Author Archives: Andrea McMains

Social Distancing Discussion

 

 

Social Distancing with your Host Family
Social distancing is for the benefit of everyone who lives in your community starting with yourself, your
host parents, friends and anyone you may normally have contact with. We all must do our part, even
if you are young, or otherwise healthy, your activities can increase the risk for others. As guidelines
may vary in different areas of the country it is important to discuss any changes to the social distancing
recommendations in your state, city or town with your host family. As au pairs it is important to
remember the following:
• Keep a distance of at least 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) from others when in public.
• Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others when in public.
• Practice good hygiene –avoid touching your face, wash your hands, especially after touching any
frequently used item or surface, sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.
• All Au Pair in America regulations still apply for your childcare schedule.
• Discuss the schedule with your host parents and clearly define what is child care for you and what is
personal/family time.
• Talk with your family about social distancing. Everyone in the household must agree to practice social
distancing in the same way.
• It is important that you follow the rules in place for your household, not doing so may put your match
in jeopardy.
• Social distancing does not mean social isolation. With online and social media tools we can all stay
connected.
• Contact your counselor if you need advice about how to stay connected with friends and other au
pairs.
• There will most likely be a continuation of certain aspects of social distancing for the coming months,
even after the more strict guidelines are lifted. If we all practice social distancing as directed, it will
benefit all of us and allow more of the normal day to day activities to come back and continue.
We are all in this together!
(800) 928-7247 | www.aupairinamerica.com

What you need to know about the new coronavirus.

What you need to know about the new coronavirus.
We are very safe here in the USA, but as you travel in planes or visit large crowds, be sure to follow the safety tips. This information was shared by your medical insurance provider Aetna
 
What is this new Coronavirus?
The CDC and WHO are actively monitoring the outbreak of a new coronavirus strain called the “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”
Although the new coronavirus is being compared to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV), the symptoms of this new virus appear to be milder.
Human coronaviruses may cause mild to moderate illness in people. Some human coronaviruses have been known to cause more severe illness. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing; close personal contact (such as shaking hands), and touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
How to protect yourself and others
Although there are currently no vaccines available to protect against human coronavirus infection, you may be able to reduce your risk of infection by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
For information about handwashing, see the CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives website.
If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by staying home while you are sick; avoiding close contact with other people; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (then throwing the tissue in the trash and washing your hands); and cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces.
If you suspect that a loved one or you have contracted the coronavirus
Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own. Although there are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses, consult your CVS minute clinic for care.
You can find more information on the new coronavirus at these links:

Rainy Day Activities!

Rainy days and cold winter temperatures can be hard for Au Pairs who are home with little kids all day. Here are a few tips from the APIA website that can be helpful to fill the time and fun for everyone. For more ideas try these great links below.

Fishing at home (for children over 3)

Look around the house and spend some time with the child finding things that will stick to a magnet. Tie a piece of string to a stick. At the other end of the string tie a magnet. Put paper clips and other things that are magnetic in the “pond.” Or cut out paper fish and put a paper clip on each one.


Make a life-size paper doll (for children over 3)

Have the child lie down on a large piece of brown wrapping paper and draw an outline around the child. Let the child use crayons, markers or paint to put clothes and a face on the “doll.” It can also be a collage by cutting out fabric pieces for the clothes and yarn, string or even styrofoam pieces for the hair. In warm weather go outside and trace the child on the sidewalk with chalk and then color in clothes and hair.


Paper Butterflies: Fold a piece of paper in half. Open the paper and drop small amounts of paint on half of the paper. Fold the paper in half again and rub your hand across the paper to spread the paint colors that are inside the folded paper together. With the paper still folded, cut out the shape of one side of a butterfly. Unfold the paper to see both sides of the butterfly. Allow the paint to dry, then draw the body and add antennae if you wish.


