In today’s Wall Street Journal there is a great article about Au Pair in America. It discusses the increase in Western European au pairs in the past year.
Origins of Au Pairs Becomes Barometer in Labor Market
“As job opportunities shrink in Europe, the minimum $132.64 per week, plus room, board and tuition reimbursement that the au pair program guarantees looks increasingly appealing. A desire for adventure and what some call the “Obama factor” also is a lure for young Europeans, says Ms. Ferry. In March, nearly half of all of Au Pair in America’s applications came from Western Europe, compared with about a third in the same period last year.”
The British au pair and her host family featured in the article are in a nearby cluster in Northern VA.
Recently, Terry and I have discussed a trend we have seen in recent months. We have been surprised and saddened by the lengths that some of our competitors will go to in order to get more business. In an industry built on the concept of providing cultural exchange and childcare, we still hold those as high priorities. Some of our competitors seem to have a different focus. We personally prefer to deal with ethical people who have moral standards, especially on something as important as the safety and care of our children. We may be naïve in believing that those things matter to people, but we think they should. So, we decided to post a list of the things we will and will not do.
Here’s our list:
- We will continue to keep taking care of our host families and au pairs as our main priority and marketing to new families as a secondary focus.
- We will promote Au Pair in America using honest, ethical methods.
- We will encourage our host families and au pairs to refer people to Au Pair in America, based on their own positive experiences.
- We will continue to allow our au pairs to bring their friends from other agencies to our meetings and will welcome them and treat them just as our own au pairs.
- We will not lie to people.
- We will not misrepresent ourselves or our intentions in order to obtain competitor’s host family information.
- We will not pose as reporters in order to obtain access to a competitor’s host families and market to them.
- We will not ask our au pairs’ friends to give us their host family’s contact information or their agency’s cluster list.
- We will not make misleading statements about our competitors.
- We will not violate the terms of online forums and pose as satisfied customers, rather than agency representatives.
- We will not violate the terms of websites such as Craig’s List by posting ridiculous numbers of listings and cross-posting.
- We will not take another agency’s original ideas, copy them and promote them as our own.
We spend the majority of our work time providing great service and support to our host families and au pairs and genuinely care about them having a positive outcome in the au pair program. We are saddened that people would try to lure them away, with the promise of discounts and services, which may or may not be accurate.
When one of these competitors was confronted by a third party whom she had lied to and used to get the private information of host families and au pairs, her reply was, “that’s just business.” Well, that’s not how we do business. At the end of the day, we want to feel good about the work we do and know that we haven’t done anything that we should feel ashamed of.
If you are coming to this blog, chances are you are interested in the au pair program. It is a win-win situation for many families and au pairs, but you have to make sure it is a good fit for you.
- looking for flexible, affordable child care?
- comfortable with someone new living in your home?
- able to work within the State Dept. regulations (maximum of 10 hours per day and 45 hours per week)?
- able to clearly communicate your expectations with your child care provider?
- planning to treat your au pair as you would want your daughter treated?
- offering a private bedroom for the au pair?
- interested in the cultural exchange benefits?
If you answered yes to these questions, you might make a great host parent.
If you have questions, please post them here or in the Ask Away section and we will be happy to answer.
Au Pair in America is proud to introduce a child care industry first: the Au Pair in America Child Care Protection Plan.
Check out the details here: http://www.aupairamerica.com/fees/protection_plan.asp