> To the Homepair FAQs

FAQs for Families

How much does a homepair cost?

Check out our comparison chart to estimate how much your homepair would cost versus a traditional au pair.  Our fees are $175 a month – 5x lower than au pair agency fees, we have the fastest on boarding process, great candidates with a diverse range of skills and talents and shorter transition periods.  We will also do our best to help you find the right match and like to think that our size allows us to provide you with a ‘white glove’ experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

When can my homepair start?

You’re ready to go as soon as you have both ‘designed and signed’ your homepair agreement.  Our booking process is all online and as fast as you want it to be.  Unlike hiring a traditional au pair – we have no delays for visa processing, arranging international travel, or attending cultural orientation boot camps – a process that can take up to six weeks alone.

You will also notice a shorter transition period when your homepair arrives at your home compared to an international au pair – the absence of cultural and language barriers makes the adjustment into family life and ‘the routine’ far smoother for everyone.

How do I contact a homepair?

“CALL / TEXT” – Click to have a ‘cell phone to cell phone’ conversation.  We don’t give you the homepair’s actual phone number – only a ‘proxy’ for it – and when you call, the homepair won’t see your real phone number displayed.  From there, it’s just like any other phone call – a great way to connect instantly and securely without needing to be logged onto Homepaired.

Please do remember to be responsive and courteous at all times, and most importantly to never solicit or share private or personal information as per our Terms.   We have built these features for your convenience and safety.

If you have any questions or experience difficulties with connecting – as always, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

How do background checks work?

When you make a booking, you will be asked to run background checks on your family (anyone over the age of 18) and, of course, the homepair.  This is a really important step in your vetting process and hiring decision that any employer should take.  You are free to choose any company that you like – just be sure that they are ‘FCRA compliant’ that governs how background checks are run.

We like companies like Clearchecks – you just need email addresses to get started, pricing is fair with a fast turnaround.  Whoever you go with – be sure to choose a package that you are comfortable with.  Most companies will offer ‘Basic or National’ packages (covering the big ticket national crime and public registers) and ‘Detailed or County Level’ packages (where county courts and driver’s records maybe added to the search).

The Basic or National package ($20 at Clearchecks)

We recommend that families, at a minimum, run ‘basic’ background checks on themselves and the homepair.  Clearchecks’ ‘National’ package is a good example of what to expect one of these searches to cover:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) Trace
  • Full Name, Alternate Names, & Aliases
  • Date of Birth (DOB) Verification
  • Current & Previous Addresses History
  • 7-Year National Criminal Record Search
  • Multi-State Sex Offender Search
  • FBI Most Wanted & Terrorist Watch List
  • INTERPOL Most Wanted List
  • Federal, State, & Local Wanted Fugitives
  • Federal & International Sanction Lists

The Detailed or County Level package ($30 at Clearchecks + state surcharges)

Families often want a more thorough background check on the homepair where the package includes searches of county records and driver’s records.

Choose what you feel is comfortable, and always supplement with reference checks also.  At no time do we see or are privy to any background checks that are ordered – these are private reports between yourself and your vendor, however you will naturally need to share those results with your homepair.  When you are both satisfied with the checks and had a chance to review them – you can continue with your booking and start on your bespoke childcare agreement.

How do I design my childcare agreement?

We do the hard work for you – we can build a first draft for you in seconds, using data from both your profile and your prospective homepair.  Then follow a simple online Q&A to customize and edit right down to the ‘House Rules’ – we provide lots of room for ‘free text’ and clarification.  We’ll also indicate if Federal or State Labor Laws need to be considered in relevant sections.

Once your homepair receives the first draft, there are opportunities to make changes and revisions before your homepair finally signs – no jargon, no anxiety and no paperwork – it’s that simple!

How do you handle 're-matches'?

‘Re-matching’ is a very common practice within the au pair industry…it is when a family wants to replace an au pair, and is often a lengthy and stressful process managed by the au pair agency.

