Child care options: Au pairs and nannies
In the last five years, Au Pair in America has placed 65 au pairs in Indiana homes, says senior vice president and director Ruth Ferry. Most of the au pairs work for Indiana families in Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis, Zionsville and Columbus.
"I think they could be more popular [in Indiana]," Ferry says, "but the challenges with middle America is that the au pair concept is not necessarily well known."
Regulated federally through the U.S. Department of State Office of Private Sector Exchange, au pairs are typically foreign-born women between the ages of 18 and 26. Ferry says they must pass a criminal background check, an interview, reference checks and have documented child care experience, including at least 200 hours of infant-specific care.
Hiring a nanny is another option, especially for parents who prefer to have their children cared for in their own homes, says Lynda Pitz, owner of highly rated A Better Way Nanny Referral in Indianapolis.
Parents can screen and interview applicants on their own, or hire a service like Pitz's, which places an estimated 80 nannies with Indianapolis area families each year. The service costs about $1,500, and utilizes a pool of prequalified applicants.
Pitz says contracts vary, but depending on the applicant's experience and education, parents should expect to pay $12 to $16 per hour on average for a full-time salaried nanny and also cover expenses such as payroll taxes, health insurance and paid time off.
Hiring an au pair is typically less expensive than employing a full-time nanny. Au Pair in America charges a $7,695 program fee to cover screening, airfare, orientation/training, interviewing of the family and year-round support by the local representative, Ferry says.
The host family pays the au pair $195.75 per week, plus room and board, and $500 for educational expenses.
Unlike nannies, au pairs are not permitted to do any household work, including laundry service or cooking, that is not directly related to the child.