Your Au Pair’s Bedroom– Minumum Standards

by cv harquail on September 22, 2012

An au pair doesn’t need her own separate apartment, an entire wing to herself, or even a bathroom en suite. But there are some minimum standards, and the email (far below) from an au pair suggests that not everyone is paring attention.

At minimum, your au pair’s bedroom needs:

  • A bed, lamp, place to store clothing, a horizontal surface for stuff
  • A door that locks
  • A window

All the other stuff like a desk, phone, tv, mirror, bookcase is technically ‘optional’.

An au pair bedroom must meet the Agency’s requirements AND the requirements of your town or city’s building code.  

A window is required in your au pair’s bedroom

Any au pair bedroom must of course conform to your town’s building code– which inevitably means that it has to have a window, since a window constitutes the second potential exit (other than the actual door) in case of an emergency such as a fire.

In our first home, our au pair’s room was a finished part of the basement. The basement itself was not completely underground– only about 4-5 feet from the floor was underground. The remaining space was above ground. When we finished off the bedroom, we increased the size of the casement windows so that an adult human being could climb out them if necessary. The room was snug and cosy and quiet, and there was still lots of light. Even better for our au pair, she could come into the house through the side door and walk down the stairs to her room in privacy and quietly.

A door that locks is required for your au pair’s bedroom

Your au pair needs to be able to lock his/her door in privacy. It’s as simple as that. Sure, it can be a door whose lock is easily popped with a bobby pin, but it needs to be a lock that your average kid cannot circumvent.

Your au pair’s room cannot be a hallway, or a place where other members of the family regularly walk thought on their way to somewhere else.

Au pair agencies have regulations about au pair bedrooms, and your LCC is supposed to check out the proposed au pair bedroom before allowing a family to host an au pair.

Families that aren’t willing to create a safe, private place for their au pair to have time to him-or herself can’t expect that au pair to feel rested, trusted, and included. If a family is not willing to provide the basic requirements, they should consider a different type of childcare.

Similarly, families that show the LCC one room and then actually attempt to house their au pair in a different room that doesn’t meet the standards should get tossed out of the program. A family that would try to skip on the basic requirement of  ‘a clean, safe room of ones own’ can’t be trusted to provide the au pair with what he or she needs.


Hello Au Pair mom- 

I am an au pair at the westcoast and a couple of days ago I met another au pair at the beach, she just arrived two weeks ago and is with a different agency than I am.

I visited her yesterday and what really shocked me was that her tiny room has no window at all. She is very unhappy about it, but the situation is even worse.

The hostfamily has in her tiny room the washing mashine and the dryer which are used every day and make a lot of noise!! People who work for the family (e. g. cleaner, who comes 4 times a week) enter her room without knocking/asking for permission.

There is another door in her room which is from the underground garage and her family uses that door to get to and from the car. They also keep the trash cans in the underground garage so whenever they bring down the trash, they go through her room (and never knock/ask for permission!).

I was shocked. Her room has no fresh air and being so close to the underground garage causes in my eyes a huge risk regarding carbon monoxide poison (she has a monitor in her room, but still, it’s risky!!!).

The au pair who was with the family before this one left early, and I think I know why. This is so degradging and in my eyes they don’t value her as a human being. No fresh air, no window. She never knows if it’s day or night and she also said she has problems getting up because it’s always dark in her room (she only has a very small lamp that barely provides light). In my eyes she’s kept like in a ‘prison’ (it’s like the ‘hole’ in prisons).

So my question is now: How is it possible that the agency approved this room? There must be rules that the room needs at least a small window (I am pretty sure that I read something about that somewhere, but I can’t remember where). No window, this is so humiliating in my eyes. They don’t give her any privacy down there (her room is in the basement) as so many people walk through this room.

Please help!! We already googled about the subject, but we couldn’t find anything regarding the window. We know it’s definitely wrong that the family doesn’t respect her privacy (by putting the washing machine etc down there) but there must be somewhere a rule what an au pair room needs (i. e. window).

Thank you very much for your answer!

