Having a continuous and reliable childcare provider is very important especially when both parents are working full-time. With demands in lives, many host families are turning to a pool of rematch au pairs in order to fulfil their childcare need with minimal interruptions. My husband and I both work full-time but my schedule is more flexible as I run my own businesses. Because one of our children is in school full-time and the other one was waiting to start school in a few months, we decided to look for an in-country au pair to help fill the gap for at least 6 months. After 3 successful years with out of the country au pairs, we felt we would have no problem hosting a rematch candidate looking for a second chance. We spent time learning and reading as much as we could and began to interview and review nearly 30 in transition au pairs. Little did we know, we found hiring a rematch au pair is a different whole ball game.
Rematch is a process that both host family and au pair go through when things do not work out after several attempts to remedy the situations. Here are things that we learned about rematch au pairs that may help you in your quest to find the right in-transition au pair:
1. Finding an In-country au pair is quite competitive
Using a number of agencies to search for our next au pair, we were surprised that many candidates told us that they received at least 8 phone interviews from different host families. Obviously, being in the country adds to their competitive edge because these au pairs can move quickly to be with a new family. As rematch in general leaves a bad taste in the mouths of both host family and au pair, transitional au pairs are likely to become more selective with his or her next family even if they have only two weeks to find decide for the next match.
2. Meet them in person if you can
There are au pairs that did exceptionally well during the interviews. The first interview should not be your last interview.
After a round or two of interviews, we invited several rematch candidates to meet us and the kids face-to-face. It is money well spent, believe it or not. We found one girl, who had gone through two rematches and sounded very nice over the phone.
After meeting with the person, we found that she did not have a personality fit and quality that would allow her to complete the remaining 12-months of her au pair program.
I highly recommend potential host families meet au pairs in person if you can.
You must spend enough time to figure out whether the au pair is suitable for your situation or not. You may learn that the au pair is unable to live up to your expectations after hiring. This happens when host families choose au pairs only after one interview. Never make the mistake of choosing an au pair after only meeting. Spend more time with them to know them better and you will make the right choice.
3. Understand why au pairs are on rematch and whether it is on your “Au Pair in Hell” list.
When you have a need of immediate help with childcare, host families might be willing to compromise with qualities of their next au pairs, just because the candidate can show up at your door in a few days. Creating a “Must Have” and “Nice-to-Have” list will help keep you in the right direction and minimize a headache. We learn tremendously from our experience hiring our first in-country au pair who had gone through 2 previous rematches (you read it correctly, two rematches). The Local Community Counsellor spoke highly of her and provided use with two recommendation letter from the previous host families. After 2 weeks we found out soon enough that she still carries negative feeling from her former host families. We learned that this au pair is a nice person with a big dream; however, she does not have qualities and skills to become a childcare provider the first place. After we went back to review what went wrong, we found that totally ignored our own lists and were clouded by other people’s opinions.
4. Number of Rematch Count
While it’s understandable an au pair may have entered into one arrangement that didn’t work out, a second rematch for an au pair should be a red flag. While it may be unfair to suggest these candidates should be avoided at all cost, you’ll want to be diligent in understanding the causes of the prior breakups. Keep in mind the au pair is only presenting one side of the story, so be sure to speak with her local counsellor to understand the cause of the breakup, and don’t hesitate to request a call with the former host family to get their side of the story.
5. The influence of social media
Believe it or not, social media can greatly impact the behaviour and perception of the au pairs. It was not uncommon for us to hear stories from former au pairs about some of their friends going through the rematch process. When au pairs first arrived to the US, most agencies provide them with a Facebook page that allows the au pairs to stay connected. Au pairs will have an outlet to share their stories, learn about other au pairs’ experiences, or find out about activities on the other side of the country. Often, they find themselves comparing their situations to those of other au pairs. The information they receive can cloud the judgment of the au pairs and they may refuse to adjust or work with the issues with the host, or simply convince themselves that their situation is inadequate compared to some of their peers.
6. Trust but verify.
Most agencies provide a transitional document that gives potential host families an explanation to why the au pair’s previous engagement(s) didn’t work out. Host parents tend to focus on the recent information and references assuming that au pairs are pre-qualified by the previous families. Interviewing many rematch au pairs, I learn quickly that some of them are not right candidates for childcare and should not have been in the au pair program the first place. I highly recommend that host families invest some time following up with the prior host family, if available, to understand their side of the story regarding why the relationship didn’t work out.