10 hours per day, and a maximum of 30 hours per week.
  • Au pairs participating in the EduCare component receive 75 percent of the weekly rate paid to au pairs.
  • EduCare au pairs must complete a minimum of 12 hours of academic credit or its equivalent during the program year.
  • The host family is required to provide (up to) the first $1,000 toward the cost of the au pair’s required academic course work.

EduCare Au Pairs get a weekly stipend of $146.81 (vs. the stipend of $195.75 for regular au pairs). [Why they get 75% of the weekly stipend for working 66% of the regular 45 hour week, I don’t know.]


Here’e how the EduCare program is described to prospective au pairs:

The EduCare program is suited to someone who would like to spend more time studying, and less time looking afer the host family’s children. With EduCare you work up to 30 hours a week instead of 45 hours. Naturally, you earn slightly less, but your US$1,000 study allowance allows you to take courses for six hours a week.
EduCare departures take place in July/August or December. As Educare participants start their chosen college courses in either September or January, this gives you time to get to know your family and surroundings before classes start.

I discovered, with my little research for this post, that I never really understood the EduCare program…. I assumed that the program was designed for au pair candidates who wanted to do more studying than au pairs on the regular program. I didn’t realize that the program was also designed for families who simply needed less childcare– precisely because their kids were in full days of school… it’s as much about the kids’ educational status as the au pairs. Duh.

Even though my girls are in school for a full day now, this plan wouldn’t work for us… but not (only) because of the 30 hour on-duty limit. The real reason is that no one could afford to take the entire 22 credit hours of education, with only a $1000 tuition stipend! in our part of the USA, it’s hard enough to get the six credit hours of the regular program, and usually that costs the au pair &/or family more than $500. So for us, the basic expectation of this program is just unrealistic — unless we were happy to pay more for education, or our au pair was willing to put her pocket money (and more?) towards tuition.

But, I hear that the cost of living and going to school is lower outside the NYC area… so maybe it would be more realistic for you.

Are EduCare Candidates different from regular Au pair Candidates?


According to the regulations and the agency websites I scanned, there are no differences in what is required of candidates for these two programs. However, it would be interesting to hear from you if you’ve seen differences. Perhaps the kind of young person who selects EduCare over the regular option is more interested in studying? (Or, maybe s/he wants to work fewer hours, and/or doesn’t’ really need that much pocket money?)

CalifMom recently mentioned:

…We are looking at the educare program for next time. The APs have to take two classes per term, so they are not able to just sit at home–they will have to be more on top of things. I think that program will attract APs who are more driven, more achievement-oriented, and hence better at getting stuff done, as well. Just assumptions here, though.

Parents, what do you think about these two programs? What has your experience been, if you’ve used or considered EduCare? Do tell….

From Flicker: Salihah on the day before school on from bingregory
First Day at School from Danacea
Ist Day of School 2009, No.1 from Jeff Blucher


PA au pair mom January 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm

The EduCare program would be PERFECT for our family, but it is only available in select areas (i.e. large cities) so it is not an option for us. I think because of that we are going to withdraw from the AP program when our current au pair leaves in August. With both kids in school now it just doesn’t make sense for the extra expense.

TX Mom January 13, 2010 at 1:52 pm

PA AP mom,
We are in the same situation. I put a post recently under the “cost of au pairs” that with a pre-schooler needing more stimulation and attending some classes the cost of a full time AP is growing and becoming difficult to justify for us. An EduCare AP would be great because I dread the craziness of school vacation days and kid sick days that lie ahead of us.

Mom23 January 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I have thought about it because I do have school aged children, but the 30 hour maximum would be difficult to manage in the summer, when I need about 40 hours of childcare. During the school year we need 15 hours/week unless a child is sick, there is a school holiday etc. Also, as you mention our au pairs cannot fulfill the current educational requirements on $500 in our area. It used to be that volunteering was allowed to earn some of the hours and some of our earlier au pairs enjoyed those opportunities.

MommyMia January 12, 2010 at 8:52 pm

We, too, would love to explore this option, but it’s not offered in our area. I don’t know if the programs select certain metropolitan areas having more popular or accessible education programs that more au pairs are interested in, or why it’s not more widely available. We had interviewed an applicant last year who actually had “EduCare” on all the copies of her application form, but somehow she got into the pool with regular applicants. She seemed eager to speak with the agency about switching the status after learning that we are in California, but was told that was not possible, and after some thought, decided that she really was more interested in going to school than the childcare aspect of the program, so it’s good that we matched with someone else. She, though, didn’t fully understand the differences when she was applying nor when she was interviewed, I believe.

Janet January 12, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Has anyone ever shared an AP? Is this allowed? Since August my AP has watched the neighbor’s two children after school on several occasions (nothing steady & maybe 4 or 5 times). My neighbor asked me first if this would be okay, and I told her it was up to the AP. The AP doesn’t mind and has also babysat for the kids at their house.

My neighbor and I had talked about possibly sharing an AP, but I have not talked to the LCC about this. Currently I only need someone to watch the kids about 35 hours a week. I can see where there might be some problems, though.

PA au pair mom January 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm

I know that it is against the rules to share an au pair but I also know of families that do it.

CV January 13, 2010 at 8:49 am

Last year we had a convo about Should You Share Your Au Pair It was more about occasional sharing, rather than formalized (and still against the rules) sharing, but many of the issues are the same.

