au pair |ˌō ˈper| noun
'Au Pair' is a French phrase that translates, loosely, as "an equal" or "on par". An au pair is a young foreign adult who is willing to explore American life and culture, make new friends, travel in the U.S., improve their English skills and attend a U.S. post-secondary educational institution. Au Pairs live with host families and provide reliable and responsible child care up to 45 hours a week. They stay in the U.S. legally on a J-1 visa and make a commitment to participate in the program for 12 months with the possibility to extend their stay for 6, 9 or 12 months.
All au pair candidates are carefully screened and interviewed by Au Pair 4 Me representatives and they have to provide at least 200 documented hours of childcare experience that may include working as a nanny, babysitter or teacher. Au pair candidates must fulfill a number of general requirements, and pass a background investigation, as well as demonstrate a desire to care for children. They must complete all requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State and Au Pair 4 Me. To learn more about the au pair requirements go to 'Requirements'.
An au pair is treated by the host family as a family member and participates in common meals, and American holidays, as well as family vacations. The purpose of the au pair stay in the U.S. is to learn the English language, get to know a new country and its culture, as well as share their knowledge, culture and traditions with the host family.
The important thing all host families should remember is that an au pair is not considered an employee. The best way to have the most valuable cultural experience is to treat an au pair as a member of the family.