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What is the difference between a traditional Au Pair, Nanny, and an Apex Social Care Professional?

Life as a parent can be extremely hectic, especially if you’re trying to juggle professional careers or have special needs, such as autism, adhd or cerebral palsy in your family. In your pursuit of trying to “do it all,” hiring someone to help with child care, housework or honestly just driving your kids from one event to another is probably on your radar. 

Living in a post-pandemic world has also made things more challenging, in fact according to research done through zippia.com, 46% of families in the United States said that they have a harder time finding child care now compared to pre-pandemic. As such, many families are turning to nannies instead of daycare centers for their child care needs.  So what exactly are the differences between a nanny, au pair or an Apex Social Care Professional?

All of them focus on child care of course, yet there are some significant differences that would be important considerations for your family when making the right choice for your family. 

Let’s start with a nanny. For families who need the flexibility of hours, nannies can offer part-time or full-time hours and be live-in or live-out.  Generally, a nanny arrives to work in shifts and they can work any amount of hours per week upon agreement. A nanny might have some childcare experience working with other families, but may or may not be professionally trained. There are Professional Nannies who do make a career out of caring for children and there is no barrier to what age nannies can be. Most of the time, nannies are American if you are a US family on the search, so typically there is no cultural exchange experience. Nannies are mostly perceived as employees, which also means they can leave their job abruptly if they find a better opportunity and their fees can vary WIDELY depending on state, number of children, hours and responsibilities.  Hiring a Nanny means that you will have to do the background and reference check on your own unless an agency is providing those services. It’s also worth it to check her driving records, if they are helping tote the kids around. Essentially anyone can become a nanny. So make sure you are very diligent in doing your research. 

Au Pairs are viewed differently than nannies. Host families typically view an au pair as a temporary family member, not an employee. Traditionally au pairs are young foreign people between 18 and 26 years of age that qualify to come to the US under a J-1 exchange visitor visa. An au pair cares for your children while living as a family member in your home and brings an international cultural experience to the dynamic. Some families choose an au pair that natively speaks a language they want their children to be exposed to.  Similar to nannies, au pairs usually come with some child care experience, but most of the time they are not professionally trained in child care and don’t make a career out of it. For families who already have an extra room, this is a cost-effective option depending on the state. According to federal regulations under the J1 Visa program as of 2022 the au pair needs to be paid a minimum weekly stipend along with $500 toward continuing education, however in some states minimum wage laws supersede the minimum stipend requirement, so make sure to check with your state. Often au pairs are young with an undecided career path and take the opportunity to experience living in another country, not to care for children.

Apex Social Care Professionals have chosen a career path and have background in early childhood education, occupational, physical or speech therapy, ABA therapy, pediatric nursing, special needs education or another child development field. All of them are seeking full-time, live-in childcare positions with families where they can become like a family member and share their traditions and culture.  Apex Social is dedicated to helping families find experienced, professional caregivers who are trained, interested and motivated to care for children with special developmental needs. In addition, they understand the unique needs of children without special needs who are part of the same family. 

90% of Apex Care Professionals come from Germany or Austria on the J-1 au pair visa program and are eligible to provide care for children ages 4 months to 17 years old.  The other 10% come from the United States and can serve families with children all the way up to 26 years of age. These Care Professionals are adept at balancing the needs of all children in a family to ensure that each child receives the special attention and support they deserve and support an interdisciplinary home environment. 

Finding a child care provider that has the right combination of training, skills, and flexibility, while at the same time fitting within a family’s dynamic can be challenging.  However, try to think ahead and take your time for thorough interviews, the right candidate can add value to your family that you may have never imagined.

Educational Professional with Children

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