My 2 cents January 13, 2010 at 11:12 am

What if the families are both in the program and there are 2 au pairs? We were approached by a HF that has many kids and so needs more of a 55 hour work week, whereas we only needed someone at the time for maybe 30 hours. They proposed the idea of using our au pair for the extra hours — paying part of her stipend of course and perhaps part of the agency fees. Agency doesn’t lose here, if anything, they gain because families who don’t need FT have other options.

Still against the rules? Just curious. Seems like a great way for families who have school aged kids to split the costs with another family that really has a hard time with the 45 hours limit.

Anonymous January 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

Still against the rules

franzi January 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

still against the rules as the AP can only have a contract with one family.

AnnaAuPair January 14, 2010 at 4:54 am

I guess ut’s still against the rules. But so is working more than 45 hours, which a lot of AuPairs do.
In my oppinion, as long as the AuPair is fine with it and you can live with going against the rules, you can still do it. I’d say that quiet a lot of families don’t follow ALL rules and quiet a lot of AuPairs don’t have a problem with that.

Sara Duke January 12, 2010 at 10:51 pm

EduCare au pair applicants tend to be Europeans who are fluent in English and looking to study in a field in which they are potentially interested. We have never matched with one because they seem equally disinterested in caring for special needs children.

It’s a perfect system for parents of school-age children who don’t want to deal with the rigamoral of before-and-after care, and worrying about summer camp transportation.

We’ve never done it. We have primarily relied on Au Pair Extraordinnaires, a program that our agency offers for au pairs candidates who have had two years of direct work experience with children. I’ve never quite figured out the dividing line, because our other au pairs have also had extensive experience working with children.

I must add, however, given a previous comment, that we do not feel obliged to make up the difference in education costs for our au pairs (although it’s absurd that in the 9 years au pairs have been living with us that the standard has remained $500 when tuition costs have risen so much). We give both a cash bonus and gifts at the holidays, and I figure that the wise au pair will set aside the cash bonus for tuition. It may sound callous, but I have to budget carefully against skyrocketing costs and so do my au pairs.

PA au pair mom January 12, 2010 at 11:27 pm

I know what you mean about education costs. At our local colleges, one credit costs about 300 dollars and they need 6. not possible. because of that, we encourage TOEFL courses through the local community colleges or the weekend course offerings.

franzi January 13, 2010 at 2:58 pm

the difference between regular APs and Extraordinaires is that the latter have a completed education/training directly linked to childcare whereas regular APs mostly only have babysitting/summer camp experience

Sara Duke January 13, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Not true. My current au pair has worked in a kindergarten and completed her BA in pedagogy – in China. She’s a regular au pair. A former au pair worked in a kindergarten and completed a high school degree in pedagogy – she was an Extraordinnaire. Go figure.

franzi January 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm

well, someone who qualifies for extraordinaire can always go as regular AP (sometimes they switch because the family can’t afford an extraord.) but a regular AP cannot go extraord. when she’s lacking the qualifications

Calif Mom January 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Right. Some Extraordinaire-qualified candidates do decide that there aren’t enough families to choose from, so they will take the lower stipend and join a family that is on the “standard” plan. Happened to us personally.

The au-pair April 13, 2010 at 10:14 am

I am an extraordinary au-pair. i guess the difference is that our experience are “educational” .

I think I agree about the educares. I have educare friends who like their kids and hostfamilies. But in the end, their main reason for coming here is to study.. And I do think that says alot.

Au Pair January 12, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Very interesting. I`ve been here for 18 months and i got 15 credits on my first year. Of course I took some money out of my pocket, but I got also free classes, TOEFL, Reading, Listening, Improving pronunciation, most of all my free time I spent in class, even Saturdays, I wasn`t planning on staying for the second year, so I kind of rushed to complete my goal here… to improve my English. This year things are different and if I get 6 it would be too much unfornatelly, but it is for major reasons that I understand, but I got get my plane ticket back, hehehe…
If by any chance somebody heard of an Au Pair changing programs, becoming an EduCare instead of Au Pair I would like to hear of it.
Nice subject!

Anonymous January 13, 2010 at 9:20 am

Per Au Pair in America – The reason that Educare is only offered in certain markets is that the agency has an agreement with schools in those markets to allow APs to register for courses at reduced rates that would allow them to get their required classes at or near the $1000 mark.
So, if you live in an area where you think there is a high demand, then maybe you and/or your LCC should start working on the colleges in the area to make a similar deal.
It’s funny – I wanted to switch to Educare but couldn’t because my kids aren’t old enough. Even though DD2 is in preschool the same hours as DD5 is is school, they wouldn’t allow it. I really just need someone to get them off to school in the AM and the choices are all sub-optimal. :(

AnonymousHostMom January 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Good point. However, the colleges in our area (So. California) are already super-expensive and they won’t even consider waiving the “non-resident” tuition fees, but tack on an extra “International Student” fee, even for an extension au pair (granted, she lived in another state the first year, but she has always had a SNN and now has a DL from our state). Thanks to our legislators, and our state’s budget crisis, no remedy in sight in the near future! Maybe I can start lobbying a politician friend who lives in another city to start there, as there is another cluster in his area.

NoVA Host Mom January 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

I did look at this option, not for now but for ideas towards the future. I am not sure how this will work for our work schedules, though, since my husband and I have shift work and can still get called in at any time. I can see where exceeding the 30-hr limit would happen quickly. In addition, until this post, it had not occurred to me about the issue of the summer hours increasing. I have a feeling that we will be AP users for many years to come (at least the 10 until one of us retires, anyway).

Calif Mom January 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Thanks for the post, CV! (I swear, one day I’ll have time to do more writing for you!)

It strikes me that these programs didn’t do adequate market research. Who exactly ARE they trying to sell this program to? Everyone who has kids in school has to deal with summer coverage.

It’s the summertime problem that may be the ultimate sticking point on EduCare for us. Even with the regular program and 45 hours, there were weeks toward the end of summer last year when I hired teenagers for a few hours to give both our AP and our kids a break and keep them all still loving each other.

I recently presented this very issue to a smaller agency rep that offers educare “so what DO people do about the summer hours problem?”. She didn’t really have an answer. I think the program is too new to have a lot of people out there with actual experience with it.

Also note that APIA only has APs come in at the end of summer; but what if you are on a different cycle? My au pair leaves at the beginning of summer this time–how am I supposed to bridge the gap? (And boy are those first-year APs going to be stunned come their first June when they realize what they are up against until the end of August!) I have discovered that other agencies (at least one) does not ONLY bring them in twice a year.

The math seems to be this: Is the net difference in program fees, stipends, and educational costs greater or less than the amount we would have to pay for supplemental childcare and/or camp for two kids. My brain hurts already thinking about this!

It’s sure important to look at that summer schedule and make sure there aren’t too many weeks in a row of unrelenting “togetherness”!

I do worry about the college-oriented APs seeing EduCare as a free ride to a certificate from a school in the U.S., without fully understanding the kid-care aspect of it.

I was hoping to be able to take advantage of lower costs, since we’re requiring less work. I will build that spreadsheet and see what happens. I have a hunch that with cost of camp for two kids we’ll end up back in the standard program. I guess I should be happy that it may give us an easier time recruiting (though we have hurdles there, as well!)

If only there were a perfectly tailor-able program, to suit your changing childcare needs as your precious baby and your career (oh yeah, there is that!) grow.

TX Mom January 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

We had an out-of-country AP arrive at our house the night school was finished for the summer. I would avoid that scenario if there is anyway possible! The kids (and HP’s and AP) were like wild animals released from the cage. Even a few weeks of camp, family vacation sans AP, a neighbor teenager or a college student would be a worthwhile buffer. Or maybe a summer AP (APIA offers it, I think.)

Calif Mom January 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm

OMG–end of school is hellish enough without throwing a new person into the mix. I think it might chase an otherwise wonderful AP out of the program, actually! ;-)

Anonymous January 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm

The reason for their limited arrival dates is to line up their visa with the academic calendar – ie if they show up mid-march, they will only have one semester to get all their courses taken, whereas if they come in at the end of summer, they will be present for 2 full semesters.

Calif Mom January 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Someone could sell a Summer Special program!

AnnaAuPair January 14, 2010 at 4:58 am

Actually. there are agencies, who do a “Summer-Au-Pair”-Programm. But unfortunately not the big ones.

Anna January 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I believe recently summer au pair program was discontinued by the State Department, so no agencies offer it anymore.

Anonymous January 14, 2010 at 10:50 am

Doesn’t Cultural Care have a summer au pair program? If they do, I bet the others offer something.

What about a college girl on summer break or a HS grad headed to college??

Calif Mom January 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm

We tried using college kids–it’s hit or miss. Several were remarkably unreliable. I can’t deal with the anxiety of waiting for phone calls from a babysitter who missed her bus and can’t pick up from day camp, so I have to leave my office and tear home at breakneck speed. It’s anxiety-provoking for mom and kid who is then The Last One To Be Picked Up.

cultural care lcc January 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm

As an LCC for Cultural Care I know we do not offer a summer AP program any more. This is due to Department of State discontinuing the program. I have school age kids ( 3 ) and I have the same dilemma. Even with discounts it’s a lot of money for hours I will not use. One suggestion is to inquire with previous Aupairs from any program who may be interested in coming for the summer on a vistor/tourist visa. Just paying the airfair and a stipend is less than the agency fee and stipend and is only for the summer . Germany has the easiest process for the aupairs to come and short stay. Good luck

Dorsi January 15, 2011 at 1:57 am

As was recently pointed out in another thread, it is possible to have a former Au Pair come on a tourist visa. It is also illegal.

Chica Au Pair January 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm

yes, APIA offers au pair summer

Mom23 January 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm

After a very bad au pair experience, we are taking a break from having an au pair. We have a wonderful young woman using our au pair room in exchange for after school child care. However, she has an internship and will not be able to work full time during the summer. While I have always enrolled the kids in some activities, for the very reason that Calif Mom mentioned above, I find the full time summer camp thing getting very expensive and stressful to organize. I haven’t had to do it before. One week of summer camp in my area for three kids is just a little less than one month of au pair stipend and agency fees.

Sara Duke January 14, 2010 at 7:51 am

Yes, for those of you who do not have school-age children, the joys of summer are trying to make it work for the kids, the au pair and your budget.

We have “Camp AP” for some of the weeks, but I have to balance the needs of handicapped child with severe heat control issues with an active boy who would bounce off the walls. The balance? I find inexpensive public day camps for him – he often chooses sports in the summer, rather than expensive private “enrichment” camps. My daughter does “extended school year” for the month of July, so she’s in school half-day.

