The Collective Public Policy Voice of the Exchange Community


Dear Editor:

POLITICO’s coverage of the Au Pair Program (“They Think We Are Slaves,” March 27) was surprisingly one-sided. While any report of an au pair having a less than positive stay in America is troubling, one would get the impression from your story that this is the rule rather than the exception.

While the article repeatedly mentions a State Department 2015 Au Pair report, nowhere does it point out that in that very report 93% of au pairs and 92% of host families surveyed responded that they would recommend the au pair program to others. Indeed, the article does not feature a single au pair who had a satisfying experience.

Your article also mistakenly conflates “incidents” with “complaints” to the Department of State to suggest that the latter are very high. In fact, the “complaints” sited in the article cover a wide variety of situations, including illnesses and accidents. Moreover, the article anonymously quotes au pairs whose stories cannot be verified.

The au pair program has thrived for over thirty years because both host families and au pairs are genuinely satisfied and appreciative of the unique cultural exchange benefits it provides. It is a shame that this article and your inflammatory title maligns a program that has created tens of thousands of profoundly deep and personal relationships across cultures, borders, and generations.


Ilir Zherka
Executive Director

As published in Politico in response to: ‘They Think We Are Slaves’ on March 27, 2017.