Poll: Have you ever switched Au Pair agencies? If so, why?

by cv harquail on April 25, 2009

As a believer in the “path of least resistance'” and a fan of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, I’ve been with the same agency since we started with au pairs.

I chose the agency because it was one of the only two in my town at the time, it had a much larger cluster (and thus more potential pals for our au pair) and it was the agency that my best friend Jenny used (albeit in another state). Jenny’s recommendation, plus the other two ‘facts’, made the decision easy for me.

nosy cat.jpg

It wasn’t until we moved from Virginia to New Jersey, to a town with au pairs from at least 4 different agencies (not to mention the ones who are here without agencies), that I realized there was so much variation in host parents’ experiences with agencies themselves– not only in agencies’ matching procedures, but also in their fees, formal policies, informal policies, and overall ‘expressed values’. Since I’ve been reasonably satisfied with my agency most of the time, especially because we have a very experienced LCC who knows what she’s doing, I haven’t had the need or energy to switch. BUT, I’m not sure I’d choose the same agency if I was starting afresh.

One of our AP moms is switching agencies, and asked if we’d run a bit of a poll to see how common this is, and to get a sense of people’s reasons for switching. Now, you know that this is a “poll” and it is not scientific in the least… it will just catch the responses of people who feel like responding… NOT a scientific sample. Still, it can be interesting to see what other people are doing…

Have you ever switched from one Au Pair agency to another?

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If you HAVE switched, what lead you to switch? (Choose all that apply)

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If you have NOT switched, but thought about it, why did you stay? (Choose all that apply.)

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Tell us more about your experience switching, or choosing not to switch, below.

{ 34 comments }

Anonymous April 25, 2009 at 6:24 pm

This is a timely topic in my household right now. We absolutely love our au pair who has been with us for nine months. We do not want to lose her, and she hopes to extend for another year, but we absolutely despise our LCC. Our agency itself has been okay, except for the fact they refuse to acknowledge our concerns about our local rep. I think my concerns are valid – first, she’s just not a nice person, and none of the girls especially care for her. She’s very abrupt, and incapable of running this program. She changes the dates and times of meetings almost every month – often at the last minute. She does so by email, so if the girls don’t happen to check their emails in the two hours before the meeting, they miss the notice of change (and sometimes the meeting as a result). I’ve asked LCC to please copy the host parents on these emails, as sometimes the change of date or time is a concern for us, plus we often spend more time during the workday at a computer than AP does. She has refused to do so.

Her activity choices are poor. Our “family” events where we are supposed to get to know the other families have been (1) a stage theater event; and (2) a 3D movie. Neither were conducive to getting to know families because we were all sitting in the dark, and those of us will small children/infants couldn’t attend anyway. We’ve suggested a potluck (and offered to host) or an outing to a park so the families with children of all ages can attend and visit with each other.

She only schedules activities in her area of town – about a 30 minute drive for those of us in the other corner of town – even though almost half of our cluster lives in our section of town. We’ve asked her to rotate the part of town the events are in so it isn’t the same girls driving so far every time.

After all of my complaints went ignored or brushed off, I contact our agency who did nothing but refer me to her manager…who defended her and also refused to acknowledge my concerns. AND THEN…I get a call from LCC telling me “Tell it to my face if you have problems with me.” Which I had done…. She ripped me up and down about talking to her manager.

Sigh…as you can tell, this is a hot topic for me, so thanks for letting me rant. We’re trying to figure out if we can switch agencies but keep our same AP for another year. Has anyone done this before? We’ll stay with our agency if it is the only way to keep AP, but otherwise, we really don’t think we can put up with this woman for another year.

CV April 25, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Wow. That’s a pretty comprehensive description of a disappointing LCC!
HOLD ON to comments about LCCs for an upcoming post… in the meantime, this sounds like a great reason to switch. My hunch would be that having your AP switch agencies would be too hard, since they’d have to interview her, check references, and redo everything that the first agency did. Alternatives:
(1) go ‘off the board’ with an ad hoc arrangement, paying for her trip home yourself and figuring out how to deal with insurance, or (2) contact the LCC of another agency and ask if your AP can join her cluster meetings (I’ve seen that done informally in my town).