My au pair becomes the chauffeur (with me leaving work occasionally to make it work – I work from 6:30-3:00 and my husband works from 8:30-5:00 so we have some flexibility at each end of the day). If I had two typical children, they just might have “Camp AP” all summer, but my daughter’s core temperature goes through the roof pretty quickly in the summer sun, so tossing her in a swimming pool is the best solution for staying outside.

My APs are warned that they cannot take their vacation time between the middle of June and the middle of August – it’s far too expensive for me to hire someone to chauffeur my son around and too hard to get short-term nursing to watch my daughter when she’s home.

We’re already starting to plan my son’s summer, so if you are thinking of summer camps, start looking now! (Sick, isn’t it?)

Calif Mom January 14, 2010 at 7:03 pm

This is a great reminder for my checklist for Our Next AP…must actually enjoy swimming, not just “be willing to drag them to the pool”. If I’m paying for the pool, I want exhausted, happy kids out of the deal when I come home in summer! :-)

AnonymousHostMom January 14, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I’m with you there! Nothing worse than an AP who says she’s a good swimmer, but only wants to sit on the edge and watch the girls, but they heaven forbid anyone splash their hair or ruin their makeup (or worse, they can’t get in for ten days after getting a new tattoo!!) Our current AP scored big points, arriving in November, and going out to the pool the first hours after coming and gamely jumping into the unheated pool with one of my kids after digging through her luggage to find her bathing suit – priceless! It’s that spirit and willingness to join in the fun that make her such a great addition to our family.

Sara Duke January 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Our current AP put down on her application that she was a beginner swimmer. She arrived and we discovered that not only is she a non-swimmer, but she’s afraid of the water. We have an above ground pool, a gift to my daughter from Make-a-Wish. (My daughter may be retarded, but she knows how to get out to the pool in the summer – she’s not stupid!)

For the few weeks that the pool was open after my current AP arrived last August (because we went on holiday on a lake in northern VT almost immediately and then school started before Labor Day), she relied on my son (who is now 9 but can swim laps so this pool is nothing to fear for him) to jump in and bring my daughter (who is now 11 but functions like a 1-year-old) to the steps. The pool is 3 1/2 feet deep, so my AP’s fear must be great not to get in, since it would be slightly above her waist.

We took a risk with this au pair, who was less than a perfect candidate, and she really has worked extremely hard to deal with her deficits (driving and receptive/spoken English). I feel guilty going after her about the swimming (but I will because my daughter’s not really safe if she’s afraid to jump in the pool). Believe me, though, swimming will be a series of questions in our verbal telephone interview, “Describe your ability to swim. Do you enjoy going into the water? Do you feel confident that if I child could not swim that you could rescue it?”

Calif Mom January 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm

“How many times have you been swimming in the past year?”

Sara Duke January 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

That’s a good one, too. For most of my au pairs it has not been an issue – they have to stay outside and sit by the pool while my daughter is in it, so most of the jump right in rather than get eaten alive by mosquitos. The Brazilians have preferred to wait until the water warms up, while for the Europeans anything will do (because the water tends to be warmer than northern European pools, lakes and river from the moment we open it). We do assign points to the survey so we don’t get non-swimmers, but the above is a good question to weed out those who put something down on the survey, perhaps because they were coatched that it was needed.

TX Mom January 15, 2010 at 11:15 am

Swimming is just one of the “outdoor/active” characteristics we desire. Not only do I want the kids physically exhausted, but we spend most vacations in remote parts of the country and I want an AP who will ENJOY the experience. But, we have a 50/50 success rate from our interviewing process. Some AP’s play sports or go to the gym but don’t like to “play outside…” And others aren’t “athletic” but love to be active.
I get a red flag now for AP’s who list “going to the gym” as a pastime because I’m afraid they are the type who can swim but don’t want to get in the water with the kids. (Sorry, AP’s, for the generalization.)

Darthastewart January 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I’m with you guys on this one. My current au-pair put on her resume that she swims. She has basically refused to take the kids to the pool at all because she is “not comfortable”.

Anonymous January 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I agree this program would be great if they could work 45 hours in the 3 summer months. I would be willing to pay an increase in those months

PA aupair mom January 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm

me too. technically the AP’s are probably out of school for the summer break too so it doesn’t seem like it would be too big of a problem.

Calif Mom January 16, 2010 at 9:19 pm

many would be fine with it–both APs and families who would be willing to compensate for it– but if you want to comply with the regulations, you are SOL. And the timing: if an AP arrives before/during summer, it is a BIG SHOCK and a Big Drag to deal with kids all the long summer days.

Anonymous January 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm

A lot of people send kids to camp all summer although I do not see that trend reflected here. That effectively means that there is really no difference in schedule between the nine academic months and the three camp months .So, why bother with the EDUcare programs ?
Moreover, many kids over 8 go to sleep away camp for 4-6 weeks every summer. That seems to me more of an issue. A neighbor of mine arranged for her aupair to take her 13th month during July and August when the kids were at camp. She told me that the agency they were with objected to this plan but the family stayed in the program so there was no long term problem. Is summer camp a more popular practice in the Northeast ? No one else on this thread seems to have issues around it ?

East Coast Host January 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Do you have ides how much summer camps cost? In my area, a half decent summer camp, not a good, or evern great summer camp, costs over $4,000 for 7 weeks. For a family with 2-3 kids it is $8,000 to $12,000 just for the summer in addition to the costs associated with au pair. And it still leaves 1-2 weeks in August that are not covered by the camp when families would need an au pair for the full 45 hours, and that still may not cover the full childcare needs of the family requiring either getting an additional babysitter or paying au pair overtime (which is the same thing in costs).

