Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to get an au pair?
The time it takes to find you an au pair will depend on your family’s specific needs and the availability of au pairs with corresponding qualifications. Generally, a Cultural Care au pair can arrive to your home within eight to ten weeks from the time you submit your registration. If your family has immediate childcare needs, please call us at 1-800-333-6056 and we will do our best to accommodate your schedule.
Can we get an au pair at any time during the year?
Yes, Cultural Care Au Pair arranges for au pairs to arrive in groups almost every week out of the year. Once you make a final selection, you can use our au pair arrival schedule to decide on a mutually convenient arrival date.
How long can our au pair stay?
Up to two years, while au pairs arrive to the U.S. with a legal J-1 cultural exchange visa allowing them to stay with a host family for one year—at the end of that year, they can choose to extend their year with their current family or a new one for an additional 12, 9 or 6 months if they are in good standing with the program.
Where do Cultural Care au pairs come from?
Cultural Care au pairs come from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Cultural Care recruits au pairs from over 20 countries, and none of our au pairs are recruited through third-party agents. When you accept a Cultural Care au pair you can rest assured that they are well-screened by a Cultural Care staff member.
What childcare qualifications and training do au pairs have?
Cultural Care Au Pair is committed to providing the highest level of au pair screening in the industry. In addition to meeting and exceeding the U.S. State Department regulations on au pair recruitment and screening, Cultural Care Au Pair has developed unique and intensive interviewing and evaluating techniques. All Cultural Care au pairs must meet our stringent requirements and undergo a thorough background check including reference verification. All au pairs participate in child safety and development training course at our Cultural Care Training School in Long Island, N.Y., as well as complete the American Red Cross Full Service Training for CPR/AED and First Aid certification.
Can au pairs drive?
Yes. Having an au pair to drive your children to school and activities is one of the benefits of the au pair program. Au pair are generally licensed to drive in their home country and travel with an International Driver’s Permit. If you anticipate having your au pair drive during her year, you will need to provide the appropriate coverage under your auto insurance and be prepared to help her adjust to driving in the U.S. You will also want to check with your local RMV for state-specific requirements that may exist. With the proper preparation and right expectations, having your au pair drive can be a great benefit to your family.
Do all au pairs speak English?
Yes, all au pairs speak English. English skills range from proficient to native speaker. During the overseas screening process, au pairs are interviewed in English by one of Cultural Care Au Pair’s recruitment leaders to assess her command of the language. You can use this assessment, included in au pair’s application, as well as your personal phone interview with an au pair to determine whether her English abilities match what you are looking for.
Do au pairs have medical insurance?
All au pairs arrive with at least basic insurance coverage to cover accidents and illness during their program year.
How much does it cost to host an au pair?
The average weekly cost to host an au pair is $355—which calculates to less than $8 per hour if you use all 45 hours per week. This price is per family, not per child so no matter how many children you have, your cost stays the same. This figure covers our application, selection and program fees and the stipend you pay directly to your au pair. This average fee is even lower if you applied to our program with a discount.
What does your program fee cover?
The $7,795 program fee covers our upfront costs—a portion of the recruitment, screening and preparation of your au pair; your au pair’s training at the Au Pair Training School; host family and au pair orientations; international airfare; a full year of medical and travel insurance; training materials—and year-long support from Cultural Care office staff and your local childcare consultant.
Do I have to pay the whole program fee up front?
We offer our families the choice to either pay the program fee up front or in installments using our extended payment plan option.
Are there any “hidden fees”?
There are no “hidden fees”, as we believe in being transparent with families about the costs associated with hosting an au pair. Besides the application, selection and program fees and the weekly stipend paid to your au pair, there are other costs to consider. If you require your au pair to travel to your home from the training school in New York we will arrange for her transport and charge a domestic transportation fee. In addition, as part of the U.S. State Department regulations, au pairs are required to complete 6 credits at an accredited post-secondary institution, and families are required to pay up to $500 of those costs (ask your local childcare consultant for cost-effective options). If you need your au pair to drive, you must also insure her under your family’s existing policy. Lastly, you will be expected to include your au pair in family meals, which may mean slightly higher grocery bills each week.
We have three children. Do we pay extra?
No. Your weekly cost of just $355 is fixed; so you pay the same regardless of the number of children you have at home or their ages.
What happens if I lose my job and can no longer afford my au pair?
Cultural Care Au Pair offers our families a “Peace of Mind” guarantee, which protects families in the case of lost income due to unexpected job loss. Please contact a Cultural Care account services representative for more details: 1-800-333-6056.
Registration and matching process
How do I register?
Our save-as-you go registration is easy to use—simply fill out the registration information at your leisure. Once you’re ready, submit your registration along with Cultural Care Au Pair’s $75 registration fee to get started.
What happens once I submit my registration?