Mom of 2 Girls April 25, 2009 at 11:54 pm

When I first started reading Anonymous’ comment, I thought she must be in my same cluster, but our LCC does copy the host families on her emails (but still can’t seem to schedule her meetings more than a week in advance, which doesn’t cut it for me when I make up our schedule a month in advance, never has them more than a 30 min. drive from our house, doesn’t schedule events for families to meet, etc.) They sound as if they’re cut from the same cloth! Many of the APs have also said the training meetings are boring, the “fun” events aren’t, and generally they try everything to get out of going, which doesn’t seem legal, but there are no ramifications if they don’t attend the minimum number, as far as I can tell. She also has very infrequent contact with new au pairs, and if there are any problems, always takes the side of the au pair, even when flagrant violations of rules are committed. We blame her for allowing our first AP to rematch with another family for only one month of her remaining four month committment when she became homesick after her mother visited, simply so she could still get a free flight home at the agency’s expense. This not only resulted in an awful AP rematching with us, who we just didn’t feel right about (and who turned out to be dishonest and untrustworthy, in addition to a real attitude problem) and now we are stuck with hunting for new APs during the holidays for early spring placement, rather than summer as we first had. They have to hit the ground running, right in the middle of the school year, which is hard for the girls to adapt to. We liked having the summer to get to know everyone under more relaxed circumstances.

We were on the verge of switching agencies in Dec./Jan. when we were highly dissatisfied with the candidates we were “matched” with. The person who could personally select candidates from the home office for us was transferred right in the middle of our process, and none of their top people responds to emails or to any of our surveys or concerns about the LCC. I discovered quite by accident during my many hours online that I could actually change our search criteria, and whenever I did so, got completely different candidates, which I could view and save, contact them, and move through at a much quicker pace than getting five unsuitable candidates each week and having to wait for the counselor to add new ones to our account. We actually talked to another agency we’d heard good things about, had the home visit, and were all set to change, when we finally found someone who seemed very good and decided to go with her, instead of fighting the agency to try to get our fees returned. The agency we’ll use next time if we decide to continue after this one is much more customer oriented, seems to have an LCC who is active and friendly with all the girls (not just one or two of her pets, like the current one), and was able to supply, at least on paper, an almost perfect match for what we prioritized on the very first try. I think especially now, with the current economic state, the agencies are going to have to step up their service and quality to remain competitive and viable.

Franzi April 26, 2009 at 1:24 am

@mom of 2 girls, you could start with a rematch or extension AP to get back into a summer schedule. i know it’s hard to rematch during the holiday season (i rematched during that time and basically already had one foot on the plane back home because my time to rematch had expired) and ended up finding a family on my own that was willing to go with my agency (i was offered only families that told me straight out they want me to do work longer hours/added chores that were not program related etc).

i can’t wait for the LCC post – i think we all have a rant to tell there ;-)

Dawn April 27, 2009 at 5:07 pm

We switched agencies a few years ago, from EurAupair to Cultural Care. The reasoning was ENTIRELY because of the LCC, which is why I always tell people who are considering APing that the LCC should be the main factor in choosing which agency to work with. We initially chose EurAupair because I liked their matching system the best (they allow, or at least at the time allowed, host families to do their own searches of the entire database of available APs — as opposed to Cultural Care, which only lets you see one candidate at a time and you have to definitively reject that one before you can see the next option, which doesn’t allow for any “comparison shopping”). I would still prefer EurAupair’s matching system, but our LCC is so much better now that it was worth using the less-user-friendly (IMO) CC matching process.

I guess I’ll save my litany of complaints about our EurAupair LCC for another time! (Some of my problems were the same as those mentioned by “Anonymous,” and some are different — but one similarity was that the agency was not at all interested in hearing my complaints about the LCC, even when I specifically told them that’s why they lost us from their program.)

For the poster who is considering switching agencies, I recommend asking the prospective new agency(ies) what kinds of discounts they are willing to offer you to get you to switch. Cultural Care gave us their “repeat family discount” as well as no application fee, even though we were not actually a “repeat family” with them (yet). We switched agencies between APs, so there was not a question of trying to get a portion of our money back from EurAupair, which I’d imagine would be quite difficult no matter which agency you are switching from.

