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Au pair vs nanny and daycare

As parents, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of all childcare options and choose what will work best for our schedule, budget and lifestyle. Families who choose daycare are often discouraged by the toll it takes on their work/life balance and finances. Many families like the idea of the one-on-one care a nanny can provide, but the high cost is a big deterrent. In most communities in the U.S., nannies are cost-prohibitive for middle class families.

Disadvantages of daycare

  • High cost and “per child” rates
  • Hassle of transporting children to and from the daycare facility
  • Inflexible hours and expensive late fees
  • High staff turnover and staff inexperience
  • High child-to-staff ratio
  • Long wait lists
  • Lack of coverage when children are sick
  • Tendency to expose children to colds and other illnesses

Disadvantages of hiring a nanny

  • High cost and need for salary negotiations
  • Lack of quality candidates
  • Lack of a qualified agency in the area
  • Lack of night or weekend coverage
  • The hassle of verifying her legal work eligibility
  • Absence of a back-up plan if she falls ill or quits
  • No regulation or support from a third-party agency or staff member

Hosting an au pair can give you the one-on-one attention and in-home convenience that you want but without the high cost and other disadvantages of hiring a nanny. Compare what you get with au pair childcare to what you would get from a nanny or daycare:

Value Comparison Au Pair Nanny Daycare

$360 weekly fixed cost (per family, not per child)

An affordable childcare solution regardless of the number of children you have.

 Yes NO  NO

Up to 45 hours of care per week

A convenient option for working parents.

 Yes Varies  NO

Childcare on a schedule you set

The ability to create your own childcare schedule week-to-week.

Yes Varies  NO

Candidates qualified in CPR/AED and First Aid*

Know that your childcare provider is Red Cross-certified in adult and pediatric CPR/AED and First Aid.

Yes Varies  Varies

Candidates qualified in driver safety**

New this year, Cultural Care au pairs will also attend a classroom course on driver’s safety, also delivered by the American Red Cross, designed to familiarize au pairs with American driving laws, signs and protocols.

 Yes  Varies  Varies

Assistance with household duties

An extra helping hand with kids’ laundry, meals and room pick-up.

 Yes Varies  NO

Convenience of a live-in caregiver

Peace of mind that comes with knowing your caregiver is close by.

 Yes Varies  NO

Opportunity for cultural exchange

Exposure to a new culture, language and way of life.

Yes Varies  Varies

Year-long, local support

The assistance of a local childcare consultant (LCC) throughout your program term.

Yes NO  NO

Another benefit to hosting an au pair? All au pairs meet strict requirements mandated by Cultural Care and the U.S. Department of State.

*Effective for au pairs arriving from overseas in January 2013 and beyond.
**Effective for au pairs arriving from overseas February 2014 and beyond.