Children as young as three would love a Secret Hideout. This can be created out of a corner of the playroom, under the dining room table or in a large appliance box, or by constructing a hiding place with blankets. Eat lunch in the hideout for a special treat. Imagine you are being discovered by pirates, or that your hideout is on a desert island. The same structure can be used in many different ways. School-age children might enjoy building a hideout themselves (with your help). Cut a swinging door and windows into a large box from a refrigerator or a stove. Decorate with paint or markers. Furnish with small furniture or pillows. If there’s some extra fabric around you could even add curtains.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-symantec-ext_onb&hsimp=yhs-ext_onb&hspart=symantec&p=indoor+tents+for+kids+to+make+with+blankets#id=1&vid=671c345f4246880e8fc1e41df7449244&action=click

https://www.aupairinamerica.com/resources/activities/

https://www.pinterest.com/aupairinamerica/

Do I need to renew my visa for my second term as an Au pair?

Deciding to extend is an awesome idea! Renewing your visa may not be the right decision for you. The office can be helpful in providing how-to instructions. If you are going home, please request the instructions from your community counselor.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Renewing the visa is risky and not necessary to extend your term as an Au pair.
  • The Au pair will be granted an updated DS2019, which gives a legal purpose for being within the USA. Au Pairs do not need a new visa to have a second extension term.
  • It does mean that you can only travel to certain places in the second term. Canada, Mexico, and some adjacent islands are allowed.
  • The decision to give the new visa is entirely left to the embassy official. They do sometimes deny the renewal. When this happens, the Au Pair cannot return to the USA to finish out her first term. There is nothing that APIA can do to change this. 
  • The age of the Au pair matters. if you are almost or over the age of 26, this is a high risk.
  • The timing of renewing the visa is also difficult. Au Pairs should plan to spend at least two weeks to obtain the new visa.
  • The visit home has to be taken as vacation days or The host family has to agree to allow days off from work that are paid.
  • The weekly stipend should be paid regardless of using vacation time or being granted additional time off.
  • Your request to extend must be already processed.
  • You will need the new DS-2019 in order to renew your visa.
  • The extension request is made in your 8th month, after your 72 hours of education are submitted to the Community Counselor.
  • Travel flights home should be made after the new DS-2019 is obtained. The home office is not able to work around your travel plans.

***Several times last year, Brazilian Au pairs were caught waiting for the visa to be returned to them after it was granted. They missed their flights home and had to go into rematch because the host family could not wait for them not knowing how much longer it could take. And, in other countries, the visa was denied due to the risk that the Au pair would not return back to her country. These families had to go into rematch because the Au pair could not return to finish her first term. 

IMPORTANT NOTE – You cannot apply to renew your J-1 visa while in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean if your current J-1 visa is expired. If you apply for the J-1 visa during your visit to one of these destinations, you must wait for it to be issued before you return. If your visa application is denied by the American consulate, you are not allowed to use automatic revalidation to return to the U.S. You will be required to travel to your country of citizenship to apply for a new visa in order to reenter the US

Do You Need Sports Insurance?

Do You Need Sports Insurance?

Trying out or participating in various sports can be very exciting, especially if this is your first time experiencing certain activities. However, you should also know the risks and be prepared.

Is it risky to do sports without the sports insurance?                                               

Yes. If you have to pay your own hospital bills for a broken bone, you might be shocked at how much that would cost. This website has some cost estimates.

Here are a couple examples:

  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (that does not require surgery) it could cost up to $2,500.
  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (requiring surgery) it could cost $16,000 or more.
  • Everyone needs to understand how the medical coverage works for sports related injuries. There is a list of “high-risk sports/activities” that are not covered with the basic or upgrade medical insurance plans. Those activities are ONLY covered with the Sports Insurance Package.