Busy Mom April 27, 2009 at 5:53 pm

When we decided to get an au pair (after 10 years of live-in nannies), several friends in other areas of the country told me exactly what Dawn states: “the LCC should be the main factor in choosing which agency to work with.” I contact four agencies that have a presence in our area and asked to interview the LCCs. I asked questions about the number of APs in the cluster, types of monthly events, etc. I also asked each LCC to provide references. One said that she couldn’t so that agency dropped off my list. I spoke with families from two agencies and selected the one with the most seasoned LCC. Both sets of references were positive, but you need to ask detailed questions (like you do in an au pair interview) about how the LCC has handled problems, etc. I’m very, very pleased with our choice.

PA Mom April 27, 2009 at 7:51 pm

We switched agencies because we were not found of our old LCC (and neither were the APs) and because I found their parents pick process overwhelming. I tried an agency where they match for you and it works for me – so long as I have the right person doing the match – we switched mid year and got a better suited choice for us in terms of person to do the match. If the matcher doesn’t “get” your family – ask for another person. It’s a lot about personality. As for LCC’s – provided you don’t have a “bad” year with an AP and you like the other APs – it almost doesn’t matter what the LCC does or doesn’t do. I would however, quite clearly voice your posts right up to the top. They may have trouble recruiting LCCs but the program directors up to the president of the company ought to know where they are failing. I’d categorize your complaints – no switching of AP meetings in terms of time or place without 5 days prior to meeting (that’s ridiculous) unless there is a death in the LCC’s family, no rudeness or questioning of going over her head – she’s not your boss she is in a service position and should be more customer oriented, as for the driving and the poor planning for events that’s a good reason to raise it with the program director and the president. Shows less judgement on her part and it’s expensive to take a family to that sort of program when parks are much less expensive for families. This is a family sort of program. I think the heads of the program like to hear the “well reasoned” issues that come up. I’ve spoken to several layers of folks at our current agency and think they did appreciate feedback – even if they didn’t love having to know about it. Our LCC is trying harder and our program director is reaching out more. And it helps.

Jill April 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm

As an LCC with Cultural Care Au Pair, I thought this posting was very interesting and extremely helpful in understanding the host families likes and dislikes about an agency and their LCC’s. I have been an LCC for 4 years and I enjoy meeting all the au pairs and families. If any one has any questions about our program or being an LCC, please feel free to e-mail me. I also posted the current promotion Cultural Care is offering. Please let me know if you are interested….
In celebration of Au Pair of the Year – SAVE $650!
For the second year in a row, a Cultural Care au pair was chosen as the International Au Pair Association’s Au Pair of the Year. In celebration of this great news, Cultural Care Au Pair is offering a “Celebration Discount” to new families who apply by May 15th. Enjoy a $350 application fee waiver and an additional $300 program fee discount for a total savings of $650! Use promo code PCCEL2009 when you apply to enjoy this amazing offer.

Marguerite April 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Great news for host families ! All of the agencies will honor your repeat family discount and it appears that all of the agencies are presently waiving application fees. So , no matter which agency you choose , you can easily save about $900.00 . And that is great news nowadays.
What this means is that you can choose the agency that feels right for your family. No one should stay with an agency they are unhappy with just because they are concerned about a fee waiver or the repeat family discount.
Has anyone had to give up their aupair in recent months due to financial issues ? Perhaps this would be a good reason to check out rematch aupairs . If a host parent is out of work and can no longer afford an aupair, there might be some really great aupairs in rematch through no fault of the aupair.

Anna April 28, 2009 at 12:25 am

Marguerite,

it is not true, not all agencies honor repeat family discount when switching. I have switched to AuPairCare, and they did not, even though I asked!

Marguerite April 28, 2009 at 2:21 am

That is disappointing about the agency that would not honor your repeat family experience. Maybe , given the economic climate the other agencies will become more competitive.
Even though Anna was not successful with AuPair Care in that regard, I suggest that everybody ask and if an agency says no, that you
tell them up front that their competition does respect your experience.

Anna April 28, 2009 at 5:05 am

Marguerite

believe me I did mention competition. The killer argument of their customer relations manager was “then why did you choose us after all”? It was too late for me because I already matched with their au pair, and when I mentioned more choices for me (I was registered at two agencies for matching at the same time), her interrupted me and boasted of their large selection of au pairs a.k.a. “more choices” . He was so confident in their superiority and that it was worth extra money.

Anonymous April 28, 2009 at 5:35 am

I’m the original Anonymous poster with a rant about our LCC. I’m glad to hear that I’m not crazy thinking these are issues that I shouldn’t have to deal with. I thought maybe I was being too demanding or expecting too much – glad to see it isn’t me. I’ll save more of my thoughts for the post on LCCs – and will be happy for any suggestions I can get on how to deal with ours!

