Nine families in Northwest Ohio are reaping the benefits of an at-home cultural experience as well as having someone help them with the needs of their children.
Young women from Colombia, China, South Korea, Russia, South Africa and Ecuador journeyed to the United States to be a part of the Go Au Pair program gaining fast momentum in the Toledo area.
Their services include providing part-time or full-time live-in childcare in addition to duties such as driving, homework help, housekeeping and anything else pertaining to the children they are caring for. Although the women travel from all over the world, fluency in English is mandatory making it easy for them to communicate with the families.
Nicole Khuong, the Northwest Ohio representative, discovered the program two years ago and quickly decided she wanted to be a part of it.
"I'd done some nannying in the past and I'm a strong believer in care provided in the child's home so that they are in their own environment and comfortable in their surroundings," she said. "It's something that feels natural talking about because I truly believe in it as a wonderful childcare option for kids."
When Khuong started with the program, only one family enrolled. Since then, she has seen a significant increase in knowledge and demand for Go Au Pair services.
The benefits of using an Au Pair are extensive, said Khuong, noting that language and cultural exposure give children an opportunity to "open up their world" and see that everybody is different and special in their own right.
She added that by having live-in childcare, the Au Pair becomes a member of the family. "It's very much like having a relative stay with you," said Khuong. "They know what your child is allergic to and their likes and dislikes by being there all day even when they're not working."
Parents can enjoy reliability, schedule flexibility, and peace of mind knowing Au Pairs have gone through a detailed application process and been approved by the U.S. Department of State. The program has been providing childcare nationwide for 27 years, and was one of the original Au Pair curriculums designated by the U.S. Department of State in 1989.
In order to ensure that Au Pairs are a good fit, families conduct a "meet and greet" via Skype interview before committing to someone. Families also have to apply to the program by agreeing to a site visit where Khuong has a chance to talk to the families about expectations, including an agreement to make sure Au Pairs get an opportunity to experience American culture outside of their 30 to 45 hour work week.
Khuong coordinates monthly events to bring local Au Pairs together for a chance to form friendships and subside feelings of homesickness and isolation. Au Pairs are also required to take six credit hours at a university which broadens each Au Pair’s social circle. "Between their college courses and our monthly events, they build a solid community of friends on their own which is very important," Khuong said.
Khuong says the cost of the program is more affordable than people assume, and is often the same if not less costly than a nanny or daycare. The price for an Au Pair is the same regardless of number of children or their ages. She added that room and board does play a factor because families are responsible for the living expenses of the live-in childcare providers.
Most Au Pairs stay with their host families for one year, with the option of extending to two years. If for any reason there were a life event such as job loss that would make the program unaffordable, the agency would need two weeks' notice to make other arrangements. "Ultimately, we want to make sure that the host families and Au Pairs are happy."
Ask now about discounts available ($750 off and application fees waived). Visit www.goaupair.com/toledo for more information.