Business

Child care and cultural exchange make for quite au pair

Finding quality child care is one of the toughest challenges working families face.

But Anna Woloschek, child care coordinator for EF Au Pair, says she has an in-home solution for families.

Her company brings in au pairs — or nannies — from Europe, Australia, South America, Mexico or South Africa. The men and women are available to stay with host families who need child care. Woloschek is seeking families from Kitsap County to host international au pairs for one year.

“It is a great opportunity for flexible child care up to 45 hours a week,” Woloschek said.

The cost to families is $250 a week, and they must provide the au pair with his or her own bedroom. The number of children in the au pair’s charge does not affect the price.

Long popular on the East Coast, the au pair phenomenon is slowly spreading west, Woloschek said. Boston-based EF Au Pair has a branch office in Portland, Ore., and Woloschek is helping the firm break into Kitsap County. She has been working out of her Wildcat Lake home as a child care coordinator for about 18 months.

In contrast to employing a traditional nanny, the EF program is a cultural exchange. Au pairs are treated more like a family member than an employee.

“For me, this is a good school of life. I’m all by myself, but I have made new friends. I’ve started a new life, and I’m enjoying it,” said Patrycja Krzyzanowska, a 21-year-old au pair from Poland.

Krzyzanowska is in her fourth month minding three children — 4,5, and 7 — for Tim and Laurel Nash of Poulsbo. The match is one of 4,000 made by EF currently in the United States.

The program employs a careful matching and screening process to ensure the arrangement is a success for both parties.

“When they match an au pair with a family, they look carefully,” Woloschek said. “They look at the religion, allergies and if there is a specific country” the family wants.

In addition to child care, au pairs can perform light housework and prepare childrens’ meals. They also can enrich childrens’ playtime with international games and stories, Woloschek said. Au pairs must attend school while in the U.S. to fulfill visa requirements — Krzyzanowska attends communications classes in the evening at Olympic College.

When an au pair is placed, the EF Au Pair child care coordinator provides follow-up support for families with monthly meetings.

For more information about the EF Au Pair program, call Anna Woloschek 830-2657.

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