Using an agency to find individual child care

If you use an agency to help you find an individual care provider for your child, first find out details about the general policies and requirements. Ask about:

  • The application process. Find out what methods are used to match caregivers and families. For example, some au pair agencies provide the host family with a list of available caregivers. Other agencies assign an au pair to a host family.
  • Your responsibilities and expectations. Confirm when the caregiver will be paid and how much. Find out if you will be responsible for other expenses, such as benefits, meals, or transportation reimbursement. If you are selecting an au pair, make sure you understand the requirements for his or her living quarters and time off.
  • The level of support you will receive through the duration of your arrangement. Agencies vary in the amount and kind of support, training, and assistance they provide.
  • Others' experiences. Either get references from the agency or ask people you trust about an agency's reputation.

A national nonprofit organization, Child Care Aware, may be a good place to start. The organization provides detailed information about finding and selecting child care in your community. They also provide information about potential sources of financial assistance. Call 1-800-424-2246 or visit their Web site at http://www.childcareaware.org.

Last Updated: September 26, 2008

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics

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