WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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With Massachusetts currently ranking in the top five states nation- wide for highest cost of childcare, more and more local families are making the same decision and hiring an au pair. Experienced nannies can easily command $20 or more per hour (coming out to roughly $46,800 per year for forty-five hours of childcare), making the $18,028 per year that it costs to host an au pair very appealing. "We've seen a thirty percent increase in inquiries from families this past year alone," says Kerry Lavin, Local Development Director at Cultural Care Au Pair, a popular au pair placement agency. "When people are trying to find childcare that fits in their budget they are always pleasantly surprised at the cost of au pair, especially because they're paying per family, not per child." Families should be aware, however, that they are also respon- sible for providing an au pair's room and board, specifically a private bedroom and all meals. Many families also choose to provide an au pair with a car and cell phone, although not required. Dollars and cents aside, the primary concern of every parent is how hosting an au pair will impact their family. Au pairs enter the United States on a one year cultural exchange visa. The expectation is that they come not only to work, but to experience life in America and share their cultural backgrounds. For many families, this is a huge draw. "A big benefit of hosting an au pair is introducing a second language," says Diane Swartz, Local Area Director for Au Pair Care, another popular au pair agency. "We have a lot of families that already speak a second language at home and they want to continue that. Also, most people that have au pairs have traveled themselves. They make the best host families because they've seen that there are many differ- ent ways of thinking about things and looking at the world." But along with these benefits, an au pair's foreign status can bring some unique challenges, even from the very beginning. A potential host family's first step in the au pair process is to review au pair pro- files online. If a family reads about an au pair who seems like a poten- tial fit, they can request to speak with that au pair, usually via Skype. This is where things can get dicey. While Skype is wonderful because it allows people continents away to see each other via computer and con- 160 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 4 family matters "pleasantly surprised at the cost" E R I C B A R R Y P H O T O G R A P H Y

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