WEAK ECONOMY LEADS TO STRONG DEMAND FOR AU PAIRS
One consequence of the current economic crisis is that more mothers
are working. More new moms are remaining in the workforce and at-home
mothers who had decided to put their careers on hold are having to
return to work. With an increase in dual income households comes an
increase in the demand for quality childcare.
In some cases, this rising demand is driving up childcare costs.
According to a recent report by the National Association of Child Care
Resource and Referral Agencies, the price of child care is rising
faster than the average rate of inflation. The report, which provides
typical prices of child care in centers, reveals that over the course
of a year, the average price of full-time center care increased an
average of 6.5 percent, almost three times the rate of inflation and
more than increases in healthcare and college costs. Escalating
childcare costs is having the greatest effect on the nanny business. A
recent Wall Street Journal article estimated that full time nanny
hiring is down between ten to thirty percent.
One childcare program, however, has been able to meet the growing
demand for childcare with an affordable option for working parents.
Cultural Care Au Pair is a childcare and cultural exchange program
based in Cambridge, MA, that places au pairs across the country
including au pairs in Maryland. Demand for au pairs is growing. Data
from the U.S. Department of State, which regulates the au pair
program, shows that nearly 22,000 au pairs came to the United States
last year, up 44% from 2004. With hundreds of available, qualified au
pairs, Cultural Care is able to meet the needs of families looking for
“Although the demand for au pairs is strong, we understand that
affordable childcare is an economic necessity for our current and
potential host families,” says David Fougere, President of Cultural
Care Au Pair. “We have taken some major steps to help families in
these tough economic times. While other au pair programs and other
types of childcare are raising their fees, we are holding our prices
at 2008 levels for 2009. We have also adjusted our payment plan and
reduced the initial deposit so the upfront costs are more manageable.
And, we will be offering greater discounts to both new and repeat
families throughout the year so many families will be paying even less
than they paid last year.”
Marji Epstein, local coordinator for Cultural Care in Montgomery
County, has seen an increased interest in the au pair program among
local families. “If you have two or three children, there really is no
comparison. The cost of the program is about $320 per week and that’s