Clapping nightly for healthcare heroes. Making banners thanking front-line workers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have taken time to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of our medical professionals. Our healthcare workers – and their ability to care for others – have never been more important. A major issue facing all workers, including those in the field of medicine? Child care.
When the pandemic struck, schools and daycares closed, leaving parents wondering how they would be able to continue working while caring for their families. The issue of child care was particularly challenging for healthcare workers.
When you’re a front-line medical professional, working from home just isn’t an option.
One way families in medicine are solving the challenge of child care during a pandemic, is through hosting an au pair. Au pairs come to the US from around the world, as part of a cultural exchange program. They live with an American host family and can help with child care for up to 45 hours a week. The au pair’s ability to provide flexible child care is crucial for medical professionals with non-traditional work schedules, and the live-in nature of the program means that the au pair truly becomes a member of the family – reducing the family’s exposure to additional caregivers. Hosting an au pair also allows families to experience cultural exchange – sharing language, food, and customs – all without leaving home.
Because of the pandemic and related travel bans, the au pair program faced challenges in 2020. However, the US has created a special program for those working in medicine – those providing medical care to individuals with COVID-19 or researching ways to help the US combat COVID-19. These families may be granted a National Interest Exception (NIE), allowing them to welcome an au pair now, even if a visa or travel ban is in place in the au pair’s home country.
In the Hull-Christianson family, both parents work in the field of medicine. They shared the ways their au pair Yazbet has given them peace of mind when they are on the front lines, saying ”Knowing that our home and children were in trustworthy and capable hands allowed my husband and I to concentrate on the task of caring for our community; because of Yazbet, we were able to answer the call when we were needed most.”
If your family is in need of flexible child care assistance and is comprised of one or more healthcare workers facing the frontlines of the pandemic, you may qualify for a National Interest Exemption (NIE) for hosting an au pair. Learn more about hosting at www.aupairinamerica.com.