For the Cultural Experience, Not the Money
Yesterday an American nanny asked for information for becoming an au pair in Europe. Au pairs are young adults who want to travel, learn a new language, experience a different culture, and share their own language and culture with a host family from another country. In exchange for room and board and a small stipend the au pair cares for the children and helps with light housekeeping in the host family's home. A nanny is different than an au pair. A nanny has a work agreement, is a legal citizen of the country the caregiver works in, and is paid a salary for their work according to their written contract. An au pair is supposed to be treated as a part of the family to learn about the different culture.
To work as an au pair in Europe caregivers between 18- and 27-years-old must contact an au pair agency in the host country. Every country has specific visa requirements which are constantly changing. To find an au pair agency in the country you would be interested in living as an au pair visit the International Au Pair Association web site at: http://www.iapa.org/
According to The Au Pair & Nanny's Guide to Working Abroad by Susan Griftith au pairs in Europe are only allowed to work 25-hours per week over a five-day period, plus up to two evenings of babysitting. In exchange, they are given a separate room, all meals, and pocket money of not less than €60 ($70-$75) a week. Unlike nannies and mother’s helps, au pairs do not sign a contract since the arrangement is an informal one. Au pairs should be treated more like family members than employees. An au pair has much less responsibility for the welfare of the children than does a nanny, and is not normally expected to take sole charge of a young children.
To become an au pair in Europe you must:
1. Be between 18- and 27-years-old. (Holland 18- to 25-years-old and Germany 18- to 25.5-years-old).
2. Have some childcare experience.
3. Speak basic conversational language ability of the target country.
4. Be able to make nine to 12-month commitment. Summer placements of three months, June 15 through September 15, can also be arranged but only for native English speakers and citizens of the European Union.
Tomorrow we will discuss being a governess abroad.
Have you worked as an au pair in Europe? If so, do you have any tips or advice for caregivers considering the exchange program?