As we know that the role of an au pair is complex and unique, please find below a few reminders to make sure you and your host family enjoy their year together!
Ask your host parents to post a written schedule every week/month, so that the entire family knows when you start and get off work. Be on time, according to the work schedule. On evenings before you are scheduled to work, you should be home at a reasonable time so that you get enough sleep and are ready to take good care of your host kid(s) the next day. As a rule of thumb, we suggest to be at home at least eight hours before your work begins.
AU PAIR RESPONSIBILITIES
Common au pair responsiblities that you are required to do are:
- Clean up after the children in their rooms and/or play areas to the condition in which you arrived that work day;
- Keep your private room in the condition it was upon arrival;
- Clean up after yourself in all areas of the house used; for example, if you take a book off a shelf to read, you should return it when finished; you should also clean up after yourself when cooking, making snacks, etc.;
- Contribute to household chores (emptying the dish washer, bringing the trash out, wiping down kitchen counters, etc) in ways that a family member would;
- Attend all mandatory monthly meetings with your Local Childcare Coordinator;
- Complete the educational component requirements; if you want to extend, the courses should be completed by the last day of the 11th month;
- Treat your host family and host children with respect – as you would want family to be treated and as you want to be treated;
- If a conflict arises with the host family, talk with them and don’t let the problem escalate; if the conflict cannot be resolved by that, contact me, your Local Childcare Coordinator; if necessary, a mediation meeting will be scheduled in which you are required to participate and work with me and your host family to create an action plan to move forward and work things out;
- Your work tasks are limited to those related to the children and the program, which may include washing the children’s clothes and your own (but not the host parents’ or other family members’ clothes), cooking for the kids, cleaning up after the kids, etc.
AU PAIR MEETINGS RULES
1. Be on time. We are always trying to plan the meetings ahead of time, and you are expected to plan your schedule around it. In the rare circumstance that you are running late, call or text us so we can plan accordingly. If you miss a major part of the meeting, we will unfortunately have to count it as a missed meeting.
2. The meetings are mandatory. We understand that things happen and plans change, and for that reason you can miss a total of 2 meetings per year. So if you are on vacation, sick or just have other plans, please let us know in advance and take an absence. If you miss more than two meetings, however, you will not be in good standing with the program, which means you may be terminated from the program early or lose your paid return flight home. Please e-mail us as soon as possible if you know/think you will miss a meeting. If we do not hear from you, we expect that you will attend each meeting.
3. Participation. You are required to participate in the meetings. We spend a lot of time planning our events and try to make them fun and interesting for you. The meetings will be as much fun as you make them. The meetings give you an opportunity to socialize and share information with other au pairs and create fun memories from your year in the US. If you cannot participate, e.g. because we do a certain activity that you cannot do (like going swimming, ice skating, dancing, etc.), please let us know so that we can plan accordingly and account for your non-participation in our reservation, rentals, food pre-order, deposit, etc. If you do not participate in a certain activity, we would ask you to contribute to the meeting by helping us host the event (e.g.help us ensure that all au pairs signed in, help us presenting a small portion of a safety training, etc).
4. Getting to the meeting. Your host family is required to provide time off and transportation to the meeting (the same applies to taking classes). They can make a car (and gas in it) available for you or give you money for a bus or gas if another au pair drives you. We do encourage you to connect with other au pairs in our group to car pool!
6. Cost of the meeting. This is your, the au pair’s, responsibility. We don’t usually plan expensive meetings but there sometimes will be some costs associated with the meetings. We will tell you about this in advance. Many of our meetings require us to make reservations and advance meeting costs for the entire group – unless you let us know in advance that you cannot attend or participate in a meeting, you are expected to pay the meeting costs when you sign in with us.
7. Issues. If you have any issues or concerns, please bring them up to us at the meeting. If it is something that requires more time, we will schedule a separate time to talk.
8. Guests are welcome. You are welcome to bring friends to our meetings, but you must let us know at least 1 day before the meeting so we can plan accordingly. Sometimes, if we have something special planned (like going to events or certain group activities), we might ask you for a RSVP even sooner so that we can get a head-count and make sure we have enough for everyone – think admission tickets, food, etc.
9. Bring cameras and have fun!
VERY IMPORTANT: Please RSVP for each meeting through our Facebook group or by e-mail at least 3-6 days before the meeting. If you should not be able to attend or participate in one of our meetings, please give us at least 36 hrs notice!! If we do not hear from you, we assume and expect that you will attend and participate in our meetings pursuant to the program rules. For many of our meetings we reserve space, advance costs, or make a reservation so it is important that you communicate with us so that we can plan accordingly! If you do miss a meeting unexcused, you will have to pay your respective meeting costs!
