Should Au Pair Agency Contracts Have a “Flame Out — Opt Out” Clause?

by cv harquail on November 5, 2012

Host Families can easily get screwed when the au pair that they match with is so bad s/he can’t or won’t make it through the initial two weeks.

When an au pair/ host family relationship breaks, there is an emotional and financial cost to everyone involved.

Au Pair Agency procedures are designed to push au pairs, host families and LCCs to find ways to ‘make it work’ — whether through retraining, renegotiation, or rematch. Each party shares responsibility (ideally).

hang in there unicorn.jpeg

But when an au pair leaves in the middle of the night, within the first two weeks of their stay in the USA, you’ve got to wonder whose fault that is.

And you have to ask yourself–Who should bear the financial burden of the ‘breach of contract’ that this kind of situation represents?

Take the case of the host mom, below.

Dear Au Pair Mom —

We got a European Au Pair through one of the big national agencies. She was with us for 1.5 weeks and then just packed up and left. Took the cellphone we got her, got a taxi, bought a ticket and flew back to Switzerland. Didn’t say anything was wrong.

In fact, the previous Friday we asked her how she was adjusting, she said how comfortable she was. But I knew something was off because she became tuned out quickly. Felt like a polite guest that I have to serve. Anyway, the Agency didn’t know what she was like in person, since our LLC hadn’t even paid her first visit yet.

We were left in a lurch to say the least.

That was more than one months ago. Since then, have been in this “rematch” nightmare. There was no “match”, just randomly throwing another AU Pair who was “transitioning” into our account.

[After talking to quite a few host moms during reference checks, I got the picture. The Au Pair program was marketed to Au Pairs as a great adventure, and marketed to us host family as a less-expensive, flexible childcare solution.]

So many families were in transition and rematch. I’ve probably read 10 of these rematch profiles, and talked to many host moms.  Lately I was given 3 Au Pairs who just arrived (9/24ish), all in Southern CA. It’s a mess.

So I fed up and found a local live-in nanny (not an Au Pair). Then I found out the Agency’s refund policy, which translated into about $4000 for that 1.5 week of training our Au Pair!!!!!

Why is that nobody ever warned that something like this may happen?

I was quite outraged when I found out, yet I’m wondering if I have to learn to let this one go… what else can I do?

If you have a place, please put this in the “new host families lessons” learned for others to read.   San Diego Mom

Readers, what do you think?

  • Should she be asked to forfeit $4,000 if the au pair never intended to stay, and if the Agency won’t take an active role in helping her find a suitable rematch?
  • Should the Agency be expected to refund her money, since they did not provide the kind of au pair she contracted for (i.e., one that will actually try to make a relationship with the host family and do a good job)?
  • Should Au Pair Agency Contracts come with a clear, candid disclaimer that, if the relationship never even gets started, the host family pays anyway?

Let’s have your recommendations!


See also:

How do you get a refund from an Au Pair Agency after a flameout Au Pair?
Getting a Refund from an Unsupportive Agency
Reading the Fine Print: How do Au Pair Agency contracts differ?
When Agencies Reward Au Pairs Who Lack Commitment


Should be working November 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm

The USA agencies exist to make money, and can do so because they are a cartel with respect to au pair visas for the USA. The agency fee is NOT a fee related to any particular au pair or even any particular amount of service the agency actually performs. It is the “fee for having an agency”. You pay mostly the same even if you pre-match with someone you found on your own, even if you phone them up all the time, even if you never use them except for paperwork, even if you extend with an au pair you already had for a year. And they don’t like to give that fee back. It’s a bad system in my view.

Maybe you can make the most of a bad system. The agency should be holding your hand through rematch interviews. More likely you have a placement director who is indeed throwing candidates your way. Look a lot on this website, I’m sure many of us have posted about how to interview rematch candidates. If your agency allows you to speak to previous HFs for rematch candidates, you are in better shape.

Know what you want in a candidate (same advice as above: read the site). Tell the PM explicitly. For instance, I used to be shy about saying I won’t consider candidates who are more than a little overweight NOR candidates who are even a tiny bit underweight. Now I don’t care what they think. If I wanted a tomboyish type for my little boy, I’d say so now (but you might be wrong about the chemistry with that). Be assertive, let them know that you want fast turnaround and candidates that meet your criteria.

