Rematch. NOW.

by cv harquail on February 14, 2009

There are some times when we make a mistake and can be given a second chance. We may struggle to be forgiven, but we know that we can earn back someone’s trust in us.

Then, there are those other times, when we make a mistake and that’s it.

We hear stories about au pairs who’ve broken the rules, misused the car, smoked in the house, or done something awful, and we can imagine the host parents wanting to rematch but opting instead to be forgiving.

However, there is one mistake after which you should NEVER give an au pair a second chance.

Never give your au pair a second chance once she has made a decision that has endangered your children.

Consider Abby’s story:

I have had my au pair for 5 months. I came home about 1/2 hour early from work to find my au pair had left 3 children (two 7 year olds and a 4 year old) alone in the house while she drove a short (10 minute maybe?) errand.

So….I am wondering about how others would handle this situation?

cat behind post spying vibragiel

No matter what her explanation, the au pair made a bad choice. You NEVER leave children alone when it is your job to guard their safely. No errand is that important.

An au pair who made this mistake will make other mistakes.

Quite possibly, she has already made other mistakes and just not gotten caught.

Don’t imagine that by giving her a lecture and another chance, she’ll have learned to make better choices. I wouldn’t bet on it. Not when it concerns the safety of the three people you love most in the world.

Rematch. Now .

(p.s. Abby, we know you already knew this, and just needed to hear some support and encouragement.)


d February 14, 2009 at 10:16 am

I want to precede this note by saying we love th au pair program & think its been an absolute blessing to our family. We love having the girls & likewise love the experiences. We also still talk to all our au pairs & have good relationships.


As we have experienced….if common sense seems to be lacking & the childrens safety is compromised. I can’t express enough to REMATCH immediately for the kids sake. You can not teach or remedy personality & lack of judgement. I will never put our kids in the “unsafe” situation again and this is why.

Our 1st au pair whom we loved & still do of course…as she is a “person” that we trully like. But to be honest, we really needed her to go within 2 weeks rather than 5 1/2 months later. As one bad incident led to another, to another, to another. It never stopped. For instance, pouring a bath for our baby whom was sick and scalded her to the point her skin turn red. (the au pair had been here 4 mos…it was her not paying attention when she got in a hurry) Leaving our 2 year old by himself crying at a indoor waterpark while she was out of sight. Letting our kids run unattended out of sight while she shopped in a store. ……and the list goes on.

This young girl was a nice, warm, loving person. That trully expressed she loved the kids. But to be honest, no matter how much she loved them & we loved her, she just couldn’t use judgement in regards to safety. And we couldn’t fix it or change it. You can’t teach this. No matter how nice & wonderful these young girls are. You have to rematch for your childrens benefit, your sanity, and your au pairs relationship with you.

We rematched & have been happy every since.

Calif mom February 14, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Each state has slightly different laws, but there is a reason that it is ILLEGAL for anyone, including parents to leave 7 year olds alone in a house or car, much less in charge of a younger child, where we live.

And sometimes safety means not being “nice” to kids. Sometimes people have lousy judgment and you really can’t fix it. Even if it isn’t a pattern yet, every pattern starts with one occurrence. And you MUST be able to trust your au pair on safety. Chocolate is one thing, alone in a house is another.

Tex February 15, 2009 at 3:29 am

Oh my – not only rematch but she shouldn’t be solely responsible for the children again. In my state, she would also have a CPS (child protective services) record for negligent supervision. I can’t imagine that an au pair agency would risk the liability of cotninuing to sponsor her visa, and I’m pretty sure that this is on the list of “things that will get you sent home” that all agencies cover in tranining. How many minutes less than those ten would it have taken for a family’s life to be forever changed by a house fire, a pedophile at the door, a large piece of furniture crashing down, or a thousand other things . . . .

Angie February 15, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I personally believe this is completely unexcusable! Would you have ever left your kids home by themselves to run a 10 minute errand? I’m assuming, absolutel not!!! In our state, it is completely illegal as well. I feel really strongly about this and was reminded of how quickly bad things can happen when I recently was introduced to a mother who’s twins drowned in the bathtub within a matter of moments. She was home (not running an errand), downstairs, switching out the laundry. The children were playing upstairs and turned the water on, and I’m sure you can imagine the rest.
I hate that it takes a terrible incident for people to realize how quickly bad things can occur, but it is definitely a wake up call to never leave your small children alone, EVER!!!
I’m sure people think we are crazy for having all of the gates and child safety items that we have in our house. But I know I only have 2 eyes (and neither are in the back of my head!) and can only keep track of so much at a time.

Abby February 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for all your support. Yes, I did ask her to leave right away – I don’t think she would have left the kids alone again, but what other bad judgements would have been made??
This occured several weeks ago, but I had been second-guessing myself since then, since she was a nice girl otherwise. But this makes me realize that our decision was of course the right one!
It’s an odd situation having an au pair – in our case, we had a girl that we liked as a person, but not as an “employee”. I wonder how others deal with that? This didn’t mattered at all in our final decision, since safety for our children is paramount, but now I think that I’m not the only one who has had that conundrum.
Appreciate your support!

