How to Choose Childcare

Should I consider an au pair in my childcare search?

Are you currently evaluating your childcare options? Have you considered an au pair, but don’t really know what an au pair is or better yet, how it is spelled? Au pair, apar, aupper?

If so, you are not alone. I’m here to help answer some of your high level questions about au pair programs.

Au pairs are generally foreign-born women between the ages of 18 and 26 that come to the States to experience life as a US citizen. They come from countries around the world, mostly originating from countries like Thailand, Latin America, South Africa and Germany. Many are longing to experience the world, sharpen their English skills and gain freedom from their families for a 12-month period.

In exchange for experiencing the “culture” of the U.S. and having their basic living expenses paid for and a weekly stipend, the au pair agrees to offer live-in childcare ser vices to families. There is no limit on the number of children they can watch but there are basic employment rules you must follow- set by the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Since au pairs live in family homes, they generally expect to be treated like extended family members and not employees, hence the name (French for “as an equal”).

Having used several kinds of childcare providers in the past, I have found there to be a real advantage to having an au pair. Perhaps the biggest advantages of au pairs are flexibility, reliability and weekend babysitting. As we all know those are qualities we all seek, but are hard to come by. So, for parents that have a very demanding schedule, I definitely recommend considering an au pair.

Want more information? Visit my aupair advice blog or consider our Host Family Handbook – an insiders look at the au pair program. Included with the book purchase is personalized advice throughout your search. Good luck in your childcare search!


My name is Jolie. I am a parent just like you. A parent concerned about finding a childcare provider that will love, nurture, and keep my children safe. Over the last 5 years, I have been a host parent to many au pairs. During that time, I have had amazing experiences, tearful experiences and downright horrid experiences. I am here to share.


  1. Nice article! Thousands of parents across the country rely on au pairs to fulfill their need for affordable childcare. Au pair childcare makes the most sense financially.

  2. I believe not enough parents stop to consider an au pair as an option, but I would recommend it to anyone who asked. As a mother of 3 it has been more affordable than daycare/babysitters/nannies who all charge by the hour per child. But my favorite thing about it was the cultural learning experience. My au pair is from Germany and she’s always cooking us great food (think sausages!) and teaching my children little songs/stories that open up their imagination and view of the world. This is a great article!

  3. Thanks for the comments ladies. 🙂 I am glad to hear that you have had positive experiences as well! You should definitely join in the discussion on our message boards…

  4. Host and Care matches families in need of childcare with students looking for cheap living situations. Childcare can be an enormous expense for a single parent or a family with limited income and at the same time many students struggle to pay their living expenses while in school. Host and Care has developed a win-win situation for both parties. On Host and Care you can create a user profile and view possible candidates for childcare. You are provided with audio and visual tools to communicate with a wide variety of caregivers and home providers.