Some HPs on this site swear by APs out of rematch, by the way. Calif Mom got her best ones that way. We got a good one that way. It requires careful interviewing but you have the advantage that at least the candidates are more realistic about what being an au pair means. Kind of like having had a boyfriend and broken up. People who have done that are just more seasoned. But there are some bad apples in the rematch bunch too, so due diligence is required.

It is rough, and bad luck, to have a flameout as a starter. But you can also consider yourself lucky in a way. It was quick, you weren’t invested, kids weren’t invested. Our first au pair was a slow fizzle. She was sort of almost nearly good enough. So it was hard to decide on rematch. I struggled for a long time and kept her way too long. And then breathed relief once I fired her. But my daughter was upset and it was a bumpy ride to get her to bond with the second au pair, who was a good one out of rematch.

Frankly I’d rather have the quick flameout than the slow fizzle. . . knock on wood. . . But my sympathy is with you in any case.

Keep us posted. I like hearing how these things turn out. There are a few people on here who said they got some money back from the agencies but I would recommend trying another au pair. Other agencies will give you a discount if you switch to them, but you will still lose with your agency. If they let you talk to previous HPs, that’s worth a lot and I’d stick with the current agency.

Seattle Mom December 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Thank you for this response… our new AP (#2) just arrived on Friday, and we’re already talking quietly about whether we will rematch. It just doesn’t seem right. I don’t think she’s a good fit for our family. Seeing this response about how it is possible to get a good AP through rematch is a little reassuring.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 6, 2012 at 7:55 am

I’m sorry that you didn’t get enough support from your agency, including your LCC, to make a good rematch quickly. I’ve never been in your situation – all my APs have finished their year (some were not invited to extend). My guess is that if you hired a lawyer, then you could recoup more of your fees. Everyone can break a contract (as obviously did your flame out au pair).

Au Pair in Chicago November 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

I’m, sorry this happened to you, What a shame!
I was thinking that who did something wrong was the au pair, and still you have to pay. (Yeah.. the System)
You know, once we apply, we pay some fees and we sign a contract which states that if we quit the program before matching we have to pay a fee (I think it was USD 300 but i’m not sure) and if you quit after matching, you have to pay a bit more. (I think it was USD 500). There should be something similar, that states if you quit once you are there, you have to pay too. The sum should be HUGE, and that should make some girls abstain. Let’s say, if you quit the program a week after you arrive, you have to pay a sum that equals what the HF has spent on bringing us here. 2 weeks, maybe a little less, a month, a little less, and so on. Of course this would be very complex, as there are other things that they should have in mind, such as WHY did the AP quit. I read a blog a couple of years ago -no longer available- where a girl said that she had been sexually abused by her HD. Horrible story, yes. So she HAD to leave, and I don’t blame her. Also the agency should make sure that they are going to be able to make the AP pay.
I’m sure some people will not agree, but sometimes you have to take some extreme measures, because everyday I hear of an AP who went to the US just to have fun for a while, and that makes me feel awful.

newhostmom November 6, 2012 at 9:21 am

I’m curious about those who have had flame outs – in retrospect, could you see signs that they weren’t going to be a good match?

Calif Mom November 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm

nope. Our very first au pair was Point Boots — she was a Class A con artist. Didn’t go back home, though; went to another US city where she had a boyfriend. She’s probably still there, on the lam, 6 years later.

It’s very common to have a big upsurge in rematches in the fall, about 3-4 months after a big influx of au pairs comes to their families just before school starts. That’s the make-or-break time for a lot of matches.

Have had terrible problems with consistency of quality of matches, but have only had a problem being treated fairly when it comes to fees with one of them — a very small agency (CHI) which pushed us to ‘make it work’ with a nincompoop of an au pair and then wouldn’t refund us because we had clicked over the 6 months mark — without calling this imaginary line to our attention in the months preceding it. That felt dirty, and we left them because of it.

APIA has allowed us to only pay prorated fees for actual time we had an au pair. But you DO have to call accounting and insist on it.

Sounds like a little more research into the au pair industry and some additional preparation might have served you better, if you ended up hiring a regular live-in. However, there’s still no excuse for a flame-out like this to not be replaced quickly. Sounds like a lame counselor, who should have been earning her keep by trying to find an appropriate rematch candidate for your family.