See also:

Your Au Pair’s Room: How much mess can you take?
Your Au Pair’s Room: Advice
Privacy and Your Room


German Au-Pair September 23, 2012 at 5:27 am

Actually the “no window” thing is so common that I felt like I needed to ask my host parents about that prior to matching.

My door doesn’t lock but I don’t really mind because it doesn’t impact the privacy I get here at all.

A friend went into rematch because the au pair room had no door at all and was only seperated from the hallway by a couple of steps (around the corner I guess, but still). To make things worse the host mum saw her clients at home and so strangers walked by that doorless room all the time.

The worst au pair room I have seen with my own eyes (in L.A., too, by the way -what’s with the people there?) was a tiny wooden space built IN the garage. There were three tiny wooden steps that led to the door and the “room” was attached to the garage wall. It had a bed and a desk and some sort of clothing storage. The space left was enough for two people standing an breathing (though the A/C outlet was IN the garage…don’t know about that…) and turn around. How on EARTH did that thing get approved as the au pair room? I wouldn’t even approve that as *A* room. I wouldn’t even let my dog live in that thing.

I guess the only au pair worse off is the au pair from the letter who basically seems to live in a hallway that has bed. Why didn’t she go into rematch like within the first hour she arrived in that house?

Chicago host mom September 23, 2012 at 10:00 am

That is ridiculous and it makes me really sad that someone would treat their au pair like that. The counselor needs to know ASAP because this family is not at all fit to participate in the au pair program. The au pair should not have to live like that for a year – She did not sign up for the peace corps. My guide is always: how would I want my daughter to be treated in someone else’s home.

DCAuPair September 23, 2012 at 10:16 am

Exactly – and if the counselor approved this room she should be in big trouble! I think this is 100% NOT is the spirit of the program. I would contact the area counselor, and if she did approve the room in the first place, I would go higher up with the agency. As CV said, if you can’t provide the basic standards of an AP room, you should get a different form of child care.

Seattle Mom September 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Hey, this room wouldn’t even pass Peace Corps standards!

I don’t remember if a window was required (probably), but you definitely got a door that locks and a private space that no one else can enter.

davep September 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

“How is it possible that the agency approved this room? ”

99% sure that’s not the room the family showed the LCC. Either that or the LCC is in on the conspiracy. Either way, the au pair doesn’t know what was promised unless she asks the LCC.

That au pair should absolutely, 100% contact her LCC and all the hierarchy in the agency.

Our agency required pictures of the au pair room to be posted in our family profile on the website (and a lovely room it is too – we saw it as a selling point…)

Kris September 23, 2012 at 11:20 am

When it comes to bedroom regulations, it’s a little tricky. If you look specifically at the Department of State Regulation about the bedroom, all it says is the Au Pair must have private room with a door. They do not specify anything above that. However, most agencies add additional regulations to the bedroom rule and state that it must have a window, basic furnishings and a door that locks. But as far as the actual Department of State regulation goes, the room is only required to be private.

However, host families who truly understand the program and want a good relationship with their Au Pair will do more than the minimum requirement and will treat the Au Pair as one of their own. These families who take advantage of the Au Pair and stick her in a small room with no comforts of home and don’t respect her privacy, do not belong in the program. Any Au Pair who has issues like the ones described, should report their family immediately. I can guarantee the agency would want to know about it and would want to remove a family like that from the program.

DCMomof3 September 23, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Yes, the rules are kind of vague. We asked our LCC to come and check out a situation once because we suddenly had to care for my husband’s ailing mother for a few months and could only give her the AP room (she could not climb stairs and it was in a basement with a door directly leading outside). Our only option would have been to move the AP was to a room that was basically an enclosed porch behind one of my kids’ rooms. You had to walk through the kid room to get to the room. It had a glass door and windows on all 3 sides. It would have been like sleeping in a fishbowl. The LCC approved it. We ended up not putting the AP in there, but I was kind of surprised that the LCC said that it would have been fine to do so.

