There are hundreds of au pair placement agencies in Germany alone. So if you want to become an au pair, how do you choose an agency that is right for you? And how can you check if a placement agency is legitimate? In Germany, the Gütegemeinschaft Au-pair e.V. certifies au pair agencies and awards the “RAL Quality Seal” to agencies that rate highly. The group has an index of approved agencies online here. Young Germany took a look at one agency on the list, AbroadConnection, to get a better idea of how the whole process works.
Specializing in providing advice and placements for potential au-pairs and guest families, AbroadConnection based in the Bavarian town of Landsberg is one of many au pair placement agencies in Germany. AbroadConnection was founded by Susanne Caudera-Preil in 1996 on the basis of many years of experience in au-pair placement. AbroadConnection sends German au-pairs to 18 countries across the world, including the USA and New Zealand, while also offering placement services for young people coming to Germany from abroad.
Candidates must be between 18 and 24 years of age, possess a working knowledge of the German language, and have experience working with children. Those candidates from outside of Germany can complete a short application form on the AbroadConnection website. They can also ask agency staff any questions they might have, and thanks to modern-day technology they can even do so via Skype. AbroadConnection also helps candidates with visa applications, provides support to au-pairs during their time in Germany, organizes meet-ups for au-pairs while on placement, and provides them with additional information on study opportunities in Germany.
Quality and costs
The agency currently charges a fee of EUR 199 for these placement services, which is of course joined by travel and insurance costs, which are to be covered by the au-pairs themselves. In their guest families the au-pairs have the opportunity to learn about day-to-day life in Germany while being right at the heart of it, helping around the house and looking after the children, for which they receive an allowance proportionate to the cost of living in that particular location.
In 2006, AbroadConnection was awarded the RAL Quality Seal from the Gütegemeinschaft Au-pair e.V. association, making AbroadConnection one of 63 certified agencies in Germany. This is something that is not to be overlooked, proving extremely helpful for candidates when trying to sift through the some 500 au-pair agencies in Germany. Director Susanne Caudera-Preil knows from experience that more and more young people are taking to the Internet in an attempt to find their own guest families. And unfortunately these attempts often lead them to precisely those black sheep that exploit au-pairs as cheap labor.
“To avoid such situations, those interested in becoming au-pairs should always seek the help of a reputable and indeed certified agency,” advises Caudera-Preil. Like AbroadConnection, such agencies should be members of the International Au Pair Association IAPA, the Au-pair-Society (the Federal Association of Au-pair placement agencies), or the Gütegemeinschaft Au-pair association. This approach may entail more formalities, such as a more extensive application procedure; however, this way, candidates can be sure that their time as an au-pair will be an unforgettable and wonderful experience and by no means a bad one.