Hi! Maddie here. Recently I had to rematch, which means that we cancelled our au pair’s contract before her year was up. Even though our au pair was a nice person and wonderful with the children (especially with the baby), she couldn’t be on time to save her life. Even after months of working with her, she continued to struggle with time management. We had to make a choice…to stay with her until the end of her 12 months, or to rematch.

This is a hard topic the write about, but I hope that my experience will be helpful for other au pair host families when faced with this difficult decision.

In comparison to other rematches, my experience was rather mild. My au pair had been with us for 8 months already. She fit in really well with my family and my kids loved her. Unfortunately, she just could not manage her time.

Even in my friendly rematch, we experienced a lot of strong feelings. On one hand, things were not going well and I needed resolution. On the other hand, I depended on my au pair. The possibility of losing that support, for even a short period of time, was daunting.

What is Rematch?

When issues arise between the host family and an au pair that can not be resolved through mediation with the local community counselor, then the family and the au pair will go into rematch.

Remember, rematch isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does not mean that you are bad host parents or bad people. It is simply an end to a contract that didn’t work out for whatever reason.

In rematch the host family will be free to select a different au pair and the au pair will be free to match with a new family provided that the sponsor agency agrees.

Be warned, Au pair sponsor agencies can bar host families from selecting another au pair.  This is especially true if the host family violated U.S. government regulations, federal, state or local laws or their obligations under the au pair program contract.

What is Friendly Rematch?

In a friendly rematch the au pair and the host family are still on good terms. In my case, I still cared deeply for my au pair. I also had to acknowledge that it was not working well. I was willing to give her a good, but honest, reference for her next host family. She continued to try her best while she was still with us. 

Why would a host family consider a rematch?

Why a host family would consider a rematch is complicated and varied.

The cases on the far end of the spectrum are easy to identify. As an example, something terrible may have happened requiring immediate action. I would consider situations where an au pair intentionally put a child at risk or broke a major law to be in this category. As would sexual advances between an au pair and a host parent. I have also heard of cases where an au pair is placed into rematch because a host parent lost a job or a host family was displaced by a natural disaster. However, most situations are not this clear cut.

In some cases, the desire to rematch is mutual. For whatever reason, the au pair and the host family are not getting along and not able to come to a resolution. Communication issues can also be a reason to rematch. If the au pair and the host family cannot figure out how to communicate with each other, then it is not a good match.

In other cases, the rematch may be one-sided. Typically in this situation the au pair did not fulfill some aspects of the host families expectations. I have heard of rematches because of an au pair not passing the drivers test or having a series of car accidents. Other families have gone into rematch because their au pairs repeatedly failed to be on time or complete their duties.

One-sided rematches can also be initiated by an au pair. All of these situations I have heard of involved the host family repeatedly violating the program rules.

Should I Rematch?

Knowing when it was time for a rematch was the hardest part of the process for me. I was an experienced host mom by this point. I had been through any number of issues with my previous au pairs and I had never needed to help of the community counselor to work anything out. But this time I just could not bring the problems to resolution without help.

My advice for struggling host families is to think it through carefully, talk it out with your au pair, and move quickly to find resolution.

Think it Through

It is natural to run into adjustment issues or cultural differences with your au pair at some point during the program year. But how can you tell cultural differences apart from real problems?

Safety is the number one concern. Are you worried about the safety of your children when they are in the care of your au pair? Did your au pair get caught breaking the law?

Take some time to consider how much your issues really bother you. Have you talked to your au pair about it? If not, is it really a concern for rematch if you haven’t even bothered to bring it up? Is it such a difficult topic that you can’t even have the conversation with her?

What does your spouse think? Do you have any other close friends or family who might be able to help you think it through? Maybe your community counselor can give you some advice? You can even reach out to other host parents on our My Au Pair and Me Facebook group.

Talk it Out

After giving the situation a good long thought, try resolving the concerns by talking to your au pair. Be honest! Calmly and slowly let her know how you feel and why you feel that way. Then STOP and listen to her side of the story. What happened from her point of view? How does she feel? Why does she feel that way?

Try to seek a mutual agreement to resolve the issue. Does she have any ideas of how to resolve the issues? Once you determine the go forward plan together, you need to clearly tell her your next steps if the plan isn’t followed. This is especially true if you are considering rematch.

Move Quickly

If the concern persists after talking with your au pair, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local community counselor for support, advice, or to start the rematch process. Don’t wait, the longer you wait the worse the situation will get.

How does the rematch process work?

After you reach out to your community counselor and request a rematch, they will likely schedule a mediation between you and your au pair. You will both be asked to talk about your top concerns and why you feel they are so important. Next, you will develop a plan to resolve the issues. If a plan cannot be determined or the plan is broken, your local community counselor can officially file the rematch process.

Once my decision to rematch was official, things started moving really quickly! Within 24 hours my local and regional counselors called offering help in finding a new au pair. They opened up my access to search for a new au pair and sent me extra information on the in-country au pairs. Within 72 hours I had interviewed the in-country au pairs I thought might be a good fit and luckily found one I really liked. It then took a few days to finalize the match and book a plane ticket. Our new au pair arrived 10 days after officially declaring the rematch.

Do host families have to continue hosting the au pair after rematch?

In most cases, host families are required by contract to continue hosting the exiting au pair. In my case, the agency required me to host my exiting au pair until she departed for her new host family or for home. She continued to live with us for 2 weeks.

Check the contract with your au pair sponsor agency for the details of this obligation. You should reach out to them directly if you have any concerns about continuing to host your au pair.

Do au pair sponsor agencies guarantee continuous childcare coverage if something happens to my au pair?

No, au pair sponsor agencies do not guarantee continuous childcare coverage if something happens to your au pair. However, most agencies will do what they can to help you select a new au pair quickly and minimize the impact to the host family.

Will I get a refund if I rematch?

Every au pair sponsor agency has different contractual terms about refunds and credits. You should check the fine print of your contract. Most agencies offer credits towards your next au pair or partial refunds if it is within the first 3 months of the contract.

In my case, I was matching with a new au pair from the same agency so they applied a credit for the remaining months on my contract towards the program fees of my next au pair.

Was rematching worth the trouble?

I get asked this question all the time. For me the answer is a resounding “YES”, rematch was worth it. My only regret is letting things go for as long as I did in the hopes that it would get better.

In retrospect, I’m not sure why it was such a hard decision for me. Those who were close to me had been urging me initiate the process with the au pair agency for quite a while before I actually did.

I was worried about a gap in child care coverage (I didn’t have a gap). The financial burden of starting a new au pair contract was also a concern (my refund covered the difference). Most importantly, I was worried about the impact on my kids (they loved my new au pair and easily transitioned). On the other hand, not every rematch goes as smoothly as mine did.

Every situation is different, you will need to make the decision that is right for your family. If you are struggling, I suggest that you think it through carefully, talk it out with your au pair, and move quickly to find resolution.

If you have questions or need a second opinion don’t be shy. Reach out to other host parents on our My Au Pair and Me Facebook group.


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