When Agencies Reward Au Pairs Who Lack Commitment

by cv harquail on February 9, 2011

Like most customers, I want to believe that the company selling me things has my best interest in mind. I should know better– after all, I’ve taught in business schools for over 15 years. But still, I hope that even when a company exists to make money  they believe that they also exist to serve their customers.

This is why it irks me when I hear about Au Pair Agencies doing a bad job and treating their customers — host parents and au pairs – poorly.

There are several ways that Au Pair Agencies let Host Parents (and au pairs) down… but perhaps the one way that upsets me the most in when agencies reward Au Pairs who lack commitment.

Au Pairs who lack commitment are those who want to rematch because the Au Pairs:

  1. Don’t like the host family’s location
  2. Don’t like their accommodations
  3. Don’t want to work hard
  4. Don’t want to put effort into making a good relationship

[Au Pairs like these should not really have made it through the application (and interview) processes anyway, but that’s a different story.]

Au Pairs who lack commitment create great problems for Host Families, who match with them, orient them, welcome them into their homes, and so on, only to have the au pair announce that things ‘just aren’t working out’ and she wants to go somewhere else– after only a few weeks in the program.

When this happens, agencies should do three things —

  • Agencies should make the au pair keep her basic commitment to the host family by having the au pair remain with the family for a full 4 weeks of the ‘adjustment period’,
  • Agencies should create significant ‘disincentives’ — such as revoking the Au Pair’s completion payment, or requiring a commitment payment (in escrow) that the Au Pair gets back once she makes a ‘good faith’ effort to make it work.
  • Agencies should send home au pairs who show themselves to be unwilling to make an effort.

Instead, what do agencies (sometimes, often) do? They help the au pair find another placement– one that the au pair prefers. And, agencies often do this more than once, for the same au pair. Au Pairs know that they will not be penalized by the agency. And, they know they get help rematching with another family. So, au pairs who lack commitment share tips on how to ‘explain’ why they must rematch, and encourage each other to rematch.

[Of course, au pairs in legitimately bad matches need peer support and agency support. Again, that’s another situation.]

I get that it is in the agencies’ short-term financial interest to just rematch the au pair– they have spent a lot of money screening her, training her, and bringing her to the USA. There are host families who need immediate au pairs, and if these host families will take an in-country au pair for rematch, the agencies’ investment is not wasted. The agencies don’t lose money, and the new host family may get a decent au pair.

In the meantime, what happens to the host family? They lose their initial financial and emotional investment in the au pair, they must re-do all of the time and energy-expensive matching process, and retrain another au pair– after cobbling together some kind of back up coverage.201102091401.jpg

Worse, the abandoned host family has to help their host kids cope with the experience of having an au pair ‘just leave’.

Here’s one mom’s story:

Hi there! Thank you for creating the AuPairMom website. It is a fantastic resource!! Now I need some advice . . . We have been a host family for 3 years. We currently have a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son. Both my husband and I work full time, but our au pairs only work Mon, Tues, 1/2 day Weds and Fri with very occasional weekends.  My mom has the children the other 1/2 day Weds and Thurs to ensure that we fall well below the 45 hour mark. [note: this looks like a cushy job to me! cv]

Our first au pair was fabulous, and deemed us the best host family ever. Unfortunately, she had to go back home after her first year for school purposes. Our second au pair was very nice, and stayed with us for 2 years, during which she got married to a boy from our area and technically “moved in with him” while continuing to be our “au pair”. But hey, we are flexible, so we worked with that.
We are in rematch with our third au pair, S. It is a terribly frustrating situation, because S. decided to leave us after only 3 weeks. All she would say is “that it was not a good fit” and we “did not have good chemistry”. We talked with, emailed with, and met with our counselor and corporate for our agency, S. herself, had a 3 way meeting with our counselor, etc.

Bottom line for us, we believe that S. did not like our area, and wanted to be somewhere warmer/more exciting/etc. with a family where her only responsibility was to play with the children occasionally while enjoying her paid vacation in the US.

I was frustrated, but assured that our agency would immediately send her back to Germany. However, instead, our agency is allowing her to try and rematch!!

I am floored. I can’t believe they would allow this behavior, and I hate that she not only may do this to another family, but that because our agency is empowering her, it may lead other girls to hop families until they find the perfect “fit”/ location.

Because of this, I am thinking about leaving the program and going to a more traditional nanny. I hate that, because we love the international aspect of this program, the cultural exchange, exposing our children to different cultures, etc. However, this situation is VERY HARD on our children, who just lost their au pair of 2 years and now lost another in just a few weeks that I’m not sure I’m willing to take the risk again.

Do you have any advice? Thanks!!!

Image: Day eight: Pretty eyes from Inquisitive Oliver


Anna February 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I know how you feel. It is very hard to go through a rematch, especially when it is the other party who unexpectedly “dumps” you.
I’ve gone through it earlier in the year with an au pair I loved, and now my new au pair told me she decided to end her year early because she doesn’t want to fall behind her peers and wants to enter college next fall. So she will leave us only after 7 months. At least I got plenty of notice.
The way I deal with it, I believe that everything that happens is for the best. It was for the best that my beloved au pair decided to leave us in the fall – she burned out and had she stayed, our relationship would have soured and my kids would have suffered. And the fact that our au pair will leave in July probably means that there is another very special girl there that for some cosmic reason needs to encounter our family and have us in her life (and us- have her enter our lives) come July!
The main thing, is that the kids are taken care of well. My kids are used to saying hello and goodbye to au pairs – and we keep in touch after they leave.

HM Pippa February 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

There is nothing like a swift rematch – no matter who initiates it – to utterly exhaust the resources of HPs. The investment of time spent searching for and interviewing the right match, the emotional investment in welcoming, building a relationship and trusting one’s children with a welcome stranger… those are precious, limited resources and once expended it takes some time to build up a fresh reserve. Three weeks is not enough time to adjust to the new situation, let alone begin building reserves to go through the process again at the end of the au pair year. Our second AP flamed out after little more than 10 days–even though it was an easy and obvious choice to send her on her way, the turmoil it caused remains six months later. It is enormously frustrating that the balance of turmoil and disruption is so heavily weighted toward the host families. If APs were subject to equal disincentives to rematch, perhaps they would have reason to take more responsibility. (small rant, sorry)

Should be working February 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm

If you are able to read (in other languages than English) the facebook pages of some of the big agencies’ branches in other countries, you’ll see the potential APs talking about their matches and their interviews; many of them have no idea what they are getting into or what criteria they should be looking at. They talk about their ‘dream’, their ‘perfect match’, and have their heads in the clouds. For instance, I’ve seen posts asking other APs (after a finalized match) how many work hours is the maximum per week. When I asked our latest candidate what the agency told her about au pairing, she said it was about ‘taking care of the kids while the parents work’. She didn’t know much more than that. I think the agencies benefit from NOT giving AP candidates a harsher view of what their year will be like, and I think the APs sometimes have a bit of shock after a week or two when they see this is just life, in another place, with work, and it is not a dream (although it could be great).

To the OP, could it be that there really was a chemistry issue? What makes you think the AP is hunting for a better situation instead? If an AP (or HF) really is uncomfortable, and there is something that won’t change in that, I think it’s better to initiate the switch after 3 weeks than to hold out for a few months. Surely the AP knows that she risks going home if she doesn’t get rematched in time, so that is quite a risk to take with her deposit and her plans for the year just on hope for a better location. What does the LCC say about the AP’s reasons?

In a European agency I talked to, and I believe it’s more standard in other non-US agencies as well, there is a 2-week trial period. Great idea! It means that everyone knows that it is not set in stone for a year, it is a trial and can be ended. Hard on kids and HFs, yes, but at least there is a way to end something quickly that is not going to be optimal, without the procedural deal that is rematch.

Should be working February 9, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Perhaps the thirdmost interesting data item I’d love to hear from an agency: what proportion of rematches are initiated by the APs versus the HPs? (Topmost question, deemed ‘proprietary info’ by the agencies: rematch rate; second question: how high is the failure rate of rematch APs versus overseas APs.)

AFHostMom February 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm

“I think the APs sometimes have a bit of shock after a week or two when they see this is just life, in another place, with work, and it is not a dream (although it could be great).”
Totally agree–we’ve lived overseas a lot and it always sounds more glamorous than it is. :) Sure, there are exciting new things, but there is also the mundanity of everyday life–work, errands, bills, etc, that it’s easy to conveniently forget about when you are planning how to conquer another continent.

used to be an AP February 10, 2011 at 7:25 am

I agree! I really enjoyed having a daily routine in a different culture because that’s what really made me feel at home and not like a tourist, although I never thought of the AP year as vacation anyway. However, the agency leaflets for potential au pairs don’t just look glossy, they also gloss over some aspects. The agencies never claim that being an AP is not work but they don’t really point it out either I think (but I applied in 2001, so maybe that has changed, although I don’t think so).

One thing that makes the daily routine and being satisfied with the HF, the region etc. can be the expectation of family and friends back home. One of my parents needed over 6 months to understand that I did not do something exciting every single day but that I worked 5 1/2 days per week. So maybe some APs feel dissatisfied because they are being told that their lives should be more exciting. But it’s just a guess.

MarylandMom February 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I totally agree that the expectations of the au pair’s friends and family back home can have a negative impact on how the AP feels about the reality of day-to-day life here. We had no real problems with our AP until she took a trip back home for 2 weeks to deal with a family matter. When she came back her attitude completely changed, she was sullen and moody, and we had to call in the help of our agency counselor. Our AP told us later, after we got through that period, that when she went home her family heard her descriptions of her working life and felt that we were “taking advantage” of her – even though she just providing the normal childcare and au pair duties. These kinds of things can really have a negative impact on the way an AP feels about her job.

EC February 10, 2011 at 9:59 am

I think that there is definitely an issue with how agencies “sell” the program to au pairs, versus how it is sold to families. The families are told that they get a hard working child carer, who also can be a part of the family, that it is inexpensive (relatively speaking) and flexible. The flip side is that we as au pairs are told that we can go and work and play in the US for a year, often with more of an emphasis on the “experience”, of being in a different country and travelling, than on the working.
I think that for older au pairs who have more experience and have already moved away from home this selling process is not such a big deal. I know that I took it with a large pinch of salt, but I moved away from home 6 years ago and had about 4000 hours of child care experience. I was therefore very aware of what I was getting into. I often wonder if the average 18-20 year old who has just finished high school and is leaving home for the first time is able to look at what the agency says and read between the lines. I am sure that plenty can, otherwise there would be no decent younger au pairs, but I an sure that part of the reason for au pairs who shop for a better situation is because they did not really understand how much hard work it can be looking after kids and fitting in with a new family.

Hula Gal February 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I think that if an au pair does not want to remain with my family for a shallow reason than I would prefer she moves on. So I’m fine with the way things are. Should Be Working makes a lot of good points particularly about the risk the girl takes in going into rematch. I looked at in-country girls this last round and I only considered the girls that were in rematch due to solid reasons like a host parent losing a job or au pair would be better suited to smaller family, younger children but otherwise host family had glowing opinion. If there were “chemistry” issues or problems in communication with host parent or something like that I did not consider them at all. Anyway – unless you really know why she is leaving it isn’t worth speculating about. It’s a little bit like dating, I’d rather break up with someone than be broken up with but if it isn’t the right fit for both parties than you are better of going separate ways.

MS Mama February 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm

OP here. Thanks for all the comments! In answer to some of the questions, everyone involved in our organization is scratching their heads on this one. No one can get a straight answer or anything more definite than “bad fit”. And “bad fit” started after 1.5 weeks with our family, one of which overlapped with our past au pair, and after only spending 1/2 day alone with our children. Something fishy is going on. Of course we are taking this personally, because it is hard and exhausting to rematch, and we try our absolute best to be a great host family.

Additionally, what we heard from S sounded very coached to our ear. As if someone told her what she needed to say to get into rematch. That should have been a red flag for the organization . . . There was also a lot of talk about “my au pair year”, and no talk about a cultural exchange, getting to know and become a part of someone else’s family, and most importantly, taking care of the children. Because at the heart of all of this is care for children.

Any thoughts on staying/leaving the au pair program? I could really use some advice. At the end of the day, it may not matter, because I’m not sure we can match with a new au pair in time to meet our childcare needs.

Emmiejane February 9, 2011 at 11:03 pm

We just recently entered the au pair program. We wanted more flexibility and to expose our children to Spanish. I would make the comment that I think the grass is always going to seem greener.