The Sports Insurance was available pre-departure and may also be purchased at any time during your year. It takes effect within 48 hours of your enrollment and it is good for 12 months. The cost will be the same ($90) whether you have a month left or your whole year ahead of you. I recommend you pay for it early on, if you didn’t already purchase it. You never know when an opportunity might present itself and you don’t want to miss out on an adventure. You also don’t want to take a risk on getting injured and being responsible for the bill on your own.

Below is a partial list of sports that are only covered with the sports insurance package:
Football, Rugby, Scuba diving, Ski-doo,  Wakeboarding, Skydiving, Parachuting, Rock climbing, Zip line, Skate boarding, Rollerblading, Roller skating,  Ice Skating, Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiles & Snowshoeing.  View the full list on your insurance brochure.

Note: Injuries sustained while partaking in these sports are covered with purchase of the Sports Insurance ONLY.

How to register for the Sports Insurance
Contact your CC, if you are unsure which insurance package you have. To sign up, submit a completed copy of the Sports Insurance Enrollment Form along with payment to Au Pair in America. It takes three days for your coverage to begin. If you think you will be doing any of these sports, you should get it now.

First appeared in Cynthia Chan’s Maryland Blog. Written by Cynthia Chan

It is officially cold and flu season. What can an Au pair do to be prepared?

Help, I feel sick! It is officially cold and flu season. What can you do to be prepared, if you wake up sick? What can you do to prevent getting sick?
    • Take care of your body. When your body is stressed, it cannot fight common germs. Be sure to dress warmly, eat well and get enough sleep ( If you stay out too much on the weekend and then show up sick on Monday, the host family may not be very compassionate).
    • Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, mouth, and nose. This is how germs enter our bodies.
    • Wash your hands very often during the day and when out in public places. Use soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Rub your hands together for as long as it takes to say the alphabet and then you know you are good to go! When you cannot wash with water and soap, use a hand sanitizer.
    • Get a Flu shot.
    • Print your medical insurance info. Or, download the insurance app to your smart phone. You can search your email for the word ” CISI” and download the attachments to this emall. Print and carry this with you.
    • KNOW where to go. Today, google where is the closest CVS minute clinic near me. You don’t need an appointment, but one can be made on line.
    • Save some money. Even with insurance, being sick cost a lot of money. Save up at least two weeks pay to be sure you can take care of yourself, if you need to see a doctor. You can file a claim with your insurance to get a portion of your money back or to have it applied to your deductible. The instructions are on our blog in the resource section.
    • READ the information on our blog about your medical care to understand more about taking care of yourself.

Tips for understanding how holiday time can affect an Au pair.

Holiday Season in the USA will be a very special time for your family and Au pair.  It can also be a time when the Au Pair may need a little extra support. Consider these tips: 

 

  • Missing Home
Certain people and places are missed and our traditions and activities seem “different” right at a time when an Au Pair would welcome something familiar. My observation has been that an Au
Pair’s emotions are close to the surface during the holidays. The enormity of this year away from
home hits her and sometimes throws her into a self-protective mode. You can help her through
this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be (when
the candles will be lit, the stockings hung, the gifts exchanged, the meals prepared and eaten, the
relatives arriving, etc.) An especially thoughtful touch is to ask her if she has any favorite holiday foods or
traditions that could be incorporated into your celebration.
  • What are your expectations?       
Talk to your Au Pair specifically about what has to be accomplished. This will help to get her involved and interested. Remember her mother has probably taken this responsibility in previous years so don’t expect her to just “know” what needs to be done. Give her some clear, agreed-upon assignments, make her feel a part of things and let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.
  • Discuss the change in routine and roles 
The parents are home and this is unsettling to the children as well as to the Au Pair. Some different work expectations may be needed since the kids may prefer to hover around the parents. This can make an Au Pair feel unwanted and unsure of what is expected of her. If she is thrown off balance she may not see other things she can do instead of the usual. The high emotions and energy of the kids at this time of year seem like craziness to her. Assure her that things are temporary and will be back to normal soon! Suggest things she can
do to help and encourage her to roll with the punches and just enjoy the general fuss. And host parents need to remember that no matter how stressful those long holiday days are, the rules of how many hours an Au pair can work are mandated by the State Department. No Au pair is allowed to work more than 10 hours each day or left in sole charge of the children for more than 10 hours.
  • Only in America!
The number of gifts given to the children and the excesses we enjoy with gifts, food, and decorations are overwhelming to most Au Pairs. This often causes them to withdraw as they attempt to catch their breath and to evaluate the differences.
  • New Year’s Eve in the USA
Socially you should remember the holidays are a time when Au Pairs want, and need, to be with their friends. This helps their survival mechanism when they are missing old friends back home. New Year’s Eve, especially in America, is a special occasion to an Au Pair so open communication is very important as you decide on New Year’s Eve plans. If possible, use a different babysitter on this important night for her.