STE November 6, 2012 at 10:11 am

So…there’s a dirty little secret about some agencies. As you know, when you go in rematch, your refund goes from your original agency fee of $165/week to $95/week, then $65/week, then $45/week (or something similar). So if you were to cash out- you’ll really take a hit. HOWEVER….if you take a rematch AP with less time left in her contract than you have in yours – you’ll get refunded for the remaining weeks at the full $165/week rate. So…get your agency looking for APs with only a few weeks left (they’re out there). I agree that hosting an AP that you don’t need for a couple of weeks is a ridiculous way to try and get the refund you deserve (especially in this situation), but it might be your best option.

Seattle Mom December 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Do all agencies operate this way? More specifically, does CCAP?

Not that I’m thinking of quitting the AP program yet, but it’s good to know.

CO Mama November 6, 2012 at 11:57 am

I am a 5 time host mom and a local coordinator, and I’ve seen this happen a few times, particularly with wealthier countries like Switzerland and Sweden. Au pairs in some of these locations don’t have the financial incentive to stay like most do–they can make more money at home. I’ve also known great au pairs who have been kicked out by their families and would do anything to stay, but due to State Dept regulations, end up getting sent home. It’s not perfect, but at least with the agency our au pairs have come through and who I work with, I have seen a high level of integrity, even if I wish nothing ever went wrong.

I think the reason for a lot of the up front costs is that most of the costs the organization pays are up front as well–the international flight, the training school, the insurance, the visa & other paperwork–all are paid in advance. It’s not refund friendly, but it’s true. So what do you do now?

Our first au pair lasted 5 weeks and yes, I think there are a lot of things to look for that are red flags. When I speak with families, I tell them skills are important to look for, but most important factor is the connection you have with the candidate. The key indicator for me is how the au pairs engage with my children over skype. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking for them, but if they are shy, if they are speaking with me and not to my children, that’s what I see in person upon arrival. If they are animated and are looking at and talking directly to my children, asking questions directly to them–they are so much better when they arrive. I also never recommend a family take an average level English speaker unless a host parent speaks that language in the home. I look for an application with energy. I don’t want someone sweet and nice, I want interesting, engaged, competent. I look at the interview with the office abroad, which gives you a really good indication of whether or not they will hit the ground running. I look at the key words references repeat over & over for a candidate and compare them to others. (Do I want friendly and outgoing or mature and responsible?) I look at why they want to be an au pair–are children the afterthought following learning English and being in another culture, or are children a key reason for this experience.

What I do appreciate about the agency is that when our au pair left after 5 weeks, we had another transition au pair in the home the next day. When that au pair was finished, another transition au pair arrived before she left. You are not left stranded like you would with a regular nanny–or at least you shouldn’t be. If your LCC hasn’t been a help, demand help from your director, get another au pair to bridge the gap and then find another agency. Just call me–I’ll help you pick an au pair :) Most time, the coordinators and directors are working really hard to find you someone good as soon as possible. I don’t know what agency you are, but if you are in my agency, call me and I’ll help you. I’m completely serious–take me up on the offer and I’ll be with you every step of the way. If you are not in my agency, I’ll still help you review applications and make suggestions about questions to ask or what could be a red flag. Au pairs are not a solution for everyone, but for those who have chosen this path, I want it to be the best experience possible, so call me.

If you want to stick with the nanny, just put your account on hold and when your nanny moves on or it’s not working out, just use all the credit you have to get an au pair for another time. It’s always there for you. Call if you have any other questions. I don’t care what agency you are. I’ll help you.

Mom Of 2 Cool Kids November 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I can see why you feel burned by the program. You should have gotten a lot more support from your agency to help you find a new au pair. I’ve had to rattle my agency’s cage a couple of times when they were not adding appropriate candidates into my account (like a 19 year old with poor english skills when I said only over 21). When I’ve lit a fire under my agency they usually become more responsive.

If I were in your situation (i.e. paid the agency a hefty sum for training an au pair for 2 weeks), I would keep up the pressure to get your money back. I would talk to a lawyer and contact your local congress people and senators. This is a program sponsored by the state department and this is a totally ridiculous situation that your congressional representatives should be aware of.

Emmie Jane November 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm

The agency fees do feel in general like a raquet to me. I feel that I get very little from my agency. I have been in the program 2 years and experienced what is about to be my 4th LCC. Hopefully, she will be better than what has come before, but my feeling is that LCCs are underpaid and have little incentive to do a good job other than their own passion or lack thereof. The plane ticket charges are more than it costs. The matching help is iffy at best in my experience. It did get better when I complained. The health insurance takes a major catostrophe to be really useful. My au pairs from Latin American have also had to pay a lot of money ($1000-$2000). At a certain point, you wonder what we are all paying for. I am definitely thinking of changing agencies to try a new experience.