We had two good nannies prior to this. My favorite one still left us three months early because (long story) she missed her boyfriend-now husband. She came to us crying and left a few weeks later, leaving us scrambling. The most recent one, also fine, left us to student teach-we did have notice. I would just say that choosing a nanny is not easy either, they can also leave you, and you may not have as much latitude in assigning their hours. They may start and not perform well. With our second nanny, it was hard to get her to do laundry and other basic tasks related to the children. Also, the taxes, social security, medicare, unemployment, and W-2s, and on and on are a nightmare, and usually need to be dealt with quarterly. I am so excited to no longer be an employer.

So far, we are really enjoying our au pair, as first year host parents. I love that I assign her hours for the week and don’t have to deal with begging for a schedule change with a nanny with lots of other commitments and things going on in their lives.

azmom February 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

We spent 9 weeks with our first au pair total before she went to another family. I wish there wasn’t so much confidentiality. I found out after we tried for 5 weeks to make things work (in spite of many issues) that she had asked others THE FIRST WEEK how to rematch. Her first week was extremely light, we had parties where she took many photos, and talked about how “cute” everything was.

Her English wasn’t good so she was told to stick around and make it work. When we did go into rematch, She rematched on day 14 (last day basically) and is out of that family already. She may be on her third family and she’s not been in the US 5 months. She has many AP friends and that whole coached thing, 100 percent. She was a princess, an actress (a speaking extra in films), flameout, all that we don’t want in an AP, and because she was our first AP and we had to do a last minute match (our first match wasn’t able to make it here, and we needed care as I was returning from maternity leave), we didn’t do as much interviewing, so I take responsibility for getting here.

I cringe because “I” brought her here, but with all the craziness she brought us, I wish she’d just be sent home already, because she wasn’t good with my kids, put my daughter in danger (while in rematch and not working), which showed how irresponsible she really was, and all this she’s 26, not 19. She entirely came here to get out of her situation, so I feel used.

So if we continue with the program, I’ll do what I did in this rematch… not find au pairs who have a lot of friends who’ve been in the program – because they know the ins and outs and how to work a system.

Should be working February 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

Bad story. Unfortunately not having friends who have been APs will not insulate a candidate from the ‘scriptedness’ that comes with interviews and rematches. All the transition APs I interviewed while in rematch said “They didn’t treat me like a member of the family, but like an employee instead.” It was like interviewing the Stepford wives. All the little profiles (at least of my agency) that you select from have the same lines about loving seeing children smile and grow up. All the Facebook websites for APs have them trading tips on what questions to ask, what answers to give. (I mean seriously, how many 19-yr-olds do you know who truly love playing games and baking?)

I have culled amazing questions from this blog to try to get away from the scriptable answers. But it is difficult. Our next AP struck me as genuine, warm and funny, so we’ll find out in summer whether impressions can be trusted.

azmom February 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I definitely agree – I learned a lot and this time around we are doing much better. A few friends as APs is fine, but if all their friends aspire to be APs, to me it now rings a bell. No, they don’t all love kids and want to see the US, they just want to get to the US and this is the easiest visa for them.

boysmama February 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm

We speak German… where do we go to see these Facebook comments of au pairs?

HM Pippa February 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Cultural Care Au Pair Deutschland is the one I watch.

boysmama February 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

We just had a very similar situation. One of the host moms who called me for a reference on our outgoing AP was so angry about the way the agency was “selling” her vs our experience with her as a truly poor AP that she suggested we both leave the agency for one of the competitors. I wonder if there truly is a difference between the agencies in this regard? We really believe in AP programs vs. Nanny.

Jennifer L. February 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm

For what it’s worth, the agency I work for insists that an au pair stay in her current match and try to make it work for 60 days before she’s allowed to rematch (unless it’s a breach of contract or other very serious situation). I’ve had one au pair who absolutely insisted she could not stick it out for 2 months and bought her own ticket home – the agency wouldn’t have bought it for her even if she’d asked. Perhaps some of this has to do with the particular policies of each agency?

ap February 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm

First, I’m not saying that there are no mean and irresponsible people out there. But if an au pair – a client, who also paid for the agency service – does not feel comfortable with her host family for some reason, or finds it really hard to get used to the weather, what should she do? She obviously did put a lot of effort to leave her country, family and friends to come for “the year of her life”, and she feels it’s not working. Why not a rematch?

I’M SURE that the best solution would be an open conversation (being more specific about where did the “chemistry” go wrong). Plus, I think the rematch should only be authorized both for families and au pairs, after the two first months of the program (time enough to try to adjust to whatever may be necessary).

I think that, as a client, the au pair also has the right to rematch, and unless she has done something absolutely wrong (killed a child, stolen from the family, got caught with drugs) there is no reason to send her home without giving her a second chance.

ap February 9, 2011 at 7:42 pm

1.”I think the agencies benefit from NOT giving AP candidates a harsher view of what their year will be like, and I think the APs sometimes have a bit of shock after a week or two when they see this is just life, in another place, with work, and it is not a dream (although it could be great). ”

2.”There was also a lot of talk about “my au pair year”, and no talk about a cultural exchange, getting to know and become a part of someone else’s family, and most importantly, taking care of the children. Because at the heart of all of this is care for children.”

We also can’t forget that – as pretty much everything in the world – the au pair program is a business, with a company trying to sell a program, and two clients trying to buy it together. The host families’ view about it is definitely the number 2. The heart for the family is the childcare. The heart for tons and tons of au pairs is a cheap way to make an exchange program and see another country and try the American dream. I mean, if everything I’ve ever wanted in my life was to take care of other people’s children, I could do it in my country, with the comfort of living with my parents, speaking my native language and not facing cultural differences, right?

And if the agencies would start to sell the “real life” of an au pair, like in the number 1, how many girls would still want to come? Most agencies focus on the (small) academic part of the program, and lots of girls really think they’ll be able to get a degree while taking care of kids. and some agencies tell you so much about the “being part of the family” part that you almost forget you’re applying for a JOB. As “should be working said, ” this is just life, in another place, with work, and it is not a dream”, although I think it is pretty good ;)

formerAupairIreland February 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm

When I read your post, this was what came to my mind straight away:

If your last Au-Pair and the new one overlaped, did you ever consider that meeting/ having to keep up with your last Au-Pair might have been part of the problem? I have been with 4 hostfamilies so far (twice with the same, all in Europe) and there was one time when I found it quite hard to “compete” with the former Au-Pair. She had been with the family for quite a while and the kids as well as the parents just loved her (she was the first Au-Pair). I knew it would be a hard job to win the kids over but it actually worked out quite well. It was however way harder to win over the parents (who assured me everything worked out perfectly and who asked me to extend as well) but there was not a single day (for more than a month) that was not spent talking on the phone to the former Au-Pair PLUS refering to how great she had done the job and how great she had been in general various times a day! I actually found that extremely hard to deal with and that might be something your Au-Pair might experience as well.

The one time that I went into rematch (a lot! easier and a lot more common in Europe) this was actually one of the reasons (by far not the most important one!), only that it was the other way round. The HM could not find ANYTHING good in her former Au-Pair!

So yes, while you might be a great HF, she might really not feel completly comfortable with this situation. It is so important for the au-pair to know that his/her work is valued and talking of former Au-Pairs to much (whether in a good or bad way) really doesn`t help to settle in! (And yes, I always did encourage my hostkids to remember former Au-Pairs by telling them about them or going over stories with them. I am not saying that you can`t mention other au-pairs (it is actually nice to hear that they were part of the family) but it makes it harder to find your own place in the HF).

Also, all I ever told the one hostfamily I left was “it is not working out” and “I do not feel comfortable” because I was not able to express myself in English very well. You can not imagine how hard it is to tell a HF that you want to rematch(which is not easy for the Au-Pair either! You are in a foreign country (what would happen if the HF throws you out straight away, give you a bad reference), no friends yet, not able to speak the language properly, not knowing what the next HF might be like (if you find one), leaving the kids that you started to build a relationship with, asking yourself whether YOU might just not be able to be a good Au-Pair (after all: it worked for the last two Au-Pairs) and so on). But worse than having to explain the rematch is to explain it in a foreign language. I found it quite intimidating to talk to my HP because they were native speakers, who actually started to speak faster when I told them and who used words I did not understand. So after trying to explain it, but failing to do so because they would not really listen I gave up and settled on “it is not working”.

Gianna February 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I would like to know exactly what the agencies overseas tell the aupairs about the rematch procedure. I think some of them say ” don’t worry , if you don’t like it, you can switch families “. I suspect that the aupairs have no idea how difficult the process is for the host family who have invested thousands of hours and thousands of dollars into the program. The agencies cannot guarantee immediate replacement for these girls – how could they realistically promise that , especially in this economy ? And we all know how hard many host families feel it is to house an aupair during the rematch process. It is an emotional and financial burden on LCCs to house aupairs and frivolous demands for emergency housing burn out LCCs. Everyone wants her LCC to have available housing if a real emergency comes along. I think that the agencies should have very clear rules about what merits a rematch and frankly, ” I don’t like this area ” or ” I don’t care for the schedule ” doesn’t cut the mustard. I do not know exactly what obligation the agencies have toward the aupairs contractually to find them a rematch but it would be a good thing to know.

Jenny February 9, 2011 at 9:52 pm

My agency never, not even once, mentioned anything about “rematching.” They did tell the tale “don’t worry you’re gonna be part of the family and will be treated like a big sister,” and lots of girls fall for prey to that, especially when they are naive enough not to understand what 45 hours of work/week means. But, back to the question, I didn’t know what “rematch” was prior to arriving in the US and it took me a while and various conversations with other au pairs to understand it. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to complete 2 wonderful years with my host family without having to experience rematch. :)

Steff February 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm

They don’t, at least not with the agency I signed up with. Even though I do believe there are “over-confided” (for not say cocky) APs who have the certainty they’d find another family within the two-weeks transition period (perhaps, they’d been told -overseas, maybe- that their application is strong enough and finding a family shouldn’t be a problem since they are “strong” candidates) I still don’t exactly think agencies *intentionally* try to sell transition and rematching families as something “easy”.

According to my personal account, there are some specific reasons why the AP wouldn’t have the option to rematch and will be send back automatically to her home country…these are some (among others) “breaking rules in the au pair agreement; not taking care of the children in a responsible manner; leaving the host family without prior consent from *agency*; not attending monthly meetings; not fulfilling the educational component; extremely restrictive requirements in terms of region. In such cases, the au pair will end up going home early at his/her own expense and lose the training fee deposit. However, it is our goal to have all of our au pairs successfully complete their year, so returning au pairs to their home country is a very last resort.”

In any case, I know if it were me, I’d try everything and anything not to go into rematch; there’s a lot at stake and IMO; HMs are right, it’s not just about us, but the kids too, I suppose. Do not completely agree with “ap” either; and I guess it is all because all these problems “should be” avoidable BEFORE matching with the AP. IMO, before the AP commits (because that’s what we do when we say YES to “x” hostfamily) she SHOULD check out the area first, read about it, essentially, make an INFORM decision before jump in a plane to hers/his HF’s house, only to find out Seattle isn’t sunny (so to speak lol)

As a side note, something to consider is also that not ALL APs read the information the agencies provides us, so one more time, it all comes down to not be inform enough and make -dumb- decisions out of childish impulses and to call it by its name, immaturity. IMO, they all should, at the very least, TRY to make it work… just my $0.2…

Steff February 9, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Jenny’s comment wasn’t there when I first replied, but…I don’t know, maybe it all comes down to the agency too; is it kind of “taboo” or wrong to call one’s agency by its name?? Because at least in my case, mine did in fact the job to inform us about rematch…NOT exactly in a meeting or something like that, but yeah in the APhandbook I got as soon as I was accepted into the program, and also in my personal account “infosource” .

PS: When I began my first post with “They don’t” I was meaning to say “They don’t make look transition as something easy, or something you “should” do as an AP at the first setback in that US”

Taking a Computer Lunch February 9, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Believe it or not, but it really sounds like a case of homesickness to me. Of course arriving in the US in January/February can be brutal (especially this winter – although from what I hear Europe is not much better this year). Sometimes, when an AP starts bucking her new situation it really means “I wasn’t prepared for how different this would be from home and somehow I expected it would be all sunshine and roses.” And yes, sometimes you get a young woman who just wasn’t prepared for work.

