Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about apex social Program
Our candidates have completed a degree or vocational training in social, educational, medical or therapeutic fields. They are trained occupational therapists, physiotherapists, Logogpaden, pediatric nurses, support workers, educations, special educators, Heilerziehungspfleger, or social workers. They live with an American or Australian family and provide full-time live in childcare. In addition, a social care professional has extensive childcare experience and is highly motivated to apply their skills and training to support the children of their host families.
There are so many benefits to spending a year in the USA or Australia as a social care professional! Many of our previous participants believe their work experience abroad has helped them to grow both personally and professionally. They have discovered a second “home” abroad and have become more mature, confident and independent. After returning home, your time spent abroad will no doubt help you to secure employment in your chosen field.
In order to participate in our program, you need to enjoy working with children, demonstrate at least 400 hours of childcare experience and have a degree or completed vocational training in a social care profession. Example social care professions include therapists, educators, support workers, pediatric nurses, healthcare providers, and more. You can find a complete overview of the requirements here.
For those interested in the USA program, which uses the J-1 au pair visa, you must be between the ages of 20 and 26 years old (you must be in country before your 27th birthday). For those interested in the Australia program, which uses the Working Holiday visa, you must be between the ages of 27 and 30 years old (you must be in country before your 31st birthday).
Since the program entails working with children on a full-time basis, you will want to have experience and enjoy caring for children. All participants in apex social’s program need at least 400 hours of experience in childcare. The more experience you have, the better.
Men are welcome on the program. In fact, many host families prefer a male social care professional, especially for families who have male children or children with special needs.
Yes. The apex Academy is a great way to prepare for your time in the USA or Australia. It also fulfills the requirement that you meet in person with a member of apex social’s team.
The online training at the American Education Institute provides training on Early Childhood Education and is conducted in English. This is a great way to brush up on your English before departure. The online training at the American Education Institute costs 645€ and is included in the program cost. The successful completion of the certificate for Early Childhood Education at the American Education Institute is a prerequisite for your departure to the USA and Australia.
Helping you to find a compatible family is important. This is why apex social is one of the few agencies that uses “The Color Code” personality assessment tool. The world is made up of different personalities and some personalities work better together than others. As part of the matching process, apex social provides you (and our prospective host families) with a short personality quiz to help determine compatibility.
Yes! It is important that you and a host family make the decision to match together. Once you’ve completed your application, your profile will be available to families, and you will also have access to reviewing profiles of host families. You will also be introduced to our Matching Team in the USA or Australia who will personally work with you to introduce you to compatible host families. You’ll have an opportunity to interview via phone or video with perspective families – a great way to learn about the family’s care needs, lifestyle and personality.
Your English does not need to be perfect by any means, but you should be able to make yourself understood from the first day with your host family. Your English will improve with each day you are in an English-speaking environment. Your apex social Coach will be able to give you feedback on your English language skills.
There is no fee to apply to the program. You do not need to pay the program fee until you have matched with a host family. Until that time, the entire application and advisory process is free and non-binding.
As part of our program, we encourage you to volunteer 20 hours of your time during your stay in the USA or Australia. Volunteering can be related to your career or not and is a great way to meet locals and make friends. Popular opportunities include volunteering in kindergartens and pre-schools, hospitals, animal shelters, homeless shelters or soup kitchens, or for beach/park clean up.
For participants in the USA only, you will need to complete at least 6 semester credits (60 hours) of coursework at a post-secondary accredited school during your time in the USA. Your host family will provide you with an educational allowance of $500 for this purpose. The course you choose can be job-related or not and is a great way to further your education and meet locals.
During your time in the USA, you will receive two weeks of paid vacation during their year. You will also have time to travel for up to 30 days at after your program ends. Australian participants receive four weeks of paid vacation during the year.
Our programs to the USA and Australia require a one-year commitment.
The U.S. Department of State, which regulates the USA program, allows participants to extend for an additional 6, 9 or 12 months, once they have successfully completed the initial 12-month program. The additional travel month takes place following the end of the selected extension. Apex social does not coordinate programs longer than 12-months in Australia.
Yes, this is possible in the USA under certain conditions. You must be no older than 26 and have successfully completed your first year (and received a certificate of completion) at least two years ago and not lived in the USA during the two-year period after the program conclusion. You must also meet all the normal admission requirements of the program. It is not possible to participate in the Australia program more than once.
Once your payment exceeds the annual tax-free allowance limit (in 2014 this was $3,950 USD), you have to pay taxes. From the perspective of the American tax authorities (the IRS – Internal Revenue Service), social care professionals are employees of the host family. The annual tax return and payment of taxes is due by April 15 of each year for the previous year’s income. If you have lived in the USA for less than four months in one calendar year, it is possible that you won’t have a tax liability for that year. To be on the safe side, we recommend you: complete form 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR by April 15th and save 10% of your weekly pocket money for payment of taxes. We recommend that you speak with a local tax advisor because they will best understand the laws of a particular state. You can find additional information about tax regulations here.
