June 9, 2011

25 Years: Au Pair Program

[Page: S3420]  GPO's PDF 

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Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues a milestone that has been reached by an important cultural exchange program administered by the State Department. In 1986, the United States Information Agency, USIA, exercised its authority under the Fulbright/ Hays Act to establish the Au Pair Program on a pilot basis. This initiative was designed to provide opportunities for young Europeans to live with an American family, care for children, and pursue their educational interests.

One of the leaders in developing the concept of the Au Pair Program was the American Institute in Foreign Study, AIFS, located in my hometown of Stamford, CT. AIFS was one of the initial sponsors and worked in connection with the State Department to develop a comprehensive framework that supports American families and foreign nationals.

Over the past 25 years, the Au Pair Program has grown dramatically. Congress assisted in that growth by passing legislation, signed into law by President Clinton in 1997, which gave the Au Pair Program permanent authority under the J-1 visa program. This initiative has proven to be a remarkable success. In fact, over 180,000 au pairs from over 60 countries have lived with an American family for a year since the program's inception.

I can personally attest to the strength and value of the Au Pair Program. When our youngest daughter was growing up, Hadassah and I had several au pairs. They became part of our extended family and we still keep in touch with them today. The exchange experience enriched the lives of our au pair and my family through the sharing of culture, language, and religion.

I am pleased the U.S. State Department is holding a reception on June 9, 2011, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Au Pair Program. I commend all those who have made this program so successful, and in particular AIFS, for its vision and leadership.

(Senate - May 26, 2011)

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