FAQ

Do you want to know how soon you can go or what happens if you don’t get along with your host family? Here we have tried to answer some of the most common questions we receive. If your question is not answered then just drop us an email and we will get back to you with the answer!

What is the difference between an 'Au Pair' and a 'Nanny'?
How soon after applying will I be able to leave for the USA?
Can I choose where I want to live?
What does 'au pair' mean?
Do you accept male au pairs?
What if I already have a host family in the USA?
Can I change my host family if we don’t get along?
How much child care experience do I need?
How can I make new friends?
I don't have my driver's license yet. Can I still apply?
Do I have the opportunity to study?

What is the difference between an 'Au Pair' and a 'Nanny'?
In many English speaking countries both the term 'Nanny' and the term 'Au Pair' are to describe a person that takes care of children whilst parents are working. However, the words nanny and au pair have slightly different meanings. Au pair is a French term that means ‘equal with’ – the au pair lives on equal terms with their host family as an employee in their household. Normally au pairs come from another country and both the host family and the au pair have an interest in learning about each other’s customs and lifestyle through cultural exchange. An au pair must have experience caring for children, but it is not necessary to have formal qualifications in child care. A nanny normally has studied child care and gained a formal qualification in the subject. A nanny does not necessarily live with the family and often does more household duties than an au pair is permitted to do. In the USA due to visa regulations, an au pair is aged between 18-26 years old, while a nanny can be between 20 and 60 years. A nanny normally looks on working in child care as a career whereas an au pair is normally looking to experience another country and culture before studying or embarking on their career.
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How soon after applying will I be able to leave for the USA?
Ideally we need a couple of months to process your full application, find you a host family and prepare you for your stay. If you do want to leave earlier, we will work as fast as possible to accommodate you. If you are not in a hurry, you can apply up to 12 months in advance.
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Can I choose where I want to live?
Our top priority is to place you with the family that suits you best. So we cannot guarantee that you will be placed in a specific part of the USA. It is more important that you are living in a home with a family that matches your child care experience, driving ability and personality than the "dream" place that you wanted to live.
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What does 'au pair' mean?
The word au pair is a French term translating as ‘on par’ or ‘equal to’. As an au pair you are welcomed into an American family’s home, helping care for their children whilst immersing yourself in a new culture. Working up to 45 hours per week, you will assist your host children with every aspect of their lives, helping them get ready for school, driving them to free time activities, helping with homework and reading bedtime stories. However it’s important to remember that every family is different and your family will be as unique as you are.
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Do you accept male au pairs?
Males are welcome to apply to become au pairs, in fact some Cultural Care host families prefer to have a male au pair. As is the case with female applicants, we will do our best to place you with a family that is suited to you.
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What if I already have a host family in the USA?
Although you may have a host family, US law requires you to have an official au pair visa which can be obtained through Cultural Care. So contact us today and our office in the USA will help get your family enrolled in the programme.
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Can I change my host family if we don’t get along?
Our number one priority is that both you and your host family have a great time together and you should allow time to get to know one another. However it can happen that there is a true personality conflict between an au pair and a host family. If this is the case Cultural Care Au Pair will work to find the best solution for both sides.
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How much child care experience do I need?
You should have at least 200 hours of recent child care experience before your departure, although we recommend having a minimum of 500. The more experience you have, the more confident you will be and the better your chances of being accepted to the programme. Child care experience is the top priority for our host families when selecting their au pair. We therefore recommend that you get as much experience as possible before you leave.
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How can I make new friends?
There are many opportunities to make new friends! You will spend your first 5 days in the USA, at the New York Training school, where you will meet au pairs from all over the world. You will also get a list of the other au pairs in your region and you will meet them at the monthly meetings organised by your local representative. The course you choose to take at a local college or university will give you the chance to make American friends too! Plus, you are sure to meet friends through your host family.
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I don't have my driver's license yet. Can I still apply?
It is a requirement of the programme that all au pairs hold a valid driver's license. We cannot accept your application, until such time as you have obtained your vaild South African driver's license. However, please continue to complete your application in the meantime so we are ready to accept you once you pass your driving test. For safety reasons it is essential you are an experienced, responsible driver and will feel comfortable driving in the USA.
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Do I have the opportunity to study?
As part of the au pair programme regulations as written by the United States government, all au pairs must enroll in a post-secondary study programme during their time in America. This is a great way for au pairs to meet people of their own age whilst studying something that could be useful in their future life and career. Former Cultural Care au pairs have taken subjects ranging from computer studies to American Culture, and from foreign languages to child care-related courses.
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