After you submit your registration, you will receive a welcome call from your placement manager. She/he will want to speak with you to confirm your specific needs and how you prefer to approach our matching process. Start matching right away if you like! Your local childcare consultant will also contact you to schedule a mandatory in-home interview. This meeting is a great way to ask questions about the program that you still have and to get to know our representative in your community.
How does the matching process work?
Cultural Care Au Pair is the only au pair agency offering you the ability to search for candidates on your own or the access to your own dedicated placement manager to provide you with matching support. No matter which way you go, when an au pair is placed in your account, you can rest assured that you are the only family considering that au pair. Unlike other agencies, you are not forced to compete with other families for your desired candidate. We offer personalized matching, and our unique Search and Select function where you search for candidates on your own time. Whatever your desired level of engagement is during the matching process, Cultural Care Au Pair is ready to meet your needs.
Can I call to interview my au pair matches as I receive their applications?
Yes, in fact, Cultural Care Au Pair requires it. The phone interview is a crucial part of the screening process and the best way for you to get to know an au pair candidate before making a decision.
What if I already know someone that I want to welcome as our au pair?
If the person you know meets our au pair requirements and passes Cultural Care Au Pair’s screening and interview process, she is likely eligible to travel to your home as a Cultural Care au pair. You must still submit an application and interview your “pre-arranged match” by phone. You will also enjoy a $300 “pre-arranged match” discount.
Can two families “share” an au pair?
No. Au pairs are required to reside with and provide childcare for only one family during their program term.
As a single parent, am I able to participate in the program?
Absolutely. Cultural Care Au Pair welcomes single parents to participate in our program.
My child has special needs. Can we still host an au pair?
Yes, we do have some au pairs who have experience caring for children with special needs and have interest in doing so while here in the U.S. Our current host families with children with special needs may have waited a little longer to find an au pair who suited their needs but it is possible. We encourage you to call Cultural Care Au Pair to discuss your specific situation.
Do you accept male au pairs?
Yes. In fact, male au pairs are some of our most successful placements and represent about 10 percent of the program enrollment. Male au pairs become a positive and energetic “big brother” role model for many families.
During the year
Do I need to provide my au pair with her own bedroom, bathroom, car and cell phone?
Host families must provide their au pair with her own private bedroom with a door. Families are not required to provide their au pair with her own bathroom, car or cell phone; they can decide whether to provide these items on an individual basis.
Can my au pair care for my children when I am out of town?
Au pairs cannot provide childcare for more than 10 hours per day or 45 hours per week. These limits would still apply when you are out of town, including hours when the children are sleeping. You would need to make additional childcare arrangements to cover any time beyond the au pair’s maximum working hours.
Can au pairs do housework?
Au pairs can perform household duties related to the children. This includes preparing meals for your children, tidying their rooms and doing their laundry.
Can my au pair work extra hours if I pay her extra money?
The program regulations set out by the U.S. Department of State must be strictly followed. Under no circumstances may an au pair work beyond her 10 hours per day/45 hours per week for you or any other family, even for extra pay. Families must commit to these limits to participate on the program.
How much of her free time will the au pair spend with our family?
This is really up to you and your au pair. We recommend thinking about how much time you’d like to spend together as a family with your au pair and outline those thoughts with au pair candidates during the matching process. Some au pairs are very family-oriented and want to spend free time with the family. Other au pairs are quite independent and will tend to spend their free time outside the home. Finding the right mix between your au pair’s and your desired level of interaction is important. Even if your au pair is quite family-oriented however, most au pairs will want some free time or quiet time alone as they are with the children during the whole day. This is something to communicate openly with your au pair as you go along.
Can my au pair come on vacation with us?
You should, of course, feel free to invite your au pair to join your family on vacation. However, eligibility to travel outside the U.S. will depend on your au pair’s home country and whether she is a first-year or extension au pair. It is best to call our Operations department at 1-800-448-5753 for specific instruction on how to prepare for overseas travel with your au pair. Before bringing your au pair on vacation, it is also important to define whether she will be on-duty (and therefore be performing her normal childcare duties) or off-duty (in which case she has agreed to take vacation time and should not be expected to work).
What happens if it doesn’t work out with my au pair?
Just as with any relationship there will ups and downs and both partners need to commit to the work it takes to have a productive relationship. Cultural and personality differences account for the majority of conflicts between host families and au pairs, and these can usually be worked out. Your local childcare consultant (LCC) is also available to you if you feel you need a mediator to step in and help. However, if incompatibilities cannot be resolved, you may decide to continue the program with a different au pair or exit the program altogether. If you decide to move forward with another au pair, we will work with you to find a better match as soon as possible. In the latter situation, we will provide you with the appropriate refund (calculated using a formula on your Host Family Agreement) and try to find another family for your au pair. Before considering such a change, we encourage all host families and au pairs to consider the disruption that a change will cause and think through the options with the help of our support staff.
What do we do if there is an emergency?
In the event of an emergency, you can always reach an on-call Cultural Care staff member, 24-hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-333-6056.