What is the Difference Between Au Pairs and Nannies?

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If you’re thinking about hiring a childcare provider, it’s a good idea to get informed about the difference between au pairs and nannies. While both can be great options for your family, nannies and au pairs each have different pros and cons that are important to consider. Here’s what to know about the difference between au pairs and nannies—plus how to determine which is right for your family.

Au Pairs
Think of au pairs like adult foreign exchange students who earn money by providing childcare. Au pairs come to the U.S. to work in exchange for housing under a prescribed set of guidelines and a weekly stipend. They’re found through approved government agencies and may or may not have childcare experience. Since an au pair lives in your home, it’s essential to define work hours and responsibilities ahead of time. The government agencies that match au pairs with families say au pairs can work up to 45 hours a week for no more than 10 hours per day.

What it costs: Government agencies typically charge several thousand dollars for application and placement fees to find your au pair. Once the au pair starts working for you, she’ll receive a stipend of around $200 per week.

Who will benefit: Families looking for an affordable childcare option and are comfortable with a live-in situation. If you’re seeking temporary childcare, like for the summer, an au pair could be an especially good choice, since au pair programs provide temporary childcare during the summer months.

A nanny is a broad term used to refer to anyone a family employs to provide childcare. They can be live-in or live-out, and can provide full-time or part-time care depending on your needs. Nannies can be found through local agencies, online databases, job boards, and even word of mouth. Since there’s no government screening involved, you can interview applicants face to face and see how they interact with your child.

What it costs: Unlike au pairs, there’s no set fee for a nanny and rates vary depending on your location. According to the International Nanny Association, the average hourly rate for a nanny is $16; full-time live-in nannies earn $652 a week and full-time live-out nannies earn $705.

Who will benefit: Families who want to interview potential nannies before hiring, who may not want a live-in nanny, and who want the freedom to screen for specific skills, like CPR or the ability to work part-time.

Both have different pros and cons that are important to consider.

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