Have you ever been at a local park or pool in the summer and seen young women caring for children — and occasionally speaking to each other in another language? Chances are they are au pairs, living with host families in town.
Au Pair in America is the United States’ first au pair program designated by the Department of State. The au pair program was created in 1986. It allows young people from abroad, aged 18 to 26, to travel to the U.S. on the Exchange Visitor Program for a unique cultural exchange experience. These young visitors come to America to acquire a better understanding and appreciation of American life while living with an American family and caring for their young children for up to 45 hours per week.
Oklahoma resident Jessica Mullins is the local Community Counselor for Au Pair in America. She serves as the liaison for both host families and au pairs in the area. “Families choose to have an au pair over other childcare options for many reasons,” says Mullins. “Flexibility is one reason, as an au pair’s schedule can change from week to week. The cultural exchange component is another reason. It is a wonderful way to reinforce a family’s own culture or introduce a new one. Survey findings show that living with an au pair has a significant influence on a child’s education, instilling a willingness to embrace other cultures, desire to travel, and awareness beyond borders not typically available to children. Families also cite having a trusted caregiver in the comfort of their home as a tremendous convenience and advantage.”
Host families especially appreciate the program’s flexibility. One host parent shared, “Having an au pair is the best child care decision I ever made. We always have coverage when we need it — mornings and evenings, weekends and weekdays, even snow days and sick days. And my biggest hesitation was unfounded. The girls don’t want to be hanging around you all day. They quickly make lots of friends and want to be out doing stuff when they are not working.”
With Oklahoma’s large military presence, many families with a parent in the armed services have taken advantage of Au Pair in America’s military discount of $500 off the program fee. Just imagine how much easier a deployment would be with an extra set of hands, and how much easier it would be for your kids to have another person they trust around.
Au Pair in America offers qualified au pairs from nearly 60 countries. All have at least 200 hours of recent child care experience and go through a rigorous screening process and background check. They come with medical and liability insurance, a United States Department of State sponsored visa, and a valid driver’s license. Au pairs attend a comprehensive two-day orientation program that features child development training, child safety training, customized Red Cross training and an optional AAA driver safety training specifically designed for au pairs.
In addition to their work with their host families, Au Pair in America au pairs are active in the community. Each year they volunteer at numerous events, charitable 5K races, school fundraisers and marathons.
For more information about hosting an au pair, contact Jessica at [email protected].