What is an Au Pair?

People use the terms ‘au pair’, ‘nanny’, and ‘babysitter’ interchangeably but there are some real differences you should know about when selecting the best care for your kids.

Definition of an Au Pair

An au pair is a young person from abroad who comes to the U.S. to live and work with an American host family. Au pairs provide childcare for the host family in return for room, board, and a weekly stipend. Au pairs spend a year as fully-integrated members of the host family and have the opportunity to extend their time up to an additional 12 months. The mutually-beneficial relationship gives host parents live-in childcare coverage while offering au pairs a unique opportunity to be fully immersed in American culture.

What Does the Term Au Pair Mean?

The French term au pair translates to “on par,” or “equal” in English. However, the term has evolved over the years to mean a young person from abroad who lives with a host family and provides childcare in return for room, board, and a weekly stipend. As an au pair, you’re meant to be on par, or equal, to the family with whom you live and for whom you provide childcare.

Au Pairs at a Glance

  • Come to the U.S. for 12-24 months on a J-1 Au Pair Visa
  • Live with their host family and become a member of the family
  • Have childcare experience and speak English
  • Can work up to 45 hours a week and not more than 10 hours per day
  • Can perform tasks that are childcare related
  • Have flexibility in their work hours and scheduling
  • Have the local support of an au pair agency such as Au Pair USA

Compare Au Pairs, Nannies and Babysitters

While researching childcare options, you may have heard about au pairs, nannies, and babysitters. There are important differences between these childcare providers.

Au PairNannyBabysitter
Provide live-in childcareAlwaysVariesNo
Hours per Week45VariesVaries
Can work a split scheduleYesVariesVaries
Have previous childcare experienceAlwaysVariesVaries
Have their own health insuranceAlwaysVariesVaries
Have 30+ Hours of child development trainingAlwaysVariesVaries
Have First Aid Training and CPR CertificationAlwaysVariesVaries
Have dedicated local supportAlwaysVariesVaries
Have 30+ Hours of child development trainingAlwaysVariesNo

Childcare That Au Pairs Provide

As an au pair, you may care for a variety of children. These include:

  • Infant Care (Ages 0-12 months) Au pairs are extra hands to new (and tired) parents.
  • Toddler & Preschool (Ages 1-4) Au pairs help little ones learn and thrive.
  • School-Age (Ages 5+) Au pairs help simplify the busy schedules of school-age children.
  • Special Needs Au pairs offer support for children with special needs.

The Au Pair Program

Through the Au Pair program, participants and host families take part in a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity. Au pairs can continue their education while experiencing everyday life with an American family, and host families receive reliable and responsible childcare from au pairs who become part of the family.

Want to Learn More About Au Pairs?

We’d love to answer your questions and help you determine if hosting an au pair is right for your family. Call us at 1-800-287-2477 or request info now.

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