Cultural Childcare

Updated 2009-11-17 19:07

An au pair (also sometimes called nanny) is a popular choice for active families who need a bit of extra help with childcare, after school care, help with homework, meal preparation and cooking, school runs, bath time, baby-sitting and light housework.

If you have travelled to Australia from another country you may find that your network of 'helpers' has suddenly been reduced; without the help from grandparents and or friends nearby, childcare options are all of a sudden a struggle for working parents, especially those who work shifts.

In many modern families mum now also works, making work-life balance challenging at times. Parents working shifts and single parent families can relax in the knowledge that the au pair can provide flexible live-in childcare. An au pair, sometimes also called mom's help or nanny, provides the ideal live-in childcare solution.

An au pair is an educated young person who would like to improve their language skills further and experience the local culture. They become part of family life and help out with daily tasks involving the children.

Most au pairs stay with their host family for 6-7 months and are able to provide real support for the host family. They can be on duty for 25-30 hours and may attend language classes in their free time and often use their weekends to go sightseeing and meet up with friends.

The additional benefits for families is that a European au pair, especially one with similar cultural background to your own, can give the children a link back to their roots whilst settling into life in Australia. Often parents value the fact that at home a little bit of their own language can continue to be spoken with the children, whilst the are getting used to English in school or day-care.

If you are interested in hosting an au pair, please make sure you choose a professional agency who can assist you with vetting and support.

An expert au pair agency should be able to give you ample information about the au pair program and about the candidates.

Insist on pre-screened and interviewed candidates with at least the following for your perusal:
'¢ Informative profile with personal introduction letter
'¢ Pictures
'¢ References
'¢ Medical report
'¢ Police report

You should also expect guidance with interview process, contract preparation and a handbook guide for the au pair.

Insist on high standards and preferably membership of IAPA (International Au Pair Agency Association) an important accreditation for agencies.

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