Find an Au Pair Agency – Part 2

We continue our 3 part series on Au Pair’s for childcare.

Once you’ve decided an au pair is right for your family, it’s time to find an agency.

Start with the State Department’s list of Designated Sponsor Organizations. From the Program drop down list, select ‘Au Pair’.

As of 2017, there are 17 agencies on the list. To avoid being scammed, you should only work with an agency that has received authorization from the State Department.  There are a lot of agencies out there that say they employ au pairs but if that agency is not on the official state department list then in my opinion, they should be avoided.

Here are 5 important Au Pair Agency differences to consider:

  1. Find out which agencies serve your area. Narrow down the list of agencies. Read the agency reviews to get an idea of the pros and cons.
  2. Contact Agencies and Local Host Families. Ask their headquarters of each one for the contact in of the local coordinator (LC) and contact each one. Interview the LC and ask them for contacts with other local Host Families (HF) if possible.
  3. Consider the matching process. Some agencies let you look at most of the candidates yourself and pick and choose who to interview. That’s what my agency does and I like it because it puts the control in my hands and I can interview up to 3 candidates at a time. Some people don’t like it because it’s a lot of work. I stick with our agency because I like how they present their candidates and I’ve gotten really good at screening using their format.
  4. Cost. Because you are selecting an au pair from the official list, the fees are mandated by the state department so they should be the same across all agencies.
  5. If you are still not sure what agency to pick. I have heard of families signing up with as many agencies as they can to find the au pair that best fits their needs. Personally, this seems exhausting to me so I recommend narrowing down to 2 agencies and then going with your gut.

Host Family Home Visit

Once you decide on an agency, they will schedule the local coordinator to come to your house to interview you. The whole family is required to be present and they ask all sorts of questions but they’re not difficult. They talked to the kids to see if they were excited about the au pair coming, they walked all around our house, asked us which bedroom would be for the au pair, asked questions about what our expectations would be, car use, sharing our home spaces, whether anyone else lived there, etc.

Of all the pieces that go into finding, matching and working with an au pair, the agency you choose is pretty low on the priority list but it’s still important part of the overall process.

Check out our next post on interviewing au pair candidates.

To learn more about the au pair program, check out our first post on Choosing an Au Pair.

Does your family have an au pair? What have your experiences been?

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