That said, one thing that I do to protect myself a little is get on the payment plan. That way if there is a problem, I can potentially withhold my money. I think the up front cost is in the neighborhood of $2500, so not quite as bad as $4000. I agree with others if you got a lawyer, you would probably have more luck.

The good thing is I really like the flexibility of the au pair system and have enjoyed my au pairs for the most part. I just find the agency aspect a bitter pill that I must swallow.

Kristy November 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

First I have to say, and I cannot stress it enough, READ YOUR CONTRACT WITH YOUR AGENCY! I imagine all agencies have specific contracts. I also assume all agencies list their refund policies in the the agreement. Once you sign that agreement, it becomes a legal binding document and you have agreed to their refund policy. I assume if you contact a lawyer or take legal action, you will be told that you signed the agreement, it’s legal and you are bound to the terms of it.

However, I imagine, that based on the circumstances, you could talk to your agency and work out a refund that everyone feels is fair. I have found that the more willing a host family is to communicate, rationally, with their agency, the more likely they are to get what they are asking for. If you call your agency ranting and raving, they are not going to want to work with you. But if you call and talk like rational adults about the situation, they are more likely to listen and be understanding.

Au Pair agencies have to make money, remember they are a business and not a non-profit organization. They have to pay their employees, the LCCs, and their international agencies. So when asking for a refund, remember that a lot of work and hours went into securing your Au Pair placement.

An Au Pair agency cannot be responsible for the actions of an Au Pair. Ultimately, an Au Pair is a person and no one can ever know what that person is going to choose to do or not to do. The agencies do their best to screen the Au Pairs and ensure that their Au Pairs are a good fit for the program, but should an Au Pair choose to take off after 2 weeks in the U.S., that’s ultimately the fault of the Au Pair and not the agency.

Bottom line, read your agency contact, talk to your agency about your refund, be understanding that your agency is a business and needs to make money in order to provide services, and remember that your agency cannot control your Au Pair and forecast what decisions she will make.

The agency I work with is always willing to talk about refund issues and is willing to work with families and determine refunds on a case by case basis. I imagine more agencies would do this as well as long as things are communicated properly.

HRHM November 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Of note, it used to be just a few short years ago, that a lot of APs were required to pay a rather large sum up front as a guarantee and they would get the majority of that money back when they returned home at the successful completion of their year. It’s my understanding that this practice has ceased to exist and that there really is NO incentive for the AP to finish her year, get her classes done, go to cluster meetings, or to leave when her visa expires (BTW, way more illegal immigrants are in the country due to overstaying visas then border-jumping). In the event of a flame-out, the agency could keep the APs money instead of mine – I think that is far and away a more fair arrangement.

Kristy November 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

HRHM, you are right. The Au Pairs did use to pay a deposit upfront but due to Department of State regulations, agencies can no longer require the Au Pairs to pay a deposit. The agency I work with offers the Au Pairs a “Completion Package” at the end of their year. They get a $100 gift card, a certificate and a small gift, but they no longer pay or get a deposit back.

Mom Of 2 Cool Kids November 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Kristy, you are doing a good job of giving us the agency’s perspective. This family had to pay $4000 and basically got nothing in return. A review from a lawyer will help this family determine if there is a case to be made that the agency breached its obligation therefore entitling the host family to more of a refund. You are proposing that this host family just needs to suck it up.

Each time I have gone through the matching process with my agency, I have had to make a phone call to tell them things are not working in a rational, calm manner. I am very direct but do not take out my frustration on the whomever I am talking to. Each time they we have been able to work through it to find the right matches for me. But why do I need to make this phone call each time when I have filled out a lengthy application and specified my criteria? For the family in this post, it sounds like the agency and the LCC should had no incentive to make it work for this family and take a more active role in securing a new au pair.

If I were in the situation, understanding the effort the agency goes through to place au pairs with host families I would probably be OK being stuck with $500 that I ended up paying. But $4000 is outrageous.

