When your Local Community Counselor can’t remember your name

by cv harquail on February 25, 2010

frAULIEN MARIAWanna talk about creating a good relationship with your Local Community Counselor (LCC)? Let’s take a tip from a real Super Nanny, TSOM’s Fraulein Maria. “Let’s start at the very beginning.”

No one (neither Au Pair nor host parent) can have a supportive relationship with an LCC unless the LCC does two basic things:
(1) Keep in contact with you, and
(2) Remember who the blank you actually are.

So, what should this host mom do?

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I have a situation. My LCC is completely unsupportive of our family and our au pair.

Our LCC doesn’t ever return our phone calls or emails. We haven’t spoken to her since the weekend before Halloween (and it’s now January). We have made several attempts to contact her via email and by phone to ask questions regarding our AP’s coursework at the local college and whether a specific course would be acceptable for the program.

Another thing that really bothers our AP is that she never remembers who she is. She has been here since September 3rd and our LCC constantly asks her which family she belongs with, what her name is, what country she is from, etc. This past meeting she asked our AP how she was liking being with a new family. We are her first family.

Our AP is becoming really discouraged with the LCC’s seeming lack of interest. We are becoming disheartened as well. We would consider switching to a new agency but that isn’t possible. Only our current agency services our geographical location. We are quite rural. About 45 minutes away from the rest of the families in our cluster.

The LCC is a nice individual but I just don’t think she has a clue. So, what should I do? 201002211428.jpg Thanks.

Two things not to do in this situation? #1, don’t get into a spot with your au pair just to call attention to yourselves, and #2, don’t just call the Agency to complain. Let’s think of some steps that will simultaneously build goodwill, problem solving skills and the LCC- Au Pair – Host Family connection.

Where should this host mom start? Have you ever been in this situation, and do you have any ideas to share?

{ 48 comments }

Hostmom February 25, 2010 at 9:04 am

you say in the summary to not call the Agency and complain… however, I think it sounds completely legitimate in this situation. and maybe not “complain” but certainly express the difficulity and see what they can do to help. The agency after all is responsible for who they hire, like any other company. And if i was having a repeated problem with an employee of any other service organization i would certainly bring that to the manager’s attention. why should it be different in this case?

CV February 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I said “don’t just call the agency”. First you start with a conversation, if you can get her on the phone. Then, you tell her you will contact the agency. In general, the best first step is a candid discussion with the person herself. Then, inform her you are going to her boss. Then, go to her boss.

My 2 cents February 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

I disagree with the suggestion that the host family continue to bear the onus of this LCC and try to find ways to make her do her job.

It is apparent this LCC is incompetent and doesn’t care to increase her competence level. They need to be removed and not advising the agency of her incompetence not only hurts the host family, but the others in the group, and ultimately the agency itself which has rules about how often the LCC must be in contact, etc.

The LCC needs to be removed and this family needs to be transferred to someone else who can provide the services the family paid for.

Anonymous2 February 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

I agree! Call the agency and complain or reach out in your preferred method of communication (email, fax, carrier pigeon). The only way agencies know what is going on at the local level is if they hear it from host families. Otherwise they assume all is well with the LCC and her cluster/group. When agencies hear otherwise – then they act.

Au pair in NJ February 25, 2010 at 11:49 am

Problems is that many LCCs I mean many have a second job and being a LCC is a pretty easy to get money since they dont usually need to do much. My last LCC did not give a damn. She was exactly the same. She would disappear, she would get late to the meetings and leave 10 minutes after everybody signed the papers..she barely knew my name..and where i was from..hmm i guess i was asking for too much! haha
I honestly don’t think there is a better way but let your program director know what is going on. It’s just ridiculous!
I once tried calling my LCC to ask about vacations and she did not pick the phone and i did not leave a message..then i called again and pretended I was in trouble crying and going nuts just for fun..she called back in the same minute! hahaha

Ann AP February 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm

the last part is amazing – did you go on speaking in that tone or were you “back to normal” when she called again??

Calif Mom February 25, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Ha! funny but so sad.

Hill Mom February 25, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Agree with “My 2 Cents” how much of responsibility must fall on the famil and the au pair? As families, we are PAYING for a service and the minimal expectation is the LCC is responsive. Definitely reach out to the agency but also have your documentation in order – when you called, when you emailed, all times you reached out to the LCC with no response.

