Au revoir au pairs
The (quiet) end of the Au Pair programme in the UK
For a sector that is really quite small (an estimated 7% of UK families with children up to the age of 16, say they have have hosted an Au Pair in 2019-2020*), the idea of Au Pairs as a solution to childcare for working families, has been for many years an affordable luxury that many families have sought and relished. For some, it has been an affordable necessity, as other childcare solutions have been too costly or have not fitted personal circumstances. According to our survey, among families using them, 72% think Au Pairs are an affordable solution. When Au pair placements work well, they are a godsend, particularly for busy professionals with young families. Sometimes, they are the only option (24% in our survey said it was the only option open to them). Another 52% opted for the Au Pair route because it was the best fit for their working arrangements.
From Cultural Exchange to Childcare Necessity
By contrast, the benefit of cultural or educational benefits of hosting an Au Pair, was only cited by 9% of Au Pair families. This is a crucial point that illustrates how the use of Au Pairs has changed. Arguably, 30 years ago, Au Pairs may have been hosted during summer holidays, partly to help families over the extended holiday, but partly as an ideal of cultural enrichment. Now the situation is reversed: cultural exchange is valued, but the decision to host an au pair is driven largely by work and financial necessity, allowing families to work.
After Brexit, the End of Au Pairs
7% of families might not sound like a lot, but it would equate to 1.4 million families out of 19.1 million family households in the UK. From 1st January 2021, after the UK has left the EU and has ended so the called transition period, it is looking like these families will no longer be able to legally use Au Pairs as a childcare solution.
Please do not abandon this amazing programme.
@rainbowaupairs #saveaupairs @bapaa_aupair_association