Tag Archives: Cluster meetings

How to Handle Transportation Costs

Program rules dictate several situations when the host parents are required to cover an au pair’s transportation costs. Aside from those specific requirements, there are some things to consider when deciding how to handle an au pair’s personal transportation.

Situations when host parents are responsible for the au pair’s transportation costs:

  • To/from cluster meetings
  • To/from classes (for the education requirement)
  • When they are transporting the host children

What are some ways host parents can pay for those required transportation costs?

  • By providing car use and paying for the cost of gas in those situations
  • By giving an allowance for Metro or bus fare
  • By giving an allowance toward Uber/Lyft

Who is responsible for an au pair’s transportation in her free time? 

  • If an au pair has car use, it would be reasonable for the host parents to ask her to pay for the gas used for personal car use.
  • If no car use is provided and an au pair must rely solely on public transportation, many host parents will give a transportation allowance to help with those costs.

What factors should you consider when deciding how to handle personal transportation costs?

  • Where do you live?
    • If you live in the city, you may be within easy walking and/or bike-riding distance to shopping and activities.
    • If you live in the farther out suburbs, there isn’t normally much an au pair can walk or bike to.
  • Is car use provided?
    • When host parents provide car use, that includes them covering the cost of car insurance and maintenance. So, it is fair to ask the au pair to pay for her own gas for personal use.
    • If host parents are not providing car use, many will figure out how much they are saving by not paying for insurance and maintenance costs and offer that to their au pair as an allowance for public transportation (metro, bus, Uber/Lyft).

Other Things to Consider

  • Au pairs are happiest when they are able to explore the area and make friends. This goes a long way to reduce homesickness and ensure a great cultural exchange experience. The more host parents can do to support this, the more successful their match will typically be.
  • When car use is provided, be clear about any limitations. Is it okay to transport friends, take the car overnight, go on a road trip, drive to Baltimore or Ocean City? In what situations does she have automatic permission and when does she need to ask in advance?
  • Every match is different. Transportation is only one aspect. Whatever works well for a host family and their au pair is what’s best (as long as the minimum program requirements are being met). Things like whether a host family is paying a higher stipend (over the regulation minimum), offering other benefits and driving the au pair to some places all may factor into how personal transportation costs are handled.
  • Please discuss transportation plans for cluster meetings in advance. Participation in cluster meetings is important for an au pair’s overall cultural experience, making friends and getting to know her counselor. Transportation to meetings should not be an impediment to those experiences. Add cluster meetings to your calendar as a reminder to reimburse your au pair if she is attending the meeting.

If you have questions or concerns about how to handle transportation, reach out to your counselor to discuss.

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

Why Are Cluster Meetings Important?


Recent cluster meetings have included touring the US Capitol and outdoor movie screenings.

Cluster meetings are an integral part of an au pair’s experience in America and au pairs are highly encouraged to attend.  Au Pair in America requires that counselors provide a cluster meeting per month.  Our cluster meetings are scheduled on weekdays and weekends, in order to accommodate the varied schedules of the host families in our area.

Cluster meetings offer the opportunity to:

  • Enjoy the many wonderful places and activities in and around Washington, DC
  • Meet one another, make new friends from other countries and socialize
  • Develop a relationship with your counselor
  • Celebrate American holidays, welcome and say farewell to other au pairs
  • Learn child development and safety tips
  • Support each other by sharing experiences
Our cluster volunteered to make sarthndwiches for Martha's Table

Our cluster volunteered to make sandwiches for Martha’s Table

International Potluck Dinner with Guest Speaker (Photo Credit: Christie Jorge-Tresolini)

International Potluck Dinner with Guest Speaker (Photo Credit: Christie Jorge-Tresolini)

Cluster meetings are an important part of an au pair’s cultural exchange. While it’s understood that sometimes work conflicts make this impossible, host parents are encouraged to free up their schedules so that au pairs can attend. 

Upcoming cluster meetings are listed in cluster newsletters and posted in the DCC Host Families Facebook Group and the Cluster DCC Facebook Group (for au pairs) so that they can be added to the family calendar.

Au pairs are expected to attend cluster meetings and should contact their counselor prior to the meeting if they cannot attend. Host families are expected to provide the time and transportation for the au pair to attend cluster meetings. Au pairs and host families are encouraged to offer cluster meeting ideas.

A Few of Our Fun and Informative Meetings

Autumn Cluster Meetings

Summer Cluster Meetings

Adams Morgan Movie Night

2016 DC Cultural Fair

US Capitol Tour

Disney on Ice 

Holiday Cluster Meeting

Volunteering by Making Sandwiches

Potomac Sunset Cruise

APIA Regional Scavenger Hunt at the Zoo

Host Family/Au Pair Picnic