Made In America

The magnitude of outsourcing everything from manufacturing jobs to customer service has been visible in this country for the last fifteen years, but for the in-home childcare industry, outsourcing has been prevalent since the Kennedy Administration.
Hiring an AuPair is truly the original form of outsourcing in America. An American family can easily hire an AuPair, pay her about half of what they would pay a local nanny and never pay a cent of taxes on her wages.
Wow! Sounds like a great deal…but at what cost?
Farmers who employ migrant workers argue that our U. S. citizens don’t want to do this type of work, but that is not the case with American nannies.
As we watch budget cuts continue to ravage the American public education system, each time costing educators positions and new graduates future positions, many still choose to remain in a field involving educating and caring for young children. They are American nannies and they have BAs and MAs in Education and Early Childhood Education — they have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer children, yet they are not getting hired!
While the AuPair program is a legal cultural exchange program, it has been misused by American families as cheap childcare. The program was designed to bring European girls over to learn in America and receive room and board in exchange for some childcare.
I know several women with young children who got together and brought over a group of Mexican 20 year olds to be their “AuPairs” and work for dirt. I was at a child’s birthday party recently and heard a father, who happens to be one of the highest paid defense lawyers in St. Louis, bragging that he only paid his “Au Pair” five dollars an hour. I looked at him in disbelief and said, “Really? Your clients pay you millions and you can’t afford to hire an educated, qualified U.S., tax-paying citizen to care for your children? If you can’t be bothered to do that, you could at least pay your illegal nanny a fair wage and not one below the poverty level. Give her an opportunity to earn some benefits that we can all take advantage of!”
At that moment, he remembered that I owned TLC for Kids and excused himself.
I’m tired of hearing the dialogue that America doesn’t produce anything anymore! We do produce! We produce an educated, capable and committed workforce. I see women everyday who seek positions as nannies and they are experienced and passionate about it. The problem is that they are being passed over for a low-cost, less skilled and often illegal alternative. All in the name of saving a few bucks. I say it’s time to start valuing the American worker again. We can start by hiring them. So, with the big push for everyone to buy American, you can start by hiring American, and hiring legally.

Stephanie Graff
TLC for Kids, Inc.

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