What does Au Pair mean?
An Au Pair is a girl or a boy who helps their host family looking after the children and in child related duties, while the family returns the helper's work with payment and favours (e.g. language courses, holidays). The most important part of the Au Pair programme is language learning. The meaning of babysitter and Au Pair are often mixed in Hungary. While babysitters look after children for payment, the Au Pair's duty is more complex and diverse and means living together with the family, counting as a family member.
The relationship between the Au Pair and the family
As the Au Pair is loved and appreciated by all family members, he or she participates at family events and of course at everyday occasions (e.g. joint meals) as well. In addition to the use of rooms used commonly, the Au Pair also gets their own room. We recommend all our Au Pairs enquire and agree on the basic questions of living together with the host family as soon as possible after arrival. If questions arise later or there are disagreements, talk about it immediately and get it cleared.
You can't loose anything by sharing your problems!
Example: An Irish family had the following problem with one of the Au Pairs: The Au Pair planned an excursion with friends for a long weekend, but one of the children in the family fell ill. She was not sure if she should stay or leave so she asked for the parents' opinion. The mother told her to travel without worries and that she would take a day off but what she really thought was 'I will take a day off as I do not have any other choice and you should know yourself that you should stay here and do your job'. The Au Pair was only paying attention to the words and not to the intonation and the mother's meta-communicative signs. The story ended with a big argument and the Au Pair came home.
The Au Pair uses their free time as they use, going to language school, meeting friends etc. Opportunities for bigger trips and sightseeing tours are on weekends. The family should be informed about late nights out - the reason for this is very simple: the family is and feels responsible for the Au Pair.
For people who live abroad as an Au Pair the first things that catch the eye are cultural differences, which may come as a shock. Very often the stereotypes used in the country of origin do not match reality - 'cold' English, 'bohemian' French or 'accuracy-obsessed Germans'. We can freely state that foreigners are just as diverse as 'always-goulash-eating Hungarians'.
You can find yourself in many situations that are unknown at the time of happening, do not be afraid to ask if you are unsure of something!
Example: the French do not use plates during breakfast and let breadcrumbs fall onto the table. Morning beverages are drunk not from a mug but from larger cups. If you get a plate for your toast and look for a mug for your morning cocoa, you will get strange looks.
The tasks of the Au Pair
The tasks and working hours of the Au Pair are set by the laws of the given country.
In general, Au Pairs help 25-30 hours per week in childcare and everyday household work (making the bed, setting the table before meals, washing up, keeping the kitchen tidy, preparing the children's food, doing the ironing). The Au Pair should not do heavy household work (e.g. cleaning doors and windows, keeping the restrooms tidy, scrubbing the floors, keeping the cellar and the car clean). The days of the Au Pair are filled with looking after the children and language learning. The exact working hours depend on the routine of the family and the children and greatly vary with the age of the children.
Household tasks of Au Pairs: This list was made in order to provide a clear view for the host families of what to expect from the Au Pair when it comes to household duties. Considering these while putting together the weekly order of tasks is important.
The Au Pair is helping the family - the household is not their duty.
You could be an Au Pair if:
When can you apply?
We receive applications throughout the year as there are many starting dates in every month.
You receive the necessary documentation from us to obtain the valid visa (We provide full-range help in this).
No other visa is needed to participate in the Au Pair programme.
The J1 visa is issued for the duration of 1 year. The US Immigration Office allows the travel of Au Pairs with a J1 visa and allows them to spend one more month to travel and see the country. The American Government does not extend the duration of the Au Pair visa after 12 months. An Au Pair visa is only issued once for everyone.
According to the laws of the chosen country, the host family or the Au Pair is obliged to pay the entire cost of travel.
After the Au Pair has got in touch with the host family, they will receive a workbook that is a draft of the textbook to be used during the training. This has to be read and many tests have to be filled in before the Au Pair arrives in the US. The training programme is intensive and its content tops the Au Pair training programme assessed by the governmental regulations. This programme was developed and is taught by experts working in education and healthcare. The curriculum includes the use of workbooks, lectures, video presentations and practice training in safety and first aid. In addition to that it offers general information on healthcare and safety, development from birth to 12 years and information on the demands of the Au Pair, cultural differences and adapting to the US and the life of the American family. Besides this the training offers information on how the Au Pair can effectively communicate with the host parents on childcare matters.
The programme is greatly overlapped by the education-training programme organised by us so it will not be particularly difficult to acquire.
After application to the programme, the host family-to-be and the Au Pair receive handbooks with detailed information on the entire programme. These books offer practical advice based on the experience of host families and Au Pairs. In addition to the written information, every Au Pair and host family can take advantage of the assistance services of the local representative living in the same region as the host family. The local representative makes an interview with the family, helps the family to choose an Au Pair, organises monthly group meetings and gives advice to the Au Pair on learning opportunities. The group meetings offer Au Pairs the opportunity to get in touch with each other and exchange experience. Holiday gatherings, sports events and one-day excursions in the surroundings are activities that are doable for Au Pairs as well.
The learning component of the programme requires active participation from every Au Pair. An Au Pair can enter the US with a J1 visa, which obliges the participants to take part in courses. The programme regulation of the US obliges the Au Pair to take courses worth 6 credit points. The Au Pair can choose between university courses, trainings related to the Au Pair's career and English language courses. You will receive information on these on the spot.
We would like to draw your attention that training expenses up to 500 USD are paid by the families.
Our programme offers every Au Pair accident insurance from the day of entry to the US to the end of the 12 month programme. The extended service covering full accident, health, luggage and legal representation costs USD 425.
Just like any other member of the family, an Au Pair can suffer short illnesses during the year that can prevent them from looking after the children. Because of this the host family has to ensure alternative childminding and if this happens the Au Pair still has to be paid his or her pocket money.
The host families live in areas of the US where driving is indispensable. The Au Pair has to have driving experience. In some states of the US Au Pairs are forced to have an American driving licence so one has to be prepared to take a driving exam in the US if required. Our foreign partner provides all necessary educational materials for this in advance.
It is not a problem if obtaining your driving licence is in progress as your application can still be accepted.
Of course you can not travel to the US without a driving licence.
Participation fees for the Au Pair
What you get
Documents needed for application
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