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The Au Pair Childcare Option

by Krista Rietberg, PEPS mom, PEPS Group Leader and local childcare coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair

Affordable and Flexible: Live-In Au Pair

With more dual-working and single parent families in Seattle than ever before, local parents are finding it difficult to balance life, family and work. For busy families, an important part of this juggling act is finding the right childcare for their children. Families need a trustworthy caregiver that can offer the flexibility a busy family requires. There is one flexible and affordable option available to parents that is gaining popularity in Washington—hosting a live-in au pair.

As a local childcare coordinator and host mom for Cultural Care Au Pair, I have the chance to meet many of the au pairs who join our program. These au pairs are adventurous, educated, young people from abroad who choose to leave their life at home for one year to share their love for children with an American host family. Au pairs are excited to become part of an American family and experience American culture by living in our communities, volunteering and taking classes at local colleges.

Although the au pair program has been around for more than 20 years, many families are unaware that hosting an au pair is a childcare option available to them. The U.S. Department of State regulates all au pair programs in the United States, offering parents the peace of mind that their children are in trusted, qualified care. Au pairs live and study in the United States for one year on a J-1 cultural exchange visa, in exchange for providing 45 hours of childcare per week. Au pairs are between the ages of 18 and 26 years old and speak proficient English. The au pairs I meet bring great enthusiasm into the home and are excited to teach their host children about a new language, culture and music. Host families are able to take advantage of this unique form of childcare and cultural exchange, building relationships with their au pair that last a lifetime.

During their stay in the U.S., au pairs provide live-in childcare and help their host families more easily balance their busy lifestyle. A host family can set their au pair’s working hours according to their hectic schedule, often having the au pair drive the children to and from school or to appointments, as well as supervise the older children during after-school hours and vacation breaks. And a great help to the family, au pairs also assist with light household responsibilities, such as preparing meals, the children’s laundry, and helping the children keep their rooms and play areas neat.

For an active family with children, hosting an international au pair at the cost of $345 per week is one of the most affordable childcare options available. And yet, hosting an au pair is also one of the most rewarding childcare options for families—au pairs create a very caring environment for children and enrich children’s playtimes with international games, stories and activities, while also helping families’ better balance their daily lives and schedules. Hosting an au pair not only provides the flexible and affordable childcare families need, it also creates an international bond that will last a lifetime.

There are a lot of reasons area families choose to host an au pair.  Here is a list of the “top ten” that I hear again and again from Seattle families:

  1. Affordable – Regardless of whether you have one child or several, the cost remains the same: $345 for up to 45 hours of quality childcare per week.
  2. Flexible – Work schedules vary, as do our kids’ activities, but with an au pair you set your childcare schedule to provide coverage when you need it.
  3. Life-Work balance –With an au pair you have the time you need to get your job done, spend quality time with your children, and maybe even enjoy a little time to yourself.
  4. Cultural enrichment – Introducing your child to another culture is an enriching experience.  Time spent with an au pair can help position children for success as they grow up in an increasingly global environment.
  5. Customized care – Looking for someone with a musical talent, sports-minded, or from a particular country or language?  Au pairs come from 20 different countries and from a variety of backgrounds.
  6. Household help – Having an extra set of hands to help with the kid’s laundry, meal prep, tiding up toys and kid’s rooms allows for more family time devoted to enjoying time together.
  7. Family balance – Live-in au pairs enable parents to spend time together, and even enjoy a night out!
  8. Trained & screened childcare provider – Our au pairs are carefully screened in their home countries before being accepted. Upon arrival, au pairs go through rigorous training on child safety and development.
  9. Language exposure – Learning a second language, or even just exposure to another language, has been proven to improve a child’s capacity to learn.
  10. Personalized care – Your children receive the one-to-one attention of a live-in childcare provider in your home.

About the Author

KristaReitbergesizedKrista Rietberg is a local childcare coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair in Seattle. She has also hosted several au pairs and is preparing to welcome her 4th au pair in February. She loves connecting area host families with au pairs from around the world, helping families find flexible and affordable childcare. Krista joined a PEPS Group in 2001 and it is still going strong. She has also facilitated several PEPS Groups. Krista welcomes your questions about the au pair program and can be reached at 206-235-5738 or For more information, please visit

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