Kammy February 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

You did the right thing. And you are right about what has not been discovered. After all, while it was “only” 10 minutes or so, wanna know how fast it takes a small fire to consume a house? Think of it this way: just because someone gets pulled over for speeding once, do you really think they just happened to be pulled over the only time they ever sped? Highly unlikely. That au pair had to go immediately, and without hesitation. Nice does not cut it where the safety of my daughter is concerned. You can be the nicest, sweetest person in the world, but if you endanger my baby just once, you should feel lucky I do not have charges pressed as you are on your way out the door with a suitcase.

And as for the liking as a person but not as an employee, that’s fine. As long as you remember that they were hired (and you pay them) to work and to be an employee, not to be your friend. Send her a postcard from time to time if you want, as long as she never again has care of your most precious valuables in the world – your kids.

MomLulu February 20, 2009 at 3:45 am

I am a coordinator and I can tell you if one of “our” au pairs did this, she is going home immediately. I agree there is no excuse for leaving children unattended and they know that very well. “Our” au pairs go through days of training and if they still make a bad call like this…too bad for them. I would like to point out one thing when shopping for agencies. Ask about their transition policies. Some will not allow transition within first month or even two or charge extra fees. At Cultural Care Au Pair we don’t have such policies.

cvh February 20, 2009 at 5:33 am

LCCs who are APM readers— I hope it would be the case that a family could rematch immediately if this happened, even if it was in the first month or two, especially since in some states leaving a young (4yr old) child alone is against the law … is anyone aware of an agency that would NOT let you rematch immediately? Do let us know- cv

host mom February 20, 2009 at 8:15 am

Speaking of leaving children alone, look at the story told by this host dad.

Anna February 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm

My agency has a policy of no rematch in the first month, yet our au pair came to us from a rematch in her first two weeks, with much lesser “offences”, in fact she is finishing her whole year with us. So I think it is more of a guideline/recommendation than a policy, and really is done on a case-by-case basis.

Mom of 2 Girls February 21, 2009 at 3:14 am

We had the same experience as Anna (only ours was in her 3rd week, with a family who should never have been accepted into the AuPair program by any agency…) I think the agencies that have this policy word it so that neither the family nor the AP thinks it’s an easy out at the first little conflict that arises; they want to encourage dialogue and mediation and sticking it out first, however in a situation of child endangerment or any other violation of the law, I wholeheartedly agree that the AuPair is out!

Franzi March 3, 2009 at 1:36 am

Having been an au pair myself (and having had a rematch after 6 months for personal reasons and no bad job from my side), i can absolutely agree with you on this. i have heard many troubling au pair stories over the years ~ though, granted, i heard more positive ones.

your children are the most precious thing you have. and they should be treated well and considerate by the person who is in charge of their well-being.

i hope it’s ok if i add you to my blogroll!

Germany Mom May 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm

We found out that our au pair has left our 2 yr old home alone on multiple occasions.

We are going to let her go, but are considering filing charges. Is it worth it?

Abby May 9, 2009 at 10:21 pm

As long as your child is OK and the AP is out of your house, I don’t know if I would file charges. Just is too much time energy money and most importantly emotion on your part. But it’s a good question, maybe in a different situation I would answer differently for my case. And, especially since it happened on multiple occasions in your case with a TWO year old – my god, you must’ve been beside yourself when you found out. I didn’t stop shaking for days and am still a bit angry, months later.

CV May 9, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I agree with Abby…there are better places to put your precious energy, and you’d be unlikely to get enough satisfaction from any outcome to balance out the energy and distraction from things that matter more.
That said, you might want to lodge a complaint with the agency, just to document it and to make sure that the agency continues to tell au pairs that this behavior is wrong.

Also, I know of a mom who- after her au pair left town in the middle of the day, leaving the kids at a play date (where the other mom had to deal with no one coming back to pick up the kids…) anyway, this mom actually mailed a letter to the Au Pair’s mother! (She had the address from when they matched). Just to get it off her chest and to try to have someone hold the au pair accountable. She never heard back, but she felt better. FWIW.

Franzi May 10, 2009 at 11:39 am

omg, how did you find out?

i would file a complaint with the agency AND the department of state against that agency’s screening methods. clearly, they violated their terms there (did not screen for experience properly).
i would not sue the AP (not worth the money and very difficult to get to her when she is back in her home country) but i like the idea of the letter to the AP’s mom.

Dawn May 11, 2009 at 8:21 am

Yikes, how scary and upsetting, Germany Mom! I agree with others that I don’t think I’d waste the energy on filing charges, but one thing that I WOULD do is make darned sure the agency sent her home rather than trying to pawn her off on another unsuspecting family. Hopefully, that’s what they would do anyway, but if it seemed like they were considering allowing her to rematch, I’d kick and scream and threaten publicity to ensure that they didn’t do so. This is not a case of personality or “style” differences necessitating a rematch — this is an AP who should not be allowed to care for children again, period.

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