Au pair work in NZ: Young families grateful for help
Candice Vernon no longer worries about rustling up her two young children every morning before she goes to work.
Instead, she bids them goodbye while they're still in their pyjamas and leaves them in the safe care of Katie Barraclough.
The 23-year-old then spends the day with Chester, 4, and Sienna, 2, taking them to daycare, Mainly Music, and Rhymetime at the library where they live on Auckland's North Shore.
Barraclough is one of hundreds of international au pairs providing at-home childcare for families through Au Pair Link in New Zealand.
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"You really have to have a passion for working with kids otherwise it's not fair on kids at all," Barraclough says.
"You have to have imagination and keep busy, you're always doing things with the kids."
Barraclough moved to New Zealand in February, from England, with a keen interest in pairing her early childhood education background and interest in travel.
Since moving here, she has made plenty of friends in fellow au pairs in Devonport and the group meets weekly at Corelli's Cafe.
"I want to see the world as much as I can and I don't want to stop working with kids. This is a good balance, I can see myself doing this for a little while."
Vernon says Barraclough is a really good fit with their family and it's great having an extra pair of hands around the house.
"As a woman, having her here is a real support. She's my right-hand man. My husband works long hours and having that support person and friend is great," Vernon says.
"She's someone who the kids have as a friend and is enhancing their way of life. It gives me the ability to focus on my career again and invest time in my friendships. "
Some people have asked her if she's jealous of the bond Barraclough shares with Chester and Sienna, but Vernon isn't worried.
"If my kids are happy and adjusted, that's reassuring that my kids are happy and loved."
Au pairs are young people from abroad employed by host families to care for their children.
Au Pair Link has been running for a decade and is the first New Zealand agency to be licensed as a home based Early Childhood Education provider.