Kristy November 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Mom of 2 Cool Kids, I agree with you 100%. Asking a host family to pay $4000 for a 2 week placement is outrageous. And I am shocked, that given the circumstances the agency did not offer more. I know from my experience that if this happened with the agency I work with, they would more than likely give a full refund minus some of the cost for flights. I certainly am not saying the family should just suck it up and deal. Its a horrible situation and again, I’m shocked the agency is not bending more on the refund.

Having a lawyer look over the contract beforehand is really the best thing. I know that half the stuff in my contracts didn’t even seem to make sense. And in the event something happens, having a lawyer look over it again is certainly helpful. If someone did breech the contract something should be done.

I feel badly for those who get the “short end of the stick” in these situations and I feel it’s the duty of the agency to be understanding and offer a refund that is fair.

CO Mama November 7, 2012 at 12:18 am

Hi HRHM- I agree that there is not the incentive for many au pairs after the State Department disallowed deposits. I can say, from what I’ve seen, that many Latin American au pairs really do want the certificate of completion that they receive. It is a powerful tool for them at home. I have known a couple au pairs to stay past their visa, but the vast majority have family and friends (jobs or university) that they want to return home to. I liked deposits and wish they still allowed them, as it was a little more incentive. Those who want to go home seem to go home regardless.

DarthaStewart November 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm

BTDT- Once. our third au-pair was a flame-out. Came and left our home within a week, home-sick for her boyfriend. Back when they had to pay a deposit. It was a mighty expensive vacation, as she had to pay the deposit, and her fee, and the flight home, and a fine to pull her money out of savings. She got here, and realized that those little fibs on her application were going to be a big deal, because she had NO idea what to actually do with a real, live child.

The agencies do construct the contracts to benefit themselves, and you not-at-all. I am guessing that if you were to approach the agency, and work your way up the management chain, you’d get a different answer- be polite, but persistent.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 7, 2012 at 8:19 am

In my experience, the expense of becoming an AP for Europeans is less of a big deal than it is for many of the APs coming from other continents. I have hosted APs from South America and China and they had to borrow money from other family members in order to pay their fee. They spent their first months wiring money back home to repay it. Some of them spent their entire year wiring money back home to support other family members.

I have also hosted European au pairs, one of whom told me that she figured if it didn’t work out she’d just catch the next flight back home, but when I gave her a big welcoming hug, she knew she would be okay. While all of my APs finished their year with my family, many of their friends over the years have not.

The AP year need not just be a “gap year.” My APs, in addition to whatever bonus the agency provides, get a letter detailing the skills they have acquired caring for a special needs child. Several of my APs have taken that letter and walked into good-paying positions in their home countries – for some it was a job while they waited to start university – for others it was a means to help support themselves while they attended university.

In the end, however, there is nothing you can do about the AP, who when she realizes she’s in over her head, packs up and heads out of town in the middle of the night. She’s gone. You have the right to hold the agency accountable – after all, they’re losing money too on the inadequate job they did in vetting the AP in the first place.

Calif Mom November 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

And here we are back at the same, fundamental issue:

Candidates are either barely vetted or DELIBERATELY REPACKAGED by the overseas agencies that the US au pair agencies subcontract to “vet” their candidates.

Can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about how it really works for the au pairs. Any au pairs who wants to fib/game the system/just plain lie about their experience have NO incentive to not do so. In fact, they are encouraged by those agencies that do intake to pad their hours, etc. Now they are even told what scenes to include in their videos, given scripts, and told to go edit them because they have figured out what host moms want.

Note to agencies: we want honest, hard-working au pairs. We want adventurous, fun girls who actually like children. We want to not be ripped off. We want our lives to be made EASIER, not more complicated.

Au pair November 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm

That why my host parents did not look at videos. They are to 99% fake… I did not make a video because I did not like the idea of following the agencies script for videos. There are even workshops for how your write your application.

TexasFourTimeHostMom November 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

We had a flameout from Turkey. Gone after less than 10 days with us, she told us her grandfather died, but through some creative googling I found out she spent another month at an English school in New York. And she left us 3 days before Christmas. VERY frustrating to say the least.

Dorsi November 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I think there is a major misunderstanding about what the agency fee is for. It is not to guarantee that the Au Pair you have selected will be awesome and provide 1 year of services. It is to provide you with one year of agency services — meaning access to the database, support (for better or for worse) and facilitating placement (visa, insurance, transport, etc.). I have been fortunate to never have a flame-out, but because I have had such good experiences in the program, if I did, I would go straight to finding another candidate. It seems like the OP (possibly quite rationally) decided that that the AP program was not for her and does not want to select a new AP. I think it is somewhat understandable that the agency does not want to refund money when it was contracted that they would have a 1 year relationship. The agency should certainly be pro-active in trying to find an appropriate replacement.

