Must we use an Au Pair Agency to engage an Au Pair?
Sure, you can go it alone, but then you would not be operating within US Law.
We emphatically recommend that you use an approved agency to find and retain your au pair. Following the laws and regulations protects both your family and your au pair.
There are 14 different approved agencies in the USA, and they range in both cost and in level of support (e.g., training, local counselors, etc.) If you are concerned about costs, you can do some comparison shopping and even contact agencies to try to negotiate some kind of signing bonus.
If you already know a young person outside the US who you’d like as your au pair, you can “pre-match” with this person, and then engage an agency to manage the paperwork, travel, training and support.
Also, you can find an au pair on one of many websites (e.g., Great Au Pair — not an endorsement, just an example) and then work through them to have both parties referred to an agency that operates within the home country of your desired au pair.
Trying to create and sustain an au pair relationship without using an approved agency is against the law. It’s also a bad idea.
For more on this issue, see these posts, below. Be SURE to read people’s comments for important details and insights.: