Role as a host family
Being a host family not only means following Cultural Care and U.S. Department of State regulations, but you should also be prepared to embrace the cultural exchange spirit of the program. Understanding your role as a host family is important to getting the most out of this rewarding partnership.
Supporting cultural exchange
The au pair program is a cultural exchange experience as well as a childcare program. While the needs of the children are of the utmost importance, it is also important that au pairs receive the benefits of an exchange experience. Include your au pair in American traditions and holidays, reach out to her to help her understand new experiences, and support her in the adjustment of functioning in a new language and culture. Experiencing life in the U.S. is one of the biggest attractions of the au pair program to young people around the world and you play an important role in this.
Welcoming your au pair
An au pair should not be considered an employee, but rather an extension of your family. As such, give and take is important. Think about how you would want someone to treat your child living in a host family abroad and treat your au pair accordingly. Asking how her day was, being thoughtful around holidays or birthdays, and including her in family meals will go a long way to making her feel welcome and supported in your family.
There will be days when your au pair feels homesick or needs advice in navigating a new language and culture. As a host family, you are the first line of support to your au pair. While our program provides you with a local childcare consultant and other means of support, taking the time to listen to her and offer an encouraging word is part of being a great host family.
Helping her adjust
While our au pairs come with prior childcare experience and attend our au pair training school, only you know what works best in your home. The au pair program is most successful when host parents take the time to communicate to their au pairs what their needs and expectations are. Being prepared to invest in an adjustment period is the best way to start the year off successfully. Our veteran host families say it best, “You get out of the au pair program what you put into it!” Families who invest in communication, teamwork and support have the most rewarding relationships with their au pairs—and their children benefit!
To gain more insight into being a successful host family, check out our family stories.