We don’t believe that ‘re-matching’ will be as big a problem with homepairs for a variety of reasons – but if you find you need to end your placement early, we offer a simple solution.  Simply go online to search and book a new Homepair as normal, and we will ensure that your new booking fee is offset with any ‘unused’ fees from the prior arrangement – easy, fair and hassle free – the way it should be.  We offer a 1 month ‘grace period’ to book a new homepair, at which point the fees you will be able to offset will reduce daily and will be owed / due as normal.

Please review our Terms of Service for more details or contact us if you have any questions.

Do I pay my homepair if they are 'on call' overnight?

Occasionally families will need their homepair to be ‘on call’ if they need to be away overnight and not present at home.  So how do you treat this time in terms of hours worked and paid?  Thankfully, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) offers some guidance here!

If your homepair is ‘on call’ overnight but gets eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, you do not need to count those 8 hours as worked (the ‘8 hour sleep time exemption’).  If they need to attend to your children during the night, that time would count as hours worked as normal, but if that interruption results in the homepair receiving less than 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep – then all 8 hours would need to be paid (i.e. you wouldn’t be able to use the 8 hour sleep exemption).

If you think you would need your homepair ‘on call’ on a regular basis, you should discuss that during the interview process to make sure they are on board, and always make a note of any ‘on call’ arrangement you agree within your childcare agreement.

Do I pay my homepair if we are on vacation?

Bottom line is that you must pay your homepair for childcare hours worked – whether that’s performed at home or during a family vacation shouldn’t matter.

If you decide to take a vacation, but your homepair stays behind at home – decide (and document in your agreement) how you would like to handle that scenario.  Most families do not feel it necessary to pay their homepair any ‘childcare’ wages, but might offer something for looking after the house and taking care of the pets etc.  It’s also quite common for families to request the homepair take their paid vacation during this time – this way the homepair still gets paid and the family doesn’t lose any childcare time when they return, an arrangement that works for everyone.

Whatever you decide, just remember to make a note in your agreement so there are no surprises!

Do all homepairs speak English?

The majority, if not all, of homepairs are American with English as their first language – so language barriers should be one concern you can cross off the list.  You can also search for homepairs with fluency in foreign languages if that’s a vital skill you want your children to benefit from (just search the ‘World Traveller’ skillset in a user’s profile and select languages you are most interested in).

 

Can homepairs care for infants or children with special / medical needs?

Absolutely!  You can search for homepairs with special needs experience and also look for any certifications they might have to help you with your selection process. You should discuss this topic in more detail when you connect with a prospective candidate to assess if that experience is a fit for your specific situation.

Please note that homepairs can not be the sole caregiver for children under 3 months of age.

Do you have male homepairs?

We don’t discourage anyone from signing up to be a homepair, and appreciate that male homepairs are the preferred choice for many families with boys.  That being said, you may find there tends to be a higher ratio of females to males looking to be a homepair on our platform at any one time.

Do homepairs drive?

The vast majority of homepairs will have a US driver’s license (you can check their profiles to be sure) – another reason why choosing a homepair is less complicated than a traditional au pair.  Homepairs understand the US highway code which means your kids are immediately in safer hands on our roads from day one.

Remember to discuss with your homepair if they can bring their own car to your home, many families have welcomed the added benefit of not needing to share the family car.

 

 

Where do homepairs come from?

We recruit our homepairs in a variety of ways – the vast majority are through college job boards, word of mouth, our great referral program and social media to reach a wider audience.  We don’t discriminate anybody from signing up to be a homepair – as long as you are legally allowed to work in the US, over 18, have medical insurance and at least 1 years childcare experience, you are free to put your profile up on the marketplace.  For that reason, word of mouth often means some candidates on our site will fall outside the typical 18-26 year old student – but please consider everyone – we have a search feature that allows you to find candidates that meet your specific requirements and preferences!

Because the focus of our launch is the NYC and tri-state area, we are generally targeting students from the South, Midwest and West Coast who want to experience what it’s like living next to one of the most exciting cities in the world!