You can find further information about our meetings on my calendar, our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ccapkathrin), and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/CCAPKatnJoe)! Information about our monthly meeting is always published approximately one month in advance, and you will receive an invite to each event as well as event reminders through Facebook. Please make sure to mark your host family’s calendar as well so that everyone can plan accordingly.
FULFILLING YOUR EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENT
1. As outlined in the U.S. Department of State Regulations, an au pair is required to successfully complete not less than six “semester hours” (or their equivalent) of academic credit in formal educational settings at accredited U.S. post-secondary institutions during your first year. In addition, if you are extending your program for 6 months, you are required to complete not less than three additional semester hours (or their equivalent) during your extension period, for 9 and 12 months extension au pairs, not less than six additional semester hours (or their equivalent). This means that you will need to take two 3-credit courses during your initial 1-year stay (one per semester) to fulfill the education requirement. YOU MAY NOT TAKE ONLINE COURSES TO FULFILL YOUR EDUCATION REQUIREMENT!! A very cost-effective way for au pairs to complete the educational component is to audit courses at accredited post-secondary institutions. St. Mary’s College and John F. Kennedy University are two schools that currently offer students to audit courses for a very affordable price!
2. Proof of successful completion. At the end of the course/semester, you will need to get a confirmation from the school that proves that you completed the course and clearly mentions how many credits or hours the course(s) was worth. This can be in the form of a certificate, a letter from the teacher on school letterhead, or a transcript from the school. You should submit your completion confirmation to us, your LCCs, to ensure that it meets the format requirements! When you submit your program completion form towards the end of your program year, you will need to upload these confirmation documents and submit them to Cultural Care.
3. Credits vs. Classroom Hours. The educational component can be fulfilled by earning 6 credits at an accredited post-secondary institution. For non-credit classes, au pairs should use the guideline that 12 hours are the equivalent of 1 credit. It is important to note that in order for a credit or non-credit class to count, it MUST be offered by an accredited post-secondary institution. If the school assigns credits to a class, you cannot count hours! ONLINE COURSES ARE NOT ALLOWED!
4. Scheduling your classes and costs. You may take courses during the day while the children are in school, in the evening, and sometimes even on weekends. Of course, your classes cannot conflict with your work hours so you should talk to your host family early on when it is best for you to take your classes. Also keep in mind that tuition (the fees school charge students) is quite expensive. While your host family will contribute up to $500 for your costs to complete the required credits, it is likely that you will have to spend additional money to cover all of your expenses.
5. Education Requirement for EXTENSION Au Pairs. If you want to extend your program term for 6, 9, or 12 months, you will be required to submit documentation from your school before the completion of your 11th program month. Without proof of completion of your 6 credits or 72 hours you will not be able to extend . This means when you apply for the extension program you will need to provide documents that show that you have completed the educational requirement (or are scheduled and on track to complete it before the end of your 11th month; see below)! Cultural Care Au Pair will accept any of the following as verification:
- Certificate of completion from an accredited post-secondary educational institution,
- Official school transcript,
- Letter from the institution (on letterhead) confirming the au pair’s participation in an approved program or class.
While Cultural Care is not able to provide specific tax information for au pairs because everyone’s circumstances can be different, we are pleased to provide general guidelines regarding au pair taxes, as well as information to help you complete your tax return. Because we update these guidelines on a regular basis, we suggest that you download our most current guide to au pair taxes here. As Cultural Care is not licensed to provide official tax advice, we may not counsel you regarding your specific tax issues.
- The IRS considers au pairs to be “employees” of the host family for tax reasons, even though they are in the United States on a “cultural exchange” visa. This means that au pairs are required to file U.S. individual income tax returns even though many au pairs will not owe any taxes by April 15, you should file form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR to report your au pair stipend for the previous calendar year
- In order to file income taxes in the United States, you will need to have either a social security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- You are allowed to claim a personal exemption for yourself, but are not eligible for the standard deduction in your tax filing
- Au pairs are not considered “students” by the IRS so you are not eligible to exclude au pair wages from gross income under the student article of any U.S. income tax treaty
- Before your au pair year ends, please make sure you plan ahead and know how to file your tax return after you returned back home
- Further helpful information can be found on the IRS webpage!
OTHER HELPFUL LINKS
You can find additional helpful information about the program, life in the U.S. and fun activities above under “Helpful Links”!