Manuela Gruber Hersch,
Special to The Post
Many families have turned to using the Live-in Caregiver Program to hire an overseas nanny to help manage the demands of work, family and children. This program is well suited if you require full-time, long-term childcare, but if you are a parent looking for a more immediate and short-term solution, an Au Pair may work for you.
Au Pairs are young childcare providers generally aged between 18-25. They often originate from Western European countries, Australia and New Zealand, and come to Canada on the International Experience Class, aka the Working Holiday Visa. However, their main purpose is to discover Canada and it is their choice to live with a Canadian family to experience Canadian culture first hand.
Au Pair is a French term which translates as “equal to”, meaning that the relationship between a family and their Au Pair is a reciprocal and caring one. Au Pairs become a part of the family during their stay. They live with their Canadian host family and are flexible in their working hours, able to take care of the children on both a full or part-time basis depending on the parents’ needs. Typically an Au Pair placement will be for a 6-12 month period. Some families hire an Au Pair to cover their childcare needs for the full year, others may need an Au Pair for 9 months during the school year and some even hire an Au Pair for 6 months while they wait for their Live-in nanny’s application to be processed.
While an Au Pair’s main responsibility is childcare, she will also assist with child-related household duties such as tidying the children’s rooms, doing the children’s laundry and helping with the cooking. They are usually high school and college graduates who have limited professional nanny experience, but are full of enthusiasm to gain further work experience with their Canadian host family.
Due to the type of Visa given, the hiring process is extremely simple. Applicants undergo a medical and police record check, and can receive their Visa within 8-12 weeks of applying. Many will already have obtained their Visa prior to the interview process, and are able to travel to Canada as soon as they find the perfect host family. Employers do not have to demonstrate eligibility to hire an Au Pair. Parents are = required to undergo a police record check and complete an application form, including an introductory letter to their future Au Pair.
Hiring an Au Pair is as much a cultural exchange program as it is a childcare one. During the time they are not working, Au Pairs will want to learn about Canadian culture by being involved with their host family. Although they have a high degree of English language ability, an Au Pair may undertake a language course to further improve their skills. In exchange, Au Pairs provide your children with a great opportunity to learn about their culture, their food and even introduce a second language into the home. Having an Au Pair take care of your children can be an extremely rewarding experience for the entire family.