Why do students want to be homepairs?

Read here for more details.  Students are motivated because they love the idea of being a role model for children, and to leverage/hone their skills and talents.  They are excited about experiencing life in new places, making new friends and connections, and the opportunity to build a network somewhere desirable they may return to in the future.  They love the flexibility it offers – working summers, or gap years, or even while doing online studies.

Most of all, students are looking for good paying jobs to lower their student debt.  Living ‘room and board’ free is a huge part of that equation that makes this work – especially when you consider how prohibitively expensive living in and around New York city is.  Remember that when you choose a student…you’re not just giving yourself and your kids the best possible childcare, you are also making a profound difference in the life of these young adults.

Who pays for the travel expenses to your home?

Usually the family pays for the travel as they would if they hired a traditional au pair (and most homepairs would expect it).  They may need domestic flights to get to your home, but many may be already in the area, or will offer to drive because they want the convenience of having their own car. 

Every situation is different which is why we simply leave this as an open question for you to determine when you draft your childcare agreement.

 

Do I need to pay ‘nanny taxes’ for my homepair, and are there any tax breaks?

Read our ‘Nanny Taxes’ info page for more details.   In short – yes, you should.  The IRS requires anyone with household help that earns more than $2100 in a year – whether it’s a nanny, babysitter, housekeeper or homepair – to pay employment taxes. This means paying your share of Social Security and Medicare taxes (7.65%), withholding the homepair’s share of these taxes from their paycheck (ie you collect 7.65% from them), and pay some federal and state unemployment taxes (2 to 4% depending on where you live).

The good news is that nanny taxes are almost always completely offset with tax breaks available to you (such as the Child & Dependent Care tax credit and Flexible Savings Accounts).  Although this may seem like a wash – the mechanism for paying nanny taxes this way is important because it provides your homepair with a social safety net that every other employee enjoys, including being able to claim unemployment and building their credit history.

For little personal cost, think of paying nanny taxes as not only the right thing to do but also a valuable benefit you can provide your homepair which makes for a more happier and stable working relationship!

How do you help homepairs settle in and not feel homesick?

A caregiver’s happiness can often be overlooked, but it’s perhaps the single most important factor that determines whether a placement will work out or not.  The last thing any family wants to worry about is whether their caregiver is enjoying themselves or getting homesick.  We don’t think this will be as much of a problem with homepairs as it would with foreign au pairs – however, having a close knit group of friends is important no matter who you are or where you have traveled from.

That’s why we offer every homepair that gets hired an instant ‘social network’ to every other homepair that is in placement via our instant messaging and video calling app and social media pages.  They can say hi, make new friends, arrange nights out or days off together, and even plan shared play dates so your little ones are making new friends too.

We also have a referral program that encourages homepairs to sign up with their friends, and we will also hold the occasional social event with the Homepaired team and local influencers to make sure every homepair feels part of the community, enjoys their work, and most importantly, are having fun.

What if issues come up and we need mediation?

We’ve found through research that the number one reason issues come up with live-in caregiving placements is communication barriers, especially ambiguity around roles and responsibilities. Our goal is to walk you through an agreement process that is as thorough as possible – right down to the house rules – so expectations are clear from the get go in terms of what the job entails and what is expected simply by being a guest living in the family home.

We feel that homepairs are at an instant advantage over traditional au pairs simply because language and cultural barriers are less pronounced – that said, we encourage all families and homepairs to have open lines of communication and to discuss concerns in a judgment free way.

To the Family FAQs

FAQs for Homepairs

How do I qualify to be a homepair?

You must be over 18, be legally allowed to work in the US, have medical insurance, at least 1 year of childcare experience and, of course, love to be around kids.  A driver’s license isn’t mandatory but most families would expect it! Families are looking for responsible, educated and experienced caregivers – but also role models that offer more beside the ‘basics’.

Your personality, talents and interests are just as important to a family than your experience – create a great profile where that all shines ( and post great pictures) – remember you are unique and have a lot to offer!