Either way, quite frankly, it’s miserable. As a HP I would never get an in-country AP without talking with the AP, HF and the LCC (because, in my experience, sometimes the HF has unreal expectations and sometimes the AP has unreal expectations and the only way you’re going to sort that out is talk to all of them). I’d hope any potential HF for this particular AP would talk to the OP.

Every AP goes through culture shock. It’s to be expected. It’s whether they have the fortitude to weather it, soldier on, and develop a real and lasting relationship with their HF that separates the girls from the women the boys from the men.

To the OP – I’m sorry you got a bad egg who isn’t prepared to dig deep and work through her grief and shock. You must be asking yourself “Why didn’t I see this coming?” And the answer is, “A candidate can answer all the questions correctly and well intentioned and still come up short.”

I must say, having done overlap once, I will never do it again. It’s a crutch for both the incoming AP, the outgoing AP, and the HF. I now block out one week every year to clean the AP room, purchase supplies, care for my children and orient my new AP (who arrives in August). It’s no holiday, but I get to set the stage for the AP relationship, and the poor incoming AP doesn’t have to put up with my grief or delight in my previous AP’s departure.

To the OP – put pressure on the agency. You’ve paid your dues, get them to work for you. Without being rude, make it clear how unhappy you are with the situation. Pressure them to assist you in making a good match (or at least minimizing your expenses). Make it clear how bewildered your poor kids are. If this young woman has angered you past the point of return, then move on, and count yourself lucky that your kids haven’t become attached to her. And if you have the luxury of filling out a HP form, then selfish, self-interested, disengaged, unprepared, etc. are all good adjectives that would warn prospective HFs.

Calif Mom February 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Totally agree. Overlapping is seductive, because to the logical host parent brain that is scrambling to figure how the heck to keep everyone’s needs met and not offend anyone in the process, it makes rational sense that your new au pair would benefit greatly from the mud-on-the-boots perspective of your outgoing au pair. But the reality of the transition period is much more emotional–for the entire family. And by overlapping, you lose the critical, limited-time-only, expires-at-midnight chance to establish different guidelines and habits with your new au pair that you saw did not work with your outgoing au pair.

Eurogirl February 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I LOVED my overlap periods. I found (sorry) that the host mothers didn’t REALLY know everything I was doing in their house and forgot to tell me X/Y/Z that the out-going au pair could tell me. Also there were things that I wanted to pass on to the in-coming au pair to make her life a little easier that host mother would almost certainly have forgotten to mention/been unaware of/were actually about host mother. Eg. one family didn’t tell me their strict dietary requirements (and thought it was MY fault when I fed child A something I shouldn’t have)…another host mother lost her phone/car keys constantly and I had to help find them/never rely on texting her as a form of communication… There are tips about the job that can be really helpful to know that the mother will either not tell or take for granted that you understand (eg. we are Jewish does not equal we are kosher, au pair may assume not, HF may assume of course we are kosher and AP must know that, obviously)

That said, the overlap should not be too long. Having an extra person under the roof for more than a couple of days…is difficult. And in-coming will want to spend every minute with out-going whereas out-going doesn’t necessarily want to be tied to the new girl for a fortnight when she is trying to say goodbye to her life in that country and her family…

Michigan Mom February 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

We do a four-day overlap (Friday – Monday) every time and it works great for us. The current au pair passes along all of the little things about the kids that I don’t necessarily include in the handbook–i.e., my youngest doesn’t like milk in his cereal, he likes dry cereal and a glass of milk–and takes the new au pair on a tour of the area. We haven’t wanted to make huge changes to our routines for the last couple of years so that hasn’t been a problem. The downside for us has been that it is hard for the new au pair to see how sad we are that the current au pair is leaving. But I do think the positives outweigh the negatives.

Eurogirl February 12, 2011 at 8:17 am

I found it reassuring to see that the family were sad to see the predecessor go…It made me feel like they really loved her and she really meant a lot to them. And that I could become close to them in that way myself (which I did). It connected to the “part of the family” part of the job, which can be a little forgotten at the start when you are busy learning how to look after the kids and help with the household and it seems like a lot of hard work and like the family feeling was a bit far off!

AFhostmom February 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm

“In any case, I know if it were me, I’d try everything and anything not to go into rematch; there’s a lot at stake and IMO; HMs are right, it’s not just about us, but the kids too, I suppose.”
Sigh, I want to read this to my AP, who is more removed every day from “getting it.” Her attitude toward rematch is very defiant, and though she claims she loves my kids, she parks them in front of Dora for 4-5 hours a day then watches netflix while they nap, instead of doing the bare minimum around the house to keep things running smoothly.
We are talking to our CC tomorrow night about rematching or pulling out altogether because we can’t handle it anymore. But inevitably, we’re the bad guys, for not trying hard enough, even though we’ve had THREE big talks now. Our Ap seems to see the word rematch as some sort of dare.

Should be working February 10, 2011 at 1:39 am

Jaw dropping here, AFhostmom. Defiant about rematch? 4-5 hrs of tv/day (I’m assuming against your wishes)? No more talking, it’s over. Maybe your last ‘talk’ with her was the pre-rematch talk and now she is to go immediately?

AFhostmom February 10, 2011 at 9:04 am

Yep, talking with the LCC tonight. It’s not a good fit. Our handbook says no more than 90 min of TV a day, and it’s really not in my work schedule (nor my “want to do list”)to check the netflix logs to see how much they are actually watching.

hOstCDmom February 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

Your expectation of no more than 90min tv/day is incredibly “easy” on your AP – give her some perspective that some (many? most?) HFs would not allow their AP to have the children watch *any* tv during any of the 45hrs that the AP cares for them during the week. I’m not saying this to open the “how much tv is ok/good for kids” debate — rather to point out how far out of whack your AP’s baseline is — 4-5 hours of tv a day is (depending on your children’s ages) anywhere from 30-50% of their waking hours! This means that most likely your AP is plopping the kids in front of the tv for more than 1/2 of the hours for which she is responsible for caring for the kids, assuming that you also care for them for a few of their waking hours (!!) Frankly, I would say that is ABJECT DERELICTION OF DUTY (yes, I know you are a military family and I chose this phrase deliberately, because it really suits the situation!) United States Code Title 10,892. Article 92 is spot on in this case –your AP using tv to do her job is “willfully refusing to perform [her] duties”. You should not feel bad about deeming this unacceptable — rather you should feel empowered to tell the agency the AP has objectively breached her contract and she has to go. Now.

AFHostmom February 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

Thank you for your perspective (especially since it reaffirms my own thoughts–which is always nice:)). I am home today and we’re listening to Pandora, no tv, period. The kids are WAY too young to be watching that much tv. They are 2 and 3 (and another in school). I am miserable in my own home, and this just isn’t working, and I feel like no amount of talk will make her get it. As has been said in other discussions, she’ll continue to do the bare minimum just so that I feel too guilty letting her go.

Marina February 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Jesus, woman, calm down

Should be working February 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

She’s doing bare minimum in terms of not actively endangering your kids physically. She’s not doing a bare minimum of au pair duty, which includes going along with basic parent expectations and being polite (not defiant). Your LCC should back you up entirely, and if you have ever talked to her before, she should have told you to lay down the law.

Your own sense of guilt here is something to reflect upon perhaps, given that it is unwarranted to feel guilty about firing this AP. You might consider, before moving to another au pair, how you could strengthen your own assertiveness and sense of being the boss–because you are the boss here, and you are letting your AP walk all over you. STOMP all over you.

AFHostmom February 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm

You’re right. The TV issue has become a slippery slope and I admit to letting it get out of hand when I should have addressed it before. As for my guilt, you’re right there too, but there are extenuating circumstances here (that we hired an AP we knew, and we know her family), so I’ve let it go on too long. Never again. Had it been a stranger, I’d have cut her loose months ago.
I’m typically pretty assertive but this has just been an awkward situation all around. Big, huge lesson learned.

MommyMia February 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm

AFHostmom, I feel for you. But your response, below, is exactly what you should tell the LCC in your meeting. It’s honest, and spells it out perfectly – if she doesn’t see the situation for what it is, I would simply move up the “chain of command.” (since there was a reference to your military affiliation). Best of luck!

AFhostmom February 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Thank you. The AP must get that something is happening, because tonight, for the first time since she arrived, she was home at dinner time and didn’t come up to eat with us (or all night, period). The LCC was great and after we let the AP know we’re rematching, the process will begin. Probably Saturday since I don’t want to ruin her Friday evening if she has plans.
There goes our Valentine’s dinner date….

AFHostmom February 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

For those of you who are interested, my husband had the talk with her since I am at work and won’t be home until she is gone for the evening, and the kids will be around all day tomorrow, plus we wanted to give her some during-the-day time to discuss it with her AP friend whose host kids are in school all day.
It went about how we expected it to. She cried and screamed for about 20 min and my husband did his best to reassure her that we will try to help her find a more appropriate family. She did not “fight” to stay with us but did say she will miss the kids.
But to reaffirm our decision, once my husband told her (gently) to go to her room and compose herself, she said on her way out “I feel like I need to break something” and he heard her scream into her pillow multiple times. I suppose we won’t be able to rely on her to care for our kids over the next 2 weeks.

azmom February 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

afhostmom- you definitely made the right decision- i’m sorry she threw a fit, but it really shows her maturity level. if a future host parent asks (or has the opportunity to ask) you’ll be able to spell this out to them :)

NY Hostmom February 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I think you should rematch, which I know is redundant. I just wanted to let you know about an inexpensive gizmo from Amazon.com called BOB. You plug your TV (or any electric device) into it and it requires a code to turn the appliance on. We have one and programmed it for what we feel is the appropriate amount of time for each child to watch. When the time is up, the TV shuts off. The kids learn to “save” time for important shows and use their time together for mutual shows. No more long periods of time watching reruns of Disney shows. We love it!!!

AFHostmom February 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the info! I didn’t know this kind of thing existed–we’ll see what happens with our rematch situation, and hopefully the new AP will choose to follow the rules so I don’t have to micromanage.
As for the calm down comment, I’m not sure if it was directed at me, but :) happy Tuesday.
And our updated HFHB will lower the allowed amount of TV as well.

AussieHostMum February 10, 2011 at 6:24 am

This happens with Australian agencies too. I feel the agency is far more interested in the placement fee than the suitability of APs for a Host Family.

Our story is that our last AP ignored our 5 year old son until he would get annoying for attention and then she would give him time out until we were home and tell us how bad he was for the day. We didn’t know he was being neglected until an older cousin stayed and told us what was happening. We had a big Come to Jeezus talk (about the fourth) about being more animated and friendly. She decided to leave and was gone.

There is more to the story, needless to say we are glad the situation ended and so upset by what happened to our son. We honestly were thinking he was a behavior problem kid and were looking into doctors and classes. As soon as AP was gone and he was getting smiles and giggles etc from who we could find to watch him, he is back to being our angel.

So back to the agency, they agree with us about how unsuitable she was for active children and maybe an older teen family needing help with driving would be better. The agency says to me they found her to be immature and unreasonable with her expectations.

AP was placed with a family with two kids and one of them is a boy the same age as our son?!?!?! The new host family didn’t even ask for a reference??

The agency had nothing for us and we scrambled for care. We are going agency free this time but gosh how draining the whole selection process is. We still like having an au pair but I agree it is the host families that take the most risks.

AussieHostMum March 16, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I just wanted to give an update about this former au pair. I still know people that are in contact with her in the new location. She apparently didn’t like the new host family’s children either and expressed this to her hosts and gave them a date when she was leaving. The host family corrected her and asked her to leave right away.

I am sad that the AP didn’t take on board anything that I tried to coach her with in regards to caring for children and disgusted that the agency didn’t listen to my advice on what she was good at and place her with a different type of family. But at the same time I am relieved that it wasn’t us and it was her.

For the last month or so my boy has been cared for very well and I grateful to have my sweet adoring funny kid back. No meltdowns and I hate you’s! All the smiles etc.

So to sum up, I will rematch faster if we have a moody depressed uninterested AP again and I have gone agency free. I just do not trust what kind of applicant they will send. We have a new AP coming soon. We already have a better relationship than what was allowed through the agency set up. So finger crossed that finding an AP from the web will be successful.

used to be an AP February 10, 2011 at 7:43 am

Something that my agency did not tell me (I don’t know about other agencies) is how much the HPs pay for getting an AP. A lot of APs think that the HF only pays the stipend and room and board and don’t know anything about the agency fees and other costs. This is probably something that the APs should know as it might enhance their sense of resposibility. My HPs told me early on how much they paid and asked me how much I had payed and how much money that was for a high school graduate from my country (it was a lot, though I know that compared to other regions of the world Western Europeans are rather “rich”).

