When new visa restrictions confirmed that new au pairs preparing to come to the United States would not be able to enter the country, waiting American families had to scramble to find replacements.
The current shortage of au pairs in the country has further highlighted the lack of affordable child care in America, to the point where young foreigners who wait a year or two for a cultural exchange have become lifelines, often unintentionally, for two-earner couples hoping for two jobs.
“Almost everyone says you’re unlikely to have an au pair,” said Erin Burkhart, a high school teacher and two-time host mother in the Seattle area whose last au pair was due. join his family in the summer of Germany. “The research process itself is a full-time job. Right now I’m going to email everyone, I’ll contact everyone. I had about 15 video chats in the last week. “
On the other hand, while au pairs entering the program may only speak with two or three families during the initial interview process, applicants in the country now hear 10, 20, sometimes closer to 50 potential families. Even male au pairs, who often find it difficult to be matched, struggle. “Because they know they have no options, they also accept men for their families,” said an au pair from Brazil. “It’s not a big deal anymore.”