Abby April 28, 2009 at 7:59 am

I have met several HMs who use the internet to find an au pair & don’t use an agency. Anyone done this or have any comment? I’m thinking that it may be more common or an option given the economy?

Anna April 28, 2009 at 8:05 am

Abby, in America it is not possible. They might use the internet to find an au pair and then do a “pre-match” through their agency of choice.

Abby April 28, 2009 at 8:51 am

They tell me that they come in as a tourist & work under the table?

Anna April 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Abby, that’s illegal.
Besides tourist visa is a max of 6 months, and then they will have to go back to their country to renew…

Dawn April 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Abby, I know that a lot of families go the “off the books” route, selecting an AP online and having them come on a tourist or student visa. However, as Anna mentions, the ONLY legal way for someone to come to the U.S. to work as an Au Pair is on a J-1 visa, and the ONLY way to get a J-1 visa is to work with one of the 11(?) agencies approved by the U.S. State Department. Besides the legalities of it, using one of the approved agencies offers various protections/support for both the AP and the Host Family. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable going with an “off the books” AP.

Marguerite April 28, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Hello all,
The internet websites that I am familiar with carry a banner advising viewers that they must work with an approved aupair agency.
Many of the young women listed on these websites are already registered with an agency. So, be sure to ask her which agency she is registered with.
Even if you love her to pieces, she may be with an agency you prefer not to work with.
It is a good idea to ask her , too, why she chose her particular agency. In one case with which I am familiar, the aupair felt that one agency offered her excellent insurance ; in another case, another aupair had a sister and several friends who had fine experiences with a specific agency.
The aupair’s point of view might be quite different from yours but it will be an eye opener to learn why she enlisted with a specific agency.
Also, the aupair could be registered with several agencies simultaneously just as some American families do . In that case , you can
discuss with the aupair you like, why you want to proceed with a particular agency. Then again, you might find that you prefer to switch to the agency that she choose on her own for reasons you might not have even thought about !

Caitlin Sigler April 29, 2009 at 12:58 am

Like Jill, I’m a Cultural Care LCC (and we’re both in the Philadelphia area – go figure! Hi Jill!)

I also became a host mom about 5 months ago, so now I have the unique perspective as the customer AND the representative of the company. I think it just allows me to do my job that much better. I’m so sorry to hear about your terrible experiences with your local coordinators. My first advice is to talk to your program director about your complaints; I know ours would never allow that type of behavior to continue. Also, Cultural Care sends out a host family survey twice yearly exactly for that reason: so we can fix any problems that exist! Countless wonderful changes have come from the survey, so we really are listening!

Like Dawn said, Cultural Care will give any families coming from competitor agencies the same “repeat rewards” we offer our own repeat families. Not only will you pay the lowest program fee ($600 less than Au Pair in America for example!) but you will get $1000 in savings on top of that! Feel free to contact me for the full details. Otherwise, visit my website csigler.aupairnews.com and you can click on “view available au pairs” or “request a brochure” to get the process started. Please mention that I sent you!

Jillian April 29, 2009 at 2:20 am

Hi everyone, this is a great topic for discussion! I have not switched agencies but I know a lot of families do. I’m a 3 time host mom using AuPairCare and I have been completely satisfied each time around. We chose our agency because of their online matching system – Family Room – that allows host parents do their own personalized searches for au pairs based on everything from nationality to swimming ability! Which I loved because swimming ability was actually one of my factors since our son requires a pool-mate. They have matching experts too but we’ve not had the need for additional help. The really great thing about Family Room is that it’s online and available 24/7 so I can filter through profiles while I’m in bed catching up on my reality shows.

Area directors are a huge part of the au pair agency experience and luckily ours has been fantastic so I completely understand why a family would switch agencies if theirs was no good. We’ve had some great outings that led to play dates with other kids and their au pairs in our area.

Another huge plus for AuPairCare was that they have live customer service reps and I didn’t have to dial in to touchtone hell. That alone has saved me a significant amount of my time.

