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Frequently Asked Questions – Au Pair in America
How far ahead should I apply?
We recommend that you apply as soon as you have made the decision to participate. A minimum would be to apply 3 months before you wish to depart.
Can I apply if I do not have a full driving licence?
No. You cannot attend an interview without a full driving licence. This is because most American families require an au pair who is a qualified driver. If you have regular driving experience on a Restricted Licence you may apply but you need to have your Full Licence by the time you fly out for orientation.
Is it possible to au pair in America for less than 12 months?
The Au Pair in America programme is a 12 month commitment. Our sister programme Camp America offers a 9-10 week summer programme for anyone aged 18 or over. They offer the opportunity to be placed in American summer camps and in resorts. Roles vary from teaching sports and arts to cooking, cleaning or helping with the camp’s administration. After camp you can travel for up to 30 days.
Do I have to care for babies?
Many host families do have a child under 2 years old, so if you have the experience and willingness to care for them this will greatly increase your chances of being placed. (You must have 200 hours recent, practical childcare experience with them.) Not all applicants are fully experienced or feel comfortable in looking after newborns or very young babies, and if this is case, we would not place you with such a young age group. You may also want to consider our EduCare in America programme which is similar to being an au pair, but EduCare companions care for school age children and have more time to study.
How long will it take once I have had my interview?
This will depend on when you apply, when you are available to depart to the US and the overall strength of your application. Many au pairs receive calls shortly after they are accepted onto the programme and typically au pairs are placed within 3 months.
What are my chances of being placed with a family?
Once you get the hardest part done (filling in the forms online) and if you pass the interview and are accepted into the programme you are 99% of the way there. New Zealand applicants have been lucky enough to enjoy a 100% placement rate since 1996. Make sure you list all your childcare experience in your application and that it is clearly presented. American families are also looking for au pairs who have good driving experience. Any extra skills you have, such as music, dance, first aid, swimming or a hobby which can be used to entertain or educate the children will also help your application.
What if I already know the family I would like to au pair for?
Yes, this is possible – we call it a “pre-match”. Both you and the family must meet the requirements for the programme. You should include information on the family with your application. The family will need to apply through our US office and both you and the family need to go through the normal screening process. You will still need to submit a full application and be interviewed.
Can I choose where I will live?
Au Pair in America places au pairs in 165 cluster areas across 35 states. Our aim is to find the family that best suits you. Our experience has shown that in order to have a successful year, the family you join is more important than their location. So, you will need to be flexible over location.
Can I talk to au pairs who have been to America?
Yes! We will be able to put you in touch with returned au pairs from New Zealand. They will be happy to tell you all about their experiences.
Can I come home if I am homesick?
You should think carefully before you apply and take into consideration that you will be away from family and friends for 12 months. When you arrive in America, it is natural to feel a little homesick, but with the help of your host family, Community Counsellor and au pair friends you should quickly overcome this. If for any reason you do not complete the programme you will forfeit your holiday allowance, your US$200 Completion Payment and your discounted flight home, so you need to be ‘ready’ to apply.
What if I am not compatible with my family?
Our aim is that both the au pair and host family have a happy, successful year. Should a conflict occur, the Community Counsellor would assist. If it is an extreme situation then Au Pair in America may make a transfer to another family. Transfers are not normally made in the first or last 3 months of a placement.