Whether 'old hands' or new to hosting au pairs. You should find useful information on these pages.
When hosting an au pair, someone will be sharing your family home for a significant length of time. It is critical you plan and prepare for this carefully.
We guide you through the selection process, providing ongoing advice and presenting a variety of information about each candidate to give the best opportunity to select the most suitable person you can find.
In a traditional two-agency approach, the au pair is screened by an agency in their own country. They may or may not be personally interviewed by the agency - this depends on the quality of the operation. After an au pair is screened their details are sent to a fair number of agencies in the UK and other countries the au pair is interested in travelling to. At any one time then, a number of families from different agencies may be involved in considering the candidate.
Our approach is to only have one agency. The same staff who interact with our families are travelling to other countries to meet our au pair candidates face to face. This means we have a much more personal appreciation of each candidate.
Recruiting anyone for a 'normal' job is difficult enough; but when considering a foreign national whose first language isn't English, it is critical to communicate effectively. As we personally find out about each side's requirements and don't go via other parties, the potential for information to be lost in translation, or not to be passed on properly because other links in the chain are greatly reduced.
We recommend families speak directly with each au pair candidate they are considering, it gives both sides opportunity to get to know each other better.
It is common for a family to finish a phone call believing the au pair understood everything that was said. In fact the au pair might not have understood, but didn't want to draw attention to their (lack of) English ability, so might agree to things regardless or tell the family they understood something when they really didn't.
It is natural for people to sometimes say they have understood something when they haven't, because they don't want to appear stupid.
Communication issues like these can lead to problems after the au pair has arrived, so we make sure that after each call, we get feedback and check their understanding with you of what was agreed. We also can do this by 3-way assisted calling.
Sometimes Au Pairs who speak English as a foreign language understand written English better than spoken. It allows them time to take a list away, translate it and digest things. We recommend you provide all of the au pair's responsibilities in writing and sit down and go through your requirements in the first couple of days. She needs this one-to-one session to clarify the details about what she needs to do. Remember - getting her to do something with you watching, is better than you just showing, which in turn is far better than just telling her.
We also recommend you prepare a schedule and a handbook with guidelines covering all kinds of things including children's bedtimes, meals to prepare, snacks that are allowed, TV programmes that aren't, house rules and so on. It is advised to go over the handbook at least twice if not three or four times in the first month.
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Our short guide to au pair pocket money should help you work out what to pay your au pair..