Au Pairs Bring a New Opportunity for Child Care - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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Au Pairs Bring a New Opportunity for Child Care

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Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2017 2:10 pm

  In a home in Oakland Park, two-year-old Miles runs around the playroom while his 11-month-old sister, Violet crawls from toy to toy.  The children’s parents are at work yet the children are in their own home and there is someone special who is minding the children.  Someone who gives hugs and sees to the children’s every need just like their parents would if present.

Enkela Farruku is a 24-year-old young woman who was born in Albania.    

   At the age of 2, Enkela moved with her family to Verona, Italy where she grew up.  After odd and end jobs, including teaching dance to 3 year olds, Enkela felt like she wanted to start her life over with new challenges and opportunities.  She dreamt of traveling and exploring new cultures.  After browsing the internet, Enkela came upon the Cultural Care Au Pair Program.  She explained, “I was curious to know the type of the life here in the USA and I always worked with the kids, they have something that we adults don't have, they are brave to be who they are, they can show you the truth. So, I started to think… why not?  This is an opportunity to travel, live the life like   

   American people because you have to live with an American family, talk with the family in English, live their real lifestyle.”

   Natalie Jordan, Senior Vice President of the program stated, “The Cultural Care Au Pair is the largest au pair program in the country, with over 25 years of experience empowering successful cultural exchanges with American host families and au pairs from more than 20 different countries. The program has helped to provide meaningful exchange experiences which include a flexible, reliable childcare component to more than 120,000 American families.  All au pairs are between the ages of 18-26 and have at least 200+ hours of childcare experience.”

   At the time that Enkela was applying for the program to become an Au Pair, Daniel and Amanda Meneses were looking for an option for childcare.  Their first child had attended a daycare center but was home with his mom after the birth of his sister and they loved having the children in their home.  

   It was then that Daniel spoke to a friend in Chicago who had an au pair through the Cultural Care program.  Stated Daniel Meneses, “The Cultural Care website has profiles, essays and statistics such as age, English proficiency, etc.  Through e-mail and Skype we got to know several of the girls before choosing Enke (the nickname the family affectionately calls her). The process took about 4 weeks.” 

   In April of last year, Enkela arrived at Ft. Lauderdale airport and was greeted by the parents and children with signs welcoming her.   

   Enkela has her own room and bath and she has been sharing the family’s life and this year, experienced her first American Thanksgiving and Christmas.  She has also shared evacuating to another state for Hurricane Irma!  Daniel added, “It’s important that the au pair have her own space and a set routine so she can pursue her own interests as well.”

Amanda Meneses shared, “Having an au pair is the single best decision we have made as parents.  She’s changed our lives in many positive ways.”  Daniel added, “From a financial standpoint, the au pair program was roughly the same cost or even a little less expensive than daycare for two children.”

   Jennifer Markhoff, local childcare consultant for the Meneses family stated, “I believe the most wonderful thing is the cultural care exchange and the relationship that the host family holds and when it works beautifully, it is a lifelong relationship.  People do need to be comfortable with live in childcare and some are uncomfortable with this but using Skype and meeting the au pair can develop into a connection.  We also pair the au pair with another au pair in the area so they also have a friend.”

   As one observes the interaction between Enke and the children, it goes without a doubt that Enke is truly loved by the children.  When asked about Enkela, little Miles added, “Enke’s my best friend.”

   While speaking about her experience, Enkela smiles, “I was lucky. I don't have a "host family" here, I have another family, my second family. I've found a lot of big hearts in this family and everybody makes me feel at home. And I really, really fell in love with the kids, Miles and Violet, they grow up with me and I grow up with them. I can't ask nothing more than this.” 

   She continued, “I think that life brings you in front of some decisions so I have in front of me the opportunity to enjoy another year here, in this part of the world, with this awesome family, with this beautiful place, the palms, the ocean, the sun for all the year...I'm not gonna lose this chance.  I want to do what I can do now, in the future will see, nobody knows.”

Enkela has decided to extend her visit with the Meneses family for another year and the entire family is ecstatic over her decision, including this writer who is the children’s grandmother and who has come to love Enke as a part of the family.

   For more information on the Cultural Care Au Pair Program, please visit www.culturalcare.com/jmarkhoff

or call 1-800-333-6056.

        

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