Help & Support
Frequently Asked Questions for Families
Q. What is Alpha Christian Au pairs?
A. Alpha Christian Au Pairs (ACA) is an online Au pair matching service that provides an effective, easy and efficient web based solution for finding and matching host families and Au pairs. Our service is designed by Christians for Christians to support positive christian relationships. Our aim is to assist families and Au pairs to select the most appropriate partner family quickly and easily, with the added assurance of our unique Pledging System. Our service aims to provide customer value by reducing the time spent in researching and negotiating with Au pairs or host families.
Q. Why do I need to pledge to an Au pair?
A. Our Pledging System aims to remove the likelihood of Au pair or host families pulling out of an agreement with little or no notice to the other party. Its purpose is to support users of our website so that they are well informed of arrangements throughout the process.
Our unique Pledging System:
- Avoids disappointment.
- Prevents either host family or Au pair from committing to more than one family or Au pair at the same time, which would inevitably lead to one party being disappointed.
- Saves you time.
- Keeps you informed if either party changes their mind.
- Provides a fair and informed process for all.
Q. What is an Au pair?
A. "Au pair" is a French term, meaning "on par" or "equal terms". As an Au pair, you will live with a host family as a member of their family, assisting with childcare while experiencing everyday life in a new culture.
Q. What is the difference between an Au pair, a mother's help and a nanny?
A. Au pair - The Au pair programme is an internationally recognised Cultural Exchange Programme. It offers young individuals the opportunity to travel and live / work with a host family in a new country, learn a foreign language and experience the country's culture. The Au pair will work a set amount of hours for the host family, usually doing a mixture of childcare and light housework. The Au pair may have some childcare experience and even qualifications, but an Au pair is not a nanny and should also not be treated as a housekeeper.
Mother's help - A mother's help is a carer who has a genuine interest in children, who works under supervision to assist the daily running of the household. The mother's help will have at least 1 year's relevant experience and / or a qualification. Duties regarding children will be according to their experience, the type of household and the ages of the children. An extra hand rather than someone who takes charge. Depending on the childcare responsibilities expected, they would help around the house with light housework and run errands. If she is experienced and confident enough, she can take sole charge of the children at times. Unlike most nannies, mothers’ helps will normally do some light housework (dusting, vacuuming, etc).
Nanny - A nanny is a qualified and / or experienced childcare professional who works in the setting of the family's home, either live-in or out. The nanny is able to assume the responsibility of sole charge of young children. They are professionals and therefore expect a permanent contract with normal working conditions i.e. annual salary plus bonuses, overtime, paid holiday and their salary is subject to national insurance etc. Apart from the actual childcare, they will usually only do child-related housework.
Q. Why Should I register as a Host Family?
A. To contact any Au pair through Alpha Christian Au Pairs, you need to first register as a Family. We will create your personal profile with the information you provide during the registration process. Every Family or Au Pair who searches on Alpha Christian Au Pairs will be able to view your profile. Without registration, it wouldn't be possible for others to know about you or contact you.
Q. Can I have a live-out Au pair?
A. No. As this is a Cultural Exchange Program and the Au pair will specifically be joining your family, it is expected that she will be provided with her own private bedroom and full board. She must live as a family member and be made to feel welcome by all.
Q. What duties will an Au pair expect to do?
A. An Au pair will know that he/she will be required to help in the home with light housework and childcare. The acceptable duties of an Au pair can include washing dishes, preparing simple meals for the children, keeping the kitchen tidy and clean, loading and unloading laundry into the washing machine, ironing for the children, vacuuming, dusting, making and changing children's beds, cleaning the children's bathroom, everything to do with keeping their own room clean and tidy, light shopping, walking and feeding pets, emptying bins.
Q. What duties are not acceptable for an Au pair?
A. We do not expect Au pairs to be asked to do gardening, spring cleaning, window cleaning, cleaning the oven other than simply wiping it out, washing carpets, washing the car, the weekly household shopping, pet training.
Q. If my children are out at school all day can I ask the Au pair to do more household duties?
A. It is essential that the Au pair is made aware of what will be expected before he/she arrives. If there are no children at home during the day he/she may be very happy to carry out additional household duties such as ironing for the parents, polishing silver and brassware, or even preparing food for the evening meal.
Q. How will my Au pair occupy himself/herself during the day when the children are not at home?
A. Your Au pair will probably be happy to attend a language course at a local college. Many schools have courses designed specially for Au pairs. Au pairs do not work full-time and a proportion of the day should be set aside for study. He/she may also like to join the local sports centre / swimming pool.
Q. Can I have an Au pair to care for my child who is younger than 2 years of age?
A. An Au pair should not have continuous sole charge of infants under the age of two. They are not usually qualified to undertake this level of care.
Q. Will my Au pair babysit for us?
A. Au pairs expect to babysit for two evenings per week. Additional pocket money should be paid for any additional evenings.
Q. Who pays the Au pair's travel costs?
A. The Au pair is required to pay his/her own travelling costs to and from the UK, unless the family chooses to fund this.
