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Au pairs make child care flexible and affordable
0412AuPair-Emilie Perriard and Jacob Wright
Emilie Perriard, left, of Switzerland was hired as an au pair by Dacula residents Rebekah and Jim Wright to care for their two sons, including Jacob, pictured here.

Husband and wife Jim and Rebekah Wright both work jobs that often take them away from their two sons at the same time.

Babysitters and day care centers help many working parents, but the Wrights needed a more flexible option for their 3- and 8-year-old sons.

"I'm a pharmacist and work 12-hour shifts and my husband is a pilot," said Rebekah Wright. "There's no day care after 6 p.m. or on the weekends."

The Dacula parents found a solution to their child care woes last year when they contacted AuPairCare, a company that provides American families with international nannies from more than 40 countries.

Headquartered in San Francisco, the company has placed more than 30,000 au pairs with American families since 1989, according to the company's Web site.

A local connection

The Wrights received help finding their au pair from a local AuPairCare representative in Georgia, who matched them with Emilie Perriard, 24, from Switzerland.

"(With) the au pair program, it seems like every girl was a great candidate," Wright said. "They all seemed like really responsible girls."

Emilie will return to Switzerland in June, and Wright said the family has already hired another au pair from Russia.

The Wrights found their new nanny with the help of Hoschton resident Christy Corbin.

Corbin has worked as a local representative with AuPairCare since January. She provides "local support" to 26 host families and their au pairs in the metro Atlanta region, including the Wrights.

"If they need anything, I'm going to be their first call," Corbin said. Every month, she checks in with host families and their au pairs, but is available if either needs assistance before then. She also acts as a matchmaker, helping families find the right nanny for their child care needs.

Before they are matched, families and au pairs each fill out an application, submit references and receive an extensive evaluation involving phone and in-house interviews.

Corbin conducts the family evaluations and said this is done to make sure both the family and au pair will be compatible.

If they meet criteria established by the U.S. Department of State, Corbin said families can then use the company's online matching system, Family Room, to find the right au pair.

It was her previous experience working with youth, Corbin said, that attracted her to the job. "It's really fun all the things you get to do," she said.

Through the position, she gets to bond with the au pairs and host families in her region. Plus, the job allows the stay-at-home mom to work while she takes care of her five children.

The best part, she says, is working with the au pairs. "The girls are fabulous. They're coming here from other countries and they're learning about our culture and we're learning about theirs."

Life of an au pair

Helping children with their homework, making their meals and driving them to school are just some of the services an au pair provides, according to AuPairCare.

In addition, au pairs must complete six semester credits of classes at an accredited institution while in the United States, according to Corbin.

The entire au pair program costs $7,195 a year, and covers the overseas recruitment and intensive screening of au pair candidates, international transportation to the U.S., travel and accident insurance, a rigorous four-day orientation and training program in New Jersey, personalized matching with families and ongoing support from AuPairCare, according to the company Web site.

The cost works out so that families pay about $7 an hour for the au pairs to work 45 hours a week, even if a family has multiple children, Corbin said.

"You just can't get that in a day care," she said. "You're paying the same amount and you have the au pair living in your home and you have the flexibility of scheduling when you need to have that au pair."

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