Bay Area parents opting for au pairs

May 25, 2009 9:10:35 AM PDT
Many parents in the Bay Area are enjoying the benefits of using "au pairs," young people from foreign countries who take care of the children. Au pair arrangements can be a good deal for all concerned.

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4-year-old Peyton and her sister Taylor, nearly two, go from their mom's arms to those of their au pair without missing a beat.

"She's great. She's comfortable. She rolls up her sleeves and you know, she becomes one of the family," said au pair host mom Jennifer Roloff.

19-year-old Iryna Logosh is from the Ukraine. For the past 10 months she has been living with her Oakland host family as a full-time au pair.

"You have to work hours of course, but then you have fun on the weekend. And, you get to know different people, different friends," she said.

Logosh was hired by the Roloff family. Both parents work fulltime. Iryna is the third au pair they have had from overseas. The Roloffs chose to swap room and board for childcare because of the option to schedule flexible hours. It is also more convenient, no fighting rush-hour traffic to take children to a daycare. And, after crunching the numbers there is a significant cost-savings.

"We just found that really, hundreds of dollars a week even, difference you know to go with an au pair versus go with a full-time nanny, or even a part-time nanny," said Roloff.

"It averages about $320 a week and I think the benefit there is that no matter how many children you have, the cost is the same," explained Heidi Woehl, Vice President of Au Pair Care.

Woehl, of San Francisco-based Au Pair Care, says since the agency started in 1989, it has screened, trained and placed about 40,000 au pairs across America. They come from over 40 different countries and are usually young women looking to improve their English skills and have some adventure.

Au pairs do not have to stay at their host family's home 24/7. Outside the 45 hours of child care per week they get to have cultural experiences exploring cities like San Francisco."

"We've been with my family to Hawaii, nice vacation, Lake Tahoe, LA, Santa Cruz..."Logosh told ABC7. But, it is not just the cultural adventure that has recently been drawing more au pairs to the U.S. Many from the European Union are searching for opportunities because of that region's deepening recession and rising unemployment.

"We've definitely seen a boom in terms of au pair recruitment," said Woehl.

Logosh says economic conditions back home influenced her decision to accept a second year of au pair work with the Roloff family, an exchange proving to be a win-win relationship for all.

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