If there are families that can afford all summer summer camps and au pairs that is great. But others, just covering the cost of au pair is a struggle.

maleaupairmommy January 17, 2010 at 3:11 am

On the west coast kids go to camp for a week not the summer on the East Coast. I had a complete utter shock when I went to be a camp nurse on the East Coast not only were the kids way different but so were the parnets. Wow! That was an education. Sleep away camp for the summer is a rarity in the PNW

Ann from NE January 18, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Our last AP left 4 months ago and we didn’t get a new one because it my daughter (5) started elementary school where they have a decent Extended Day program (starting 7:15 am and ending 6pm) during days school is in session and also full-day vacation daycare camps during February, April and summer vacations. This summer will be our first summer cobbling together various day camps for childcare. Our town’s local summer day camp options include: cheapest (through public recreation department) runs $75/week (partial day, 8:45-2:30pm); summer camp at her public school ($250 week/full day, 8:30am-5:30pm), and sports camp with swimming at local private gym ($350/week non-members, 9am-4pm; can extend to 7am-6pm.). If we wanted to send her to a popular private music school summer program (just 6 hours of childcare, 9am-3pm daily), that would be over $430 a week. The toughest to cover seem to be the 2 weeks before Labor Day, but in our area the YMCA and the private sports club camps are still in session then. I work less than full-time so have enough flexibility to adjust to any of this schedules. An au pair makes no more economic sense for us, though it was great for our daughter’s bilingual education. We live in East Coast metro area.

HM in VA January 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm

When we looked at switching, you don’t save that much going to Educare vs Au Pair. looked to be same 1x upfrot costs and $50 less per week stipend. But $500 more in educational expense.

In addition to solving the summer issue, we also have some cushion time. help a little later on weeknights, on weekends, the rare occasion when my husband & I get to go out together, etc. the other consideration is for sick days. If an Educare has school during most weekdays when kids are in school, if your child is sick and you need her to stay home, she would then have to agree to miss her class.

all of the above pushed us to keep a regular Au Pair

Should be working January 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Great point about flexible care for sick kids, which also holds for school breaks and those random ‘in-service’ days where there is no school.

Dorsi January 23, 2010 at 12:40 am

I kept waiting for someone else to do the math on this, but no one did, so here goes. (Numbers are from APIA)

Cost difference between AP and Educare (assuming that all other expenses, car insurance, housing, food, etc are the same)

-1300 less in program fee
+500 more in school fees
-50/wk x 52 weeks in stipend


Educare costs $3400 less/year.

You get 15hrs less per week x 50 weeks of childcare


Educare APs provide 750 hours less childcare/year.

That means your additional hours of childcare (assuming you use all 45 per week) cost you 4.50/hour.

Another way of looking at it is that the absolute cost difference is $65/week. I can’t imagine giving up the freedom and flexibility of a regular AP for $65/week.

LI Au Pair February 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Hi there!


Why? When I matched my HF, they told me about it. As one of my goals as an Au Pair was studying ( I like studying :). They mention it and I really like the idea of getting 12 credits instead of 6. So, I changed my contract from Regular Au pair (as I sign up) to Educare.


1. When I got here I found out that the real reason they wanted me to be an Educare: They dont need 45 hours of childcare. 30 is just fine for them. I work 2 hrs in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. And my HM is a teacher, so summer and holidays are not a problem for her.

2. I have to complete 12 credits with 1000 dls. I being honest I was left alone searching for educational possibilities. Im a BA in Education and I wanted to study something related to it, but unfortunately, nobody helped me. I was new in this country and I found out how expensive tuition is everywhere and I could not study last fall (losing precious time!!). However, and is my advise for all au pairs and HF, the option that we have, is CONTINUING EDUCATION COURSES, that are offered at affordable prices and in many areas of interest at several universities and high schools (although high school courses dont count as valid hours for completing the educatonal component). Check on the internet or the library, they always have information about it.

Although Im still figuring out how to complete 12 credits, studying everyday while the kids are at school and weekends…For sure I have had a hard time trying to complete 144 hours at school. but it’s ok now..

3. My weekly stipend…mmm 150 dls, that’s what im paid…honestly, I didn’t imagine how expensive is everything so 150 dls, is not that much at all :( …I realize that when I got here and see how much my regular AP friends can spend and save.

Bottom word: If could choose again I wouldn’t have changed my contract. I realize that the Educare contract only benefits Host Families and not Au Pairs. I resent those 50dls that a regular AP gets every week.
Yes, I study a lot more, and I DO care about my duties and my adorable kids. But i would have completed my 6 credits and paid the expenses of some other courses without rush….that is what i feel now, I have to hurry and now im taking 4 classes this spring term!

So, I would say, being an Educare is not that much of a prize for studying, you can do the same beign a regular AP with school aged kids.

Sara Duke February 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Thanks for telling your side of the story. That extra $50 a week would have added up quickly toward paying more in college tuition if you were interested in studying more.

Based on the experience of previous APs, I think the agencies do young women a disservice by describing all the wonderful subjects they might choose to study. Every single one of our APs has had to take ESOL classes, sometimes for two or more semesters, before qualifying to take basic college subjects. I now warn APs when we match, that they should anticipate studying ESOL and if they are determined to follow a particular course of study to take the TOEFL long enough before their arrival to have their score with them when they arrive.

