Welcome to the Au Pair experience and the Go Au Pair family! I am Joan Lowell, your local contact for Go Au Pair, your award-winning Au Pair agency. I am here to support you and your Au Pair throughout the year, as well as provide guidance and education when and where needed.
Lots of people have heard of the Au Pair Program but really don’t know much about it. It is a cultural exchange program which provides flexible, live-in childcare to American families who choose to participate in this cultural childcare experience. An Au Pair, from the country and culture of your choice, comes to live and be a part of your family for a year, or up to two full years, while taking some college credits and learning about our culture and American families.
Naturally, this program has regulations and is overseen by the US DOS. Go Au Pair has been a participating agency since the second year of the program. For over 25 years, we have been working with families and caregivers, providing training and support to our participants. For many families, hosting an Au Pair is a life-changing event, adding a member of the family and friend for life. For some, it is just what the doctor ordered and just in time. Family life is hard, and an Au Pair can ease the burden.
One requirement that is often questioned is about the Au Pair bedroom. The only DOS regulation is that it is a private bedroom with no use or access by the hosts, which has a latching door. This, of course, may not be enough of a guideline for some. This is where a seasoned LAR (Local Area Representative) comes in the picture. Families need to take care when choosing the room they will offer their Au Pair. Many families are lucky enough to give the Au Pair his or her choice of one room or another.
Here are some basics to keep in mind when deciding if a room will work as an Au Pair bedroom.
- Does it have a window? While not required, a window with a decent view is nice. Imagine staying somewhere for a year with no window to open for a breeze of fresh air or to look out on your leisure time. Of course, we don’t want the Au Pair sitting in his or her room looking out the window all year, but it is an important consideration.
- Another consideration is location, location, location. Is the room in the basement? That can be cold and damp. It is right next to a main kid-play-area? That can be noisy and act as an open invitation for the kids to bother the Au Pair in his or her off-time.
- Furnishings are required. A private bathroom is not required. Your Au Pair is to be treated as an equal, or how you might treat a long-term house guest. A bed (with bedding) and bureau or closet must be a part of the room. Many families also provide a desk or table with chair and lamp so the Au Pair can use the computer or do homework in his or her room. Make the room homey and comfortable as you would for a friend who came to stay.
- Finally, the lock. The Au Pair bedroom is not required to have a lock. Many families do provide a locking door, simply for privacy reasons. Most bedroom/interior doors do have a lock which can be engaged from inside the room. Discuss with your Au Pair if he or she feels they need more than that.
One major component of the Au Pair Program is communication. This issue is no different. While one person may not mind an attic room (which can provide great views and lots of privacy, but also require an AC), others may feel isolated by a room so far from the family. The best way to meet your own and your Au Pair’s expectations is to discuss them openly and honestly. If one party is not satisfied and never brings it up, other issues will surely bring problems to the surface. The room is basic and can make your Au Pair happy and content or unhappy and depressed. Set the stage for an outstanding year by giving your Au Pair a room you would want!
Contact me with your questions about the Au Pair Program or your Au Pair bedroom. Register to host an Au Pair at Go Au Pair Providence!