Irish Agency Makes Life Easier for Parents At HomeIn Ireland, UK and the EU
Who We Are?
Cara International is an expert in-home placement agency that has placed thousands of candidates in Ireland and abroad. Caroline Joyce started Cara International 21 years ago to help solve a childcare problem in her own home. She had worked as a frontline shift worker in Social Care and was unable to find suitable childcare. Before hosting an Au Pair, Caroline tried to juggle playschool, school drop-offs, children’s medical appointments, children’s activities, shopping, cleaning, cooking and gardening. This was all in addition to working full-time with children in care. Caroline made the difficult choice to leave her secure HSE Job and develop Cara International as a childcare solution for busy parents like herself.
What do We do to Make Family Life Easier at Home?
We established a network of trusted partner agencies that recruit and vet candidates for us. We also recruit and vet direct candidates. We take the time to understand the family needs and the Au Pair or In-home candidate’s needs and match those requirements to benefit both parties and ultimately the children or person in receipt of that care. The matching process includes the parents interviewing candidates and in the case of Au Pairs, they discuss and agree on the cultural elements of the programme. Our partners and ourselves work closely to ensure that both parties understand and agree on their obligations to each other. We have developed pre-placement contracts, post-placement inductions, as well as ongoing training to ensure successful placements which we accomplish 99% of the time.
Why Do We Do It?
We do in-home placements such as Au Pairs because we know from personal experience and customer feedback that it helps to make parent and family life easier and provides great opportunities and life experience to Au Pairs and in-home minders. In our own family experience, our Au Pairs didn’t just help with childcare but they provided so much more. They helped with school and activity runs, cleaning, laundry, cooking, shopping and pet care. They taught the children and ourselves about their language and culture. This help to make Caroline’s life easier which enabled her to have some downtime from her busy work schedule. It also provided her with more quality time with her children. Furthermore, it enabled her to continue in her education (See Expertise Below). This would have been an impossible task for a single parent without the help of an Au Pair. The children gained too from a less stressed parent, lots of extra attention and an organised family home, where life was a lot less rushed. They loved the security of coming home to their own home with their own belongings. The exposure to different cultures has been invaluable to them in their education and career choices as adults.
The Au Pairs had an amazing time also. They got to travel around and see lots of Ireland when here. They had days out seeing the local attractions and learning about Irish Culture. They improved their English which was really essential for their future career choices. Some stayed and married and had their own families in Ireland. Others gained valuable lifelong skills which would benefit them when they are running their own families and homes in the future.
We replicate all this experience to continually improve our programme for our customers and participants. See Case Studies and Testimonies below for more information.
When and Where We Place?
The majority of our business has been placing Au Pairs in Ireland. We have also placed Au Pairs in the UK, USA and Europe. We know now that many Irish young people are out of work, following the COVID Pandemic. Cara International is now offering an in-home placement service for Irish in Ireland, the UK, the EU and possible further afield as visa restrictions open up. If you are a family interested in hiring an Irish Au Pair then we are here to assist you. If you are Irish or non-Irish and eligible to work within our programmes, we are here to assist you too.
Caroline holds a 2.1 Degree in Social Care, a Masters in Family Support and a 2.1 Post Grad in Leadership and Management. Caroline is an accredited Life Coach and is currently completing Train the Trainer Qualifications.
In addition, to her own family experience, Caroline has 21 years of experience in the recruitment and student travel sector, having placed in excess of 5000 persons over the years. Furthermore, Caroline has several years of experience working with marginalised groups in a variety of statutory and voluntary agencies.
Membership & Advocacy
Caroline has held the role of chairperson of the Irish National Au Pair Association (INAPA) for several years. She was also the National Lead on the European Committee for Au Pair Standards (ECAPS). Caroline has completed academic research and papers on the in-home care sector in Ireland and has lobbied the Government for better regulation and family credits for employing people in their homes. She has made representations to the Low Paid Commission and several Government departments on behalf of families.
Awards & Achievements
Caroline won Mayo Business Woman of the Year in 2015 and was an all-Ireland finalist. In addition, Cara International has featured on RTE’s documentary ‘When the Au Pair comes to stay’ and RTE’s Nationwide, as well as in many local and national newspapers.
In 2020, while undergoing cancer treatment Caroline was shortlisted for a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Award and a New Frontiers Programme Award for her innovation in the in-home care sector. Furthermore, she raised in excess of €10,000 for Mayo Pink Ribbon Cancer Charity when doing a head shave while undergoing cancer treatment at this time.
Life Before the Au Pair
As a busy self-employed family, we were always juggling and rushing. COVID brought the extra challenges as our business was an essential service that could not close and the children were off school much more. This put us under tremendous stress.
Life After the Au Pair
After we got our Au Pair, life became easier and the children were much happier. I felt I could catch my breath again. Cara International supported us with all the HR paperwork, which certainly took the worry away from us. They also provided lots of instruction and training to our Au Pair to help her to do her job well and we saw this in practice. Cara also provided us with advice about COVID and as a result, we were able to keep our Au Pair and Family Safe. This service was really good value for what we got.
Kealy Family-Tipperary, 2021
We have always found Cara International to be professional and efficient to deal with, but also gives a personal touch to their service. We have used Cara for many years now, and we would highly recommend them.
Eimear- Dublin, 2020
We had nice communication with Caroline and she found us an au pair quickly and with little hassle.
We felt the service and contact throughout was really good and overall would recommend the service and the au pair we got as a result.
Au Pair Testimonies
Suzanne from Italy- 2020
I always loved working with children. You get so much love from them. I also like to get to know a new culture, and the Irish culture is amazing! Becoming an Au-Pair in Ireland with Cara International was the perfect combination and it is such a great experience. I took Irish language classes, they were so much fun!
Lea from Germany- 2019
Cara International offers free courses which I liked, particularly the part about food handling and safety. While I was familiar with most of it, a few small facts were new to me and refreshing one’s knowledge is always good. I also liked the first aid part especially the first aid for children.
Eleanor from France- 2018
I completed the pediatric first aid course with Cara International. I was really happy to do them because I felt more confident with the children