I am curious about the country of origin for flame-outs has been. With AP#2, I was always afraid that any tightening or rules or complaining on my part was going to cause her to leave in the middle of the night — she was Western European and could have found the means to fly home if she chose.

newhostmom November 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

We are on our second German au pair and I don’t think either of them came to make money or had any trouble putting up the costs. But I never got the impression that they felt like they could just skip home in the middle of the night. Hopefully a sense of commitment and wanting to finish the program is holding the good au pairs here too – not just money.

Calif Mom November 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm

our Flame-Out con artist was from Bulgaria

BoysMama January 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Ours was German

Southern au pair November 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm

TACL I am glad that u didn’t generalized that ALL south americans are poor, I am from a South American country and honestly my life back home was easier than in USA ( talking about money), I am not bragging that I am pretty well-off , but I just hated when I was in USA that everybody assumed that I was working as an au pair to earn MORE money and not because I wanted to do something fun.The desicion of being an au pair was mine even if my daddy was shocked that I wanted to “do domestic work”, instead he wanted to send me to USA to get my master degree, but I think I will eventually go to get it and a ” boring professional life”. …. au pairing is really cool and I had 2 great years that I will never forget :)

Au pair November 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm

When I applied for the au pair program, I still had to pay the deposit…it wasn’t a lot for me. $400. I am from a European country, and I must say that I also said to my family and friends, that if I don’t like it I will just take the next plane home. I did not even know for what the money was when I think back I think a little different. But it is true, most european au pairs come here for “no reason” I mean exept to travel and to improve English. I also REALLY like kids. And that’s not a lie, this was abig reason for me to come! I love them! That’s probably the reason why my hf asked me after 2 months if I want to extend. I am now with them for almost 2 years. I have friends from chin, brazil Columbia etc. they send their money home to support family.. I feel bad that I thought like that in the beginning. But that was a great lesson for me to learn..I wanted to make it on my own, without my parents who “spoiled” me. I mean with money, if I needed it I got it somehow. So I learned a lot! My parents didn’t give me any money because I didn’t wanted them too.

SandyKassia November 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

When I was an au pair I also paid the $400 deposit and it WAS a lot for me. I was a physical therapist in my home country in SOuth America (now I work as a physical therapist), and to be able to pay for all the fees I had to sell my car and a couple of possessions. Even then I arrived in the country with $50. I do think it helped me think twice before going home.
Now as a host mom and seeing mine and friend’s experience I would say that the best bet is to match with a girl who has REAL working experience (40hs a week job). Someone who paid for her own college is a plus.
Many of the girls who are friends with my au pair, or were my friends, were girls from wealthier families, whose parents paid for her education, and never had a real job in life. Most of them had as experience nannying for private families, and I will tell you that: 99% of the cases were FAKE experiences. In most countries in south america middle class college girls do NOT nanny or babysit. It is a job for people from inferior classes to do. And I am telling the truth. From South America, I trust girls who worked in schools, day cares, or different unrelated full time jobs.

Seattle Mom December 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thank you for this insight- I’ve been scared of going for a south american AP because it seems that many of them are from middle class homes where they have servants etc, and we just don’t have time to deal with someone who can’t/won’t pull her own weight. To be honest I was a bit spoiled growing up, and had no idea how to clean or cook anything until I was in my 20s. I was good with kids and a nice person, but I would have been a lousy au pair for my own family :).

burned out host mom November 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm

sandykassia comment was 100% correct!
I have had multiple thai au pairs, with much success and we both chose to extent. I had two back to back south/central american au pairs and had to break the match. Both had no childcare experience

one of the au pairs was NOTHING like her profile on the aupaircare website. She clearly had no prior childcare experience, but the wesite listed her as having thousands of hours. Her english was horrible. she was listed as an experienced driver, when she really had no experience. She confused the brake and gas once.
After two bad matches, I was done with AupairCare. They are only refunding $3700 out of our $7000 fee.

Aupaircare contract states ” AuPairCare cannot independently verify the accuracy of the representations made by au pairs ” and refused to give as a full refund despite of the misreprestation of this au pairs skills on their website.

