Tips for Host Families
When you welcome a new au pair to your home, establishing acceptable phone usage is one of the many facets of orientation. Consider the following:
- Is there a particular way in which you want the phone to be answered?
- Do you have call waiting or other phone services? Au pairs are unlikely to be familiar with these services.
- Do you have an answering device or service? Be sure to show the au pair how to use it.
- Agree on a place to leave phone messages for each other so that the messages are not lost.
- Establish hours when it is acceptable for the au pair to make out-going social calls – possibly not during work hours.
- Consider the time difference between your home and hers. At what hours is it acceptable for her to receive calls?
- Consider a separate phone number for the au pair. In many areas it is possible to add a number without having another line for just a few dollars a month. This second number has a distinctive ring so it is clear who the phone call is for.
- Some families find it necessary to put an international block on the phone to control the cost of long distance charges to their phone bill.
Phone bills can be a source of friction between host families and au pairs. International calling can be extremely expensive without a special international calling plan. Some au pairs are not familiar with itemized phone charges and can unwittingly run up large bills, creating budgetary problems for themselves. Homesick au pairs in particular are likely to reach for the phone for the apparent comfort of a familiar voice.
Encouraging the use of a pre-paid calling card can reduce the risk to the family of large phone bills while ensuring that au pairs remain within their own budgets. Host families may also find it helpful to use calling cards during the matching process to control and monitor the cost of the overseas calls.
Au Pair in America recommends Ekit www.aupairinamerica.ekit.com to help reduce and control long distance calling charges. Au Pair in America is promoting Ekit cards to au pairs by enabling them to purchase phone cards pre-arrival, at orientation, or on-line by going to Au Pair in America's website, www.aupairinamerica.com, under Au Pair Community, then Life in the US. Creating the expectation that au pairs will use calling cards rather than the host family's phone company can eliminate potential problems over the phone bill.