We have a local community college that almost makes it possible to earn 6 credits for $500 (until the AP has to pay for books). One AP did 3 credits at a college on Long Island that was one long weekend. It was tailored for APs. Most of my APs, however, have studied hard with the goal of staying in the US and completing their studies — even though nearly all returned home in the end. As I host parent, I try to gather information on what is do-able for my APs, especially since I have August arrivals.

LI Au Pair February 25, 2010 at 11:25 pm

That would be really appreciatd by your new AP…When I came here, my HP and LLC weren’t any helpful with my educational component. At least, some brochures of the local community college, and the School District adult education courses, will be really good. And not only for completing credits, but also for offering her possibilities to go out and practice sports, or learn something new she may be interested in like photography, foreign languages.etc
The same happened to my AP friends here, they didnt know anything, they were new in town and all of them paid expensive ESL courses at the local community college (385 dls per course, no books) and now, we know about ESL courses that are offered trough High Schools in the County and are only 40 – 60 dls, books included!!!
Murphy’s Law Indeed!
So, it would be really nice if the HP take care at least in informing the new AP with the options she has

Anna February 26, 2010 at 11:16 am

Li Au Pair,

those ESL courses through the county might not be eligible for your educational credit requirement. Where I live, they aren’t. Find out with your agency first before signing up for them.
As far as I know, the course has to be taken from an accredited post-secondary institution (i.e. college). While those community courses can be helpful in advancing your language skills and practice, they are not counted towards your educational requirement. You can still take and enjoy them, but you still will have to take a course through your local community college.

Sara Duke February 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm

That’s my understanding, too. Our local community college offers non-credit courses, which are cheaper than the credit courses (albeit taught at a slightly lower level, as no one is trying to get into the basic English composition course). However, English classes taught by high schools and churches don’t necessarily qualify. My guess is that in order to meet the State Department requirement, you have to spend more than the $500 host families must allot (it was possible up through 2006 to do it). This sum has not changed in the 10 years we have been a HF. For APs in APIA, they have offered some creative solutions – including online courses available in some geographic locations. If your HF and LCC can’t help you, ask extension APs – most had to meet all the State Department requirements in order to extend into a second year.

HRHM February 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm

This is another area where having a good LCC is crucial. When I started in PA, Bloomsburg University allowed our AP to “sit in” on any course for $25! No pre-test or english requirements. Our first AP took an English class and Geography with the regular freshman. When we moved to MD, there were more schools, but all were more expensive and restrictive on what APs could take. Now in VA, she’s been unable to take anything except the weekend pseudo-courses in Richmond. Our new AP will hopefully have more success (better english from APing in London for a year)and be able to take real classes, but it will still be way more than $500. I’m interested to hear how many HFs let the AP suck up the expense and how many pay for the overage out of the kindness of their hearts.?

Should be working February 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm

We pay the overage. Education is dear to our hearts, and if our au pair is truly interested in more expensive classes, we want her to pursue that!

Actually, our au pair is such a gem, she refused to let us pay the overage but instead we split the overage 50-50. But I keep trying to sneak in extra funds for her, e.g. paying the parking fees.

We also arranged for her to audit courses at the university. As long as the instructor writes a letter that she ‘successfully audited’ the course, agency says it will count.

Sara Duke February 26, 2010 at 11:51 pm

It depends. We usually give a $150 bonus at Christmas (in addition to gifts like silk long underwear) that the AP may use as she chooses, but I expect most use to pay tuition. One AP started a class within weeks after her arrival. She bought a new digital camera, but it hadn’t occurred to her (having just graduated from high school) that books would be extra, so we bought her books. I must say that it has only been with the last two APs that we couldn’t achieve the coursework with $500 (and we live in Maryland). As I’ve said elsewhere 4 of the 5 APs we’ve had have looked to stay in the country and were working toward eligibility in the American college system, so their goals might well differ from your APs. We did sponsor one AP, and paid her full ride for 2 1/2 years (albeit after the first full year she got the in-county rate).

We’ve spent over $300 in getting our current AP’s driving at an acceptable level, so as you might imagine, I haven’t been interested in going beyond the $500 tuition.

LI Au Pair February 27, 2010 at 1:43 am

I know those ESL courses through the county are not eligible for the educational requirement. The educational component has to be taken from an accredited post-secondary institution.
My point is that there are many posibilities to study and learn that when an AP’s arrives she really doesnt know about and I think is very important that APs keep studying and finding activities for personal enrichment apart from the courses that we have to take in a college.
I am auditing classes in a private university here to complete my credits, at a very good price (less than 150 per class). But how did I find those courses out? By myself, It implied that I didnt take any courses last fall (I came here in September) because it took me a while to get to know what could I do here.
I also consider that the role of the LCC in this matter is really important. It’s sad when you ask your LCC about the educational possibilities and she only says: Go to the community college or take those weekend courses that are offered by a university in LI (that are not good at ALL) and that’s it.
Well, so meanwhile..I’ll keep studying, and playing volleiball once a week at the high school, just for fun!!! For sure, keeping ourselves busy and intelectually active makes the experience even better! :)

newhostmom June 1, 2011 at 11:04 am

Do any agencies other than au pair in america do Educare au pairs?

Also, do Educare au pairs only do school-aged children? What if you have younger children, but you truly only need fewer than 30 hours (like if a parent only works part-time or the kids are in daycare all day)?

