What is the difference between an au pair and a nanny?
An au pair is a foreign national living in the United States as part of the host family, who receives a small stipend in exchange for babysitting and help with housework. Legally authorized to live and work (only as an au pair with the host family) in the United States for up to two years in order to experience American life, an au pair may or may not have previous child care experience. Au pairs typically don’t make a career out of childcare work as nannies do. An au pair is usually provided with a weekly stipend that is calculated as the federal minimum wage, less an allowance for room and board. According to the International Nanny Association (INA), au pairs may not be placed in homes with infants three months of age or younger, unless a parent or responsible adult will be in the home supervising the au pair. An au pair may not be placed in the home with a child two years of age or younger unless they have 200 or more hours of documented child care experience. Learn more here.
In contrast, a nanny works in the household, where he or she may live in or live outside the home, to undertake all tasks related to the care of the children. Nannies are typically seeking long-term career-building experience in child care, not necessarily a cultural exchange like an au pair. The INA defines a nanny as an individual “employed by a family on either a live-in or live-out basis to undertake all tasks related to the care of children.” Duties are generally restricted to child care and related tasks, such as preparing a child’s meals and doing a child’s laundry. Although a nanny may or may not have had formal training, she or he often has a good deal of actual experience, and oftentimes has been educated in child development. A nanny’s workweek usually ranges from forty to sixty hours, and a nanny typically works unsupervised.
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