Host Families are often overjoyed when their new Au Pair arrives, eager and willing to jump in and get busy with the kids and the activity of the cultural exchange experience. The beginning can be a honeymoon period, as you may know, when everyone is working really hard to get along and communicate openly and regularly.
This is also a time when Au Pairs may do more than is required of them by the Host Family Agreement (Go Au Pair specialized document) and the Au Pair Program regulations. First and foremost, the US Department of State has regulations to outline the program and what is supposed to happen and not happen. Both Au Pairs and Host Families are well-aware of these regulations and receive several copies of them, as well as sign documents indicating they understand the rules and regulations governing their placement and participation.
That being said, Au Pairs cannot work above and beyond the hours allowed by their program, whether it be 45 or 30 hours weekly, no Au Pair is to work more than 10 hours. Your Au Pair can only work for your family and cannot be in charge of other children; they must be supervised by another adult, even at a play date. Au Pairs can perform many childcare-related duties, but are definitely not supposed to be performing heavy cleaning or doing household shopping or cooking.
When selecting and interviewing Au Pair candidates, Host Families can see if an Au Pair has indicated restrictions in terms of pets he or she is willing to have in his or her new family. An Au Pair’s primary duty and responsibility is to help out with the children. Gray areas do exist, often without specific direction from the overseeing government agency (surprised?). In these cases, it is often left to the Local Area Representative, that’s me, and the sponsoring agency (that’s Go Au Pair) to be more specific. Here I am to help!
Au Pairs may supervise kids’ chores and homework, which often includes caring the family’s pets. American pets make up a unique part of our culture, American families, which can be quite a surprise to many Au Pairs. While American families may raise their pets as children, care of any animals cannot be part of an Au Pair’s duties. Au Pairs cannot be made responsible for Host Family pets, including feeding, walking, or cleaning up after them. However, if the child’s chore is to feed and walk the pet, the Au Pair may need to participate with the child. Host Families need to be aware of this and not require pet care of their Au Pair.
Other gray areas exist as well, like who pays for gas in the vehicle used by an Au Pair, mileage limits for using the car, car curfews, who pays for food at restaurants and more. Open and honest communication, as well as keeping fairness in mind, is the best policy for each issue. Whenever you’re not sure, though, please don’t hesitate to communicate your question to your local rep or your Placement Coordinator at main office level. We are here to support all parties for a fun, affordable cultural childcare experience.
My name is Joan Lowell, LAR (Local Area Rep) for the Providence area. Please contact me with your questions or simply register online at Go Au Pair Providence and get started for FREE.