Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Vacation concerns with AU Pairs

Au Pairs are human too and they need off too from their daily life like all of us expect. Thus, it is important to understand their needs and requirements. Thus, if your Au pair is willing to go on a vacation let him or her go but ensure that the dates are mutually agreed upon so that your family doesn’t face any major problems when your Au pair is on vacation and you don’t have to call him or her in mid of her vacation.
For the last few weeks, our au pair from Au Paire Care has been working on vacation plans with a fellow au pair. They chose the date, cleared it with their host families….and then discovered their tour was full. The girls went back to the drawing board and chose the only other time this summer their tour was offered, which just so happened to be the same week our back-up childcare would be on vacation. Mia looked so disappointed and I felt awful, but clearly, this date did not qualify as “mutually agreed upon” and thus, we had to look for alternate dates on which we can agree mutually.

What’s this, you ask? “Mutually agreed upon” is what vacation dates must be – acceptable to both host family and au pair from Au Paire Care. Just as an au pair should never book a vacation without consulting her host family, host families also do not have the right to dictate when an au pair can have vacation solely based on their schedules or desires. The mutual respect that au pairs and host families should have for one another must extend to the realm of vacation time as well. It is very important so that your relationship with au pair doesn’t get strained over few off days.

As much as I want Mia to have every experience possible while she is here, I also need to look out for our family’s best interests. As I expected, she handled the news gracefully and understood our situation. She and her friend plan to look for a different trip, or will consider travelling in the fall. You can be sure we will do whatever we can to make her dream trip happen – finding a mutually agreed upon resolution is what being a family is all about.

Always having an au pair is like having an extended family. Neither get too strict or too lenient with your au pair as both of results will lead to situations which you don’t want to face.

Know how you can resolve vacation concerns with your au pairs from Au Paire Care in a mutual manner.

Monday, 18 June 2012

How to deal with uncompleted Au pair endings?

An au pair in my cluster recently had to return home unexpectedly to be with an ailing family member. Unfortunately, these types of things do happen and occasionally an au pair will need to return home before her program year is over. Before making the decision to return home, au pairs should consider all the ramifications of leaving the program early and discuss them with their host family.
Flight: Au Pair Agreement of Aupare Care states that flights home will be paid only for au pairs who successfully complete the program. The au pair's travel insurance will pay for flights home in the event of certain emergency situations, but not all. Therefore, au pairs considering returning home to be with a family member dealing with medical issues should talk to their Area Director to be sure they understand the travel insurance and if they can get flight costs paid at least partially if not in full.

Flight Documentation: Au pairs who are leaving the program should always give their Area Director their flight information. The Department of State requires that Aupare Care provide this information for SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Program) when an au pair leaves the program. Au pairs for whom no flight information is entered may be considered AWOL by the Department of State and therefore have difficulties entering the country again later as a tourist or student. We do understand that during those times, you just think about your family but leaving things professionally is also important for future. Giving your Area Director your flight information to document ensures that you leave the US in good standing.

Completion Certificate: When an au pair finishes her program year, Aupare Care issues a completion certificate to au pairs. Many need this certificate to give to universities or employers to show how they spent their year. These certificates are also not issued when host families and au pairs mutually decide to end their program early; therefore host families and au pairs should take this under consideration.  Saying goodbye to your au pair is never easy, especially when it happens earlier than expected. Knowing more about the process and implications of ending early can make the transition easier for all involved.

Remember it is very important to leave in good faith and with positive relationships, else it can be bad for you in future as you might get blacklisted for actions done previously.

Weekend concerns of Au Pairs

Many of my recent conversations with families interested in the Au Paire Care program have included a common question – what will happen on the weekends, or in the evening?  Will our au pair spend all her time with us? Or will she be out with her friends all the time?   This is an understandable concern, yet one that families and au pairs of Au Paire Care usually find easy to navigate.
Our personal experience with Mia has been just this – we’ve had many au pairs visiting our home for short periods of time, but did not know what it would be like to have our first au pair from Au Paire Care living with us.  In just the first weekend, it became clear that she valued her space, but was always sure to include our family in her plans and thoughts.  Thus it is important to maintain a right balance. Neither should you involve Au pair too much in your activities that you don’t give them their own time nor you should leave them completely out that they should feel alienated. It is better to ask them directly if they have their own plans or if they would like to get involved in your plans.

In a typical week, Mia may attend one of our kid’s soccer or softball games and generally eats dinner with us.  Most nights, we chat over dinner and share our day, and then she heads upstairs to shower, Skype with family, or watch TV.  On the weekends, we let her know what our plans will be and offer for her to join on anything she would like.  We don’t spend much time together on the weekends, but we often share a meal or activity and she knows she is always welcome.

This easy going approach has been the perfect match for all of us.  We make sure that Mia is aware of events in the area that would be fun for her and do what we can to facilitate her getting the most of her experience.  If anything, the weekend/evening question has actually been a good thing for our family.  We plan a little more, take advantage of more local events and get the rich experience of seeing our everyday life through Mia’s eyes – something that brings as much joy to our family as it does to her. We face problems with our family too and should not feel Au pair case as a special one and should treat things on same merit.