LC in NJ February 10, 2011 at 9:52 am

My Swedish au pair showed me the website that recruited her. In bold letters it declared “LIVE THE AMERICAN DREAM”. I ask you all, what does this mean? Then a few lines down it proclaimed the virtues of becoming “a part of the family”. Again I ask, what does this mean? From an intercultural perspective, it means *very* different things to different people. When we use broad language to make statements and promises like these we have to expect that people will interpret the words differently based on their national culture, the values they grew up with and their expectations for ‘how things should be’.

There’s plenty of good advice being shared amongst members of this group. I’m curious if the industry as a whole and the agencies are taking a more peripheral view of concept of “culture” when they advertise the “cultural” exchange component of being/hosting an au pair.

used to be an AP February 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Of course I can only answer the question what the American Dream means from the perspective of German APs. It really depends on their education. If they have graduated high school with the Abitur (similar to A-levels if that helps), then the American Dream is a cultural concept for them. It is often taught in the section “British and American traditions and visions” and usually referred as “the American Dream then and now”. Important aspects are the “rags to riches” concept and the so called “American nightmare” which is often talked about using novels (or texts) such as The Tortilla Curtain, although this specific novel is not requiered every year. So those APs will probably interpret that slogan for what it is: plain advertisment.

Those candidates who do not have the Abitur will most likely not have talked about the American Dream at all at school, so my guess is that they think of it as living in the States and their concept of how Americans live will be highly influenced by what they watch on TV (a LOT of popular American TV shows are shown in Germany as well). This does not mean the APs who have got the Abitur are not influenced by American TV shows, I think they all are, just to different extents.

perplexed February 10, 2011 at 10:15 am

AussieHostMum- what in the world do you mean by “we had a big Come to Jeezus talk (about the fourth one)”?

AussieHostMum February 10, 2011 at 10:30 am

It is an expression that means you have a very big important discussion about the situation. That particular AP really struggled with interacting with our boy. So we would have these very in depth conversations about techniques and things we would do to 1) help her 2) show our boy we supported her role as his AP.

The last one we had was after I found she has left the house because she was “fighting” with my 5 year old boy. I sat her down acknowledge this seemed very hard for her, we had been very supportive of her position of authority and backed up her discipline choices but that he was a little boy who needed someone to smile at him, laugh with him, run around and play games. And most importantly all children deserve that. We offered to spend our next vacation working with her and our son to create a better bond. She decided that she wanted to rematch.

So those deep important conversations are a “Come to Jeezus talk” Is that just an Aussie slang thing?

AFHostmom February 10, 2011 at 11:03 am

No, we say it here in the US too. Or at least where I’m from. :)

Seasoned Host Mom February 10, 2011 at 11:37 am

My DH says it all the time, usually when he’s got to sit down and have a “big” talk with a bad employee or an unreasonable client. (He is an IT consultant.)

On the subject at hand, as an attorney, I could see some serious liability issues for the agencies in rematching a bad au pair. Obviously, an au pair who is simply saying “It’s not the right fit” might not be enough to trigger this, but if the agency rematches an au pair who is derelict in her duties (leaving a child at home, ignoring a child all day, planting them in front of the TV), and then those same problems arise in the next home and affect the health and safety of a child, then I could see it being a problem for the agency.

My main problem with my agency is that, when a girl is in rematch, it STRONGLY DISCOURAGES a prospective HP from contacting the prior HP. I have told my LCC in no uncertain terms that I will only consider a rematch candidate if I can talk to the prior HF.

hOstCDmom February 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Agree with you SHM re the liability issues for the agency. Would not see it as a difficult case to represent the 2nd, 3rd HF in a suit against the agency for breach of duty, liability, or some vicarious liability based suit if the agency knowingly and willfully placed an AP with a subsequent HF after the AP had demonstrated a lack of skills that would make her competant to care for children in a safe manner, or even in a manner that a HF could expect based on its agreement with the agency. Maybe one wouldn’t win in court, but it could be a very aggravating lawsuit with some very, very messy, negative PR…and the agencies really rely on their reputation. CCAP even changed its name after EF (former name of CCAP) was sued in MA in the case of the British nanny Louise Woodward (I think that was the name) and the death of the 8 mo old boy she cared for (alleged shaken baby? or head injury of another sort? Can’t remember). It isn’t a stretch to conclude that they needed to sever their reputation from the name of the agency involved in this much publicised case.

We had a rematch situation where our AP endangered the life of our child – was not supervising 3 year old, allowed 3 y.o. to run way ahead of her on street, 3.y.o. went to cross and was nearly hit by a car except his older brother ran out and pulled him from the path of an oncoming car. Very scary, and the straw that broke the camel’s back, catapulting us into rematch. In this case, after making the LCC aware of the situation, our agency actually told us that if we didn’t rematch, and for some reason wanted to keep her, **they would want us to sign a written waiver of liability and asumption of risk?**. So, while this may have been an extreme case, at least one agency seemingly “got” the liability issues.

Host Mom09 February 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm

We are new to the world of au pairs and it has been an eye-opening experience to say the least. We are on our 2nd au pair, who is wonderful. Our first au pair – that’s another story altogether. After less than 3 weeks in our home, she said that she no longer wanted to work with children our age, rather she wanted to work with older children. When she gave us this ‘news’ she handed my husband a note, said we could talk about it tomorrow, and asked to use the car to go to Target. Unbelievable. Apparently she told the LCC more about why she wanted to leave, but no one ever told us anything more than her wanting to work with older children. I don’t believe we were ever given the whole story. Of course, we had spent time, energy, and money on this au pair’s arrival from overseas and were completely thrown for a loop when she announced one day that she had been crying every night for ‘weeks’ and that she wanted to leave. The company (one of the larger ones) simply put her right into rematch before the first 4 weeks were even up. Of course, we did not hide the ages of our children and she knew full well what she was getting into. We now know that we were simply used as a point of arrival from which to depart to another more glamourous, less taxing work environment. Within 2 weeks she was placed with another family, who oddly enough never even bothered to call us for a reference. Another comment – While in rematch we were also discouraged from speaking with other host parents numerous times. The LCC said that host families normally don’t talk to each other about au pairs! What she means is the company does not want host families talking to each other.

Should be working February 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

CCAP has never given me any trouble with contacting previous HPs of transition APs. Having been through rematch, I now know that this would be a dealbreaking criterion for choosing an agency. They should advertise that fact better–except it would draw attention to the frequency of rematches!! Still it is a crucial point that I didn’t know when I started hosting. In the end another family’s bad story with an AP might not be reliable or might not have been a bad story for my family, but I at least want to hear the worst and then figure out whether the AP might work for us.

Anna February 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Unfortunately, it is some companies’ policies not to allow matching families to talk to families of transition au pairs. They allow us to talk to LCCs, who supposedly know the story from both the family’s side and the au pair’s side (they are afraid the family is bitter and will nix au pair’s chance of rematch).

Both agencies I was with had this policy. One large leading one, one smaller one.

However, when we were in transition with an au pair I really liked, I offered her to talk to the host parents who were interviewing her. She did take me up on the offer, and her new host dad called me. I gave her a glowing reference she deserved.
So I think there are ways around it. Au pairs in rematch really are under pressure to find a new family, and if asked to speak to their host parents, if the story is truly not damaging to them, I don’t see why they won’t agree.

I do think though that even a former host family might not give you a whole story. They might be interested in getting the transition au pair out of their house ASAP. Or they might not themselves realize why… especially if rematch is very quick.

My 2 cents February 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I’m sorry, but you’ve got to be a complete moron if you don’t insist on talking with the prior HF, even if it means you leave your information with the agency for the other family to contact you (since they rightly couldn’t just pass out personal information without consent).

Who does this ?? Seriously? This person is not only going to be living with you and granted access to your possession, but your kids!

I cannot imagine a reason any agency could come up with where this makes sense. No reference (good or bad or eh). No hire in my book.

Hula Gal February 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Gosh – I guess that means I am a moron. Who knew? ;-) We are into our first month with a rematch au pair and we are with an agency that will not allow us to speak with the host parents. I intended to ask the au pair in our interview if I could speak with the host mother but ended up not feeling it was not necessary. The reasons for her rematch were positive (host parent lost job, had good things to say about her in the mini profile they update the application with) and we had two very good interviews through skype, area director had nothing negative reported from other area director and we have some experience as host parents already. I felt pretty confident about this young woman. So far she has been a delight! If you are with one of these agencies that doesn’t let you speak with the other host family you do the best you can, read between the lines, listen to your instincts, have your area director do some checking. She has an interest in not having her host families match with a problem au pair too!

My 2 cents February 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Yeah, I shouldn’t have worded it so harshly. My bad. You are certainly no moron.

Your case is a bit different though. You did get a reference or some kind of information direct from the former host family to legitimitize what story you were being told by the AP or the agency — that “mini profile” from the other host family.

Karin Six April 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm

This was previously mentioned by ‘Taking a Computer to Lunch” and is the same advice I would give as an LCC…
“Either way, quite frankly, it’s miserable. As a HP I would never get an in-country AP without talking with the AP, HF and the LCC (because, in my experience, sometimes the HF has unreal expectations and sometimes the AP has unreal expectations and the only way you’re going to sort that out is talk to all of them). I’d hope any potential HF for this particular AP would talk to the OP.”

LocalMotion February 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Au Pair Care does **not** allow host families dealing with au pairs in rematch to speak to each other. If I had understood more about how the whole au pair program works – especially how it work when you have a really bad au pair – I would have recognized the “not allowed to talk to other host family” policy is a **huge** red flag!

MommyMia February 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Whoa! Very glad I decided not to go with APC! That is a definite deal breaker for me – any time I was looking at rematch or even extension au pairs, the HF recommendation sheets (used by APIA) were included in the info. I received, and sometimes, even two previous families, if they ext. candidate had rematched during her first year. It was supposedly a requirement, but I must say that the AP we sent into rematch while with APIA did not give me the referral form to fill out, yet the interviewing HM did ask to talk to me by telephone before hiring her, so she must have gotten my contact info. from the LCC or agency. While the form was rather vague, you could write it and read it so as to “read between the lines” if you had some experience, and definitely you always want to talk to the family being left and get their perspective. The LCCs are understandably biased and may only hear part of the story.

igelwelch February 12, 2011 at 1:49 am

That’s amazing. CCAP was pretty insistent on us speaking with both families we got transition au pairs from. Though you take some things with a grain of salt, it’s still so important to really understand the experience of the previous family. It was very helpful to understand the au pair and her prior situation better.

Eurogirl February 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Honestly, since I never went through an agency I don’t know about that side of it, but I did meet several au pairs who left almost immediately after arriving (three or four Russians, two Americans, one Canadian and an English girl) because they genuinely made a mistake and signed up for something they were not suited for. They were homesick, or hated the area, hated not being able to speak their own language or didn’t like the families. I understand that this is horrible for the families, but basically I would try to think; wouldn’t it be worse if she stayed longer and you were putting up with a miserable or non-committed/disinterested au pair for the full year… I guess that leaving early, whilst chaotic and difficult is the lesser of two evils.

On the other hand I had a friend who left a post early because the family had lied to her. She was working 60 hour weeks in rural Switzerland, many miles from a town and with no transportation, and a midnight curfew (none of this matched what she had been told in interview) Now I don’t suggest this is the case with the OP. I’m just mentioning it because sometimes that happens and could be written off as “oh she didn’t like it, silly girl”, when she was decieved about where she was going… Sometimes it really is the case that the family are misleading to make an unappealing job less unappealing…

aupair agencies February 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

that’s why is so important to choose a good aupair agency

Amelie ex-aupair February 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm

One problem that I see is that agencies say to the au pairs is that you should try to leave your app as open as you can. Chosing an area of the US may sound like you want to go party, or meet someone and leave the program, or anything like; chosing the number of kids you’d like to work with may sound like you’re lazy and unwilling; if you say you wouldn’t work with an especific age it may take you a long time to find a family… and so on.

Lots of au pairs take the first family that offers a position, out of fear of never finding another one, or thinking that saying ‘no’ to a family is not good for their image as a good AP candidate… specially those with not so many hours of experience or who just got their DL… Sometimes the agencies put a lot of pressure on the girls!

