What you need to know about hiring an au pair
Thinking about getting an au pair? Make sure you do it the right way.

The cost of childcare can be exorbitant but sometimes it’s worth investing in the right things when it comes to appointing others to take sole charge of your kids. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford an au pair, nanny or babysitter, make sure you go about it the right way.

Better safe than sorry

There have been a number of horror-stories in the news to do with kids under the care of other adults when the parents aren’t around. Sadly, many of these tragic endings could have been avoided had special attention been paid to the capability and credibility of caregivers.

If you’re needing an extra pair of hands to help you out with the kids, perhaps while baby number two is on the way, or you’ve decided to go back to work, whatever the reason is be smart about it by going through an accredited au pair agency.

Untrained, inexperienced and incapable 

I began my very first au pair job when I was 18. I was honest about the little experience I had and advertised for a part-time au pair position on Gumtree. Two weeks later I met with the parents of a five year old girl who wanted someone to fetch their daughter from school, keep her busy with constructive activities in the afternoon and make sure that she was fed and looked after until the parents came home in the afternoon.

Being the typical 18 year old that I was then, I thought I was more than capable of doing a good job. But now that I look back, I’m amazed that they hired me. I had no real childcare experience other than a few nights of babysitting my cousin and I had only just passed my driver’s licence. Luckily for the family, I wasn't some lunatic with strange intentions and I spent a few years successfully enjoying au pairing for the family.  

There are tons of untrained and inexperienced job-seekers around and like many people in our country, some of them are desperate for work even if they've never worked in that particular industry. If you happen to find someone who isn’t associated with an agency, suggest that you sign them up first to ensure that all the necessary First Aid training, references and experience is valid before you consider employment. 

Why can't I check it all myself?

Not only do agencies take off the stress and hassle of having to call up and reference-check everything for you, they safeguard you and the au pair by making sure that all qualifications, certificates and training is up-to-date and valid. 

Most agencies run thorough background checks and insist that the potential childcare updates and upgrades his/her training. 

Agencies will usually pair a family's needs and requirements with the experience and capability of the au pair. If you're only needing someone to help you with the kid's homework or to play with the youngest child while you cook dinner, they'll likely place you with someone with that particular experience. Parents who want someone to take sole charge of the kids on a more full-time basis will need to be matched with someone with plenty of experience and training. 

Unfortunately, we can't always trust that everyone's CV's are 100 percent accurate. It takes nothing for someone to put a family relative or friend as a reference if they happen to have a different surname. Agencies make sure that all references are legit. 

Sure you can do it alone, but we empathetically recommend that you use an approved agency to ensure the likelihood that your children are looked after as well as possible.  

For a list of approved au pair, nanny and babysitting agencies take a look at our Directories

How do you make sure that your child is under the best possible care when you're not around? Send us your comment to chatback@parent24.com.

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