The Inside Scoop on All Things Au Pair in America
Are you a current or potential Au Pair in America host family? Wondering what goes on “behind the scenes” to bring you the best au pair for your family?
Meet Nicole Collins, a Placement Coordinator here at Au Pair in America. With 20 years of experience, Nicole has plenty of expertise when it comes to placing host families with their perfect au pair match.
We asked her a few questions about her position, the Au Pair in America program, and what advice she can give to potential host families. Here are her responses.
Q. 1: Tell us a bit about your position here at Au Pair in America.
“I began working at Au Pair in America in October 1998,” Nicole said.
Every day, Nicole advises and supports host families in Connecticut and Maryland throughout the au pair matching process to help them find the perfect match.
“I am their go-to person. I give them advice and encouragement while selecting their new au pair.” Nicole said. “Then, once the host family matches with an au pair, I make sure the visa process goes smoothly.”
Q. 2: What is most rewarding about being an Au Pair in America Placement Coordinator?
“One of the things that make my job so rewarding is helping a young woman fulfill her dream of coming to the USA,” Nicole said. “Another is giving an American family an opportunity to learn about a new culture.”
“I had one host mother call to thank me for bringing a big sister into her children’s lives – it is such a great feeling!” she continued. “Even after 20 years of working with host families, I never get tired of hearing about how wonderful the experience was between a family and an au pair.”
She added that, while finding that needle in a haystack match may be hard work at times, hearing back from host families makes it all worth it.
“One of the joys of working with the same area all these years has been when a family reapplies, and I ask them, ‘What are you looking for in your next au pair?’ The best answer is, ‘A clone of our current au pair. We adore her, and no one wants her to leave.’”
Q. 3: When it comes to child care options, what makes having an au pair so unique?
“Having someone live in your home is one of the biggest differences between having an au pair and any other form of child care,” Nicole said.
She emphasized that the live-in part creates relationships that last a lifetime for you and your family.
“An au pair becomes so much more than just a child care provider – she becomes a member of your family and a friend for life.”
Q. 4: What advice would you give host families to ensure a successful au pair experience?
“A successful year with your au pair starts with good communication,” Nicole explained. “Don’t assume anything. Ask questions and make sure your au pair feels comfortable asking you questions as well. An open dialogue does wonders!”
While host families want their au pair to be open with them, Nicole emphasized that it is just as important to show that same effort – and to make their au pair feel welcome from the start.
“As a host family, one of the reasons you probably selected your au pair was because they asked you some great questions during the interview and showed interest in your family. Make sure you do the same!” Nicole emphasized. “Show her you were listening. Find out what her favorite color is and surprise her with a bedspread in that color. Something so small will make such a big difference when she arrives in your home.”