Does it cost anything for me to become a homepair?

No – it’s free to register, setup your profile and get booked by families on Homepaired!  Families also pay for your background checks and will usually cover all of your travel costs to and from the family home.

Do I need to be enrolled in college?

No – most homepairs will be current students or recent college graduates but it’s not a requirement. Homepaired is a great option for those who are transitioning after college, taking a gap year or are looking for summer or seasonal work.

 

How much will I be paid?

Every homepair must earn at least state minimum wage (between $10 and $13.50 in the NYC metro area), how much more above that will depend on your experience, talents and the job itself.

When you discuss hourly rates with families – please remember that free ‘room and board’ in the NYC metro area is a significant saving where rent alone accounts for on average $17/hour of your paycheck.  Foregoing grocery shopping saves you another $50 and $100 a week.  To give you an idea of how expensive the cost of living is here, consider the average monthly rent for a 1 bedroom apartment…

  • NYC / Brooklyn: $3,000 (if you worked on average 40 hrs a week, set aside $17/hr just to cover the rent!)
  • Jersey City, NJ: $2,800 (set aside $16/hr)
  • Greenwich, CT: $3,000 (set aside $17/hr)
  • Westchester County, NY: $2,800 (set aside $16/hr)

(source: rentcafé.com)

Our advice is simple:  do the math and don’t price yourself out of the best opportunity to be living and working in the NYC metro area, and all that opportunity that comes with it.  Frank said it best… ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere‘…it’s up to you!

How do I know I’ve found the right family?

You will get a good sense of fit just by looking at family profiles and comparing to yours – your skills and experience don’t have to perfectly align but the more aspects you do match on, the more likely you will have found a perfect fit.

When you do have a video call with a family – prepare by thinking about all that you have to offer and ask lots of questions (don’t forget to use our interview guides).  Get a good sense of who they are, what care they want most for their children, where they live and what a typical day looks like.

How do I connect with a family?

“CALL / TEXT” – A family can also initiate a ‘cell phone to cell phone’ conversation with you.  We don’t give the family your actual phone number – only a ‘proxy’ for it – and you won’t see the family’s real phone number either when they call.  From there, it’s just like any other phone call – a great way to connect instantly and securely without needing to be logged onto Homepaired.

Please remember to be responsive and courteous at all times, and most importantly to never solicit or share private or personal information per our Terms.   We have built these features for your convenience and your safety.

If you have any questions or experience difficulties with communication – please don’t hesitate to contact us.

How do families book me?

Once your profile is on the site, families can begin to connect with you using our search and chat / video calling features.   The more detail and care you put into your profile – the better chance you will have of being hired (good quality photos are a must!).  Be proactive – search for families that you like and ‘favorite’ them – this will send them a notification that you are interested, and prompt them to initiate that first important call with you!

When a family has made a decision – usually after a couple of calls – they will simply click ‘book’ on your profile, and you will receive a notification to ‘accept’. From there – the family will run background checks and draft the agreement for you to review and sign.

Where are families commonly located?

For our beta launch, we are focusing first on the NYC and surrounding tri-state area (New Jersey and Connecticut).  That being said, you may see a few families in places such as California, Chicago or Miami appearing on our site just through word of mouth!

You will know Manhattan, the Hamptons and Brooklyn – but you may not be familiar with towns such as Montclair, NJ or Greenwich, CT or Westchester County, NY – desirable, leafy suburbs of NYC where families raise children in beautiful homes surrounded by fantastic amenities, schools and restaurants only minutes away from the City – truly the best of both worlds.

Spend time researching any towns you are not familiar with – and remember to ask families what they love about where they live when you speak with them.

 

Who pays for my travel?

The family usually covers your travel costs to and from your residence – the details and logistics of how that will work (as every situation is different) will be in the employment agreement your family has drafted.

If you are invited on a family vacation or getaway, the family has to cover all of your travel costs such as flights, accommodation and food.

What about safety?