I’m not saying that because of that any au pair should bail on their HF… I’m just trying to add another perspective…

HRHM February 11, 2011 at 8:22 am

“Lots of au pairs take the first family that offers a position, out of fear of never finding another one, or thinking that saying ‘no’ to a family is not good for their image as a good AP candidate’

I think this is a real issue and leads to a lot of what seems to be happening in OP’s post. An AP jumps at the first job offered to get herself into the US. Sometimes, they just don’t ask any questions, don’t RTFM (I found out this week that mine didn’t before she came) and then get here a realize that they are in over their head. Sometimes they know that the position isn’t right for them, but they take it anyway with the idea that if they can’t make it work or just don’t like it, they will rematch.

The only way that I can see a HF combatting this is to send the HHHB to the AP in advance and then ask questions about each section to verify that she’s read it and understands what it says. Even then, you won’t be easily able to weed out the ones who are taking the job with you only because they figure they can find a better situation once they are here.

Former AP. February 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

THis post is kind of ironic because Au Pairs and Host Families hink the same: The agency only helps au pairs or The Angency only helps the HF!

Truth is they want money. And above it all there are bad employees wotking for these agancies. My LCC, for example, if there was any au pair in a very dangerous situation with a hst family and asked for rematch she would just send the girl home without helping at all. There were also several times when she did not report host families who should have been expelled from the Au pair program so she could keep on placing girls at the house and make money for it.

I this case, I dont think you can say for sure your Au Pair wants to leave because she doesnt like the area. Thats what you THINK and not what she told you. And in this especifc case I dont think she should go home. If it was you who didint like the match for some reason I bet you wouldnt think 5 minutes before asking for a rematch. That´s what Host Families usually do. By the way, as most of you say here: ” Au Pair is an employee and not an extra daughter”. Your au pair must have her reasons.

I know it´s stressful to go to all the process again, but if it´s nt a good match for her she has the right to go for another family.

HostMom09 February 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm

When our first au pair was in rematch, we started getting calls from potential host families asking for her. We were surprised that these host families, when either I or my husband answered the phone, did not ask us a single question about the au pair or even identify who they were. They simply asked for “Annette.” We will never know but we always wondered what the LCC may have told them about us or the situation. In one case the potential host parent was a former attorney (I later found out) that you would think would have asked us TONS of questions. But no, she just asked for the au pair. I noticed at the time that her voice sounded strained as if she was uncomfortable speaking to me. The entire au pair business just feels dirty to me…from what we have seen and heard the girls are treated like commodities, given little help or assistance once they are here. If we could do it, we’d leave the program right now.

Michigan Mom February 12, 2011 at 6:24 am

You know, the system is what you make it. We’ve had four au pairs (#5 is arriving in two weeks), and we certainly don’t treat them like commodities. We treat them like adults, which they are. We don’t hold their hands, but we do make sure they get off to a good start and meet other au pairs the weekend they arrive so that they will have some kind of support system. We’ve been very lucky with our au pairs so far–we’ve only been in transition once, with the first–and as I always tell my kids, now we have family all over the world. I’ve seen the cultural exchange aspect of the program have benefits for both my kids and our au pairs. I think it’s a fabulous system if it’s done right.

Sometimes there are girls who are totally unprepared for what they signed up for, or who have unreasonable expectations. And the same goes for host families. But I don’t think you should throw out the entire au pair system because of a few bad apples. There will always be unscrupulous (or simply clueless) people no matter what you do.

HostMom09 February 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

When I said they were treated like commodities, I was referring to the au pair companies themselves and how they treat the au pairs, not necessarily the host families. We have seen it firsthand with our company so we know what we are talking about. Although our current au pair has told us horror stories about her last family…unbelievable what some people will try to get away with thinking the girls won’t complain to anyone.

Dorsi February 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I have not seen the behavior you are talking about (but we have had stable matches and have little contact with agencies once we have matched). However, I think when you compare the alternatives, Au Pairs are more empowered and less commodified than other child care providers. Sure, I have a lot more ability to control my life and prospects than your average Au Pair, and I imagine my daughters (by virtue of their U.S. citizenship, education, socioeconomic status, etc.) will be able to, as well. But the more fair comparison is Au Pairs vs. undocumented immigrant nannies, employees of daycare centers, in-home daycare providers, etc. While there are high-end nannies who dictate the terms of their employment, most child care providers have much bleaker situations than my Au Pair. The AP has health insurance, a (ostensibly) non-biased advocate in the LCC, a safe way out of the contract, strict hour and wage protection.

Michigan Mom February 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Michigan Mom,

Well said. But I think you may be either exceptionally good at interviewing or exceptionally lucky, because some au pairs just do not act like adults, even when treated as such from the get-go.

I do agree that it’s a good system, and that when it works well there’s nothing better. But I also feel strongly that host families must remember “caveat emptor” because the bigger agencies are not doing a good job explaining the job part of au pairing to candidates, and over-emphasize the travel and college education opportunities.

Michigan Mom February 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Like I said, we’ve been really lucky. And I think it helps that we look for older au pairs (our last three have been 25+, as is the one who is arriving in a couple of weeks). They’ve had to hold down jobs and manage their finances and live on their own, and they already think of themselves as adults. A far cry from our first, who was 19 and thought of herself as a child!

1sttimeHMof4 February 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm

So, this article brings some concern to me as a first time host mom. I recently read the article about the princess factor and now the accountability issues, and I find some of the outlined issues to be on the rising in my home. Our AP has been here 1 month to date and all the things she said in our many skype interviews and on her application do not appear to be wholey true….We have met with our LCC 2x and she glossed everything over being that this is a new match and 1st time for both of us. But what do I do if she really is the princess she is portaying in person and not being accountable for her time with us? She does not like to clean or cook, not just for my children, but herself. She says she is happy, but she complains she is tired all the time. She loves TV, the internet and junk food, all of which she said she did not in her interview. She has a good personality and is kind and gentle with the children, but I am finding her to be…a mater of fact….quite lazy. My other concern is that she has a large network of friends here already and I am concerned about “the coaching” she is getting becuase i think her lack of commitment is growing because of what some of these other girls are going through….for example, she has said to me…so and so does not have to do this or my friend is going into rematch because the family is demanding. I have directly addressed this with her and processed it and straight out ask about her experience with us, how she is feeling and what I expect of her, but I truly feel I have just a babysitter and any other expectation is not to be expected. I thought that having an AP was to have a familial expectation of someone in your home with a deeper connection than just a babysitter…or was I duped?

Eurogirl February 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

Please remember that this is not personal, but your comments got me thinking…is it unfair to expect an au pair to be exactly every single thing she said at interview? In any job interview, isn’t there a degree of…exaggeration?

EG. “what is your biggest weakness?” “I am a perfectionist”/”I work too hard”

Sometimes I think, with all due respect and not necessarily in relation to your situation, but in general, that au pair families forget to take into account that we all want to sell ourselves in a job interview and may tell that we are slightly better people than we are…not excusing big lies but something like “cold weather is not my favourite but I can get used to it” could mean I HATE COLD WEATHER BUT I REALLY WANT THIS JOB… for example.

Dorsi February 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm

While I fully agree that you should put your best foot forward during an interview, you cannot lie or misrepresent. If you say you “could get used to cold weather” I will hear no complaints about the weather, no excuses as to why the kids can’t go to the park. I have done the same thing with my job — “oh, I don’t really mind being around nursing students” — that is not the least bit true, but I don’t complain AT ALL about them — I was given a fair idea of the job and I said I don’t care and I realize that interacting with them is what I signed up for.

Having said that, I try to undersell our family during the interview process (maybe that is why we have such a dismal response rate to our initial email?). The things I don’t tell Au Pairs: we travel a lot, our Au Pairs usually get to travel with us on 4 or 5 significant trips per year (some to places that Au Pairs actually want to go!), we eat out a lot and invite the Au Pair to join us, we have a very liberal curfew/overnight guest policy. I don’t want an Au Pair to match with us based on these things and I enjoy their pleasant surprise when they get here.

NotSoNewAPMama February 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm

You don’t tell them that your family has a curfew? I feel that’s misleading, whether it’s liberal or not. If you impose a curfew, then the aupair has the right to know that before she makes the decision to join your family.

Host Mommy Dearest February 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm

I would give Dorsi the benefit of the doubt and assume that “liberal curfew policy” either means there is no curfew, or she communicates a curfew during interviews, but then informs them of a less strict policy after arrival. I don’t think “I enjoy their pleasant surprise” can in anyway be interpreted as “she misled them because she didn’t tell them.”

Dorsi February 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm

The Au Pair has a right to know anything she wants to ask. I answer honestly any questions they ask. I find that I can’t barely drag any questions out of my Au Pairs. I ask them via email to think about what they like to know, I ask them via skype what questions they have for us, and then follow up with email telling them to think up some questions. As I have mentioned previously, I find the applicant pool a bit thin during my match cycle (across agencies). I don’t send out my manual ahead of time, nor do I go over it line by line with the APs during the interview.

I don’t think the curfew issue is honestly significant to my APs (and we don’t really have a curfew — we have a “you must be home x hours before work policy” — and my APs work 1-2 early mornings a week). The significant issues with our family — irregular schedule, no car, frequent weekend work, are the ones that I hit heavily during the interview.

1sttimeHMof4 February 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I truly agree that you have to sell yourself, but in all honesty, you have to be honest. This is my children and if you say you can do something, I expect that they be able to do it somewhat, not, not at all. I know I would fire someone at the hospital I work at if they told me they could, when in fact they can’t.
We also did not oversell ourselves. We have 4 children under 6 and were very clear on the day to day needs in the household. I did not mention curfew and car use until we were ready to match, because we are also liberal with this. She has no cerfew and has her own car to use almost all the time here. However, with these liberal priveldges come the fact that she must work when its work time and communicate with us when we are home, not hibernate and run and ignore the needs of the children and home. I thought the rewards of our liberalness would motivated our au pair to complete her duties as assigned, not act as a sporatic babysitter who has no personal connection to us. I do not expect her to be warm and fuzzy with us all the time, or be my friend, but I do expect communication and friendliness. Sorry still frustrated, becasue she does watch the children and they do like her, just putting stress on mom duties bc now HM duties are increasingly increasing…..not getting easier, but a little harder.

AFHostMom February 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I agree–having just been through many job interviews, there is a huge bright line between overselling and lying. When potential employers asked me if I could do a certain program, I said yes if I’d had experience. If I’d never heard of it, I said “No, but I am a fast learner,” and if I needed to, I truly would have busted my hump to learn that program before starting. But you can’t completely learn, at least over the course of a few months, to be responsible, cheerful, friendly, hard-working, etc. Those are abstract concepts that can create huge disconnects and disappointments for both HFs and APs.
Experienced HMs–I would like to know, do you find that having an AP creates more work for you than if you didn’t have the extra young lady or man in your house? Besides the obvious learning curve at the beginning and the marginal extra work shopping more often, etc. Because I have felt a tremendous amount of stress from the presence of our AP, and I’m wondering if I should expect this again now that we’re in transition. Nothing I buy for her room is good enough (and yes I involve her in the buying process, but I’m not buying her all Hello Kitty stuff because it’s stupid and we have to keep that room after SHE leaves it), so every time she needs something it involves 2-3 trips, returning things, complaints, etc. Is this normal?

Host Mommy Dearest February 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

No! Not normal!

Dorsi February 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Oh, no no no no.

My Au Pair gets a nicely, Ikea furnished room (that is way cuter and more coordinated than anything I had at 20). It is my house and my long-term furniture/decorating choices. I try very hard to make sure they have adequate storage and a comfortable place to be alone. My first Au Pair mentioned that she thought she would need a desk lamp. I bought her one. End of story. Can’t imagine taking it back because she didn’t like it.

At that age, I had a dorm room with a bare mattress, a tiny bookcase, a desk, chair and old dresser. My AP has all that, nicely decorated, and a TV with cable, Wifi and more.

