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Au Pair program
Current location:home>> Au Pair program

Au pair is French for "on par", reminding host families that, although an employee, their international 

visitor is to be treated like a member of the family. The rules are clear, au pairs are provided a private bedroom,meals, remuneration tied to the minimum wage, one or two days off weekly, at least two 

weeks' paid vacation. Au Pairs are responsible for the host families' children entrusted to their care.

The concept of the au pair originated in Europe after World War II. Before the war, an abundant supply 

of domestic servants had been available to look after the children of middle and upper-class families, 

but changes in social attitudes, and increases in wages and taxes after the war, made the old system 

inaccessible to most middle class parents. 

At the same time, social change increased the number of middle class girls who needed to earn their 

own living, and rising educational aspirations for girls made experiencing foreign cultures and learning 

foreign languages more common aspirations.

However, due to the stigma attached to being a "servant", an essentially working class status which 

even working-class people were repudiating, this potential supply for domestic labor could only be 

utilized if a new non-servant role was created. Thus the au pair was born. The au pair was supposed 

to be treated as a member of the family rather than a servant, and was not required to wear a uniform.

An au pair receives an allowance, and a private room. The usual practice is that au pairs eat with the 

family most of the time, and join in some of the usual family activities such as outings and trips. 

However, host families normally expect to have some private time to themselves, particularly in the 

evenings. During this time, an au pair might retire to his or her room to watch television, study, or 

go out with friends. Provision is often made for the au pair to have time for studying, especially of 

the language of the host country. The Council of Europe also recommends that au pairs be issued 

standard contracts with their family. In a word, Au Pairs live with host families to continue their education 

and experience. Au Pairs must be between 18 to 30 years of age, and speak proficient foreign languages. 

While in the foreign country, they must also complete academic credits or equivalent at an accredited 

educational institution. Some au pairs are now male, but females remain the overwhelming majority. 

Many governments impose limits as to how many hours an au pair is allowed to work. Tasks can include 

taking children to and from school, taking children to after-school activities, cooking, cleaning, ironing, 

tidying up and babysitting. Each placement varies depending on the host family.

Au pair relationships between host families and au pairs can be established through various means.

 For families who are looking for an intercultural experience and wish to open their homes and hearts 

to a young foreign national, hiring an Au Pair may be a great option. Au Pairs share meals with their 

host families, travel with them and play an active role in the family’s daily life.

The au pair concept was introduced in China in 2001 by the HHS Center (the first au pair agency in 

China), and was transcribed Hu Hui Sheng in Pinyin. In 2007, negotiations between agencies in China 

and the United States were successful and the American Cultural Exchange (Go Au Pair) became the 

first organization to bring a Chinese au pair to the United States.

Chinese au pairs are desirable by American host families. The New York Times and Spiegel Online 

International attribute this trend to the growing number of Chinese baby adoptions and the desire 

of parents to teach their children Mandarin, to capitalize on China's economic influence.

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