Watch out for that agency.
I will be looking for a replacement au pair, but from this time from an agency I can trust.

My thai au pairs nicknamed that agency “au pair don’t care” for a reason

JJ Host Mom November 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Yeah, we had the same experience with Au Pair Care. I don’t think they screen their au pairs very well.

What agency were your Thai au pairs with?

Burned out host mom November 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm

It was aupaircare
It was about 3 years ago. Since then I noticed a marked decrease in Thai au pairs on that site. I am not sure why.
If anybody knows of an agency what has more Thai au pairs I would love to know!

JJ Host Mom November 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Hmm maybe I’ll look for Thai au pairs this time! Just not at Au Pair Care. :-)

au pair November 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Cultural care has thai au pairs

JJ Host Mom November 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm


JBLV November 12, 2012 at 2:54 am

It sounds like San Diego Host Mom is with Cultural Care? We had the same situation: flame out au pair, no appropriate rematch candidates and they refused to provide the refund they had previously said they would give us. My advice: keep pushing the agency for your money back. They will give in eventually. Tell them you will call your local media, Better Business Bureau, and follow through.

ex au pair 24 November 17, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I know that cultural care au pair do NOT screen au pairs at all because:
1) when I was doing all the paperwork to apply to be an au pair, I did not know how to drive ( I had never EVER!! had even be sitting in the front of a car) and the lady in charge of me told to write that I had at least 6 months of experience and to start taking classes.
2) I actually HAD good experience taking care of childre, but kids ages between 4 and 8 years old and I had clear that I didn;t wanna take care of babies as I don’t have the experience requiered, but they told me to write I was baby qualified so I would get a match sooner… When I actually matched with a family I was totally honest about that with them, reason why I was rejected by almost 7 host families, I finally found a family who accepted me and were really glad about my honesty. They taugh me how to drive :) now I am back home and I bought me a car :)

au pair November 18, 2012 at 12:02 am

Well i am with cultural care and i got scrrened very well, so were my friends. They called each of my references and talked for at least 20 min. We couldnt even apply if we havent had our drivers licence already. With babies we had to show at least 400h. So i dont know what kind of person you had. But mine was really good.

CA Host Mom November 18, 2012 at 9:39 am

We are with CC and all of our APs have later admitted that they exaggerated, or flat out made things up on their applications as well as with references. Some of them CC didn’t even call, some they did. That is why it is so important, as a HF, to interview well and rematch early if something isn’t right. We had a 19 y/o “infant qualified AP” from Sweden who told our former AP that she was kind of nervous because she hadn’t changed a diaper in 9 years. If you do the math … she was a 10 y/o child then! After a couple of weeks, it was obvious to us that she completely made up all of her “experience with infants” and was not qualified at all. We rematched.

Au Pairs Australia November 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I completely agree with that comment, the contracts should state that if the au pair quits in the first 4 weeks they have to make a direct refund to the family for what they have paid, as it is not the fault of the agency this behavior. They place candidates according to mutual preferences and childcare experience, but none of the supporting documents can ensure the au pair will really behave the way she ensures, nobody can read her mind

NC host mom December 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Although our last au pair wasn’t technically a flame out because she did last exactly two months, there were obvious signs that she wouldn’t last. She was very distant and didn’t engage with the kids. We could tell that she was homesick, but we thought she would get through it. After he complete disregard for the kids had gone on long enough we sat down at the dinner table to discuss all of the things that need to be corrected. She interjected by saying, I’m so glad you brought all of this up, I’ve been wanting to tell you since the first week that this is more than I can handle and I’m going home. Turns out that mom and dad had gotten help getting money together to pay for her flight home and she was gone the same week. Since then we’ve gotten very little help from the agency toward rematching. The pool of applicants for our small agency is very small and none in country are infant care qualified. We were told that it is the time of year that is to blame for so few available au pairs. What makes things worse is that the agency is closed for two weeks of the holiday season so, even if we did find a girl in the next couple of weeks, the soonest we would be able to get her here after the paperwork is processed and visa secured isn’t until February. To say that we feel burned by all of this is an understatement. What is especially irritating is that the au pair who just simply quit without making any effort only owes the agency $750.00. Would seem that they should be more accountable for breaching contract.

JJ Host Mom December 23, 2012 at 9:32 pm

That’s really too bad. Just an idea – there are lots of college kids between semesters right now. Maybe you’d be able to find someone on who’d get you through at least part of that time?

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