AFHostMom February 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Thanks for the replies; my AP has admitted that she is “picky” (hasn’t had her hair cut or colored in 6 months because she trusts no one to do it, and she insists on going to a pricey salon but hasn’t found one around here–in the stinkin DC area–that meets her needs, doesn’t like most gifts we or our family get her, etc). I furnished her room before she got here in her favorite colors but she wanted a down comforter (which we don’t even have, but OK, I know they are the thing in Germany so I got her one…which wasn’t warm enough….then another….which also wasn’t warm enough), black trash cans (with lids, so I had to return the ones I had picked out), different towels (the IKEA ones, which we now use, were “too pilly” for her, and she wanted hot pink), a smaller desk, a nicer and taller nightstand, a set of lamps instead of the halogen lamp with a reading bulb and the IKEA floor lamp I’d picked out, and on and on. I got a lot of what she asked for but just ignored the more ridiculous and pricey requests.
We don’t have cable (solely use netflix, hulu, etc), so she doesn’t have a TV in her room but she’s told me she doesn’t want one. Our internet is fast enough to stream on mutiple devices anyway so I know she “watches tv” in her room.
And now I’m wondering why I’m just rematching.

Anon-former-aupair February 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm

WOW, AFHostmom, I’m wondering that you keep up with her selfish and unreasonable requests! I find her behavior extremely rude. I would never, ever ask something like that from my host family. When I arrived (I was the first AuPair), my hostfamily had bought me a new bed and bed covers in my favorite color, but the rest of the furniture was old stuff they still had from their grandparents. Not exactly my taste, but it was not my room, but my hostfamily’s!!! There were some things missing which I all bought myself, including a nighttable lamp, a basket for dirty laundry, some boxes to store stuff, some picture frames to make my room look nicer, and so on. I would have felt bad to ask my family to pay for that because I also could have done without these things….
I usually side with the AuPairs, but with this one I would say that she is incredibly entitled and I would be rematching as well based on everything you write here!

OP February 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Jumping in to say your comment really resonates w/me, 1sttimeHMof4… Just this weekend I realized that what I have is a good babysitter, not a good AP. Yes, she is good with the kids and they seem to like her. But! A good part of an AP’s role is to make the HF’s life easier. Dealing with all of these other issues and questions of judgment definitely don’t make things easier.

(As you can see, issues are ongoing. My husband is set against rematch and wants to exit the program if we send current AP packing, making this choice more difficult for me. I also don’t know if I have it in me to start fresh again. I am feeling wiped out and beaten down.)

Whoops! Not OP! February 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I am so sorry, I thought I was reading the comments on the “princess” post, where I was the OP … I am not the OP on this post! (Pleading exhaustion…)

Taking a Computer Lunch February 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm

In 10 years I’ve never had an AP ask me to buy something nicer, more expensive or in a different color. I don’t ask them their favorite colors before they arrive, because items are going to be used by the APs who follow them. I do replace the sheets every couple of years.

I do not have an AP because it makes my life “easier,” but because it permits me to go to work and still have enough vacation time to actually have a vacation (actually, this year that time will be spent with The Camel in hospital).

In my handbook I state, “You are an adult in this household and part of the team to help raise the kids to be the best they can be.” As much as the APs may have wanted to park my kids in front of the TV, they didn’t.

Be clear about what you want. Be fair in your treatment. But don’t bend over so far that you kiss your own butt.

And communication does come harder for some APs than others. When you get home, ask the AP about her day, then ask her what each kid did while you are gone. Ask her if there’s anything you need to know as you take over. (And if your AP lacks the English to communicate what she knows, then keep pushing – I find that it generally takes a month for new APs to get comfortable listening to American English enough to start communicating effectively.

Eurogirl February 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I’m not suggesting it’s ok to lie…just that if you’re all honest with yourselves, you present in a job interview (or an au pair family interview) a really really good picture of yourself.

In a normal, 9-5 job, they never see you at six am when you’ve had two hours sleep and you feel sick, for example… So the good picture may not be as shattered as with an au pair who cannot possibly be her best ever self 24/7…it’s the big downside of living in. You never have space to be in a bad mood or not be at your best and get away with it. Same goes for families. They present in au pair interviews the way you would like your family to be and the way things work when they are at their best…not when all the kids are sick and you feel stressed and fighting with your partner and there’s screaming rows and feeling bad…

If everyday she is not at her best, that’s a problem. But we all slip and let out a little of our “bad side” personality some times… Au pairs and mums included!

Love the Dog February 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I would like to know from your experience involving rematching. Do you pay extra for selecting a replacement aupair from outside of the US for a rematch? And how much doest that cost usually? Or what is the fee structure of your agency is based on in a rematch process. Thank you so much.

HRHM February 13, 2011 at 8:16 am

In CC from what I can tell, if you are mid year and you lose an AP to transition, and get a fresh AP from overseas, you must pay the make up fee for the extra months you are getting. So for example, if you are in month 6 and you get a new 12 month AP, you must pay 1/2 of the year’s agency fee at the time you match. Oddly enough, the family that gets your “used” AP for 6 months doesn’t usually get a discount. In our case, we paid the 12 month agency fee and then when it was time for a new AP the agency fee was prorated for what was left (she only had 9 months left on her year so we got a 3 month “discount” with the next one. It seems like it is always to the agency’s advantage.

Gianna February 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I have always been told that if you take an in-country rematch candidate , you only pay for the remaining months on her visa year – if it is shorter than your original contract, you could actually qualify for a refund. As for vactions and schooling, you can luck out or lose out. A rematch with all of her vacation and schooling completed is going to save you a few dollars. But if you take a rematch candidate with outstanding school or vacation, you have to pay up ( even if you already paid for the first aupair ). Maybe this differs from agency to agency, I couldn’t say. The worst part of the situation is the aggravation that occurs when your budget and cashflow is tossed a curve. There are times when I just don’t have an extra few thousand dollars that I did not plan on.

AFHostmom February 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

We’re in rematch right now and we have a balance sheet we have to fill out before our AP leaves. We pro-rate her vacation time (0 days in 5 months) and school money($0 used in 5 months) and pay it out to her on her last day, when she hands over the keys, cell phone, etc.

Should be working February 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

Can I get a look at that balance sheet? Or others? Is it from your agency? Ours didn’t have one that I recall. And do you have to pay her the education money in cash? What good does that do anyone, I’m curious?

I’d love to see a section of this website devoted to other people’s ‘forms’ (apart from handbook), including things like au pair logs (I have my own), balance sheets, and any others I hadn’t thought of.

Since, CV, you probably aren’t busy enough these days. ;)

AFHostMom February 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm

It’s fromt he agency, and I don’t see anything on it that it’s proprietary, or any other reason I’m not allowed to share it…if there is an efficient way to do so. Anyone? :)

JJ host mom February 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm

With APC you have to pay the difference in remaining months, plus the airfare from New Jersey to wherever you are.

Note that by selecting a replacement overseas au pair you’ll also have to have backup care for a longer period of time, which involves financial costs, a time commitment, and can take a toll on the family.

Love the Dog February 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Thank you for your comments. I agree with the extention fee as they will need insurance and such. I think it’s outragous for the agency to charge for the domestic transfer, since it’s not the HF fault that the AP is decided to leave early. What’s is the guarantee to the HF. The agency is not taking any risk in the deal at all. They make more money, as the tranfer fee they charged is triple the market value found on the net (even for one-way). Thank you again for letting me vent. My hubby and I are loosing hope with this exchange program. We have invested so much for it to work out. Let’s hope the AP coming will work out this time.

O transition February 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm

O transition
why do you taunt me
and push my buttons?
Do I wear a sign on my back
that says,
“kick me”?
Take some responsibility for your role in this.
Two major car accidents
does it for me.
Your AP year is a privilege.
Your time in my home is a privilege.
The use of our car and phone are a privilege.
I care about you but you are not my daughter.
Your parents might pay for your mistakes
but I will not.
Please leave with the integrity
I know you’re capable of.

cv harquail February 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm

This poem about transition is so fabulous I can hardly bear it. It’s the first poem ever on AuPairMom!

Thanks so much for contributing this bit of art — and truth– to the community. cv

Calif Mom February 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm

The longing and plea for fair treatment are perfectly aligned with the heartfelt emoting of Valentine’s Day.

I love this and hate it; poor HM who was moved to write it! May her transition be swift and smooth, her cherub-filled vehicles left unblemished by the next au pair who pilots them.

AuPairBrazil February 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Hello everyone, I’m from Brazil and I’m 24 years old, I’m in the process to be an Au Pair.
My agency, here in Brazil, is very honest and direct about the AuPairProgram. It tells us about the duties and rights of the AP. What it’s necessary for be a good AP, what we should do and not do. And once a month the agency makes a meeting to discuss importants points about what is necessary to be an AP. Which month is a different topic, it’s very nice, because we can discuss the topics, make suggests and hear about the AP that is already in the program. Before I decided that I really wanted to be an AP, I went to these meetings for 1 year, listening, discussing,learning everything that I could about the AP program. When I finally decided that I wanted, I had a lot of information about the program, and what is to be an AP, so I could took the decision with no douts and with a lot of confidence. So I think it was very great for me those meeting and the talkings to the other girls and the people from the agency.
About all these rematching that are happing, I think that the both sides need to be listen to. The families needs to understand what the AP is going through, because sometimes homesick is very hard to deal with. But, on the other hand, AP needs to grows up, to understand that is a job, not a vacation time.
A job with responsabilites and duties, and the job needs to be done very well and with love. Of course, will have wonderfull time, like any other job, but still the AP went to the USA to work, study and learn English.

NYC Host Mom February 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

If you are having trouble finding a suitable match (or re-match), I know a WONDERFUL AP currently available for immediate placement. She is a very good friend of my au pair and we are sort of her unofficial “adopted” host parents because the lady she was placed with (single mom) was truly a whack job so she spent much of her after hours time at our place. Our area director removed her from the home recently and took her to stay at her place because she couldn’t stand to see such a lovely girl subjected to this host mom any longer. I can say with 100% confidence that the rematch is entirely because of the host-mom and this au pair stuck it out longer than I would have (almost 4 months). She would ideally like to stay in the NYC / Tri-State area. You can reach me at downtownsoul@aol.com if you’d like more info. (She is with APC)

And in this particular instance, I can totally understand why APC would not want prospective HP’s to speak to her host mom. This woman (who I know peripherally because she lives in my community) is a crazy, lying, paranoid, filthy (doesn’t clean or have a house cleaner, leaves her stuff all over the house, doesn’t flush the toilet (there’s only one bathroom in the apartment and she leaves stinkers and bloody tampons in the bowl), accuses her au pair of RIDICULOUS things (like she accused her of coming to visit my au pair at my place instead of taking daughter to school on time, which since I was home and so was my AP, was just absurd, particularly since her AP is so diligent in taking care of this child despite the crazy mother). Sometimes when the host parents are NUTS and the au pair is the sane, responsible one, allowing HP’s to speak to the previous HP is unfair to the AP. However, I have told the AP and Area Director that I am happy to be a reference for her since she’s spent so much time with my family.

aupair agencies February 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

that’s interesting.

an ap February 17, 2011 at 2:00 am

I know a case like this, a single HD, CRAZY, also with APC. I can totally understand why the agency wouldn´t want a HF to call him to ask about the AP, WHO knows what kind of CRAZY things he would say….

German Au-Pair February 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Ha! When I read the post about S. leaving because of “lacking chemistry” I totally knew it was a German au pair because this is kind of a German thing.
And I get that families feel very frustrated about that reasoning for a re match but it’s really something German girls ecourage each other in…rematching because of lacking chemistry. This is something you cannot understand, I guess it’s a culture-clash thing. Here in Germany we care a lot about chemistry when dealing with other people. Most au pairs do carefully interview the hostparents they match with but even when a host family would fit completely, we stoll wait for “this feeling”…no one know how to define “this feeling” but actually I matched yesterday (with a family that totally matched my needs otherwise) and I felt good about it because “this feeling”.
I think the problem is that au pairs have certain expectation about how welcoming a family is and nowadays you can mind many forums where other au pairs tell you how great the chemistry works out and then you come and find that YOUR definition of chemistry (because this is such an individual and personal thing) just isn’t met by your host parents.
It really seems to be a German problem and it explains why you feel like a rematch after 3 weeks is too early and a German au pairs doesn’t. When we meet a personan we INSTANTLY judge them (it seems harsh but it’s just a fact) and either there is this “klick” or there isn’t.
Luckily I think I’m pretty good in character-judgement and I think I have a pretty realistic view of my future host family and we match not only in this absolutely irrational chemistry-thing but also in the hard facts and that’s importan. But then again I am goung to be 21 when I come to the states and younger au pairs might just have some difficulties dealing with homesickness AND less chemistry then expected.

PA AP mom February 24, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Thanks for your insight German AP. I guess I didn’t realize that is what may be going on here.

German Au-Pair February 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I’m just telling you that because it seems like you take this reasoning very personal -which is understandable from your angle- but I’m just saying: it might not be. And it really may not be about her not feeling good about the area…
This chemistry thing has nothing to do with the person. I’ve had “bad chemistry” with people who I thought were nice and kind…but sometimes i just doesn’t fit.
Of course it’s really sad for you that it went down like that but you shouldn’t feel like it was about you or that she actually was a bad person, it might just have been a cultural thing.
But one thing is right: there are au pairs that coach each other of how to tell a family that they want a rematch…luckily I am one of the kind who just like to talk things out and try to find solutions with the persons affected and not others.

Anna February 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I understand what you are saying, but it seems like she is not only lacking chemistry, but also lacking responsibility.

There are certain promises and contracts in such an agreement. She is putting the family in a bind and she should look for a way to work it out. After all, it is not forever, but for a year. And if “chemistry” is so important to her, she fully realized the risk of not getting what she wants matching from overseas without meeting the family in person?

In my opinion, she willingly undertook the risk, now she should face the responsibility. There is a rule agencies make to allow at least a month of honest adjustment period and trying to make it work; it is designed to prevent those first-day decisions about “chemistry”.

I very well understand about the importance of feeling comfortable with another person, feeling at home. But, not all love is love at first sight. Some understanding and genuine like (maybe not fabulous instinctive “chemistry”) can still be built with some effort, goodwill, and desire. Problem is, the girl feels it is about her and is not willing to try working at it.

IMHO, cultural differences or not, this is a case of immaturity and lack of responsibility. The family is probably better of without such a flighty girl, but I feel bad for them because now they have to deal with unexpected gap in childcare.

German Au-Pair February 25, 2011 at 8:33 am

You may have a point here…of course you should try and make it work and I myself definitely would (but then again I think I already got that chemistry thing covered) and this adjusting perios ist reasonable.
But it’s just not fair to automatically asume that someone who leaves for a reason like that is automatically “fligthy” or lacking in responsibilty.
This au pair thing works two ways and maybe for a hostfamily it’s “just a year” and it’s okay if things just work but aren’t great. But for an au pair this is a once in a lifetime experience and yes they definitely not just think of themselves and they should try to act mature in a matter like that but in the end you sometimes cannot work thing out when you just feel uncomfortable.
When I look around my mother’s friends and their kids (I have a younger brother) then I see some women that are nice and have nice kids and I’m sure I could work thing out working for them…but despite them being nice, I could never ever feel welcome at their houses and good around them. I don’t know if this is a German thing but it seems like it.
I wouldn’t want to spend my year with such a family.
You mustn’t forget that au pairs pay for this, too. And they want to experience something great with the family and kids and they have a right to try with someone else when things just won’t work out with their family.

Image you had to share your home with a girl just really don’t like. You don’t know how, there’s no specific reason, you just feel unbelieveable akward around her. You would not stick with her, would you? And if you did, you would do because you were thinking “Well, next year there will be some one else I maybe can have a relationship with”. But THAT is a chance that the au pair won’t have…just sit through one year and the next will be better. PLUS they are all alone without any friends and feel bad about the situation.
Yes, they DO know the risks before, but should they sit through one year of feeling absolutely uncomfortable at their “home”?

But still, you DO have a point: there probably really are au pairs who just use this way out because they are unhappy with a specific thing. I know an au pair leaving after two weeks because she suddenly realzied that she cannot live with another family…but not EVERY girl with that reasoning is just immature and lacks responsibility.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

I’ve shared my home with an AP I didn’t especially like and made it work. I think learning to live and work well with people is a good life experience. Yes, it’s a little more difficult when you’re under the same roof, but you don’t get to choose your college roommates (at least not at first), work colleagues, your children’s friends’ parents, your children’s teachers, etc.

I always assume, going into a new AP relationship that the “honeymoon period” is also a steep learning curve for the AP and HF. The first month is incredibly difficult – there is almost always a language barrier as the AP learns to listen to spoken American English, deals with the homesickness of leaving friends and family behind (for many it’s the first time they’re away from home on their own) and adjusts to a new family with a different way of life and different rules, and adjusts to caring for the children and to working full-time.

I do think it’s flighty for an AP not to meet the HF halfway during the adjustment period. It takes a mature person to realize that first impressions, while they count, are not the end all and be all of a relationship. Every relationship is work, even if the “chemistry” is good from the start.

Euromom February 25, 2011 at 11:08 am


So on top of all the other criteria that HF’s are trying to fulfill for potential AP’s now they must have “chemistry”!!!

I am so annoyed by this attempted defence/justification of an irrational and irresponsible approach to the AP programme. I accept that HF’s and AP work better together when it is a good fit (a mutual likeness based on personalty traits, values, etc) but please leave “chemistry” out of the criteria.

My direct boss and I get have a good working relationship (better than most) but we certainly do not have “chemistry” and guess what I still manage to perform my duties and enjoy my days in my chosen employment.

I cannot “decide” to dislike my boss because we do not have chemistry and yet sometimes I do “feel unbelievably awkward” in his presence but he is my boss and I push through, adapt and move on and the more I do that the less “awkward” I feel.

In essence I learn to cope with MY emotions and I do not project them onto another(undeserving) person. That is unreasonably and childish.

And I believe this excuse (call it what it is please) is indefensible when you take into account how well prepared AP’s are when taking on their roles. When you think of the hours of preparation and interviewing put into the selection process – to be told at the end “I’m sorry there is a lack of chemistry” is ridiculous in the extreme to my mind.

Can all the AP’s please just stop – step out of yourself – and imagine for one moment – how horrible it is for a HF to do everything right – only to be told – sorry there just is no “chemistry”.

THIS IS NOT A DATE. Bringing an AP into your home it is a huge emotional (and financial) investment on the part of any HF. It is not a $20 dinner and movie date. There should not be even the perceived option that you can say “yes they were nice but there just wasn’t any chemistry” – we (HF’s) are not potential boyfriends.

Could I apply for a position – go through the interview process – be lucky enough to be offered the position – begin the position at a substantial cost to my employer and then turn around after two weeks and say “sorry – the job is everything you said it would be – but there is just no “chemistry”. I can tell you both my professional reputation and my judgment would be in tatters if I did something like this and I believe that any AP who offers a similar explanation for a rematch should be just as censored.

“Chemistry” is not a reason for rematch.

PA AP mom February 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

I also don’t think “chemistry” is a good enough reason for rematch, but there is one big difference between Euromom and APs. At the end of the day Euromom (and most other HMs) can go home from work and escape their boss. APs live with their boss.

I also had no chemistry with our first AP but I tried to make it work. After 12 loooong months, she returned to Germany. Was it always easy? No way.

Calif Mom February 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Chemistry (or lack thereof) is more important to us than it is for Euromom and her family. This is why they came up with the phrase YMMV (your mileage may vary).

My family is living with a total lack of chemistry right now. It’s unbelievably unpleasant. I have to deal with this same unpleasantness in the workplace all day, and then walk into my front door and deal with it some more. I grit my teeth through cooking and eating dinner, get the kids ready for bed while trying to keep my au pair out of our hair, because again, she does not mesh well–does not have good chemistry with us–and INSISTS on butting in at bedtime, which totally pisses me off and if she had an ounce of chemistry with us she would stop doing it!–and then I hide in my bedroom with my hub. We stopped watching TV in the living room because of the terrible chemistry with our au pair.

I wish we had rematched months ago when we pushed instead for behavior change–which seems more of a fair thing to complain about than “chemistry”–but now we have lost that option. We have to either gut it out until July or send the girl home on her own dime and find an AP who has her bags packed and is ready to get a visa and come on down to the States. Which isn’t really fair to our current AP, because she is trying really hard and did in fact change the behaviors we needed changed months ago. But the chemistry is just off, there’s no way to fix that. She doesn’t have the skills we need. Call it what you will, this ISN”T WORKING. She would be a fine au pair for a family with whom she had better chemistry.

So yes, chemistry matters in our family. I readily admit my family is chock-a-block full of admittedly intense personalities. And for us, it turns out, chemistry matters a lot. Who’s got the litmus paper for it? :-)

Should be working February 28, 2011 at 7:50 am

Calif Mom, you have all my sympathy for the situation. It seemed like a big relief for you when the AP stepped up to the job after The Big Talk awhile back. But now you are stuck with an AP you can’t stand who does, apparently, an adequate job.

I had a similar thing with our first AP. After A Big Talk she did modify all the specific things I asked. And then I rematched anyway, which I recognize made me look like a Very Bad HM. But ultimately she was still dull-witted, depressed, and not an enthusiastic AP. I had not specifically addressed these in The Big Talk, instead I addressed the ‘symptoms’ of these problems. And then when the symptoms were gone, I had just the problems which drove me crazy.

I don’t know how I would deal with a similar situation in the future, because I would be afraid of the same issue. She lives up to her end of the ‘work’ improvements and I still am unhappy with her. I wonder how many HPs have that problem after The Big Talk. I even remember DURING the Big Talk hoping she wouldn’t live up to the standards I set.

Anna February 25, 2011 at 10:55 am

Yes, I did go through 8 months of living with an au pair I felt uncomfortable with; I was trying to work it out all this time. I gave her plenty of chances, maybe more than she deserved, and certainly more than one month of adjustment; my conscience is clear. We rematched in the end for other reasons.

The girl didn’t sit it though one year! Of course nobody should suffer through one year the way you paint it in your post. But, IMHO she didn’t even give the family a chance. It appears she made her mind in the first day or two. It is not a fair chance, she did not make a fair effort.

OBVIOUSLY things are going to be awkward in the beginning, in the new country, with the new family with their own house rules different from yours.
It takes a mature person to understand that maybe in another country there is no family in existence that she can feel instantly at home with; unless it is her expatriat uncle or something. The culture is different enough.

Seems awfully close-minded to break so abruptly for such a reason; the cultural exchange is supposed to be mind-opening, teaching one to flex and learn to respect and live with inevitable differences. It is not an instant extended family abroad deal; it can become that with investment into that relationship over a year.

Yes, I know au pairs pay for the program. But, they make enough money from it to cover the initial investment.

Should be working February 25, 2011 at 11:50 am

I’m not sure that we should take German au Pair’s view as truly representative of Germans or German au pairs. My experience with Germans, and German/German-speaking au pairs, is very different, in fact the opposite. With au pairs I would say that they (the few I’ve had and known) are conscientious, do understand that there is a job here, and are if anything a bit reserved to begin with and slowly open up to the family. I lived in Germany, with roommates as a younger person, and never heard anything about ‘chemistry’ in friendships and instant judgments the way this AP describes it. Actually I would say *I* am much quicker to make judgments than my German friends and acquaintances, and their style tends to be a slower warming-up, and a withholding of judgment for a long while.

Also this AP has not even joined her family yet, so I imagine her contact with other APs is limited to internet venues, where, as I have noted elsewhere on this site, there is a very naive rhetoric of finding ‘my perfect host family’. German au Pair might be describing some of her acquaintances and friends, but again, it’s not my experience.

German Au-Pair February 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Okay like I said before: ALL of what you just said CAN be true. Of course you have to make an effort and we are prepared by our agencies for that and I personally am someone who talks things out and it usually works.
I work with a special needs child at the moment (down’s syndrome) and believe me, I DO know what it means to adjust and swallow and BUILT a relationship…when you get bitten, scratched, yelled at, hit etc at the beginning and STILL love the girl (and made her love you, too) you know that some relationships really need to be built.
But that’s me. I’ve experienced this resentment, I’ve found a way to deal. Many au pairs coming to the US have not. And I totally agree with you: coming to that program means that you have to be willing to WORK, not just with the kids but even against your homesickness and for a good relationship with every family member. And some people probably really undererstimate this aspect and that IS immature…
But despite all the preparation, sometimes it’s really not just a result of lacking commitment. I’ve transfared schools once because I felt really really bad at my school, tried to make it work for 1,5 years and in the end, I just didn’t want my school life, where I spend so much time every day to be absolutely horrible anymore. So in transfered and was happy. Sometimes it just REALLY doesn’t fit, no matter how hard you try.
An that’s all I am saying. Every single one of you is right with their opinions but I am just saying that there CAN be actual reasoning behind that lamo “It just doesn’t work”.