Question about Application and Services
Host families in the USA and Australia are looking for social care professionals year-round and we accept new host families on an on-going basis. You can therefore apply for the program anytime and arrive to the USA or Australia throughout the year.
We are able to work with a variety of timelines. If you are looking to depart right away, the entire process from start to finish can take about eight weeks. Most of our candidates apply to the program early so that they have time to plan ahead and take their time during the application and interview process. We will work with you on a timeline that fits with your needs.
We have many different families with varying needs on our program. The more time you take to thoughtfully and completely fill out our application, the better a family will understand your personality, skills and background. Photos and even a video are also helpful to convey to families your personality, hobbies and love of children.
You will need to have two childcare references and one personal reference complete the apex social reference form (e.g., from your teacher or training manager).
See all application requirements here.
During the application process, you’ll gain access to reviewing profiles of host families, so you can get a sense of the types of positions available. Once you’ve completed your application, your profile will be available online in our matching system to families who are looking to hire. You will meet your Matching Specialist who will introduce you to compatible host families. You’ll have an opportunity to view the family’s profile and interview them via phone or video. This is a great way to learn about the family’s care needs, lifestyle and personality.
We work with each candidate to ensure they have all the necessary qualifications to be a social care professional. If you do not have the necessary qualifications, we will let you know as soon as possible.
Questions about Homestay
A host family’s profile will give you details about a family’s specific childcare needs, special needs (if any), typical schedule, responsibilities, and other information so that you can review this information before you make the decision to match. It’s also a good idea for you to ask a lot of questions during the interview so you understand what will be required.
Each host family submits a detailed application and must provide personal references and have all adult members of the family pass a criminal background check. In the USA, our local Area Directors also visit the host family in their home to confirm that there will be a private room for you, and ensure that the host family meets all the requirements for the program.
A fresh start in another culture is always a challenge. It is normal that you may experience culture shock and that it may take a little time to acclimate to your new surroundings. Your host family and your Area Director will understand and help you to overcome initial difficulties. It is important that you tell them how you are feeling. If there are problems at a later date, they will also provide assistance.
Changing your host family is possible, but it should always be the last resort. In most cases, minor problems should be resolved through an open discussion with your host family. If you have a major problem, contact your Area Director (for the USA) or the Country Director (in Australia). Apex social is here to support you in resolving any concerns that may arise on your program.
Yes, you will have a private, furnished bedroom in your host family’s home.
Yes, in most circumstances, your host family will welcome you at the airport. If they are not able to pick you up at the airport, they will make alternative arrangements to ensure that you arrive safely in their home.
It depends upon the host family and their circumstances. It is quite common that you will have access to a car that you can use some of the time. However, car use should always be discussed in consultation with your host family. We recommend that you obtain a local driver’s license and you become familiar with the local laws.
Most families provide their social care professional with a mobile phone and the majority of families have Internet access in their homes. For communicating back home, we recommend using Skype, Whatsapp or getting a calling card. Should your family not provide you a mobile phone you have the option to buy a discount mobile phone contract. The rates are quite low in both the USA and Australia. You can also bring your European mobile phone and get a local SIM card – however the rates for these are higher.
In the USA you must be at least 21 years of age to consume alcohol legally while in Australia the legal drinking age is 18. It is expected that you observe the local laws regarding alcohol consumption and use good judgment while on the program.
Apex social’s program is non-smoking. Smoking is discouraged in both the USA and Australia and smoking is not permitted in most public places including restaurants, airports and shops. Most host families do not want an au pair who smokes.
Questions about Traveling Abroad
You apply for your visa after you match with your host family and pay the program fee. You will receive all the necessary information about applying for your visa via email, and we will help you if you have questions. For the USA J-1 au pair visa, the first part of the application is done online and the second part is done in person at the U.S. Embassy (in Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt or Vienna). For the Australian Working Holiday visa, you may be able to do the entire application process online.
We make your travel to your new adventure in the USA or Australia as easy as possible. Once you have matched, apex social will arrange your international travel from a pre-determined airport in your home country to your final destination in the USA or Australia. When you complete your program, apex social will arrange return airfare back to your home country.
Yes, we recommend that all participants obtain an international driver’s license. You apply for an international driver’s license in your home country. You will want to obtain a local driver’s license – this will depend upon the specific state where you live and your host family’s needs. It is a lot less expensive to obtain a driving license in the USA and Australia than in Europe.