Host family FAQs

What is the difference between an Au Pair, a Mother’s Help and a Nanny?

Au Pair – The Au Pair programme is an internationally recognised Cultural Exchange Programme. It offers a young individual the opportunity to travel and live / work with a host family in a new country, learn a foreign language and experience the country’s culture. The Au Pair will work a set amount of hours for the host family, usually doing a mixture of childcare and light housework. The Au Pair may have some childcare experience and even qualifications, but an Au Pair is not a nanny and should also not be treated as a housekeeper.

Mother’s Help – A mother’s help is a carer who has got a genuine interest in children, who works under supervision on the daily running of the household. The mother’s help will have at least 1 year’s relevant experience and / or a qualification. Duties regarding children will be according to their experience, the type of household and the ages of the children. An extra hand rather than someone who takes charge. Depending on the childcare responsibilities expected, they will be able to help around the house with light housework and run errands. If she is experienced and confident enough, she can take sole charge of the children at times. Unlike most nannies, mothers’ helps will normally do some light housework (dusting, hoovering etc).

Nanny – A nanny is a qualified and / or experienced childcarer who works in the setting of the family’s home, either live-in or out. The nanny is able to assume the responsibility of sole charge of young children. They are professionals and therefore expect a permanent contract with normal working conditions i.e. annual salary plus bonuses, overtime, paid holiday and their salary is subject to national insurance etc. Apart for doing childcare, they will usually only do child-related housework.

Please note that, for 2017-18, UK income tax is payable on income over £11,500 per annum.
Families are responsible for ensuring income tax and National Insurance contributions are paid, if applicable.
Please check with the HMRC for further information on income tax and National Insurance thresholds (website

I have an Au Pair helping me with my childcare – can I claim tax credits or childcare vouchers?

This will depend on your individual family circumstances; you should contact the HM Revenue and Customs for detailed advice on your case.

Follow the link below for general guidance on the website:

How can my Au Pair become Ofsted registered ?

Follow the following link for information:

See below for general guidance on the process:

  • The Au Pair  should call Ofsted and tell them that they want to become registered under the voluntary Ofsted registration scheme for home-based childcare.
  • Ofsted will send out a form in the post to be filled in.
  • The form must be returned with a valid First Aid Certificate.
  • Ofsted will carry out a police check (even if he / she already has a CRB).
  • If the person has lived in the UK for less than 5 years, then he / she will have to get a ‘good conduct letter/ certificate’ from his/her embassy which needs to be written in English or translated into English by an authorised translator. This depends on the country of origin of the Au Pair, so check with Ofsted first. Ofsted confirm that it is also acceptable for the Au Pair to get a police check from their country of origin and send it to Ofsted, but it must be an official document, on letter-headed paper, stamped and translated into English by an authorised translator.
  • Ofsted will then send through another form (called a verify form) that must be taken to the post office, together with a form of ID (eg passport) so that their identity can be checked.
  • The application fee, currently £103, must be paid.
  • Annually, on the anniversary of the registration with Ofsted, the fee becomes payable again, as long as the Au Pair wants to remain Ofsted-registered.
  • The Au Pair also needs a childcare (or similar) qualification from their home country, or from the UK, which has to be equivalent to level 2, or the Au Pair must enrol on a Common Core Skills and Knowledge course, by contacting their local authority. Information about the eligibility of your qualification is available by contacting Children Work Force Development Council on 0113 244 63 11 or 0300 123 1033.
  • The Au Pair also needs to take out personal public liability insurance – most households have insurance, but this will not necessarily cover the Au Pair if he / she has an accident.
  • The time take for registration is usually between 12 and 14 weeks; it often takes 6-8 weeks for the CRB to come back.
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