Does the Au Pair Program Provide Unfair Competition for Nannies?

Are More Au Pairs Taking Much Needed Nanny Jobs?

Since the au pair program was created to alleviate a shortage of eligible workers in the United States, is the au pair program necessary today given the condition of the economy?

Last week we asked if the demand and pay for nannies is declining as the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms. Then, we asked, with the unemployment rate for 16-to 24-age group the highest since World War II are younger, cheaper nannies taking all the nanny jobs?

Today we ask, given the condition of the economy is the au pair program in America necessary? Are au pairs taking jobs about from American nannies?

In the United States the au pair program is designed to provide a broad range of families with affordable employees and to alleviate a shortage of eligible workers. The au pair program is a government cultural exchange program allowing 18- year old to 26-year old to foreigners to provide childcare in exchange for a small salary and room and board.

The rules of the program are provided by the State Department on their web site. Some of the regulations include that au pairs are limited to 45-hour work, in return for wages and an educational stipend, and they can stay with a family for no more than two-years.

The minimum salary of $195.75 is negotiable with minimum wages in NY and CA. Au pairs are to provide childcare only, no housework is negotiable. Au pairs are provided one and 1/2 days off weekly, no more than 10-hours per day, one full weekend off per month, two-weeks paid vacation, a private bedroom, and all meals provided.

Is the au pair program necessary today given the condition of the economy?
Does the au pair program provide unfair competition for nannies?


  1. One of my previous employers said she no longer needed a nanny since she waa working part time then i found out from neighbors aupair i was friends with that he had hired an aupair instead since it was cheaper..

  2. It enrages me because they take our jobs away. Although I like many au pairs and the program isn't bad, in this bad economy it hurts us for sure.

  3. I think of it like this: There will ALWAYS be mothers who need help with their children and running their household. There will ALWAYS be jobs out there. I'm not going to compare myself to other nannies, au pairs, babysitters, etc. and think, "It's not fair…Nanny X gets so much an hour and she only has to watch two kids and I have to…" That is silly, and I will never be happy that way. I am going to do my very best each day with the children God has given me that day. Some years I'm making an abundance of money, and some years the budget is pretty tight, but I am never without food and shelter, and the most important thing is that I'm doing something I love. A lot of people work at jobs they hate and it's a struggle to go in each day. I get to be happy and do something I love each day. Who cares if someone else is making more or less? There will be childcare jobs available because not every family wants an au pair…it's hard living with people, and a lot of families want "professionals." I refuse to live in fear. 🙂

  4. No because the families hiring au pairs probably can't afford me anyway. I made $480 per week as a live in in 1990.

  5. Parents who can afford an experienced nanny with great references would be crazy to hire someone with without the same experience or references.Although parents can email and speak to potential au pairs on the phone before hiring them typically they never meet the au pair before they agree to the cultural exchange agreement.Unfortunately, au pairs are young, very young which typically means they don't have much experience. Au pairs travel to America for the cultural experience. Then they must leave in a year. They usually want to see the country more than work.A legal, American nanny can provide consistent care for the same children for many consecutive years.Au pairs are not allowed to work the same long hours most nannies work. Au pairs aren't allowed to clean the home. Nannies can be flexible in these areas.Of course there are many great au pairs working and living in America. But if the parents can afford a nanny that can care for their children and home for many many consistent years and grow with the family that would be the best choice for most families and children.

  6. There used to be lots of Au Pairs in my area about 10-5 years ago. But lately I have not seen that many. On one interview the family used to have TWO Au Pairs- one for each child- and since the children were older they wanted a live out- so they wanted a nanny. However they wanted to pay me the rate that they were paying the Au Pair.From the parents I have meet who have had AU Pairs- many have said it's been more of a head-ache than good childcare. The Au Pairs- like to go out (which I understand, they are young). And many bring their personal problems into the job too much.Most want to come to America to find a husband, so childcare is not their priority.The Au Pairs I have meet- have not been happy- they feel taken advantage of.So at one time I felt they were taking away jobs- but the past two years I feel more parents want a "nanny" and even more are willing to pay on the books- but more and more want a "do-it-all" nanny- but don't want to pay more than $15 per hour.

  7. I have met lovely au pairs. The arrangement often works out. But often does not. Although au pairs are required to have 200 hours of babysitting experience that is much less than I babysat as a high school kid. That is only one month childcare experience for a typical nanny. 200 hours does not qualify someone to say they are experienced. You need a year (or more). Good jobs require five or more years. We cannot say we are experienced if we merely have 200 hours experience.

  8. Is there any proof that nannies are declining and au pairs increasing? American parents should NOT hire illegals or au pairs from other countries until unemployment of nannies increases.

  9. In this tough economy I think parents should hire Americans when possible right now. But I understand they often choose the cheapest option.

  10. There are hidden costs in the au pair program making it not much cheaper. The main hidden cost of the au pair program is when the match doesn't work out. It is very expensive financially, it takes a lot of time and is very stressful for the parents and children.To avoid this here are a couple rules we live by in choosing au pairs:(1) You won't really know if it is a good match until the au pair arrives;(2) Do your best to weed out those you know won't work based on your deal breakers and don't deviate from that;(3) Our deal breakers – driving, swimming, English, over 19 years old, pictures with children where the children look happy and the pictures aren't taken on the same day, essays that talk abut their love of kids; interviews that state they would trust the au pair with their own children(4) communicate expectations ahead of time – we have an entire handbook that sets out all of our rules and requirements that we email to the au pair before they decide to match with us so each side knows what to expect. If the au pair doesn't feel like they can live in a family with our rules then we don't match with them (this doesn't mean they read the au pair handbook, but the one who didn't, didn't work out for our family); (5 ) In-country au pair rematches without discussions with the previous host family can be VERY expensive emotionally and financially. If the company won't let you talk to the previous family or the previous family won't talk to you – that says all you need to know.(6) If there is a problem with the au pair they are rematched, not sent home. (7) Hiring a nanny at least allows you a personal face to face interview.

  11. Au pairs have always been competition for nannies. So are daycares and preschool programs but I never heard a nanny say that those were competition for jobs for them. I don't think it's UNFAIR. Just a fact of life. There are still lots of children out there and plenty of parents that need in home care. Just offer the best possible service and you WILL manage to find a job. If you get too worried about what other people are doing, you'll start to lose confidence and it will show.

  12. Yes au pairs are competition. If the au pair industry was made to fill a shortage of workers then it should be halted until the recession improves. There aren't enough jobs for nannies. But illegals take our jobs too. They all hurt us by accepting such low paying wages.

  13. If the au pair program is to help parents with affordable childcare then we need to stop the program until the employment rate increases. ALL my nanny friends are struggling to find jobs.

  14. I worked for a stay at home mom who paid me great. But after I left they just hire au pairs, cheaper and it's easier to let an au pair go since they can just leave at the end of the year anyway.

  15. With so many people agreeing that importing au pairs hurts our employment opportunities, I have not seen any comments about contacting our congressmen to stop the program.

  16. I think it's kind of a popular topic now and I don't think most nanny agencies are filled up to the brim with nanny candidates with no jobs to fill. I think it's more competitive now, perhaps. So market yourselves. So what if nannies have to scale down your expectations? Maybe you will have to drive farther or not expect as many benefits. As to have a salary re-negotiation in 6 months if parents cannot afford to pay you as much as you would like now. In 6 months they may feel more financially secure.Simon, au pair

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