HM Pippa June 1, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I have not hosted an EduCare AP, but I also looked into it because we had a school aged child and a preschooler in a 8am-3pm language program. The agency (I think it was APIA) was willing to consider our application as long as I could prove we had full time care for the little one.

If you’re trying to manage costs by going the EduCare route, I found there to be no significant cost savings. The education stipend is $1000 higher, which takes a big bite out of the lower weekly AP stipend, and the food, auto, and other hosting costs will be the same, but you enjoy less support and flexibility. The Educare AP still generally has all the same social time demands and travel expectations as a standard AP with the added need to study for multiple classes. For us, when looking at the real cost/benefit proposition (not the rosy $/hr picture the agency paints), the EduCare AP was no bargain.

Calif Mom June 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm

CHI is doing educares, too, but I’m sure they’ll have a very small number of them, which is riskier to you as a host family in case they don’t click.

I totally, loudly second HM Pippa. There’s no real advantage to EduCare that I can see. You can get a happier “regular” au pair (happier because she has more free time) and host family get a *lot* more flexibility. Especially in summer. The EduCare program has the same hourly max that an au pair can work, year round. So you end up spending a ton more on camps (unless you have grandparents or really cheap summer camps where you live).

Makes no sense to me, unless you’re a teacher who wants to spend a lot of time with your kid in the summer.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Another disadvantage is that the rematch pool is much smaller, and limited by the December / June-July-August arrival dates.

Since there are no special-needs-willing Educares, it has been a non-issue for me. In my experience they tend to be Europeans with great English looking for a one-year experience in the US. Some have great childcare skills and some don’t.

If money is your bottom line, there are probably cheaper ways to raise a child in your community. If stability and flexibility are your bottom line, then an AP may be the way to go.

Returning HM June 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

We actually matched with a SN-experienced and SN-willing educare who is arriving in August, but it’s very possible that she is an exception, as she was the only SN-experienced and SN-willing educare whose application we saw in the weeks we were looking (this is our first time with APIA so didn’t have access to the educare program when we were last a HF a couple of years ago). Fortunately, I didn’t dillydally as I sometimes have done, but contacted her immediately, and after a two-week “courtship,” it felt like a great fit so we matched. We were open to matching with either an educare or a regular AP, as we pretty much never go close to 30 hours of care needed (children in school FT, and I like to be with them after school 2 days/week anyway), so for us, it was about finding the right match and not the right “match with an educare” or “match with a reg AP.”

TACL raises the key issue about there being almost no possibility of rematch with an educare, so if you’re in the educare program and you end up in rematch, then you have to switch to the regular AP program to get another AP. But since we were open to the reg program in the first place, we figured there’s no downside, really, to us in trying educare. Also, as a college professor myself, I have always encouraged (and paid for) our APs to take two classes per semester anyway, so it’s not as though our educare will be doing anymore classes than our regular APs have done.

About summer – our children go to camp anyway and have done since they were each 4 yrs old (now 6 and 9), so the summer hours we need care don’t go up as they do for some families. If anything, since I don’t teach in the summers but just am home writing, we use our APs fewer hours than we do in the fall/winter/spring.

hOstCDmom June 2, 2011 at 9:05 am

APIA only recruits EduCare APs from Germany, and I believe now a limited number from France. This is based on information that APIA gave me in Feb 2011 when we considered EduCare vs Regular.

newhostmom August 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

We are not getting another au pair when our current one leaves because the kids will both be in school so we need many fewer hours. At one point we were looking at Educare and did a cost analysis to see whether it would be an affordable option (paying for school for the kids AND having an au pair is way too expensive for us unfortunately).

When I looked at the cost breakdown (adding in things that you would have to pay for for both a regular and an educare au pair like car insurance, kids activities, cell phone, food and utilities, etc.), the educare au pair is not much cheaper at all.

Based on my calculations and including everything (stipend, costs explained above, education expenses, and agency fees), here are my totals:

educare au pair (30 hours) – $446.83 per week
regular au pair (45 hours) – $481.17 per week
extraordinairre au pair (45 hours) – $558.17 per week

So for 15 fewer hours a week, we would save $35 or so. That combined with educare au pairs being so infrequently available (and not much selection), does not amount to a beneficial program for us unfortunately.

anonmom August 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Newhostmom, we decided last year to try the babysitter route rather than the au pair, because they were all in school. However, that was not the easiest route, nor the cheapest! One week I paid the babysitter $360. cash! for ‘after school’ and into the evening hours!! This, so I could take one child to one activity and the sitter to the other, and then decide which one of us took the 3rd child, or dropped that one off, too! Since none of the activities are the same time with different ages. Thankfully, one of our former au pairs was kind enough, after some nudging, and my paying her airfare, to come for 2 months through mid Dec, and I paid her to watch the kids. The day after she left, the sitter I hired texted me 10 minutes before the kids were to get off the bus, telling me she was not going to make it that day! 2 days later she told me she could not babysit the rest of the semester.

Luckily, we managed with 2 different sitters thru June, when the same old au pair (in between school breaks) was able to return again for a good part of summer to visit, and care for the kids. Now, school is fast approaching and my husband and I are re-considering hosting an au pair again.

I don’t know how much babysitters are in your region, but by me it appears the average is $15. Then I need them to drive my kids, so I still need to keep the 3rd car. They won’t do laundry for the kids and barely pick up after them, and there is alwayas the reliability issue! Add that to the prohibitive cost of summer camp (for 3 kids, 4 weeks, not including after care and transportation- costs $6,ooo average!!) So, the au pair route is looking more economical. As for Educare- it is still, in my mind, cheaper to forgo Educare Au Pair and opt for regular, both due to the flexibility in hours, more week-ends, sick time of kids, and the summer hours, and there are simply more ‘regular’ au pairs, and special needs au pairs than Edu Care.

