There are many childcare options out there, but finding the right fit for your family isn’t always easy. Large center-based chains, local child care centers, and in-home daycares are the typical mainstream options. For some families, a live-in option makes much more sense. This is where nannies and au pairs come in. An au pair definitely brings something unique to the family. But, what exactly is their role and is an au pair an affordable solution compared to tradition childcare? Below you will find out just how much an au pair costs and what makes them such a great option!
What To Know About Hosting an Au Pair
To understand the cost of an au pair, you must first understand how the whole thing works. The difference between an au pair and a traditional nanny is that an au pair is placed as part of a cultural exchange program. Similar to exchange students, an au pair lives with a host family. However, they also have the responsibility of caring for the family’s children. The au pair will gain language skills from your family and your children will benefit by gaining language skills from them. The au pair offers their services in exchange for room and board, a small weekly au pair stipend, credit hours at a post-secondary institution, or some combination of these things.
An au pair is a young foreign national, who wants to come experience life in America and work in childcare. They will be a part-time student and part-time nanny. If you would like to hire an au pair, it is best to go through an agency that guarantees all their au pairs pass a complete background check and training program. Traditionally, au pairs are single and have no children of their own. They are typically high school graduates between the ages of 18-26 and can speak English with proficiency.
How Do You Hire an Au Pair and How Much Does an Au Pair Cost?
You should only hire an au pair through a government-sponsored agency. This way you know they have gone through the proper steps and are safe to welcome into your home. Plus, the government requires them to go through special training. Find a list of these agencies here!
The costs will vary, but you can estimate that an au pair will cost you about $8/hr or $195 a week as a stipend. Keep in mind, you will also be providing room, board, food and often times transportation so you need to factor this in as well.
Comparing the costs of different childcare options may help you to make your decision. Center-based daycare costs a family around $11,660 a year, whereas hiring a nanny can cost as much as $40,oo0 a year. Hiring an au pair averages $18,500 a year, and your child will get the personalized care and attention that a nanny would provide.
What the US Laws Say
An au pair is not a full-time nanny. Their work schedule is regulated by the U.S. government and compensated according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Your au pair can work up to 45 hours a week. A workday can not be longer than ten hours. Communication between the au pair and the family is crucial to plan a child care schedule, time off, and time to attend classes and do homework. Your au pair will stay for 12 months. However, there is the option to extend their stay for an additional 12 months.
U.S. government guidelines for au pairs can be found at https://j1visa.state.gov/programs/au-pair
So, is an au pair an affordable childcare solution? I guess it depends on your family, what you are looking for and what you need! In my opinion, hiring an au pair is actually extremely affordable in the case that you find someone who is really looking for the cultural exchange aspect of the job and will trade their nanny services for room & board and a small stipend. Money aside this is an experience that will enrich the life of your family and that is something really special!
Do you have experience with hiring an au pair? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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