I was an au pair in America through this agency - it was good fun and I'm still in touch with the family I went to (in fact I went back the following summer to look after the cousins of the original children and got to drive across the US and live in San Francisco for three months). My visa allowed for 12 months of working followed by a month of travel. I didn't have to take a college class, but that wouldn't have been a problem because there are a million different things you can study (photography, woodcarving, whatever!).
Your daughter wouldn't necessarily end up in New York, in fact somewhere a bit more provincial (but still a city) might be a lot more fun. I was in Cincinnati and it was a lovely place to live. The girls who went to Chicago or other huge cities tended to be a lot more isolated, ironically enough. The support from the agency while I was there was very good, and I had several good au pair friends - we all tended to socialise together.
My advice would be to not necessarily accept the first job that's offered and to speak at least twice on the phone - it's a long commitment and although you can move families once you're there it's best to try and get a good 'fit' from the off. You may also want to speak to the mother of the family yourself. I don't know what the hours are like in this country for au pairs but I worked probably no more than 40 hours a week including babysitting. I had most of every weekend off and Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I actually got another part-time job for those mornings and that plus the money I earned au-pairing paid for my first year at University (pre tuition-fees, of course!).
Hi Fraktion, many thanks for your advice. I have a daughter who is trying to plan a gap year and wants to do all sorts of things and expects me to be able to offer advice or even an opinion and I just do not have the knowledge. We have spent time looking at various sites on the internet ........ just finding it alittle overwhelming tbh
You have to go through an approved agency to get the correct visa. There's quite a lot if information on the web about it through the approved agencies. Don't be tempted to go in on a tourist visa and work! It's not worth the risk of deportation.
It's a safe way to au pair because the rule are quite strict and it's a rare chance to work in the US but you work a lot more than typical au pair hours, you have to take a class at college and you don't get the linguistic opportunities open elsewhere. Plus a year is a long time when the flights are so pricy!
If this is for your daughter direct her to the nannyjob messageboards. There are a few people in there who've done it.