Will the students speak English?
All of our students have studied English for a number of years. However, their level of English ability will vary. Some students will speak fluent English and will have little to no accent. Others may have heavy accents and not be as fluent. You should expect your student’s English to improve greatly once he or she is in school and acclimated to life here in the USA.
How much does it cost to host?
Becoming a host family is free. There are no application fees. Program rules stipulate that you provide all meals eaten at home, a place to sleep and study. Students’ natural families are responsible for providing spending money for all personal expenses for things like clothing, toiletries, school supplies, going out with friends, entrance fees, etc. They also are fully covered by medical insurance. You may claim a tax deduction of $50 per month for hosting.
What kind of support structure is in place?
BFF has a dedicated team of Community Advisors who are trained and available to support the student, host family and school to ensure a successful program. Community Advisors contact our students at least once a month to make sure that all is well and to support students and families through any issues that may arise. Please note, there is no reason to wait for your Community Advisor to contact you. If you have an issue that needs attention, please contact you Community Advisor directly. If you have an emergency and cannot reach your Community Advisor, please contact our main office or emergency hotline.
For our academic year placements, BFF provides a detailed host family orientation before your student arrives as well as a detailed student orientation for all of the incoming students. For short-term programs, we provide host families with a handbook and are here to answer any and all questions! We also are available 24/7 for emergencies and our Community Advisors are trained to support you with any emergency or difficult situation that might arise during your hosting experience. We also are sure to introduce you to other host families and students around your area to connect with for carpooling, getting together, and supporting each other through the experience. Other host families are an invaluable resource through your journey and other exchange students are an amazing resource and support for your student.
Can we take our student on vacation with us?
The short answer here is, YES! Students appreciate any opportunity they have to see other parts of your state or our wonderful country. While we do not expect that the family will take a student on a lavish vacation, we do hope that if you are taking a family trip, the student will be invited to attend as well. We encourage our host families to involve students in all family activities. There are forms required prior to any travel.
What kind of activities our student can participate in?
At BFF we want our students to be engaged in their communities. We love seeing them become involved in sports, school clubs, youth groups (if they choose) and other community activities. In addition, we ask that each of our students participate in community service at least twice a year and make a presentation about their country at least once while they are here. We feel that community service is an important part of the American culture and that participating in it is a way for the student to give something back to the community that has embraced him / her. As for the presentation, this gives students a great opportunity to share his or her culture with us, thus fulfilling the role of ambassador.
What about transportation for our student?
While our students are not allowed to drive while here, they can take the school bus to school and public transportation where available. Some students purchase bikes to use and most make friends who drive. You, as the host family, have the right to decide with whom the student may ride. Your family is not expected to be chauffeurs, but please note, just like your own children, your student may need a ride from time-to-time. It is acceptable to expect the student to make advanced arrangements with you.
What if it’s just not a good fit or we don’t get along?
Any time you put people together there is a risk of conflict. However, we have high standards for our students and host families to ensure that everyone has a successful experience. Students are expected to follow the family’s rules while they are in the program. In the event that you and your student are not getting along, we have a support system in place. Each student and family is assigned a Community Advisor who will work with you to mediate any conflicts. If, after mediation has occurred, serious issues still exist, BFF is committed to supporting you and the student and finding a new home.
What type of rules should we have as a host family? What are my parenting responsibilities?
If there is one piece of advice we can give to host parents that we believe makes the program easier, it is to treat your student like one of your own. Two exceptions are allowing them to drive and paying for everything. Our students cannot drive and have their own spending money.
We provide you with an expectations worksheet to complete as a guide to understanding what areas need to be addressed with your student. We encourage you to set clear, reasonable expectations from the beginning and make sure that your student understands the rules in your home. We suggest you go over rules on day 2, at the end of week 1, and the end of month 1. This timetable is suggested for two reasons. First, students are often tired and are still getting used to conversing in English upon arrival, so their understanding will increase with time. Additionally, it gives you and your student an opportunity to revisit and discuss any rules that may need to be adjusted.
Completing this process will give you the freedom to set the curfew, rules, assign chores anything you might do for your own child. This will in turn help your student have an easier time adjusting to their new life.
What about medical treatment?
All BFF students are fully covered by health insurance that covers any expenses should they require a visit to the doctor. Students receive a complete physical exam before coming to the US which allows us to know that they are healthy enough for travel and to be on such a program. Students should carry their insurance cards with them at all times. Host parents are strongly encouraged to make a copy of the student’s insurance card and keep it with them at all times as well.
Who do we contact in case of emergency?
The first point of contact should always be your Community Advisor. If you have an emergency and your Community Advisor cannot be reached, please contact our main office or the emergency hotline number. See our Contact Us page for details.
How do we get started?
If you believe you are ready to host a student, please complete the inquiry form on the page Host a Student, under the sub-heading, Get Started Now. You will be contacted by your Community Advisor soon to start the application process.