A-Mom-ymous April 29, 2009 at 3:11 am

The agencies should know that poor LCC’s will drive families away. We have been with Au Pair in America for years now, chosen initially because I called all the local reps and interviewed them before picking an agency. Then they took away our lovely LCC and forced us to switch because she had too many families as the program grew. But during our last debacle, when I really needed our LCC to get a lousy AP the heck out of our home and find us a rematch fast, she completely dropped the ball. I complained to headquarters. Didn’t help. This new one is just flaky and weird. Luckily, we are extending with our terrific AP, so can put off the decision for a year. But the APs don’t like this new LCC either. She has another job, as well, and just last week randomly dropped off a flyer for the next few meetings, leaving it on the sidewalk rather than putting it on our porch. It felt like we were being stalked or something — bizarre! The woman definitely has pet APs and pet countries, and would not listen to my preferences — thinks everyone should have a Chinese au pair because this she herself happened to study in China herself and teach English there one summer. Just weird.

D April 29, 2009 at 7:55 am

Well our LCC absolutely has some concerns What should I do? We only have 1 agency in our area so we can’t switch. :( There are 7 au pairs in our area. They all have consensus, that they are not having an LCC experience in which they signed up for.

First of all our LCC has not not scheduled any cultural events in the past 8 mos as October & April went by with nothing not even a meeting for crying out loud. There were no family gatherings for social events either. I’ve never been invited to one in the 2 years with this agency.

On two occasions in the past 6 mos….our LCC had scheduled 2 meetings within a 1 week notice and then didn’t show up for the meetings. Yes thats right, she had girls drive up to 30 minutes from out of town to attend and she herself left them hanging. When she was called by the au pairs….. “Oh sorry I got hung up somewhere”

My au pair has had at least 4 mos in the last 8 where she has no contact with our LCC. However, the mos the LCC did see our au pair & the other girls….she filled in the girl’s log with meetings that never occurred….backloging up to 2-3 mos back at times. (yes, she lied)

This LCC was reported to the agency & she went through an audit. The agency came back & said she is meeting state regulation guidelines according to other families. Which can’t be possible as our au pair & her au pair group personally wrote the LCC a letter explaining their upset at her holding no meetings & not being a good counselor. 4-5 girls all in agreement and they all have told the district rep as well, they haven’t seen this counselor consistantly. So not only is the LCC lying & writing erroneous log entries…the agency isn’t getting to the bottom of it.

My guess is the agency’s story was brought to a close because not all families are willing to complain for fear of loosing the only counselor in the area. SO although the au pairs are complaining, the families are sweeping in under the rug, making it just as bad behavior as the agency & LCC.

So I can’t switch. I’m becoming an LCC, to do things the right way. Yeah for me!

But ya……any advice to handle this issue. I’ve reported it to the district rep, it hasn’t worked so far. And April has come & gone. No phone call from our LCC to us or our au pair. So our au pair has another month not logged in her book. The catch 22 is she doesn’t get her deposit back if its not filled out.

Help

D

Anonymous April 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Posting again in response to D – our LCC lies as well. She was scheduling monthly events out of town in a city about an hour from ours. I made the comment that we simply couldn’t travel that far and would prefer these “mandatory” meetings be held locally. She told me that out of town events were never mandatory for either the families or the APs. Later the same day, I had a friend of our APs in my kitchen upset that LCC had told her she was required to attend the out of town event and that LCC would have APs Visa yanked if she didn’t make it to the meeting.

We’ve tried going to corporate, and all they do is refer is to the Area Director who is buddy buddy with LCC – a call with concerns to her results in us getting a lengthy lecture about how wonderful LCC is and how much she loves her job and the girls. Whatever. We had a new family to our cluster over for dinner a few days ago only to find out they are also completely unhappy with her – everyone is. But the agency doesn’t seem to care.

We’re with AuPairCare – and while we loved their matching system and have no other concerns with them, they need to get on the ball and realize they are losing families as the result of this woman. 9 months with them at this point, and we’ve never received a survey or been asked if we have any concerns – the concerns we do bring up, they brush off.

Vanessa April 29, 2009 at 11:08 pm

I am also an LLC so I really enjoyed reading through all of the issues parents have. I work for AuPairCare and our greatest priority is to make our HF’s and au pairs as comfortable and accommodated as possible. The LLC with Cultural Care had no right to reprimand anonymous like that. If you have a problem, you should first approach your LLC but if they just don’t get it, you have to get through to them. Ultimately, the company cares more about having happy HF than incompetent LLCs. I’m shocked the agency would defend her like that.