PA au pair mom February 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I am the HM in this situation. Last year we had some pretty significant issues with our then AP and ended up getting minimal response from the LCC. Her mother was having heart surgery and other things so we left it go. She is retired so another job is not the problem.

Luckily, our AP is wonderful. We haven’t had any real problems.

We are hesitant to report her to the agency for one reason only. If they get rid of her, we won’t have an
LCC and they will not let us keep an AP.

I have contacted 3 other agencies and we live outside of their “geographical service area” so they won’t even talk to us.

Thanks for any and all suggestions. They are much appreciated!

Anonymous February 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Have you thought of being an LCC or know anyone else that might be interested? Just thinking outside the box here

PA au pair mom February 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I work 50+ hours per week and my husband travels monday-thursday for work so I would be out of the question. Not sure about anyone else in our cluster. I do know that several other families and APs in our cluster are having similar difficulties!

Anonymous2 February 25, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Perhaps one of the other families would be interested in being your LCC if you became one. You would not be able to be your own LCC if you took on a group but another HM or HD could be yours! You could also see if maybe another HM or HD would be interested in being an LCC for your area and you could be theirs specifically. Just a thought…

Calif Mom February 25, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I like this thinking. Another way to leverage your collective unhappiness. It’s time for collective action.

It’s one thing for an LCC to just forget names (I have terrible problems with this personally for medical reasons) but another for her to also be unresponsive. I do have sympathy for the forgetfulness thing–to me there are some lines between forgetful, bad with names, incompetent, and something closer to malpractice. But if the families and au pairs are having actual problems as a result of this counselor’s lack of capacity, then maybe some of this outside the box thinking would be something to act on.

PA au pair mom February 26, 2010 at 11:04 am

It’s not just forgetting the names. I get that. APs come and go all thru the year. It’s just that she doesn’t even recognize her, asks her everytime when she arrived, if she’s getting settled in, etc. Our AP feels like she is so inconsequential that she never remembers meeting her although she has seen her over 10 times at various functions/meetings.

MommyMia February 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

This sounds very similar to our situation, but we are lucky to have at least two other agencies who do service our area. Does anyone know what exactly constitutes the contact that the LCC is supposed to have with the family and au pair? Ours holds monthly meetings (usually on very short notice, which means we frequently lose one of our rare weekend scheduled workdays so AP can attend the meeting), but like the OP’s situation doesn’t remember names, repeatedly tells girls who are with her “favored” families that they need to work things out if they are having problems, doesn’t return phone calls promptly and sometimes doesn’t reply to emails. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty for not attending the required meetings, which many of the APs have said are boring or activities that don’t care to participate in, which makes it hard for host families who like to follow the rules. I understand that the excuse “I have to work” isn’t acceptable to the LCC, so I change the monthly schedule that I prepare well in advance and then have to scramble around to find alternate childcare as it seems that the meetings are always on the one Saturday or Sunday that we need our AP to work! One of the main reasons we went with the AP program was the “flexible scheduling” aspect, as no other sitters are usually willing to arrive at our home at 7 a.m. on a weekend day so that we can travel to older child’s out of town sports competitions. It’s very frustrating.

Anonymous2 February 25, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Monthly personal contact with the host family (email/phone/in person) and in-person contact with the au pair each month is required.

NJMom February 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm

An LCC from another agency told me that the State Dept. has strict guidelines dictating the number of contacts LCC needs to make. She said that they LCC needs to talk on the phone or in person (not email!) once a month with the families and then submit a report to the agency stating that she has done so. It sounds as if a lot of these LCC’s aren’t doing that.

MommyMia February 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Ours definitely isn’t. The only regular monthly contact I get is a cc of the email telling the au pairs the date & location of their meeting!

Calif Mom February 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm

that ain’t happening here! Not that we really would want to talk to her anyway. She manages to annoy both families and au pairs, but in her defense, when I needed help rematching (at least, after I called the agency to complain she wasn’t being responsive) she did help.

All our communication is by email. That wasn’t the case with our old, wonderful cousnelor though.

AnotherCAMom February 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm

This is certainly making me very grateful for the regular contact our local LCC/AD has with us. She is quite engaged and always makes a regular, monthly call to us to see how things are going – and the same with our AP.

