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!