Amanda September 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I am surprised that the LCC approved it! Maybe she thought she would lose you as a family otherwise. I certainly would not want to sleep in a glass room.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 24, 2012 at 7:25 am

DH and I actually slept on an enclosed porch for a year – it was the best place to sleep in that particular apartment. It was a little chilly in winter, but with a down duvet it was warm enough (okay the cat slept on my pillow next to my head, too). Unfortunately, it was the only access to the apartment, so everyone had to go through our bedroom to get into our kitchen and living room. It’s funny, but I have absolutely no recollection of where we kept our clothes…

However, I personally would not put my AP in a chilly room to which the only access was through a kids room.

Penn AP Mom September 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Obviously we all want our AP rooms to be comfortable for the AP. Regarding what they must have however is not defined. Many AP rooms in my area are in the finished basements of the host families homes and do not have a window. There is an egress in the basement for safety, but both AP rooms and in-law suites in the basements do not necessarily have a window. The AP’s I have known who have these rooms usually end up liking them as it is their own private space and they are not bothered by the host family or kids when they are off.
Our AP room is on the 3rd floor of our house and our last AP would have much preferred to be in the basement as it would have been quieter (kids are across the hall from AP bedroom) and she could not stand to have ANY light in her room (actually covered the windows even though we do private blinds and curtains). In addition, as our AP is housed with the family we ask that they not have friends up to their rooms once we have begun bedtime for the kids – this would not be an issue if our basement was finished!

DCAuPair September 24, 2012 at 3:52 am

I think a basement without a window can be fine for some APs, but not for others. Definitely mention it during matching (something like “your room is in the basement…it does not have a window, but it is properly ventilated and has enough light etc.). I say that because I am personally a bit claustrophobic and usually the one opening windows in the middle of the winter to get some fresh air! I would appreciate it if a family mentioned that to me. But other than that, a finished basement is often a wonderful option for an AP room as it is more private.

Seattle Mom September 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm

We’re in the process of finishing a room in the basement, and putting a new bathroom down there. Once it’s done we’ll give the au pair the option of choosing that room or the current AP room, which is on the 2nd floor (converted attic, above our rooms). It depends on what the AP likes, neither room is perfect but they both meet the basic standards. I like that we’ll have a choice.

PA AP Mom September 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

If I were the AP in this situation, I would take pictures and/or video of the “room” and report it to the LCC right away. It definitely is not PRIVATE if the family walks through it to get to their car and enters any time they please to do laundry.

azmom September 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm

definitely not private. basic furnishings yes, and a second way to get out in case of emergency… sheesh.

Toni September 24, 2012 at 4:24 am

This post scared the heck out of me, I’m going to be an au pair next year, and I’m trusting my agency to help me through it. First time traveling abroad and by myself is a bit scary in its own right, but to have to live with that is horrible..

Taking a Computer Lunch September 24, 2012 at 7:57 am

Personally, I think the living conditions as described here are deplorable. The family is not offering the au pair a room, just a place to sleep.

In my experience, agencies don’t hold host families to the legal requirements of a room. Most community building codes require a legal basement bedroom to contain a window and actual door that leads directly outside to a stairwell exit.

If the AP does not complain to the LCC about her living conditions, then nothing will change. If she likes her HF, then the LCC might be able to work with her to find better quarters elsewhere in the house. My guess, however, is that the living quarters are indicative of a larger problem.

Boston Bob September 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I am pretty amazed that many of the commentors think it is perfectly acceptable to have their au pairs living in rooms that are clearly not legally “bedrooms.” Many of the basement, attic or porch “rooms” being described cannot be legally described as “bedrooms” in any jurisdiction that I am aware of, so I don’t understand how any LCC would approve of an au pair being required to live in such a space. If you aren’t making your own children live in such a windowless rooms, without doors and locks, why would you force your au pair to live there? Unbelievable!

Should be working September 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I can’t imagine that an agency could expect LCCs to become experts in local building codes. Our LCC told us it just has to have 4 walls and a door, and that is all she checks. But I would hope that an LCC would tell the agency that the room is not appropriate.