Should be working February 25, 2010 at 5:33 pm

We had a helpful, sympathetic, reasonable LCC when I used a small, locally-based agency–she had only 2 au pairs in her cluster. But since that agency had few possible rematches for us when we needed to rematch, we switched to a huge agency, and the LCC does so far an ok, pro-forma job. I have yet to see if the service will be as good as the previous LCC.

MommyMia February 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm

By the way, there are now only seven in our cluster, down from seventeen last year. Hmmm, maybe that’s telling me something right there!

Anonymous February 25, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I guess the part I am most disappointed about is that she gets PAID to interact with us and she still doesn’t. Our AP feels like it is a problem with her, although I assured her that it is not.

We pay big fees to the agency to cover the LCCs and they should provide the services we are promised.

PA au pair mom February 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm

again, I posted using my husband’s computer. last anonymous post was from me.

Calif Mom February 25, 2010 at 6:39 pm

OMG, make sure your au pair doesn’t take this personally!

MAmama February 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm

LCCs are required to have monthly check-in with families (preferrably by phone) and hold monthly au pair meetings. My coordinator (with Cultural Care) schedules all her meetings 3-6 months out and posts them on her website. She also sends me monthly reminders of the meetings. I really appreciate that she includes me, not just my au pair in the communication. If you are not having these contacts, you should first let the LCC know that you are concerned about the lack of communication, and 2nd contact her manager – at Cultural Care this is called the Program Director. In my experience, they do want this valuable feedback about their coordinators. They may not realize that you are having this experience and I think would be responsive to your feedback.

Sara Duke February 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

My LCC is equally good. We have a checklist of cluster meetings through May already, so that HF can make their schedules in advance. She apologizes when she books several meetings on Saturdays, knowing that a lot of families of school-age children ask their APs to work on that date. Most of the meetings seem to be on Sunday afternoons. We get a weekly email that goes to HFs and APs alike. She goes out of her way to make sure she comes to our house within two weeks of an AP’s arrival. We usually get a check-in phone call about a month after that. She books several events during the course of the year for HFs and APs to share together. While she does not require attendance, she does tell APs that if they want her help in extending, they need to make an effort to attend most of the free ones.

Most of the time I don’t need my LCC to make a regular phone call. I tell her when my APs have done something fantastic. However, when I need her to do something, she does it. It might not be on my time schedule, but it does get done — and well. From what I can tell, she is incredibly supportive to APs, including those that go into rematch from other clusters who have been friends of my APs. She seems to know not only my APs names, but those of their friends who occasionally attend her meetings or accompany my APs on the events she books.

NoVA Host Mom February 25, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Our LCC’s main contact with us is the mass e-mails she also sends to the 75 APs and the 74 other HFs telling us of area events for kids (mostly for those older than ours, but it is interesting for the future anyway) and monthly e-mails (again also to the APs) reviewing when the monthly business meeting is (on the far western section of her cluster, making it a 45 minute haul to get the AP there).

When we first joined (16 months ago) she was very available to us and worked hard when we went through rematch. Since then, however, we have heard little from her. I’m guessing it’s because she has so many families/APs to manage, she can really only focus on the issue ones. And I feel badly for that since I doubt that is how she would really want it.

Our LCC does work hard and I know that, but I seriously believe that geographically, as well as due to sheer numbers, she is overtaxed and the cluster needs to be divided into two smaller groups. This area is so large and congested that even if we had more reasonable numbers I would still question the wisdom of having only 1 LCC here. Unfortunately, based on where she lives, if the cluster was split, I doubt she would remain our LCC. We would get the “new” one, and I question how good that one would be.

Au pair in NJ February 26, 2010 at 12:32 am

I am a little bit afraid we are talking about the same LCC here Host Mom in PA since thats where I lived when I had the worst LCC ever..hahaha

Talking about my joke to my LCC..I went on for about a minute or two and just told her after : phew! i really needed to work something out to get in touch with you, huh? She just laughed like who is saying.. “stupid” haha

Au pair in NJ February 26, 2010 at 12:33 am

P-s the nickname “should be working” is just hilarious! haha i laugh everytime i see it

Should be working February 26, 2010 at 1:23 pm

::: taking a bow:::

Au pair in NJ February 26, 2010 at 12:39 am

Nova Host mom
I doubt your LCC will want to split her families with another possible LCC. It’s a business and they make money having lots of families in her cluster..the more she has..the more she gets. At least CC makes it very clear to LCCs that they need to work on getting new families in order to get more money. P-S my best friend is a LCC in PA area, West Chester to be clear and she is AWESOME!