D April 30, 2009 at 6:22 am

Our latest as of today…. since its end of April all the au pairs were called this AM for a meeting at noon today or this evening. April’s monthly meeting is nothing short of a 4 hour notice. Not only that they are being asked to drive to the LCC’s house 30 minutes away.

A few of the girls went at noon today actually, had only 10 minutes with the counselor. She signed their logs & off they went. The other girls were going tonight

This is our au pair’s cultural event. Which ended up being all the girls driving a long distance to get a log book signed with a last minute notice

Our au pair….well given the short notice just decided not to go. Her attitude is the LCC signs the log book when there is no meetings anyway, so why should she drive 1 hour for a 10 minute meeting & signature. I will fully back her on this. :)

D

counselor May 2, 2009 at 1:05 am

This just goes to show how important a good, experienced counselor is. It’s best to talk to your counselor before you sign up with the au pair agency. And ask her questions like
1. how long have you been a counselor?
2. how many families / au pairs do you have?
3. what kind of monthly meetings do you do? (it’s important to me that my au pair gets to do some nice activities, not just a ‘boring’ Starbucks every month). You are communicating here indirectly that a good counselor means a counselor that puts some effort into the monthly meetings).
4. How much advance notice does she give the au pairs by email? Do host parents get copies of the invitations to the monthly meetings? Again, an indirect ‘hint’ for the counselor.
5. What kind of success ratio does she have? Ie. how many matches failed last year?

Alison Goodrich June 19, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Do all the posts here smack of advertising for Cultural Care? This site seems like s thinly veiled advertising vehcile for them. Disappointing, as I was excited when I found it.

CV June 20, 2009 at 11:45 am

Hi Alison,
There is no link b/w AuPairMom and Cultural Care. I actually have used for years APIA… so my experience is from somewhere else.
BUT one reason it may look like CC is ‘on’ this site a lot is that Cultural Care, more than other agencies, has embraced the web as a way to link LCCs, APs and families. Many many CC LCCs have their own sites with CC info and Local Cluster info, and CC has also started the AuPairAnswerMom channel on YouTube. Also, more CC LCCs have linked to AuPairMom from their sites than have folks from other agencies. CC is all over the web, whereas the other agencies are not really.
Plus, CC is a big agency, so there are more of them in terms of absolute numbers as well as percentage on-line.
Also, a quick note– I notived that my newsletters sometimes have a Google Advert from CC…. I use a ‘free’ newsletter service from Feedblitz that is permitted to put ads on these emails, and I assume that recently CC must have ‘bought’ space on newsletters that mention childcare (since I saw this on a newsletter I got from another momblog). I can only get rid of these ads if I pay a monthly fee to send the newsletters… and I’m too cheap. :-)
All this to say, please do let us/me know if you have concerns about the transparency, biases, neutrality, etc. etc. of the site. It is important to all of us that the conversation feels trustworthy and helpful to ALL.

Calif Mom June 19, 2009 at 4:26 pm

This is no thinly veiled site at all. There are a couple counselors who post, but there is also plenty of honest um…. “feedback” about agencies, as well. No agency would host a blog with posts that ask what to do when you can’t stand your new au pair!

No holds barred here, but we are also polite. We’re mostly moms, after all! ;-)

There is no way that trolling counselors who are trying to drum up business would post the sort of “call ’em like we see ’em” comments that you will find on this blog. It’s the real deal, and the moms here are in general smart, caring and helpful.

We also get interesting comments from some au pairs and former au pairs that really provide good balance of perspectives.

Keep reading, dig further.

And no, I’m not the host. I’m just a mom who is extremely grateful for this blog, because advice here has had a direct and positive effect on my family and our relationship with our au pair. Wish I had found it years ago.

(The blog that strikes me as a weird attempt to influence the agencies somehow and I don’t understand — or bother to read, frankly–is the one with clearinghouse in its name).

And about this last post by “counselor” — I agree with it entirely and don’t see it as a pitch for any specific agency. I first picked my agency based on my conversations with counselors from agencies who had a large market share in my area. The things mentioned above actually do make a difference in the kind of year an au pair will have. We started out with a fabulous counselor, and I still miss her. As the program grows, they have to split up regions. Our current counselor sucks, and both me and our AP wish the agency would replace her!