The thread is helping me to realize that if an AP candidate asks about the room, it might not be just fishing for the best living situation in material terms; she might have heard about these terrible conditions and wants to avoid it. So I’ll now be less suspicious when they do ask.

kat September 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

as stupid as it may sound, it might not be just ‘ fishing for the best living situation in material terms’. living in space that you dont find comfortable or dont have privacy/peace and quite etc or doesnt have something you need, ie a desk for me personally, will drive you mad and you will either end up unhappy or in a rematch. so it might be simply finding family that can offer what suits you.

German Au-Pair September 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I asked my host mum where the room is in the very first phone call with her (had one with the HD before) and she said “Upstairs, it has window…” and I was like “Thanks, that’s all I need to know.”
You could write something about the au pair room in your application if you get suspicious if someone asks. Just say “The au pair room is located xy and has a nice window and a view to z”. Something like that.

muminoz September 24, 2012 at 8:50 am

I am in Australia but was referred to your website by a friend who hosts au pairs who thinks it is amazing – and I agree! I am looking at exploring having au pairs early next year, but was wondering how important a lockable door is?

We were thinking of letting the au pair have the top floor of the house, which would include a sitting area, windows with city views and their own bathroom with shower, sink and toilet – however it doesn’t have a door. There is a staircase leading up and into the room, with about 12 stairs, but there is nothing to lock it off.

If it isn’t appropriate, we will just re-arrange things so the au pair can have the current master bedroom – which has a lockable door – but there is no ensuite, it is right in the middle of the house, and next to the children’s rooms.

Would be grateful for your thoughts on which would work best?

stickyskip September 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I’m an Aussie AP in Germany at the moment and my room sounds like it’s similar to your top floor situation. I dont have a door at all, let alone one that locks, but because my space is so seperate from the rest of the house, it doesn’t really bother me that much. I’d much rather have my own space a little further away from the rest of the family and away from the kids’ noise than be in the middle of it with a door that locks. But then again my kids know that they are absolutely NOT allowed up there and are both young enough to expect fire and brimstone if they break that rule. :)

I think as long as your AP can walk around in her undies with nobody seeing, the lockable door isn’t an issue. As long as she has privacy, I think it’s all good.

just my two cents.

cv harquail September 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

The “walk around in your undies” test. Very funny– and also useful. :-) cv

EU.AP September 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I would bring it up with the au pairs you consider. This isn’t something I would be overly fond of. Sometimes I find it difficult to sleep if my door isn’t closed, and I am a private person.

However, I can imagine lots of potential au pairs would be thrilled to have an en suite/their own floor, and the twelve steps would be enough privacy.

Seattle Mom September 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I once lived in a room like that, in an apartment shared with roommates. I think it would be fine, as long as the kids don’t go up there.

Kris September 24, 2012 at 9:25 am

This is why it is really important for the Au Pair and Host Family to talk as much as possible before she arrives and for things like this to be discussed. The Au Pair shouldn’t be afraid to ask what type of room she will be staying in and the Host Family should be upfront about the bedroom as well. If the Au Pair will be in a basement room without a window, it’s important to let her know ahead of time. So cultures are not familiar with homes that have rooms in the basement and might find it strange to be put in a room “below” the house. Communication is key even when it comes to the little things like the bedroom.

EmmieJane September 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

I would absolutely go to the LCC about this, and I would focus on the fact that the washing machine and dryer are in there and that they use the room as a hallway to get to the garage. Those things in my mind are a violation of a “private” room. I think that is absolutely unacceptable and in breach of the program.

The part about the room being tiny and windowless is definitely not ideal, but I am not sure it is really in violation of the program rules. My understanding from both LCCs I have worked with is that you just have to have a room with a door.

We do have our au pair in a basement room that has 3 windows-2 of which open and a door. We never go down there, and she has a private entrance, her own bathroom, and her own laundry. I think a basement room can be fine, but not if it is also the laundry room. That’s just crazy, and as a host mom, I really would not want to have to be in the au pair’s room to do laundry.

