Today we are talking with Edina Stone, CEO of the Au Pair Clearinghouse, which offers in-depth reviews on the U.S. State Department approved au pair agencies. Edina helps host families learn how to find great au pairs and work through all the details that come along with hiring an au pair, so she is a wealth of knowledge. Here’s what she had to say …
Best Au Pair Guide: How did you get started in the au pair industry?
Edina: I worked in the au pair industry for over ten years and learned a great deal about au pair agencies and how they operate, including where and how they recruit au pairs, how they find host families, USA government regulations, and how to mediate problems between au pairs and host families.
BAPG: What made you start Au Pair Clearinghouse?
I started Au Pair Clearinghouse to advocate for children and host families across the United States by providing information on hosting au pairs. When I left the au pair industry, I wanted to help parents choose more wisely and have more information. So I decided to create a website where parents could visit and read all there is to read about the entire industry. Choosing a childcare giver for your family is probably one of the most important decisions a parent can make!
BAPG: “What are some examples of the information you share on your website?”
As you know, up until 2009 or 2010, agencies didn’t openly “share” a lot of helpful information with their customers (both host families and au pairs). They didn’t offer many resources or how-to guides or information about cultural differences or countries where au pairs come from. So I published hundreds of pages of information for host families on AuPairClearinghouse.com and I reached out to agencies for more information.
Agency directors, including Natalie Jordan of Cultural Care and Heidi Woehl of Au Pair Care, responded by not only sharing useful information with the Clearinghouse, but by offering more agency useful resources and links and by doing interviews with us. At present, you can find more information on most agency sites than ever before! And with publication of books on au pairs (your Girl’s Guide to Being an Au Pair is a great example) and the increasing popularity of au pair blogs and websites like Au Pair Clearinghouse, au pair agencies in the United States understand the value of information that is easily accessible, unbiased, and helpful.
BAPG: You hear a lot from host families and you know what they want. What qualities are host parents looking for in an au pair?
Edina: The majority of American host families are looking for three basic things in an au pair –
- Good English – are you able to communicate in English well and speak for at least an hour with your host parents in the language? If not, maybe you should improve your English first before you sign up for the program.
- Experienced and safe driver – if your host parents need a driver and you don’t drive well, please be honest and find a family who is not looking for a driver. More families fire their au pairs over driving issues more than any other problem!
- Friendly, flexible personality – host parents do not want to deal with an au pair who mopes around the house and is negative about everything. Enjoy your time abroad and smile! Do things the “American way” – that is why you came here, to learn and experience another culture. If you tend to be rather stuck in your ways and don’t like change, maybe you should reconsider becoming an au pair. If you like new things and new places, and love America, you have the important qualities American host families are looking for.
BAPG: Thanks, Edina! That is great advice for potential au pairs wanting to work in the United States.
Stay tuned for the rest of the interview with Edina Stone – Part 2 will cover more helpful advice specifically for au pairs. Don’t miss it!