The guidelines of the US Dept. of State regarding au pairs states that :
Au pairs may not be placed:
In families with a special needs child, as identified by the family. The au pair can work with a special needs child if s/he has identified prior experience, skill, or training in caring for special needs children. In this case, the the host family must review and acknowledged the prior experience, skills, or training in writing
This begs the question, then:
How are au pairs without these experiences or formal training, who indicate that they are “willing”, legally placed with a family who has a child with special needs?
I’ve noticed that several agency websites explain that au pairs can care for children with special needs, and do not mention anything more than (for example): “When interviewing Au Pairs, Host Families will need to express in detail the special needs required as well as any qualifications their Au Pair will need.”
As far as I know (and please tell me if I’m wrong) only ProAuPair has a specialized program to identify au pairs with significant skills and training for working with children with special needs, ranging from occupational therapy to social work to pediatric nursing. (Note: link has been updated Nov 2010)
Many agencies will take note of candidates that have additional training and skills (like our au pair who had a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education) and can help families find a qualified au pair.
Is anyone able to clarify how this works?
Image: Camp Merrimack from Ashley Dinges