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Thanks for highlighting that article on the Au Pair Program. I think a part of the problem with the narrative around the au pair program is the idea that it is broken! Yes, it is broken compared to an imaginary perfect program immune from the realities of economic tradeoffs. But treating a program as broken that has been a life saver for so many working families (like ours) and au pairs that would have never made it to this country otherwise - is a mistake and leads to something like we have now, an attempt at massive reform instead of continuous improvement.

This isn't to say there aren't problems. I know au pairs who have not been treated well by families, and have had to scramble to get rematched or been hesitant to out of fear. It is stressful, but as I type - I think all have been able to get rematched. But I'm sure there are horror stories and plenty of suboptimal situations to cite when thousands of stressed out families and young people are involved. More common sense improvements would be - incremental increases to the stipend tied to inflation or some predictable index. Nobody is accounting for the fact that it costs between $1K to $2K/mo to a family in "hidden costs" to provide room, board, car, etc...

(Weird dynamic I've observed: often the au pairs with the wealthiest families and who get the most perks - their own guest house, nicest cars, highest wages - are treated most like "the help" and don't get a true cultural exchange experience)

Another common sense improvement would be holding the au pair agencies to higher quality control standards in terms of gathering au pair feedback, ensuring families are following the rules and spirit of the program, and initiating rematch when necessary. Also, the rematch process could be improved as mentioned in the article: https://19thnews.org/2024/03/au-pair-program-state-department-fix/

I'm thankful we've had 4 amazing au pairs who we still stay in touch with and who have come back to visit us. Been a truly amazing experience for my family, and I hope the same for these folks from other countries - at least that's what they tell us. But I'm also glad our need for the program is coming to an end because this "big reform" based on the assumption that the program is broken is going to completely change the spirit of the program, and probably the # of people (both families and au pairs) who have access to it - as what happened in Massachusetts (68% drop in participation).

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