CV June 20, 2009 at 11:48 am

Also, Calif Mom….
there have been some bothersome trolling *attempts* by folks commenting on AuPairMom , but when I see ’em I use the power of the ‘unapprove’ button and they disappear!
If only other annoyances were as easy to manage, ahem. < grin >

edina December 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm

[[ Note from cv: Here’s a reply from Edina at AP Clearinghouse… I have edited it by removing a paragraph that in my opinion as editor veered off point a little, and by generalizing the language. ]

Hi. I am Edina Stone, the Founder & CEO of http://www.aupairclearinghouse.com, the first and only national consumer resource for host parents.

I want to address [a characterization of ] … our website: “(The blog that strikes me as a weird attempt to influence the agencies somehow and I don’t understand — or bother to read, frankly–is the one with clearinghouse in its name).”

… Our mission… is clear and straightforward. Our website is based on the concept of collecting and sharing all news on and about the au pair industry in order to provide parents the best and most up-to-date information on all the au pair agencies in the U.S.A. so they can make the best decision possible about childcare decisions. Any suggestion that we are trying to “influence” the au pair agencies is incorrect …

Secondly, I would suggest that [host parents] visit us …….

Cultural Care proved was rated negatively across all measures and there were more negative written comments by host parents compared to all other agencies. Our survey reports and reviews are rated by host parents and compiled through a third party to ensure unbiased and valid results.

If you would like to read our reports and reviews of the 12 au pair agencies in the U.S.A, please visit us at http://www.aupairclearinghouse.com and see for yourself who we are and what are mission is!

[Editor’s note again, drawing on her PhD training: Having a 3rd party compile responses doesn’t hurt, but it does not guarantee valid survey results. The problem w/ APC’s survey is that it does not use a scientifically valid (random) sampling procedure, and thus invites biased responses. For one, the survey relies on responses from volunteers. Volunteers usually have axes to grind or interests to represent. Also, without formal sampling, folks can be recruited by interested parties to offer opinions that the interested parties want to highlight. Thus the survey results are likely skewed, though who knows in what direction). That all said, there is interesting stuff on the APC site. It’s just not scientific.]

Melissa February 16, 2010 at 1:21 am

I know this is quite an old thread, but thought I would add a post here to see if anyone has had any experience with revising the agency Host Family contract? We’re about to start our search for our next AP and have to renew our contract. I really like our agency and LCC, but am frustrated by some of the policies which are obviously heavily slanted in favor of the agency. When we first became a host family, I just quickly read it and signed without much thought, but after we went into a rematch, I became much more familiar with all the clauses in there, particularly the credits/refunds part (e.g., our agency will refund you $375 for each month left on your contract if your AP leaves – the actual cost is $600, but you have to pay the full $600 for each month in excess of your original year, if you rematch with another AP, regardless of whether she is in-country or not). Given that agencies are probably hurting right now, I’m wondering if host families might have any leverage in this area, or whether it’s a hopeless cause??

Pa Host mom of Two Au-pairs July 28, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Note to CV: The AP cannot switch agency once they are here in America, my one girl tried because she didn’t want to go back home. I will also add my comments in regards to two different agencies. My first 3 au-pairs were with CC and after we went into a rematch that did it for me with using that agency for future, I currently have a contract with them for this last au-pair due to CC not refunding. CC does not follow through with their own policies and procedures. The other au-pair is with Au-pair care in which we switched to this agency. Ann is correct above they do not offer a huge savings, the online pool & family room is excellent, plus they have a matching expert to work with you. We switched agencies because when in a rematch it took CC 7 days to place a “match” into our account. In 5 days I was able to contact the other agency, fill out the online application, speak to two different area directors, have a home visit and start screening. We were under the gun when in rematch and we need our agency to move quickly and if fact they just moved at their own leisure. That made our mind up to switch… The above stories of the LCC’S sound very similar to our area as well.

I remember this lying LCC that had my blood boil, she contact all au-pairs a few days before the meeting to remind them that it was taking place at the mall, this entrance, etc. My au-pairs (new at the time) ventured to the mall wait 1.5 hour and no LCC…. So later that evening my au-pair contacts another au-pair in the cluster to see what happen with the meeting and the friend au-pair says ” oh, it was a bit boring, the lCC said you couldn’t make it because it was too far to drive” she was so confused. The LCC moved the meeting to “go figure” her hometown and only contacted her local girls to join! Talk about rude!!! I left a nice little message for her and by later that evening she was sending emails out to HF that she resigned. I am betting it was because she was caught red handed lying!

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