LuvCheetos September 24, 2012 at 10:33 am

There was a similar situation in our cluster. A friend of our old AP livedin a basement on a fold out couch. Apparently, the family showed the LCC a beautiful bedroom, but when the Ap arrived, she was not given that room, but sent to the basement. I think she rematched. I’m not sure if they ever told the LCC. We encouragedd our AP to have her friend report it to the LCC.

When we first got our first AP, the laundry was in her room. We had a contractor some in and move it within a week (the AP ended up coming sooner than we anticipated or we would have done it before she came). Our LCC approved the room only on the condition that we’d move the laundry (which, of course, we had intended to do anyway). She also checked at the 2 week visit to make sure it had been moved.

Should be working September 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm

When we turned our laundry room into a bedroom for our son, we discovered (from an architect) that there are rules for what constitutes a “legal bedroom”, decided at the local level I guess.

A legal bedroom counts as a bedroom when selling a house; otherwise you have to call it a ‘bonus room’ or a ‘recreation room’ or something else.

The architect told us that a ‘legal bedroom’ in our area has to have (as stated above) a fire exit. But it also must have at least 10% glass i.e. windows. And it is not allowed to have a door leading to a gas appliance. From a previous house with a weird basement-like thing, we learned back then that it also has to have a floor-to-ceiling distance of 8 ft or more.

Because it only has one generous window, but not adding up to 10% glass, and because it has a door leading to the closet for the gas heater, our son’s room not a legal bedroom. We use it as such, but can’t sell (or rent) it as such. I would feel ok giving it to an AP, because it’s a fine enough room, but I guess I would feel a little weird because it is not legally a bedroom.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm

We had a similar situation for 3 years. There was an exit, but it was 15 feet down a hallway. Only one window opened, and it was small and under a deck. Neither the LCC nor the 2 APs (both extended with us) complained, but we felt bad. We were happy when we had the resources to put a legal bedroom with an ensuite bathroom under The Camel’s handicapped accessible bed & bath. The architect really listened to us about putting as much light as possible into the room. For the majority of APs, their only complain is the sound The Camel makes as she plays with her toys above them (only a few hours most days as we’re off and running on weekend mornings and don’t put The Camel down to play in her room before we go).

German Au-Pair September 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I wonder about the fire exit…I have a window but if I had to jump out of it it would be a 2-story-jump to the driveway…no really an option, right?
Or does “fire exit” just mean “the firefighters could get you out somehow”?

newhostmom September 25, 2012 at 9:26 am

In our area, to be technically considered a legal bedroom, you have to have two ways to get out of the room – could be a door and a window for example. Could be a window on the third floor, as long as you can get out (in that case, yes, the firemen would get you out I assume). I would personally be nervous putting someone living full-time in a basement bedroom with no window. You can actually have an egress window installed in an underground basement – we just priced it and it’s about $4,000 in our area, so definitely expensive!

Should be working September 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm

When we bought our house, we found in an upstairs bedroom a simple rope “fire ladder” that you could hang out the window if you needed to get out. Not very expensive. Maybe ask the HPs to buy one, German AP, if you are nervous?

Muminoz September 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Thanks all for the great advice. I will contact the agency and see how best to include the information in our family information .

Thank you!

Seattle Mom September 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Wow, this sounds over-the-top! There should be no question that this living situation is not acceptable. I think a lot of HFs may have some questionable AP-room situations, but I think as long as we employ the standard “would I want my daughter to live in this room for a year?” we should be ok.

My AP room is a converted attic bedroom. Very private because it’s upstairs, away from the rest of the family bedrooms. However we only have one bathroom in our house, so the AP has to navigate a narrow set of stairs to get to the bathroom on the main floor. She has a nice window with a beautiful view, but it is an old window and a bit drafty. We didn’t even realize it until our current AP told us. We’re going to do something about it soon. We also don’t currently have a heat vent in the AP room, so we’ve been using an electric space heater- we’re going to have the heating ducts expanded to the upstairs level in the next year. The space heater makes it toasty but it’s not ideal.

