Kim has worked and lived in the Berkeley, California area for 13 years. For 8 of those, she worked as an area director to a major au pair agency.
What's the story behind your latest book?
After hosting three au pairs in our own home, and working for an au pair agency for 8 years as an au pair coordinator, I wanted to help young people that are considering coming to the U.S. as au pairs. It's a great cultural exchange program, created by an act of Congress and overseen by the Department of State. I have known hundreds of successful au pairs who have become fluent in English, made lifelong friends, and seen the U.S. from the point of view of a resident, not a visitor. Most importantly, many have gained a "second family" in their hosts. The relationship with the host is critical, and can be very long-lasting. Many au pairs stay connected to their hosts and the host children they helped raise.
But not everyone makes a great match. There are strict rules and time limits governing "rematching" according to the program regulations that are not flexible. An au pair might find herself (or himself) in a poor match for any number of reasons. I go into these in detail in The Essential Au Pair Guide. If an au pair is pushed into rematch by an unhappy host, or voluntarily enters rematch, they must find another U.S. host using the same agency within two weeks. If the au pair doesn't find a new match, the au pair's program is over and they must pay for their own airline ticket home. Even more devastating, the au pair is not allowed to reapply and try again, leveraging the experience they have gained.
So you see, it is absolutely critical to find a compatible host family from the start.
I wrote The Essential Au Pair Guide because several themes governing successful and poor matches became apparent to me after years of working daily with hosts and au pairs. Themes such as desired level of independence and management styles. The Essential Au Pair Guide summarizes my expertise, gleaned from "hands on and hearts on" experience, and the discussions I had with colleagues throughout the industry.
The good news is that most au pair/host difficulties fall into a relatively small number of areas, that I have sketched out in my book. By reading The Essential Au Pair Guide, an young person will greatly increase their chances of finding a compatible family. They will also learn about the different types of families that typically host au pairs and what different family types will require for childcare. The au pair that matches with a family of two professional parents and three school-aged kids will have a very different day than the au pair who matches with a single parent with an infant. Seeing these differences in real life makes many aspects of the au pair program crystal clear, and clarifies the questions necessary to ask during interviews to avoid problems. A 20-year-old hoping for a year to learn English may not be thinking about those issues. At least, not until they read The Essential Au Pair Guide!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small Texas town a stone's throw from Louisiana. We moved to to the big city of Houston, Texas, when I was 10 years old. That move expanded my horizons. I wanted to experience all the areas of town, visit all the shops, and try food from around the world at the small little ethnic restaurants. Later, in high school, I was very interested in the exchange students who came to my school. I particularly remember becoming friends in French class with a lovely Portuguese girl. In my family, it was not thought of to leave home and live overseas for a year. I envied the exchange students and paid my own way to Europe the summer after my first year of college.
Want to be an au pair? The Essential Au Pair Guide is your must-have manual for finding the best host family for you. Written by an eight-year veteran of the au pair world in the popular San Francisco area, this guidebook details what families in the U.S. are looking for in an au pair and "previews" what specific family types need. Author Trutane increases your chances of finding your ideal host!