Meet your local support in the USA
Cultural Care Au Pair's Local Childcare Consultants (or LCC's) provide a face-to-face contact for host families and au pairs, working hard to ensure that both have the best experience from the programme. They do it because they love it! Here is what they have to say.
Karen, LCC in Illinois
In 2007 Karen organized the first Cultural Care Au Pair Chicago Area Scavenger Hunt in downtown Chicago. This is now an annual event for more than 200 au pairs and 20 LCCs in the Chicago area.
Over the last eight years I have worked with over a hundred au pairs, many of whom I still am in contact with via email and Facebook in their home countries in Latin America, South America, Europe, and Australia and South Africa. My role as a LCC has expanded my view of the world far beyond my expectations.
Having lived in my community since 1986 and in Lake County my entire life I know the area very well. I know the best areas to recruit quality new host families. When a family inquires about the au pair program, I know exactly where they live, the school their children attend, what church the family attends, and where the parents work. I can easily relate to their life in Lake County. This and my experience as an LCC help me show the prospective new family the advantages of the au pair program and determine if they would be a suitable host family.
My monthly au pair meetings are scheduled well in advance, and I encourage other LCCs in the area to join my meetings. The meetings are fun, interesting, and also include important safety topics. We go bowling, participate in charity events, visit the local fire and police department for safety presentations, host a Kids First car wash event at the local Ace Hardware, walk in local parades, participate in a women’s self-defense class, attend a baseball-basketball or hockey game, dress in costume for a Halloween party, learn CPR, see the holiday tree lighting at the town square, and sometimes just go for coffee or pizza. Au pairs can expect to enjoy my monthly meeting and make new friends.
I have learned so much about the world and many different cultures. I also love to see how the au pairs change during their year in the US. It is so interesting to see how they mature, become more independent, adapt to a different culture, and enjoy themselves. At the end of their year many au pairs tell me how much they have changed in a positive way and how satisfied they are with their decision to become an au pair and what the experience has meant to them.
Maria, LCC in Connecticut
Maria, a former au pair herself, is still in touch with her host family twenty five years later! Maria works to create the same success for the au pairs in her group and shares examples of how each one can show how invested they are in the program and their host family.
After working as an LCC with Cultural Care Au Pair for the last eight years I have found that I am as passionate for the cultural exchange program as I was when I first came to the U.S. as an au pair in 1986. The experiences that I work to create as the Local Childcare Consultant include a successful integration of the au pair into an American family, the American culture, and the creation of lifelong friendships shared between au pairs around the globe.
My job as an LCC brings a variety of responsibilities, but my favorite is helping foster strong relationships between my au pairs and their host families. In order to initiate a smooth integration, soon after the au pair arrives to the US I meet with the host family and the au pair together to insure a smooth start in building a strong relationship. I remain in close contact with both to offer a listening ear and support throughout their year together.
It is important to me that my au pairs create and share friendships between other au pairs in the region. In order to initiate such friendships we meet at the local Starbucks on Tuesdays to share experiences and get to know each other. It is very important for au pairs to have a big social network and the au pairs in my group love getting together on Tuesday evenings where year after year I witness life lasting friendships being created, regardless of borders. I also love organizing monthly au pair meetings to add to our au pair’s cultural experience and my group has enjoyed outings such as attending the Yale - Harvard football game, NYC Scavenger hunt, canoeing, Laser Tag, drive-in movies, trips to a Halloween theme parks, to the local fire station, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the all-time favorite - our annual Karaoke night!
It is a pleasure to be able to guide our au pairs through what most of them refer to as their best year of their life, to stay in touch with them after they return to their home country and to hear about how this year abroad has enriched them in more ways than imaginable.
Katrina, LCC in Massachusetts
In her words, when it comes to an au pair year, the more you are prepared to give, the more you will get back. Katrina is a mother of teenagers and has hosted au pairs in her own home; for sixteen years and counting she gives terrific support to her au pairs before, during and after their program year.
I am one of the many women and men across the country that will be your local support person. I work closely with you and your host family to help you have a successful year together and make your experience in the U.S. a positive one. It's a very big leap of faith you are making in coming here to live with a family that you've never met before, but you won't be alone- you will have a local consultant like myself to turn to if you have questions or problems and we'll be introducing you to other au pairs in your area so you'll have a chance to make friends and get out and explore.
My role is to recruit and interview host families to make sure they are appropriate for the program and are familiar with the rules and how best to make you feel welcome and teach you everything you need to know about their family and their expectations. I interview them in person, check their references and often review au pair applications with them so they can choose someone who will be a good fit for their family.
Before you arrive, I can be a resource to you via email regarding any concerns or questions you have and once you arrive to the family, I check in with you to make sure you are doing fine and to answer any of your questions. We also meet together with the family for the orientation meeting in the first two weeks to review all of the program guidelines, explain university class opportunities, medical insurance and make sure you and your host family have discussed your responsibilities and any house and childcare rules. Throughout the year, you can call or email me or visit me in person to ask questions, help find school options and discuss any problems you might be having.
Being an au pair is hard work and not always easy, but if you have a positive attitude, and work hard- putting your host children and your host family first, you will be able to take advantage of so many opportunities to study, travel and make life-long friends. I love to see how much the au pairs' English improves and how mature and independent they all seem to be by the end of the year. By being here to welcome you, support you and cheer you on throughout the year, I like to think I play a small part in the wonderful experience this can be for you!