Q. Can an Au pair look after an elderly relative?
A. Traditionally Au pairs look after children and indeed like to be placed in a family where they can be involved in family life. However we are also able to offer Companions who are willing to assist in the home on a full-time basis with care of the independent elderly (non-medical).
Q. Do Au pairs receive paid holiday?
A. Yes. The family must specify the Au pair's entitlement to paid holidays and must state when they can be taken or if there are any times which are inconvenient to them. Holiday times are to be mutually agreed between the host family and Au pair at all times. If a host family wishes to take an Au Pair on holiday with them, it must be decided in advance if it is a holiday for the Au Pair as well, or if he/she will be working, i.e. babysitting. In recent months in the UK there have been ongoing discussions regarding the status of the Au pair given that the Au pair is not an employee, but a participant on a Cultural Exchange programme.
Q.I have an Au pair helping me with my childcare , can I claim tax credits or childcare vouchers?
A. This will depend on your individual family circumstances; you should contact the HM Revenue and Customs for detailed advice on your case. Follow the link below for general guidance from HMRC: www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/start/who-qualifies/children/approved-childcare.htm
Q. How can my Au pair (or nanny) become Ofsted registered under the voluntary registration scheme?
A. Follow the following link to download information from the Ofsted website:http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/Forms-and-guidance/Browse-all-by/Other/General/Guide-to-registration-on-the-Childcare-Register/(language)/eng-GB
Parents who use an approved child carer will be able to receive some financial support towards their employment costs. Find out how you can help your Mother's help or even your au pair to become an approved carer so that you can benefit both financially and due to their increased knowledge on childcare.
See below for general guidance on the process:
- The Au pair or nanny should call Ofsted and tell them that they want to become registered under the voluntary Ofsted registration scheme for home-based childcare.
- Ofsted will send out a form in the post to be filled in.
- The form must be returned with a valid First Aid Certificate.
- Ofsted will carry out a police check (even if he/she already has a CRB).
- If the person has lived in the UK for less than 5 years, then he/she will have to get a good conduct letter/ certificate from his/her embassy. This needs to be written in English or translated into English by an authorised translator. This depends on the country of origin of the Au pair or nanny, so check with Ofsted first.
- Ofsted confirm that it is also acceptable for the Au pair or nanny to get a police check from their country of origin and send it to Ofsted, but it must be an official document, on letter-headed paper, stamped and translated into English by an authorised translator.
- Ofsted will then send through another form (called a Verify form) that must be taken to the post office, together with a form of ID (e.g. passport) so that their identity can be checked.
- The application fee, currently £103, must be paid.
- Annually, on the anniversary of the registration with Ofsted, the fee becomes payable again, as long as the Au pair/nanny wants to remain Ofsted-registered.
- The Au pair/nanny also needs a childcare (or similar) qualification from their home country, or from the UK, which has to be equivalent to level 2, or the Au pair / nanny must enrol on a Common Core Skills and Knowledge course, by contacting their local authority. Information about the eligibility of your qualification is available by contacting Children Work Force Development Council on 0113 244 63 11 or 0300 123 1033.
- The Au pair or nanny also needs to take out personal public liability insurance – most households have insurance, but this will not necessarily cover the Au pair or nanny if he/she has an accident.
- The time it takes to complete registration is usually between 12 and 14 weeks; it often takes 6-8 weeks for the CRB to come back.
Q. If my Au pair comes from Romania/Bulgaria does she require a visa?
A. Applicants from these countries do NOT need a visa but they DO need an accession worker card from the UK Border Agency before taking up an Au pair placement. They need to meet traditional Au pair requirements regarding marital status (single) age (17-27) and working hours (25).
Q. Can my Au pair drive in the UK?
A. Yes if she has a full clean driving licence from another EEA country. Please check http://www.dvla.gov.uk for full information. Candidates on a Youth Mobility Visa should obtain an International Driving Permit.
Q. Who pays for the car insurance?
A. The Host Family is liable for the car insurance fee. The car must be road worthy and covered by fully comprehensive insurance. The family should pay all the resulting costs of any accidents, including any excess payments. Petrol must be provided for use on duty but the Au pair may be asked to contribute towards petrol for personal use whilst off duty.
Q. Will my Au pair be covered under the NHS?
A. All EU Nationals are entitled to free health care under the National Health Service. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles the Au pair to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment. The card is free but must be obtained by the Au pair before travel. See http://www.ehic.org.uk. Please remember to register your Au pair with your family doctor.
Q. Will my Au pair have health insurance?
A. We recommend that Au pairs take out a policy in their home country to cover for costly emergencies such as dental care, legal assistance and repatriation.
Q. Do we have to pay tax or National Insurance for our Au pair?
A. Tax and NI contributions are payable as soon as pay is more than £124 per week. (£6,475 tax year 200/10); For more information on Tax and NI contributions see: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/it.htm and www.nannytax.co.uk
Q. What questions should I ask the Au pair when I interview him/her?
A. To view some sample questions please click here.
Q. Is there a notice period?
A. Both families and Au pairs require a two-week notice period. This normally allows sufficient time for the Au pair to find a new host family and the family to find a new Au pair. Flexibility is required at this awkward stage but the situation can be handled well if both parties are reasonable and helpful.