Calif Mom February 28, 2010 at 10:03 am

APIA will split the cluster into two when they get to some absurdly huge number, I think around 100 families or so. Our cluster was split (I originally picked APIA after interviewing counselors from local agencies, b/c I knew this relationship is critical for both host and ap) and we definitely got the worst of that deal. I considered lobbying to have our old counselor ‘manage’ us for the next AP we need to bring in this summer, but it would be too awkward. So instead, we are switching agencies and saving 1,000 bucks in the deal, to boot.

Karin Six February 26, 2010 at 2:34 am

Apparently things are different in different areas… I am an LCC and currently have 30 families. This is a full-time job (that I love) and I take pride in my work. Most LCCs that I know of are host moms or were au pairs (like me) and are very sympathetic to host family issues. Some might not be so good… If you are having an issue with an LCC, please call their program director. It is not right for an LCC to ignore you.

HRHM February 26, 2010 at 8:48 am

I am always perplexed, because I have had several LCCs and have yet to figure out what the actual qualifications are. Only one the the 5 has ever had an AP, none have ever been APs, one didn’t even have kids of her own. The one we just got (agency switch) has a degree in sociology or psych, has a young child and seems very energetic. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out, in light of her lack of experience (just started being an LCC 8 mos ago) But how do they get this job? Anyone know?

NY Mom February 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm

This is my first post here and I have to say..the only problem I have with the AP program is my LCC. I can’t stand her. Mayber it’s just the personality but apparently, according to my au pair, none of the girls like her either. I feel like I am so lucky that I haven’t had problems with my au pair that would need the LCC’s intervention, cause the last thing I want to do is even *talk* to her.

Deb Schwarz February 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I’m a respected LCC and take pride in my job…..however, I hate to admit it (ughhh), my memory is not what it used to be (must be having four kids, or getting older…). I sometimes have a hard time remembering the au pairs’ names in my group when I see them at the grocery store, or park – so I have started to do two things: I put a picture of the new au pairs and their names on my computer desktop so I see them every day and I also take a picture of them at my new week orientations on my Iphone and connect them to their phone number, so if they call me, I see their photo. Just two tricks to help jog the memory! (if any LCCs are reading this). I think if an LCC has a large group – then it can be tricky to remember everyone’s face for even for the very best and very conscientious LCCs.

If you happen to be with Cultural Care and are shy about calling your Program Director about a lame LCC (which I encourage you to do), then you can always respond to the twice yearly Customer Service survey. The folks at Cultural Care take this survey very seriously (and LCCs compensation is partially based on this survey), so twice a year you can vent or praise your LCC. I encourage all my families’ to participate in the survey, but you’d be surprised how many families don’t take the time to do it (and it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes).

Deb, an LCC and host mom in CA

Darthastewart February 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I think it’s great that you do that. Kudos. I think everyone understands about not always remembering names, but taking pride in your work is such an important aspect.
I’m guessing you also return calls in a timely manner too… Just guessing here. – It’s that pride thing again. Someone who takes pride in their work, and does their best to do a good job, not just collect a paycheck.

maleaupairmommy February 27, 2010 at 5:07 am

I’m with CC and I didn’t read the whole survey and didn’t realize that it wasn’t annoymous wow that was a big mistake. Luckily CC got us a new LCC for our area or my life would not be fun when it came to talking to her. Won’t be feeling it out again anytime soon.

Calif Mom February 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

This is what “facebook” started as, you know. A way to put names to faces of a class of incoming college freshmen…if even 19 year olds have this problem, I don’t feel so bad. :-)

I’m never convinced the surveys are truly anonymous. I can’t give honest feedback about my counselor (apia).

My 2 cents February 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

The survey is not anonymous. I have a big problem with that. Also, I know our LCC (who is wonderful) knows very well how she was rated and I’m pretty sure she can deduce if she gets a lower rating who it was from. So the surveys while I think are a great idea overall, aren’t really the best tool for objectively measuring the LCC.

IMHO if you have a serious issue with your LCC you need to man up and contact the headquarters, assuming you’ve already tried at least once to address issues with your LCC directly. Avoiding confrontation is never the best way to handle something important.