All persons over the age of 18 in a family’s household will need to have background checks – these are run during the booking process after you accept a booking.  The family should share these results with you – so make sure you see them before you commit to signing your agreement (Homepaired does not see or is privy to any background check reports ordered).

Homes also need to pass a quick ‘home check’ which we do either in person or virtually through a video call walkthrough – this ensures that the home is as described, including the guest room where you will be staying.  Don’t forget to use our video calling feature to get a quick tour of the house and your room.

 

How are my hours tracked?

The family will ultimately decide on the system they would like followed to record hours worked.  There are lots of different mobile apps around that are great for keeping track of weekly hours, overtime, leave and even taxes (Nanny Pay Advisor is one of our favorites).  That said, keep in mind that we are working on own solution.

Whatever system you end up using, you and the family are solely responsible for scheduling, logging and reviewing hours worked – disputes can be easily avoided simply by getting into the routine of doing this every week.

What does a typical day look like?

The scope of your childcare duties will be in your agreement – but typically ‘your day’ involves anything to do with the children – their care, nurturement and happiness is your priority. The family is responsible for your schedule but most of the time you will be following a routine that is already in place – e.g. wake up, meals, playtime, transportation, homework help, laundry, tidy up etc.

That is not to say every day will be the same – families want live-in childcare because of the flexibility it offers for date nights, or snow days, or when a child falls sick.  Also, as the familiarity and relationship between you, the family and the children grows (as well as your friend network and knowledge of the town)- you will also see an organic change to the ‘routine’ as your confidence starts to take hold and you start to make suggestions for activities yourself.

Will I have free time and make friends?

Absolutely! Caring for a family’s children is the top priority but enjoying your local area and nearby cities like New York is important as well. Be sure to discuss your weekly schedule and their expectations so you have agreed when you want time-off.  Remember that you will have already agreed on number of paid vacation and sick days, and expectations on holidays when you design your agreement – you will know this before you arrive.

Families want you to be happy and will encourage you to make new friends. Your happiness is important to us too which is why we provide you with an instant ‘social network’ to every homepair so you can arrange meetups, trips to the city and share play dates.  With the occasional social event we organize thrown in – it wont take long for you to feel part of a community.  We are also always only a phone call away!

Don’t forget to also use our referral program – not only can it earn you cash, signing up with a friend makes it double the fun!

Do I have a curfew?

Families won’t usually impose a curfew – however any ‘house rules’ they would like followed will be in your agreement.

Key here is common sense and communication.  Always have your cell phone on you and be reachable.  If you are needed early in the morning, come back at a reasonable time so you won’t be tired the next day.  And always let the family know your plans, when you will be back and who you are with so they don’t worry.

What about meal times?

You are not expected to cook meals for the family but offering do so every now and again might be appreciated and a fun way to bond! Likewise you are not obliged to have dinner with the family every night – always communicate if you will skip dinner so the family doesn’t over prepare.

As for meal time etiquette – think of yourself as a guest or relative in someone’s home – pitching in to help set the table or load the dishwasher is always appreciated (and somewhat expected)!

Can I do this with a friend?

Yes – our referral program encourages you to do just that (you can earn up to $100 for every referral you make)!  This is an exciting opportunity to share a new experience with a friend – you will likely only be a few minutes away from each other, possibly in the same town.

You will also make lots of new friends when you arrive – when you are hired we give you full access to every homepair – an instant social network to say hi, hangout and co-plan play dates.

Do I have to pay taxes?

Yes, but it’s not as bad as you think.  You are considered a household employee in the eyes of the IRS and will get a W-2 from the family (your household employer) every year in January which you will use to calculate any income taxes.

The family will also likely withhold 7.65% Social Security and Medicare tax from your weekly paycheck – which is a very good thing.  This gives you access – like any other employee – to all the benefits that social safety net provides, including claiming unemployment and providing a verifiable income that helps build your credit history – important if you want to apply for a loan or a credit card.

What if I have questions?

We are available to answer any questions you have at info@homepaired.com. One of our team will respond to you within a few hours.