WisBusiness: the Podcast with Natalie Jordan, Cultural Care Au Pair

This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Natalie Jordan, senior vice president of government relations at Cultural Care Au Pair. 

She discusses proposed State Department changes that would affect aspects of the national au pair program, as well as related impacts in Wisconsin. The federal agency last year proposed more than 200 changes to the program, which gives people aged 18-26 from other countries the opportunity to travel to the United States and live with a host family under a special visa. 

“One of the benefits they have is not only to expose their children to a cultural exchange experience, but also they receive child care support,” she said. 

Jordan touts the impact of the program over the past 40 years or so, calling it a “successful form of kitchen table diplomacy.” And she acknowledges the program has room for modernization and improvement, but argues the State Department proposal would disrupt that success. 

“These regulations propose such significant changes as to really change the program as we know it today,” she said. 

The federal agency is proposing a change to the stipend for the au pair program, moving it from a uniform compensation to a regional four-tier system, Jordan explained. 

“Either you would have the program become three times more expensive than it is today for families in, for example, New York or California,” she said. “And then for families in Wisconsin, what you would have is actually the stipend would become less than it is today, but why would an au pair then choose to go to Wisconsin if they can make three times more in another state?” 

She argues the proposed changes would either make the program unaffordable in high-stipend regions or unattractive to potential au pair visitors to Wisconsin. 

“And that would be such a loss for Wisconsin, and really for au pairs to experience such an amazing part of the United States,” she said. 

Jordan also says the proposed regulations introduce “unnecessary” complexity to the au pair program with new requirements, such as having the host family track the meals of the au pair. She raises “grave concerns” about how that and other changes would impact this relationship. 

Cultural Care Au Pair has headquarters in Boston and Denver. 

Listen to the podcast below, sponsored by UW-Madison: