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Reaching out to your Au Pair’s immediate family

Is it appropriate to reach out to your Au Pair’s immediate family?

Family at home using computer webcamera

What are the benefits of communicating with your prospective Au Pair’s family during the interview phase?

Given that Au Pairs seeking to come to Canada are adults, you technically shouldn’t need to speak with their family.  However over the years we have come to see why communicating with the family is beneficial.  Here’s why we think it makes sense to speak to Mom and Dad or their equivalent:

  1.  Who knows your future Au Pair better than her own family?  By meeting the family you can confirm that she has their support in the overseas adventure she has planned and that they will not only provide her with emotional support, but also financial support if she happens to spend all her savings in the first month!  It is essential that the Au Pair you choose is grounded and has family that will encourage her to make the most of her Working Holiday in Canada.  Without that support, the homesickness and fear that sometimes settles in can compound and send your Au Pair packing.  Ask the Au Pair to introduce you to her parents or siblings during one of your Skype interviews.  Make sure to schedule your Skype interview for during a time when the parents are home.  If the Au Pair does not live near her family and Skype is not possible, arrange to email the family and explain to the Au Pair why you want to meet them or correspond with them.
  2. Confirming your Au Pair’s mental health is very important.  Although your Au Pair has taken and passed a medical exam as a component of her Working Holiday Visa application, the medical exam does not dig into her mental wellness.  Be sure to ask the family about the Au Pair’s mental health, how she handles stress and if she’s ever been on medication or been hospitalized due to mental health concerns. Because your Au Pair will be far from home and her support network, you want to be sure that she will be able to handle the transition.  There is also the added concern about the cost of pharmaceuticals if your Au Pair requires a prescription.  Canada only allows a person entering the country to have a maximum 3 month supply of prescription drugs and there are strict laws about importing prescription drugs.  If your Au Pair is staying for a year and requires medication beyond her three-month supply, she will need to see a Canadian doctor and be given a prescription.  This means also paying exorbitant prescription costs… something for both host family and Au Pair to consider depending on the contract agreed to (some families offer to pay medical/prescription costs).  Mental wellness is a huge component of a successful host family/Au Pair experience and you need to be diligent in your checks and ensure that you are leaving no stone unturned.
  3. Developing a relationship with the family will help down the road.  As important as it is to have a strong foundation for a relationship with your Au Pair, it also pays off to have a good relationship with her family.  You need to “on-board” the family and the Au Pair.  Your Au Pair’s family will be nervous about her adventure and they will definitely feel some relief if you reach out to them and help them get to know your family.   When in conversation with your Au Pair, ask lots of questions about her family.  Employment history of parents, places they’ve lived, what the family does for fun… a snapshot of family life helps give you an idea of how your Au Pair was raised and her personality.  This in turn enables you to have an easier and more comfortable conversation with the family.  In the event that the family wants to visit your Au Pair in Canada, knowing a lot about them makes for a wonderful starting point when they arrive and officially meet you for the first time.  You can guarantee your Au Pair is telling them everything about you!

 

Erin Findlay

Canadian Au Pair Solutions

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