For many families, hosting an au pair can be a life-changing child care assistance option. Host mom Danielle in Maryland recently shared this account of how the au pair program has impacted her life during the COVID-19 pandemic and explains why having a live-in child care option has been so important to her:
If it were not for the Department of State’s au pair program (and my au pair, Denize) I would not be able to work during this pandemic.
I just separated from the Air Force and started a new job as an Operations Manager for a truck body manufacturer. This job requires me to be physically present at work. Having an au pair is the only reason that I still have a job and am able to feed my daughter and provide her a safe place to live.
When I left Active Duty I decided to stay in the Southern Maryland area because I fell in love with it, so I did not move back “home” where I grew up and where all of my family still is — Massachusetts. At the same time I had a baby and became a single mother to my, now, 1 year old daughter. Without my au pair, Denize, my life would be extraordinarily more difficult to manage. Between the hour changes that happen as my work is fluctuating and changing due to COVID-19 and having to find a way to safely take my daughter to the grocery store with me, I don’t know how I could ever mentally or physically handle that. I attribute all of my success to Denize; not only as a mother, but also as the only female Operations Manager in my company.
Denize is from Brazil and has a wonderful family there that my daughter and I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past 7 months. I have watched her beautiful mother, Maria, light up when my daughter waves to her. I’ve spoken to both of her brothers and learned some Portuguese so that I can communicate with them in their own language. I introduced our Thanksgiving traditions to them and they taught me the “right” way to cook. You see, this program not only allows me to continue my career while ensuring the safety of my young daughter; it’s about our national security interests. Our two families (from different countries) learning, communicating, and loving each other like neighbors – now THAT is something we can all agree we need more of these days.
Exchange programs advance our national security interests, help support the economy, and create American jobs in good times and bad. This current pandemic has proven this to be true. Now more than ever before, we NEED our au pairs.
Special thanks to Danielle for sharing how valuable the au pair program has been to her family and her daughter in Maryland, and for highlighting the positive global implications of cultural exchange programs like this one.
Learn more about hosting an au pair here.