What is required of an AFS Host Family?
AFS expects you to provide a safe supportive environment for the students, and that you integrate him or her as a member of your family. As such, it is expected that you will:
- provide the student with his or her own bed, in a bedroom shared with no more than one non-adult host sibling of the same sex.
- cover basic, everyday expenses incurred by having the student in your home.
- arrange for transportation to and from school.
- provide all meals, including either lunch for school days (prepared by the host family or students themselves) OR an allowance to purchase lunch in the cafeteria.
- When your family goes out for a meal, it is expected that you cover the cost of your student’s meal, as well.
In addition, we expect that you will utilize the services available to you through your local AFS Volunteers and national staff as outlined in Help & Learning for Host Families. This includes (but is not limited to) participating in orientations and seeking advice from your AFS Liaison. (The primary role of the AFS Liaison is to maintain regular contact with his/her assigned AFS student and host family, providing support and information and assisting in problem-solving when the need arises.)
Does AFS pay families to host participants?
No, host families are not paid. However, you will be rewarded with an experience of a lifetime and host families are entitled to a tax deduction each month that an AFS student stays in their home.
Must students have their own room?
Students do not necessarily have to have their own rooms but they must have their own beds. Students can share a room with a same-sex host sibling if necessary.
Does the student speak English?
Yes, all students have a demonstrated level of proficiency in English. Our students come to the U.S. with a desire to immerse themselves in the language and to improve their level of proficiency.
Do I need to “entertain” the student?
Students come here to experience typical daily life in the United States both at home and in school. Immerse the student in the life of your family! Some host families take students on special outings throughout the year, but this is not required. Students are encouraged to engage in extracurricular activities and explore their new communities just as your own children do. The most successful host families are those who treat students as a member of the family, not as a guest.
Will the host family need to cover medical expenses?
No, the host family will not be financially responsible for medical expenses for the student. Students come with medical insurance so that they can be treated as soon as possible. There is also a 24-hour support phone number in case of any emergency.
Does AFS have rules for participants?
Yes. AFS students are expected to obey all the AFS rules and policies that are applicable while on their program. If students break a rule such as driving, hitchhiking or using illegal drugs, they will have their program terminated. Students are expected to obey U.S. laws. We also limit independent travel by students. Host families are provided with access to Help & Learning for Host Families, which contains information on these rules as well as all types of other information that families will find useful. All host families are given an on-line and an in-person orientation before students arrive.
What if problems arise?
AFS volunteers have a lot of experience in placing students with host families and they provide extensive support throughout the year. Each student and host family is assigned an AFS Liaison to communicate with the host family and student individually at least once a month. AFS Liaisons are the first line of support to resolve an issue and we have a team of experienced support volunteers to help out.
Why does AFS conduct criminal background checks?
The safety and welfare of our participants is our highest priority. The criminal background check is an integral part of the screening process that AFS-USA staff, volunteers and host family members must undergo before being affiliated with our program. The U.S. Department of State and the Council on International Educational Travel (CSIET) require that AFS conduct criminal background checks for all members of the host family home aged 18 years and older; AFS takes the additional step of requiring background checks for host family members aged 17 years and older.
How do I apply to become an AFS host family?
To find additional information, see students interested in coming to our area and to start the process of filling out an AFS host family application, please click here. We’ll be excited to hear from you!
For access to Help & Learning for Host Families as well as other host family resources, please click here.