The court decision described in Katie Johnston’s article “A pricier care package” (Page A1, Dec. 13) represents an important step forward in improving wages and working conditions for au pairs, immigrant workers who come to the United States to provide child care. While done in the name of “cultural exchange,” the business model for au pair agencies enables families to pay far below minimum wage for full-time child care in their homes. Au pairs deserve the same basic labor protections that other workers have in order to ensure that they are safe, treated with respect, and fairly compensated.
The hefty price tag of child care in Massachusetts is a serious problem for working families, and it is understandable that those who host/employ au pairs are stressed as they scramble to comply with the new rules. However, both families and caregivers lose out under our current child care system, and it is critical that families who struggle to find care they can afford are not pitted against caregivers who are fighting for a better standard of living.
The real solution to our child care crisis is for families and caregivers to stand united in the fight for public investment in child care in order to build a system that works for all.