SBW, you are right, my knoweledge is based on what I’ve heard from other au pairs (not just through the internet though, 3 of my friends are in the US at the moment..well…one left after 6 months) but also on other happenings in my life.
And you are also right that most people *I* deal with are very open minded and aware and able to suck it up and try to make things work.
But somehow the Au Pair -Universe seems to work a little differently…I am following some German au pair forums and you wouldn’t believe HOW often this “chemistry” thing is mentioned there! You wouldn’t believe how many people are actually surprised how hard it is to have children all around you every single day ( I am used to that, my brother is 10, but that’s not the rule…most people ARE surprised). And you wouldn’t believe how the other au pairs build up the others and tell them “well, if there’s no chemistry just rematch, after all it’s YOUR year”
And THAT’s what’s kind of representative…I personally would handle things differently and I personally would think about things like that in private and don’t have others push me in one direction…still: SOMETIMES it’s just not a foul way out.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I think the “my year” must be a European concept. My European APs have been absolutely fantastic – I’m not complaining about them at all. Each one has risen to the occasion and done more than I asked of her (and I do/did my best to reward them within my means – which means no theater tickets/no airplane fares/no nights in hotels).

However, in my experience, I have noticed that European APs tend to use their AP time to regroup from high school and contemplate their future. Nothing wrong with that at all – it takes a certain maturity to say that one’s intentions for the next stage of life need some consideration.

I’ve noticed that many approach it as a “year off.” The minute one does that, one separates the experience from the continuum of life and negates it as an important, and perhaps life-changing experience. It’s not “your year” and it’s not separate from the rest of your life. The minute one is able to acknowledge the importance of a working year in another culture is the minute one embraces it as part of life (and if you are lucky that this family in which you have landed might become a permanent part of your future), one’s experience is richer. But in order to do that, one must treat it like a relationship (and to take on Euromom’s metaphor, not a casual date).

Two of my European APs arrived saying “no university never no how” and both are in university now studying for degrees that will make the world a better place. Not my gift to them certainly, but they were able to embrace the year for what it was, and eventually saw it as something other than “time off.”

What I have noticed (it may differ for others), is for APs who are not European, the approach is not a “my year” one, because it is not “time off” — it represents a huge sacrifice on the part of their family (because the visas are more expensive and may require a subvention to guarantee their return, plus agencies offer them less discounts on the program) and is immediately embraced as part of the continuum of their lives.

I have been fortunate in that the end result has been the same – all of my APs have worked extremely hard. However, the expectations upon arrival varied widely. (And of all the friends of my APs who were staying with my family as they packed their bags and exited the program, the majority were European who did not a feel a commitment to complete the program the way their non-European friends did.)

AFHostMom February 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I know there are other comments here I should read through, but I gotta say, we lived over 2 yrs in Germany-fully immersed in a community with our kids in German schools–and I never heard of the chemistry concept. We didn’t have good chemistry with our outgoing German AP but we all stuck it out for almost 6 months and ended up rematching fr larger issues.

German Au-Pair February 26, 2011 at 8:20 am

Well, in our every-days-life the chemistry thing isn’t really an issue that much, is it? When it comes to my normal life here I don’t hear people talking about this chemistry thing either. But I’ve heard and read about it SO often when it comes to au pairs. On these platforms you not just get to see how the current au pairs are doing, there are complete topics about rematch, you can see blogs and you can see the topics of the former au pair generations! And I cannot tell you how many times the word “chemistry” appears in there.

What I really like about this whole blog is that you can see the other side of the coin you seem to forget sometimes in all this excitement and I think following it will prepare me to be a good au pair for my host family.

Gianna February 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

Actually, what I have often heard in business is that German people are very good at working with people and maintaining a business like , professional attitude with or without an emotional rapport. I have often been told that in some countries strong organized labor ethics rule out firing someone just because they get on your nerves. I also have heard that people in Germany typically give notice to leave a job well in advance and there is no hostility expressed in the workplace during that time. There are always exceptions, of course, but the cultural assumption is that it will not take place. In the US , it is my observation that people often give very little notice when resigning or terminating someone because of trust issues. All of this may be changing with globalization but it seems to me that this is an aupair issue. I wonder if some aupairs cite chemistry as an issue because they feel that the host parents will accept this more gracefully than other complaints of a more personal nature. We can go back to other threads , like the one on the 2 week Rematch period, to hear a great deal of fear and anxiety on the part of host parents. I do not think that aupairs are prepared for the fact that they cannot just go to a family and say that they are not happy without serious consequences. I think that many of those situations could be resolved more calmly with better LCCs : people with the experience , sophistication and business skills to help families get through hard times without panicking when everyone gets upset.

German Au-Pair February 26, 2011 at 10:51 am

Except being an au pair is not viewed as business here. It IS business, but people’s understand of it, it’s just not business!
And many au pairs have just turned 18 and finnished high school and high school doesn’t prepare you for the world outside (I don’t know how that works in other countries, but here you get to be pampered kids until the very end).
Many girls leave high school and have never taken responsibility for anything in their lives and view the au pair experience as just fun and a way to get out and pause. I read so much about this subject and tried to prepare myself and I hope I’ll be a good au pair for my hostfamily so in addition to fullfill their needs I can have a fun year and a good realtionship to the whole family and that in the end everyone will have a good experience with that.
My hostfamily is really experienced with au pairs and I am willing to put some effort in it as I’ve experienced several times that this effort is something you will be rewarded for later on.
But I stillt stick with my first post, that SOMETIMES the total lack of “chemistry” (or whatever you want to call it) will make you feel so miserable that despite any effort you just cannot work it out.

AFHostMom March 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

I can see how saying “no chemistry” would be a more graceful departure than “I don’t like your personality” or “your house is a pigsty.” And on and on.
I’m just continually baffled at how many APs voluntarily put themselves into rematch (in situations that could be worked out; sometimes I know it’s just dreary and better to face the music and rematch before you get too emotionally invested)and assume they’ll be OK and find a better HF within the 2 week period. For the most part it seems APs have a lot more to lose in rematch than HFs do.
And though I would not get another 20 y.o. AP at this stage in my life, I gotta say–when I was 20, I was married, graduated from college, living in Asia, and had a professional 40 hour a week job. My just-departed 20 y.o. AP still threw tantrums and wanted to color pictures and was simply not ready to be on her own. I’m inclined to think that sort of thing is personal, and not cultural, because I have met some wonderfully responsible, mature and lovely girls of all nationalities at that age.

Eurogirl March 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I was an au pair in Germany and all the au pair families I knew talked about their “chemistry” with their au pair, also I knew several au pairs who were fired outright for simply “not being the perfect fit” or “not having the right chemistry”. So don’t jump all over the german au pair for saying this. I have also lived and worked professionally in Germany, and of course, in business no one cares if you have “chemistry” as long as you are doing your job. Working in an office does NOT require the same people skills or relationship with your boss/co-workers as working in a family as an au pair. I’ve had bosses and co-workers in the past who I have HATED, disrespected and to this day, can’t find a good word to say of them. But I didn’t NEED to have that good “chemistry” relationship with them to get my job done, so it didn’t matter or ever come up. You can’t compare the two.

And as for the “year out” concept. If you take a gap year after school (or after university as I did) and be an au pair…it IS a year out. Not a holiday or time off, but a year living in a different country, leading a different lifestyle, with different friends…so yes, it’s a year away from your “normal” life at home or in your “normal” environment. I would never think of it as a holiday because I worked bloody hard the whole time (!!) but it was certainly time away or out of my life. Time on a break from my studies, on a break from my partner…living a free life in a strange city for thirteen months… surely you can see that in that sense it is time out from the path of your life.

Calif Mom February 26, 2011 at 10:42 am


The “my year” concept certainly applies to the current group of Australians I’m encountering. This year is one big joyride for them, an extended vacation with the benefit of a home base with free meals and laundry and a safety net in case they get in real trouble. The childcare aspect for them is like eating peas; something they have to do in order to get to dessert. I couldn’t believe the conversation I overheard the other day while providing chauffeur duty (at the last minute, at a really inconvenient time BTW). These APs were so self-centered! Downright judgmental about their host families and completely unsympathetic about all the juggling the host parents have to do to keep them and kids and employers happy that it was all I could do to not speak my–much offended–mind. This was soooo different from the way the Brazilian girls I’ve hosted and met spoke about their families (at least while I was around. Maybe I’m just naive.) The Brazilian girls we’ve hosted couldn’t believe how hard we host moms work. Maybe they’re just more politically savvy, but be warned, future APs: talking about how stupid your host parents are for both going grocery shopping on the way home from work so the house ends up with two containers of OJ is NOT a way to make friends. It just makes you seem silly, young, naive and snotty. We don’t need your judgment, we need your best effort and some ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, just for a moment or two.

azmom February 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Is there a like button for this post.

MommyMia March 2, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Amen! And, BTW, would have killed YOU, AP, to offer to go to the grocery store when you noticed we were out of OJ?!

Anonamomma March 3, 2011 at 8:36 am

I know!!!
I’ve gotten a note on the fridge door (after I have returned home from work – having passed the grocery store) informing me there was no milk!!!! (what help is that – I can open the fridge and see there is no milk for myself) the note just annoys me!! And yes I would love an AP to go get the milk (at the store – which is a two min walk away), but at the very least – is a text (while I am in transit) too much to ask?

Actually CV – could we do a post on the little things?? you know the little things that keep a house happy, i.e. send the no milk text, empty the dishwasher without being asked, sort of thing. I know that one of the other poster here has a section in their handbook which deals with the small things that drive her nuts but a post on it would be great – just to see what differs from house to house. I bet one thing that would be said all the time is how the uncomfortableness of having to ask an AP repeatedly to do things quickly turns to annoyance/resentment if a HM/HD is put in this position too often. Then the AP sees it as nagging and the HPs get resentful.

Sorry ladies, started waffling there.

cv harquail March 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

done! thanks for the suggestion…

current au pair March 2, 2011 at 7:11 am

I am currently an au pair in really great family. we were working hard to make good relationship and I think we succeed. of course there were good and bad times. i read almost all of the comments you posted here and most of them are related to au pairs. i understand that some of the reasons why they want to go into transition are, at least weird and totally immature. but the truth is that the agencies are not so helpful for au pairs as you think. to give you an example. i know a girl who came to the states not even a month ago. she had no problems with her HF and really liked the kids. after two weeks the HM told her, with no warning, that she has to find another family, because they dont need her anymore. she said that HM’s mother is coming to live with them so she can take care of the children. besides that they wanted her to leave their home as soon as possible because the grandmother would come in the next few days so they had to prepare the room for her (the same which was used by au pair). au pair was supposed to move to LCC’s house before she finds new family (if she does) BUT the LCC said this is not an option. good thing the girl found new HF very soon. my question is: where is the agency in that case? why the LCC didnt do anything to help that girl?
I would like to sound too radical but the truth is that all the agencies exist to serve not the APs but HFs.

HRHM March 2, 2011 at 9:37 am

The LCC is obligated to house the AP in the event that she cannot stay with the family for whatever reason. The host family has signed a contract that says that they will keep the AP in their home for 2 weeks after they give notice of wanting to let her go unless there is a safety/security issue (AP endangers child/family/home, commits criminal act, etc). Unfortunately, the agency can only enforce the contract with the host family if they have some leverage, which with this family, they don’t. This family is going to be losing over 6000 dollars if they quit the program after only one month with an Au Pair. It may be that they realized they couldn’t afford an Au Pair or maybe some other thing that was completely unrelated to the AP herself. I do feel bad for the AP involved if she had nothing to do with the problems the family is having. BUT, the way this works, they tell her and the LCC, they keep the AP for 2 weeks, the LCC starts immediately working to help find a new family, but if none is found, the HF doesn’t keep housing the AP after the two weeks generally (I know there have been some exceptions). According to State Dept regulations, once you are no longer working as an AP for 2 weeks, your visa expires and you must return to your home country. The agency has no control over families leaving the program or SD laws.

NoVA Host Mom January 16, 2012 at 3:49 am

Now I am curious. So I looked up the agency site in the country for our recent flame-out disaster. The front page starts off with “…the perfect combination of work, study and travel”. The site then specifies that APs “receive 3 hours of study time per week” (really? news to me) and manages to explain that since APs only work up to 5-1/2 days per week, they will have “plenty” of time to travel and explore and study.

Suddenly the job description for her as an Au Pair which AP3 kept on her FB page during all 10 painful months is crystal clear: an Exchange Student who takes care of children in the off time.

Yeah, I know. I did know better and can only be happy that my home is now relaxed and pleasant once again.

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