Halloween Safety Tips For Au Pairs.

HALLOWEEN SAFETYHalloween

Safety is a very important issue for Halloween.   This is the most popular holiday for children who are able to go from door to door showing off their choice of costume for this year, and collecting candy from the neighbors.  For au pairs there are issues to consider that may not have been encountered before.  Here are some reminders to help make this holiday fun and safe.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!  

-Children should always be supervised by an adult when going “Trick or Treating”.

-Small children should not be allowed to run ahead or behind the Au pair. Talk to the host parents to find out if holding the child’s hand is necessary. 

-Only go to those homes that are known in the neighborhood to be safe participants.

-Never let a child go inside the neighbor’s home unless you know the person.

-Always check the candy before letting the children eat it.  Make sure that anything that has been unwrapped, homemade or just does not look safe is thrown away.  Ask the parents about this.

–When driving please slow down, as there will be a lot of children out in the dark.  They may not be visible.

-Talk to the children about safety during Halloween. (crossing the street, talking to strangers and waiting until their candy is checked before they eat it).

-Children may want to use a flashlight to see in the dark, this is also a good way for them to be seen by drivers.

Have a reflective pin, necklace or headpiece so that the children can be seen by drivers.

-If you have any safety concerns, talk to the parents.  

-Ask the parents about rules for candy consumption for the children.  Most parents will not want their children to gorge themselves with a lot of candy at one time.  Usually, parents will let children have a couple of pieces a day.

-Enjoy yourself.   Halloween is a fun holiday for adults too!  You may want to dress up with the children. 

Don’t forget to take lots of photos. 

Written by ALowery ATE cluster GA.

 

Facts about Flu Vaccination! What Every Au Pair Should Know.

Facts about Flu Vaccination! What Every Au Pair Should Know.

The information contained in this article was obtained from The Centers for Disease Control And Prevention. For more information, please go to https://www.cdc.gov/flu/

The best way to protect yourself and your host family against influenza (flu) is to get a flu vaccine. Flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or even death. CDC recommends everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine.

Au pairs can get a flu vaccination at many locations( urgent care centers, Pharmacies, Doctor’s office, Public health centers.) Costco and your county health clinic may offer the best cost.

The average cost is 20 to 40 dollars. Au Pair insurance will not cover the cost of flu vaccination. Most host families will gladly pay for your flu shot.

 

What are some key reasons to get a flu vaccine?

  • The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, hospitalization, and even death in children and young adults.
  • While some people who get vaccinated still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness.
  • A vaccine is cheaper than the illness. The average cost for a patient with flu is minimal $1000.00
  • 3.7 days to 5.7 days is the average length of time someone is not able to work due to being sick with the Flu.
  • Having a complicated Flu illness could end your Au Pair term early.

Misconceptions about the Flu Vaccine:

Can a flu vaccine give you the flu?

No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.

Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?

No. Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults.  Most people suffering from flu illness miss 4 to 7 days of work and will spend $250.00 to 1000.00 dollars in health care costs (http://theweek.com/articles/471450/cost-getting-flu-by-numbers.) Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer and less costly choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.