We’re also fixing up a room in the basement as a guest room, and will let the new AP choose whether she prefers that or the upstairs room. We’re going to put a bathroom in the basement, so that might make the room more appealing, but the basement also has the furnace & washer/dryer, plus our rowing machine and family TV (but the room is separate from all that). It has pretty good windows, and the basement has a separate entrance to the house. I think it will depend on the individual as to what they prefer.. whichever room they don’t choose will be the guest room.

newhostmom September 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

Totally different from this situation, which I agree is deplorable and the HF should be kicked out of the program, but I worry about our au pair room too. We have three bedrooms upstairs – one that’s ours, one that the kids share, and the other one is the au pair’s. We have a smaller older home, so the rooms are all small, but there is a double bed, dresser, desk, and little table and actually a fairly large closet. I had fun decorating it – we got all new furniture and bedding and put pictures on the wall and some frames and lamps – it looks really nice. And it has two big windows, so there’s lots of natural light (with room darkening shades of course!). But it is right next to our bedroom and the kid’s room and we all share a bathroom.

Neither of our APs have complained, but it’s difficult to keep down the noise when the kids wake up at 6:30 or when we’re all shuffling around to get ready for bed or for work. It’s private in that it has a lockable door of course, but I wonder if APs would vastly prefer being in the basement with a separate area from the family. Not in the cards right now anyway, but does anyone else have their AP room on the same floor as the rest of the family? Tips for making this arrangement work?

eastcoastmom September 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

newhostmom, our AP is on the same floor with us too. She’s our 7th AP and none of them have complained about it. We have a finished basement and considered for one second putting the AP down there, but using the ‘where would I want my daughter to be’ criteria we immediately decided against that. It has a window but it’s a small window and if it were me I wouldn’t want to live down there. Anyway, we do our best to keep our kids quiet in the mornings. Our 5 YO is up early so we will put him in front of the tv downstairs for an hour in the morning or take him outside if we’re feeling awake ourselves. We’re out early on weekends and that’s usually when our AP is off, so she does get to sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays. The kids have always known not to go in the AP’s room unless invited, and it’s important to establish that rule with them from the get-go. Our current AP invites them in all the time so it’s less of an issue. We also bought additional storage in the bathroom since she shares it with the kids, and make sure we keep it clean and organized in there. And we tell her what time we need the bathroom for baths so she can plan around that. It has worked out fine for us.

kat September 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

i think it very much depends on the relationship the family and the ap have, on top of other factors such as how noisy the family is , when does the ap go to bed, how much the noise carries from room to room .
it certainly helps to make the room nice and cosy , not forgetting to put practical things like bedside lamp and table, hangers or a bin in the room ;) dont let the kids to play in front of her door.
if sharing the bathroom, make sure she has space to store her things safely and privately, has space for her towel, knows when usually other people use the shower/bath so that she can have a soak without needing to worry about timing. if running a bath or shower makes too much noise make sure people , including her, know and try not to use it when other people are asleep.

newhostmom September 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thanks Kat! I think we’ve done all these things. The room is (I’ll admit!) super adorable. I really had fun decorating it. So there are lamps, decor and all kinds of extras. We also left a fan in there for noise and some ear plugs. We also have left separate space for her things in the bathroom, and keep most of the things we can keep in our rooms out of the bathroom (like I do my hair in my room). And of course we try to go downstairs as soon as the kids get up, but there is some unavoidable noise. They’ve both known upfront too, which I felt was important.

German Au-Pair September 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Um…I think it’s great that you care, but unless the noise starts much earlier than she has to get up on weekdays when she has to hear her alarm and cannot take ear plugs, you really don’t have to.
Almost every au pair I know struggles with the noise of yelling children because in Europe, we are used to having houses made of actual stone. For a European, sleeping in an American house with young children is like sleeping in a construction zone. But on her days off, the au pair can just use some earplugs and everything is fine. You should not tip toe around in your own bathroom.
(On the other hand, of course you shouldn’t make noise much earlier than when she has to get up on days she cannot use ear plugs because she needs to hear her alarm.)