Catherine February 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Maybe the LCC manages a bigger area? I’m an Area Director for AuPairCare and like Deb, I love what I do and take pride in it. I have a smaller area and it’s easy for me to remember names and faces (and most telephone numbers after two or three months!) Most LCCs or Area Directors do this job because they enjoy family or intercultural exchange, have traveled, or were once au pairs. If you feel distant from your coordinator, don’t be afraid to meet her for coffee or invite her over. Work together to make the relationship better!

AuPairCare also does twice a year customer service surveys. It’s hard to know what to fix if we don’t have information! Please fill them out and send them back! There’s nothing more important than your children and these surveys help us provide a better, more positive experience for your family.

JJ February 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

I’ve been with AuPairCare for two years and have never seen a survey!

Anonymous March 1, 2010 at 9:01 pm

We are just about to complete our second (and last) year with AuPairCare, and we have never seen a survey, either. We’ve decided to switch agencies for our next match – we’ve had enough of AuPairCare.

E2 February 26, 2010 at 7:06 pm

We’re with AuPairCare and last talked with our Area Director in September when our current au pair arrived. Oh yeah, and we got a happy holidays email.
The only survey I’ve seen was some kind of audit that asked if the Area Director contacts us every month (or twice a month if you have rematched). Guess what my answer was?!
Frankly, it takes enough of my time and energy working on the relationship with the au pair – not going to put in the effort with the Area Director if she can’t even bother to do her job. And she has a small group.

Talliecat February 27, 2010 at 8:54 am

I am in a similar situation to the poster in Pennsylvania where we live in a rural area so there are not a lot of options. I originally had wanted to use a bigger agency and they had tried to find a LCC in my area. They sent me the information and I can assure everyone here, that CCs and LCCs do not make that much money!

Jill February 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I am also an LCC. It is a requirement that we have monthly meetings with the AP’s (they are allowed to have 2 excused absences) and phone/in person contact with each HF monthly. Most of the time I leave a message for the HF monthly and only a few of the HF return my phone call. Not that I am complaining. If your LCC does not contact you or return yours’ or AP’s phone calls, the company needs to know. Maybe other HF’s in your area are experiencing the same issues with your LCC. If she is not doing her job, then she should be replaced by a more competent person. In response to an AP’s posting that she tried to call the LCC and the LCC didn’t pick up and the AP didn’t leave a message- I am not always home or available at the moment that someone calls to answer the phone. If someone does not leave me a message than I assume that it wasn’t important enough to leave me a message. I don’t chase every call that is made to me if there is no message left. But I will return all messages as soon as possible. I also always ask HF & AP to leave their phone # every time they call. That way if I check messages from outside my office, I can call back sooner than later.

CrazyLady February 28, 2010 at 2:01 am

When we lived in NoVA, our AD was useless, but then they divided our area and she was in the northern one, and one of the host moms became ours. She seemed pretty good, but we moved 1-2 months after she took over. I had high hopes for when we moved to CA, but ours here is like some sort of copy of the first one we had, possibly worse. She’s always late to the monthly meetings, brings her kid (2 yrs old) and/ or a friend of hers and only pays attention to them, barely talking to any of the au pairs (and a lot of the activities are poorly planned, which annoys them even more that they are expected to be there). We have never had any problems with any of our au pairs, so thank God for that, but the few times we’ve ever asked her for anything (info pertaining to education options), she either ignores the emails from both me and my au pair, or she spits back info at me that “someone” told her, and that someone was me (we live in the same city, so the majority of her info about schools in this part of the county came from me, since she did none of the work herself to find the options up here, so my au pairs and I have pieced stuff together over the years). She has done other things, like calling me and accusing me of weird, childish things that were based on lies that some au pair told (a girl I had never met or even heard of, and my au pair had only met her once, at the last meeting) without doing the professional thing, actually doing her job, and figuring out what was going on. It was the weirdest experience, somewhat surreal, and made me lose any last respect/ hope I had for her. Even when she does her monthly check-ins (when she does them), she isn’t satisfied when I say everything is going well and will press me and say, “are you sure?” When I say yes, she sounds annoyed.
We did get a survey a month or so ago, and I was not very nice on it at all, and I must say that APC never contacted me or anything. I was kind of hoping someone would want to hear what I had to say; we’ve been with them for almost 5 years now.

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