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Best Childcare Option for your Family: Nanny or Au Pair?

Child Care ConceptWhat is the best in-home care option for your family?

A Nanny or an Au Pair?

Locally based childcare in Canada is extremely difficult to find and consequently many parents choose to hire an applicant from overseas through the In-Home Caregiver Program. This is a temporary foreign worker program which enables families to hire a nanny for their children, or a caregiver for their elderly or disabled relatives.

In order to qualify, nannies must have obtained at least one full year of work experience or completed a full-time six month long caregiving course. There is no age limit for nanny applicants but the majority fall between 25-45 years of age. Though their duties are predominantly childcare, a live-in nanny can also perform light housekeeping and , meal preparation for the family.

In turn, the family must be able to offer their nanny applicant a full-time, long-term employment. The nanny may live in the home with the family but room and board must be free of charge. It also helps the nanny who can learn from the family and settle into living and working in Canada since typically this will be her first time in the country.  

The employer when hiring an overseas nanny must pay for her travel costs, including airfare, but many families use their travel points to fly their nanny to Canada.  Depending on the province in which they are based, the family may also be required to  pay for her to be covered for temporary private health insurance if she is not immediately eligible on her arrival to apply for provincial health insurance coverage.

Depending on province, a full-time live in nanny starts at $ 395 – 450 per week.

Hiring someone through the In-Home Caregiver Program can be extremely successful and many parents gain a long term, consistent and reliable live-in or live-out nanny, someone they and their children have grown over time to know and trust. In-Home nannies provide great flexibility right in your home and provide that extra pair of hands for busy families.

However there is a lengthy wait for a nanny’s arrival, often taking about six months for all the paperwork to be processed.

If a family is planning to go the overseas nanny route, PLAN AHEAD !!

And because the nanny’s employment is required to be full-time, it is not a program that is suited to the needs of all families.

This is one of the reasons why a growing number of parents are choosing to hire an Au Pair. An Au Pair is someone who is also based overseas and looking for a childcare position with a Canadian family, but is typically younger (18-27) with less professional work experience, and interested as much in the cultural benefits of their stay. They too live in their employers’ home and learn about the Canadian way of life, but also take an active part in family life; becoming a big sister to the children they are caring for. Childcare makes up the majority of their duties and while they may do some tidying of the home and laundry, this is only as it relates to the children i.e. tidying the children’s toys, washing the children’s clothing etc. Au Pairs also typically hold full drivers licences and are thus able to drive the children to and from school and other activities if required by the family.

Au Pairs obtain a work permit through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which allows them to live and work in the country for a maximum of one year usually. The application process is expeditious, taking approximately 8-12 weeks. And because a job offer isn’t required prior to applying, many Au Pairs will have obtained their Visa even before interviewing with families so can travel to Canada as soon as they have found the perfect family to work for. For parents, the process of hiring an Au Pair is extremely simple as the Au Pair herself is responsible for purchasing her own airfare and temporary travel insurance for the duration of her stay. Au Pairs are not required to work a certain number of hours so they can be flexible, working full or part time as their host family requires.

Because they lack the professional work experience of a nanny, Au Pairs are not usually suitable for taking care of newborn and very young babies. However for toddlers and older children they can be great role models, introducing your family to another culture and even another language. While some families hire an Au Pair to cover their childcare needs for a full twelve months, others may only be needed during the school year or even while a family is waiting for their live-in nanny’s application to be approved.  Whatever the situation, Au Pairs make a great immediate and temporary childcare solution for some, while for other families a live-in nanny provides that consistent, long-term childcare they require.   

 

Manuela Gruber Hersch is the owner of International Nannies & Homecare Ltd.(www.internationalnannies.com ) and also a founding director of ACNA Canada ( Association of Caregiver & Nanny Agencies Canada). She also came to Canada as an overseas live in nanny and employs a live in nanny for her two children.

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