Tristatemom September 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I also have to confess to less than ideal living arrangements for our AP. It is the half-basement room with 2 windows and 1 door leading outside (in addition to the interior door). It is very pleasant in the summer but cold in the winter. I would love to put heated floors in. For now, an expensive electric radioator will have to do.
AP has her own private bathroom but due to heavy use (by previous AP who had 2-3 showering visitors each weekend) a leak developed and she had to stop using the shower (can still use sink and toilet). She now shares a bathroom with the kids but that requires walking up 2 flights of stairs. Until we have the money to fix her shower (and damage caused by the leak) we bought a nice bathrobe but I still feel bad.

kat September 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

reading through this thread i am shocked. a) by what some people are able to put their aps into and b) what building regulations there are. i admit that as an soon-to-be architect i am slightly biased on this issue but still. a bedroom here has to have a certain floor space , a certain window size (derived from floor space), certain amount of daylight and sunshine, minimum hight of 2.3 metres, certainly no gas meters/heaters and such, or doors to garage. i guess lot of these windowless rooms are not officially a bedroom but wonder what were they designed as.

i think this aupair should immediately contact her coordinator and unless the family can immediately put her in a descent room , without resenting it!, than the LCC should house the AP, put her in rematch and kick the family off their books.

btw when looking for a job last time i did ask a family which said nothing whatsoever about accommodation about three emails in, they got offended big time. not sure why. hope they realised since one needs to know what they are getting into…

HM Pippa September 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Building regulations in the US are highly regional. Building codes are constantly changing and they can vary by state, county, city, town, and/or borough. So a “legal” bedroom, as specified by building code and interpreted by an inspector, could vary from one AP cluster to another. The requirements of the state department and the agency add another standard. A room may meet one set of standards, but not the other. A room that is both legal and meets agency standards may still not satisfy an APs specific preferences (to be near or far from the family, to be in the basement or not, to have it dark or light). (Wish I could insert a handy Venn diagram here.) This is where the “walk around in your underwear” and the “where would I want my own daughter to stay” tests are useful.

That said, I doubt the utility room the OP is sleeping in meets either the legal or the agency requirements for a bedroom (not to mention the spirit of the program!). The extreme cases are easy to judge. It’s the middle ground that is trickier to manage.

Daring Au Pair September 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Maybe it’s a good idea for host families to show/au pair’s to ask to see the proposed “au pair room” before matching? It seems like sharing a few photographs could prevent a lot of problems/surprises for everyone.

SM CA January 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I am shocked to hear in which conditions soma au pair need to live and I seriously think that before to host an au pair, people should ask “do I have a nice place for my au pair to live in? Regardless which are the law requirements.
In our first house, we had a construction company coming in to switch the basement in a nice quarter for guests / au pair, it has nice dark wood flooring, white walls, nice queen size bad, heat /air conditioner, own tiled bathroom, TV, computer, desk etc. We also putted a little fridge for the au pair so she does not have to inconvenience herself to walk in the kitchen to get a fresh bottle of water in the middle of the night. It is literally like her own little apartment (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and an entertainment room).
Let me be clear: I ask the au pair if she does prefer to live in the nice new basement, or in a bedroom that we have in the second floor (the second bedroom is close to my daughter bedroom), I didn’t want the au pair to feel like she was forced to confine herself, so I left the choice up to her.
Every au pair I had chosen to be on the basement, all of them loved it, they were able to have friends over and actually entertain them. We as a family became very close to some of my previous au pair friends, and all of them complimented us on how beautiful was the basement and how easy it was to have some privacy (something that most of them missed with their host families).
Our new home has a guest house, and also this time we gave the option to the au pair to be living in the main house, or to be in the guest house, and all of them choose to live in the guest house, they love it and all of them are really grateful to us for what we provide.
I really don’t think it is necessary for someone to offer a guest house to have an au pair, but you really need to question your choices when you know deep inside your heart you wouldn’t live in the place where you ask your au pair to live in.

Comments on this entry are closed.