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FAQs: Au Pair in America

by Georgia Wilson

Want to become an Au Pair in America but still have a few questions, have a read of our FAQs…

 

Q. What classes as Childcare Experience?

A. Any experience that you’ve had looking after children unrelated to you. This can be babysitting, childminding, volunteer work, nursery teacher, after school clubs etc.

 

Q. What do you mean by Childcare references?

A. You need 200 hours referenced by 2 separate employers (they cannot be related) For example:

– The teacher at the nursery you worked out.

– The parent of the child you baby-sat

 

Q. Why can I not apply if I don’t drive?

A. Most host families will need their Au Pair to drive as most live in areas where driving is the primary mode of transport.

The Au Pair needs to be able to take the children to school and to after school activities. It’s also important that Au Pair’s are independent from the host family so they can get to cluster meetings, educational classes and meet up with friends.

Au Pairs will have full use of the family car and insurance is provided.

 

Q. Why can I not apply if I’ve been treated for anxiety, depression or eating disorders?

A. This programme is regulated by the US government and it’s one of the requirements that you have not suffered or been treated for any mental health issues.

Gap 360 has no say in the eligibility checklist and we’re unable to put Au Pairs forward who do not meet the full requirements.

 

 

Q. What if I turn 27 during the application or matching process?

A. The J1 visa for the au pair programme is very strict and you must land in the US before you turn 27. If you’re nearly 27 and wish to get away before, discuss with your advisor how likely it will be.

 

Q. What happens if I don’t get placed?

A. We do our best to make sure your application is very strong so a family quickly chooses you. We place almost most all of our au pair’s successfully, however in the unlikely event that an au pair has not been chosen by a family after being on the database for over 6 months we will discuss with the Au Pair what they would like to do. We deal with each case differently.

 

Q. What happens if I want to cancel?

A. If you decide not to go ahead with the Au Pair programme after you have passed the interview, your application is being processed and you have paid in full, we regret that we will be unable to return any of the £399 fee that you have paid because of the considerable amount of work that has to be done by us to process your application.

 

Q. Can friends apply together? And will we be near each other?

A. Yes you are welcome to apply with friends, however we’re unable to guarantee that you’ll be near each other.

The majority of Host Families that are looking for au pair’s are along the East Coast, around New York, New Jersey, Boston etc. so there is a good chance that you’ll be close.

 

Q. Can I put in a location preference?

A. Yes you’re welcome to have a location preference however we do advise au pair’s to be flexible. It’s most important that we successfully match the right au pair to the right family, so we do ask au pair’s to have an open mind.

 

Q. Can I apply before…

I drive?  – No, you must have your driving licence before you apply to the programme.

Turn 18? – No, you must be 18 years old to apply.

Have the required hours? –  No, you must have 200 hours experience before you apply.

 

Q. How far in advance should I apply?

A. As the average matching time is 6 months, we advise applying 6 – 12 months before you wish to leave the UK.

 

Q. What if I’m not happy with my Host family?

A. We will ask you to stay with your host family for at least 30 days after you arrive. We find that there is a natural adjustment period for both the Au Pair and the host family and problems can usually be resolved within this time frame. It’s important to talk to your host family – usually communicating effectively helps.

If you are still not happy then you can ask your local coordinator for a meeting where you can discuss your concerns. A 3-point meeting with your local coordinator and host family will then be arranged, where you will try and find ways to resolve the issue. You can then have a trial period after the meeting to see if your host family have made the changes that you require.

If you are still unhappy after 30 days, you will go in to what we call the transition period. We will try and find you an alternative host family and also find an alternative Au Pair for the host family.

If we cannot find you an alternative family within two weeks you will need to return home to the UK at your own cost.

If for any reason you were unhappy due to the host family breaking programme rules, you will be removed from the family home immediately and we will look after you until a replacement family can be found for you.

 

Q. What if I get homesick?

A. The most important thing to remember is that it is normal to get homesick when you’re off on a new adventure away from home, and every Au Pair has experienced homesickness, so you’re not alone! You will have the support of your host parents, cluster group (where you will make friends with both other Au Pairs who have just joined the programme and those who are months in to their placement, so you can use their experience to help you) and your local coordinator so you will have plenty of support to get you through this tricky period.

Skype is an amazing invention too so you can video-call your friends and family at home for free!

 

Q. Do I have to clean/do domestic duties?

A. No. Au Pairs are treated as an extended member of the host family. Your duties as an Au Pair will all relate to taking care of the children. These responsibilities may include picking up after the children, preparing some meals, doing the children’s laundry and performing certain regular chores. However, you will not be expected to clean the entire house, do the family laundry or to regularly prepare meals for the entire family.

 

Q. Do I have to stay for 12 months?

A. Yes this programme has a minimum 12 months duration.

 

Q. Can I stay longer than 12 months?

A. Many of our Au Pairs decide to extend their placement and spend more time in America. You can extend for a further 6, 9 or 12 months; our friendly US programme representatives in New York will help you organise this.

 

Q. How much and how frequently will I get paid?

A. While you’re an Au Pair, you’ll earn around £125 (that’s USD 195) a week, totalling around USD 10,140 for a full year. On top of this, your accommodation and meals are included, along with a USD 500 educational allowance, which is there to provide you with 6 credit hours in a class of your choice at an accredited educational institution.

Your allowance will be paid either by cheque, or directly into your US bank account. Your family and in-country coordinator will help you set this up after you arrive. During the trip you will need to keep a record of your payment for tax reasons.

 

Q. Will I have time to socialise?

A. Yes absolutely! There are many ways for you to enjoy life in America independently from your host family.

Your Monthly Cluster meetings are a key way to get to know lots of other Au Pairs around the area who you can then meet up with on your days off.

The Educational Classes are also a great way to meet people your age!

 

Q. Can I earn any extra money during my stay?

A. No. This would violate the terms of your visa.

 

Q. Do I need Insurance?

A. No, an accident and sickness insurance policy is included as a part of your trip costs, covering the duration of your programme stay.

 

Q. Will I have my own room?

A. As a new member of your host household, you will have your own private room in the family home.

 

Q. Whose car am I expected to drive?

A. You’ll get full use of the family car. The family will also provide you insurance.

 

Q. Will I have time to sightsee and travel around America?

A. Throughout your time on this programme you’ll be able to move freely around the USA, will have a total of 11 days of paid holiday time, and will have a 30 day grace period after finishing your placement (at the end of your visa) in which to travel around and explore the States.

It’s also very common for the families to have 1 or 2 holidays during the year, which Au Pair’s are usually invited on!

 

If you didn’t find the answer to your question, contact me on: georgia.wilson@gap360.com or call 01892 527392

From → Georgia Wilson

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