Is the flu vaccine safe?                                               
Flu vaccines have a good safety record. Hundreds of millions of
Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years.
Extensive research supports the safety of seasonal flu vaccines.
Each year, CDC works with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for
flu vaccines. More information about the safety of flu vaccines is
available at www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/vaccinesafety.htm.

What are the side effects of flu vaccines?
Flu shots: Flu shots are made using killed flu viruses (for inactivated
vaccines), or without flu virus at all (for the recombinant vaccine). So,
you cannot get flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that may
occur include soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was
given, low-grade fever, and aches. If these problems occur, they are usually mild and go away on their own, but serious reactions are also possible. Almost all people who receive flu vaccine have no serious problems from it.
When and Where to get vaccinated?       
You should get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, as long
as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout
flu season, even in January or later.

Communication with your Community Counselor

It is very important to stay in communication with your counselor. Without at least monthly conversations, it is impossible for your counselor to know what is going well for you or what you need help with. The State Department of our Government sets the rules for which APIA must follow. One of those rules is that you must have at least one communication with your counselor per month. Most of our communication will take place at our monthly meetings. If you do not attend a cluster meeting, it is important that you talk with your counselor that month and discuss how your year is going.

Cluster meetings are mandatory. This is part of your contract with APIA. You will not always be able to attend. The following are reasons that you might not attend a cluster meeting:

  • You are sick.
  • You have an education class.
  • Your host family has a conflict in the schedule.
  • You are concerned about the cost of the meeting.

These are the only acceptable excuses. If you must miss a meeting for one of the above reasons, please call and let me know. If you miss more than three meetings during your year, I will not be able to give you a good recommendation in reference to your participation with APIA.

There are other times you MUST call and talk with your counselor:

  • When you go on vacation with your family or on your own.
  • To report any accidents: car, personal, in the home, with host children
  • If you are involved in an incident in which the police or firemen are present: fire, accident, robbery, etc.
  • If there are any concerns with the host family which harm you in any physical or emotional way.
  • If any incident occurs with you which may compromise your completion of the year.

Many common questions can be answered without calling your counselor.

The official web site for Au Pair in America ( www.aupairinamerica.com then scroll to the bottom and click ” current Au pair”) is a great place to search for interesting facts or important information. Our cluster blog site is also a great place to find the answer you are looking for. The following are examples of questions you can answer on the web site or on our blog.

  • Where can I go to the doctor?
  • What do I need to get my driver’s license?
  • What do I need to travel to another country?
  • How do I pay my USA taxes?
  • What activity can I do with my host children?                                                                              Your counselor is always glad to communicate with you. You are always welcome to contact your counselor. Here are some things to remember:
  • It might not be possible for her to speak to you or to respond to your text at the exact time you want.
  • If your counselor does not answer the phone, she may be in a meeting or talking with someone else. If this is the case, you will reach her voice mail. Voice mail in the USA is an important way businesses operate.
  • Your Counselor will not know that you called if you do not leave a message. Please call once and leave a message.
  • Do not call or text multiple times. It is only necessary to leave one voice mail or text message within a 24 hour time.
  • Please don’t feel shy about your English skills. Your counselor is in the habit of listening to au pair messages and she will be able to understand you.
  •  If you have an emergency, your counselor will call you back as soon as she receives your message. If you cannot wait on your counselor with an immediate emergency, call the after-hours emergency number for Au pair In America and follow the prompts for emergency assistance.
  • If you are calling to say hi or with a question, she will return your call within 24 hours.
  • Most counselors have set office hours. If you call or text outside of these hours, and you do not have an emergency, she will call you back on the next business day.
  • Resist texting after hours or on the weekend. Send an email and your counselor will answer this when she returns to work on the next business day.     

 

 

Counselors love talking with au pairs and look forward to hearing how your year is going!  Counselors also love hearing about ideas for cluster meetings. So, call soon!!