Au Pair’s struggle: what to do when I need help and my area director from an agency isn’t doing anything?!

In the au pair program there’s a lot of things that can happen. Tons of amazing host families and great area directors (or LCCs – the same person from the agency who’s supposed to take care of an au pair when she has problems but different agencies have different names) but there are also those who aren’t doing their job. On the Internet you can find a lot of stories about au pairs being treated disrespectfully and when she turns for help to someone she doesn’t get it. First, it’s good that she tries to get help because there’s a lot of au pair who are quiet and let other treat them badly. This is what we’re not doing ;). Unfortunately there are also situations when an area director doesn’t care about her au pairs at all. And then this au pair feels left out, she’s stressed, afraid and doesn’t know what to do. And I’m not surprised since someone who’s introduced as a person “you can turn to for any help” now doesn’t care.

Not that long ago I sent an email to the Department of State because this is a place where all the au pair program rules are set up and they keep an eye on agencies. I told them about several stories I read (I didn’t give them any names!) including stories of girls who were kicked out of the house and didn’t have where to sleep, who didn’t have anything to eat. I talked about area directors who don’t help in anything, who sometimes threaten au pair and so on. Also, I told them about my experience with my old area director who was very incompetent. I received a long mail back pretty fast and I’d like to show you a part of it that’s the most important in this case.

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Our office highly encourages you to share our contact information and request that anyone who needs assistance contact our office immediately.  Our primary mission is to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of J1 exchange visitors. The Office of Private Sector Exchange Administration wants every exchange visitor to have a positive program experience and feel comfortable contacting our office should they experience any issues or hardships while on the program. Our office needs to be aware of these situations in order to provide assistance. (…) Our office is consistently looking for ways to improve program experiences.

E-mail: AuPairProgram@state.gov

Phone number: +1 (866) 283 – 9090

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Remember that you’re not alone and you have someone to count on! Fight for yourself because nobody else will do it for you. Don’t let anyone humiliate, use, offend you because the more you let them the more often it’ll happen. If they do all that or if you work more than your agreement states, if you’re forced to clean the whole house, if you’re forced to cook for your host family, if they make problems when you want to go to school and so on – report this! I really understand it’s not that easy when you’re on the other side of the world with strangers but a lot depends on you and if so many au pairs will remain quiet, nothing will change. Like they said in the e-mail – they need to know about situations like this in order to do something with them. Save contact information I gave you and use them when someone validates program’s rules. Report what’s happening and don’t be afraid to give them your area director’s name and/or your host family’s name because those people are there to help you. However, if you keep breaking the rules as well and you for example smoke while knowing that your host family doesn’t approve or you came here now having any experience with kids and now you don’t know what to do and more… I’ll think about it because the whole not breaking the rules thing works both ways.

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If you have any questions or you want to vent some, feel free to send me an e-mail – againamerica.info@gmail.com.

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Talk to you next time!

Aga

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glosowanie

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