I wish you luck in your future child-care options!

Taking a Computer Lunch August 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm

For me the non-intrinsic benefits outweigh the expense (but then I’ve had several fantastic APs with whom I’ve happily shared my home). Sure, I could use the extra money (I host extraordinaires and I don’t think our expenses are that high – but then I live with an incredibly expensive special needs child – no AP could approach her pull on the utilities).

But I do hear you. I’d love to take a fantastic vacation with all the time I save not having to schlep my special needs child to doctor’s appointments, but it’s not in the budget (and actually, this year I spent 4 weeks in hospital with said child so there went my vacation anyway).

Personally, I don’t obsess over the bottom line – some things get sacrificed to have the flexibility of having a career I love – and that’s “me” money. (My kids go to public school, which I wish were closer to “free” than it is, but that’s another story…)

Newhostmom August 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Definitely get that cost is not the only factor in deciding to get an au pair, just pointing out that on cost only, I think we’d go for another regular au pair and just have her work fewer hours rather than save just $35 a week for an Educare au pair. Not really getting the benefits of an Educare at all…

NHM August 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I agree on the cost analysis. However, there may be a benefit to choosing an AuPair who is ambitious in her education. I envision this useful for school aged kids. Just a thought.

LuvCheetos August 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm

FWIW, I was told by our LCC that many of the EduCare APs become disillusioned when they get here. They imagine it will be like being a regular exchange student, yet they can’t get into the classes they want (language or credit transfer issues) or they can’t afford them.

I live in the DC area where they don’t offer EduCare, so our LCC doesn’t have tons of experience with it and it may be different in other areas. She told me they allowed it on a limited basis here and most of the APs weren’t happy because it wasn’t the robust school experience they were hoping for.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 22, 2011 at 9:55 pm

There are plenty of EduCares in the DC area (through APIA) – although it may depend on which cluster you are in.

LuvCheetos August 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm

That’s interesting. When we got our first Ap in the fall of 2008, we were told that Educare was not available in the DC area. We never inquired again, so they must have changed it since. I see the motivation advantage that others have mentioned, but I’m not sure that outweighs the disadvantages. Frankly, our APs have not been the most motivated people in the world, so maybe EduCare would help with that. In theory, an EduCare AP could probably do a better job helping my elementary kids with their homework. Our past APs have had a hard time with that, but I’m in the habit of going over it when I get home anyway, so we’ve worked around that.

LuvCheetos August 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Also, I should add that I would prefer an AP that really likes children and wants to take care of children, not one who really wants to be an American college student and will merely put up with my kids as the “cost” of getting to go to school here.

NHM August 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm

LuvCheetos – I agree … love of children is a given. But an AuPair without ambition is a poor role model (at least in my house) … while most AuPairs are ambitious we have met the occasional one who (while loving children) lacked any ambition and thus did not serve us well as a role model for our older children, great for the little ones though!

Previous Host Mom & Previous LCC September 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm

As both a previous host mom and LCC I understand the frustration of finding college classes that qualify for credits and affordable. We stopped hosting au pairs because our children were in school full time & we really only needed summer care….of course it was right when the summer program stopped also.

There are a few options that I found for the group of au pairs I had (and my own). First, check your local Vocational schools that offer adult classes. Surprisingly enough most are accredited post-secondary schools and do qualify for the courses. Next, have your au pair register for class online – not an online course – their Social Security Cards say for work only….this is why most schools give them a hard time registering. In addition, they should have their drivers license before going to class to show they are “residents” and don’t get charged out of country rates. It’s hard enough for Americans to figure out registering for classes let alone an au pair – the host families or LCC’s really need to help. Lastly, go online and look up the teachers name for the class and email. Send an email directly to the teacher (I had made up a form letter that the au pairs used and filled in the teachers name and class name and times) explaining that they need 60-72 hours of class time for their visa. It requested permission to sit in on the class without being registered if there was room, as they didn’t need the credits as much as the hours. The only thing the au pair required from the teacher was a letter stating the au pair completed the course and how many hours/credits it was worth on college letter head. You would be surprised how many college professors were willing to allow au pairs to do this…… the first question I always get asked is what about College ID’s. Some colleges will issue them for “auditing” students if the college allows it. If not, they simply paid for a continuing education class, got their ID and attending extra classes the teachers allowed them in.

The stipend for classes isn’t enough for the requirements and the weekend classes were all hated by the au pairs in my group….they all tried them at one point or another. The weekend classes don’t give them the interaction with the other college students. It also gets them to meet new friends, and have other people to keep them busy on their off time. One of my worse experiences with au pairs as a host mom was trying to keep them entertained in addition to my own children. College classes got them out and meeting other people.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Actually in my state it is illegal for APs to register online. One community college in my area offers in-state tuition for APs (which makes it almost affordable), for which I sign an employer document. My guess is that communities rich in APs are more accustomed to dealing with them.

I agree with you that weekend college programs geared toward au pairs are not a good value – they are extremely expensive for the CEUs that they offer and leave nothing left over when APs try to complete their mandatorys CEUs/credits/hours. Many of my APs have built a strong network of non-AP friends from classwork.

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