Host family finding is a year-round effort that takes a mixture of many different approaches to be successful! While the most effective means have always been person-to-person conversation and word-of-mouth marketing, building awareness of AFS in the community is also important. Newspaper articles, web postings, emails, flyers, and advertising in local media help raise the profile of AFS. You can find these Hosting Resources on the Field Hub. Share student profiles and hosted student letters with families you know. The Placements widget of MyAFS is designed to help you showcase our awesome students.
Keep reading to learn more about finding host families including
- Host Family Recruitment Standards and Guideline
- Strategies including Community Networking, Local Media Outreach, and School Outreach
- AFS Facts to Share
- Next Steps
Make sure to participate in all AFS Marketing Initiatives and Campaigns too!
Host Family Recruitment Standards and Guidelines
To ensure the privacy and safety or our participants, host families, and host schools, all AFS staff and volunteers must follow CSIET and Department of State host family recruitment standards at all times.
In public media advertisements
- UNACCEPTABLE words or phrases include: Urgently Needed, Don’t let me be homeless, This is an emergency.
- ACCEPTABLE words or phrases include: Open your hearts and homes, Host a Foreign Exchange Student.
If you have any questions or want advice, do not hesitate to contact your TDS or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hosting Recruitment Strategies
2. Write down who you know in the community and with which groups you are already connected. Reach out to them with some of the templates provided here. There are also school specific resources available.
3. You can tap into an already existing network: students, returnees, families of returnees, host families, and natural families (current and past) in addition to contacting families involved with the same activities that Hosted Students are: theater, soccer, tennis, golf, music, chess, etc.
5. Grow your network. Reach out to new groups, including:
- Cultural groups (e.g. Sons of Norway)
- Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
- Religious organizations
- Local businesses
- Home school associations
- School diversity councils
- Student and/or adult clubs
7. Stay up to date with your local newspapers and online newsletter communities. Ask them to run a hosting ad in their next publication!
8. Host an AFS Information Event or request to take part in a community fair, tabling session, picnic or farmer's market.
9. Partner a young returnee with a liaison to work with a student and family.
10. Have a liaison that is great with the computer? Ask them to create a bio book (cover templates are available on DesignShop).
11. Keep good records of anyone who has expressed interest in hosting by entering their information into Global Link and updating their records.
12. If needed, note which families are interested, but say "maybe next year", so we don't forget to reach out to them again. It isn't unusual for people to wait a few years to host as long as we stay in touch.
Please review the AFS media policy before working with the media.
- When using email, follow the Guidelines for Promoting AFS.
- Always keep AFS business cards with you to give to potential volunteers, host families, or students.
- Call individuals and organizations. Sample scripts can be found here.
- Drop a line to your local papers and propose feature stories about students (both sending and hosting) and their families.
- Write letters to the editor (thank current host families, other volunteers, or the school and community for welcoming students).
- Have students write thank you letters to the editor for their community and school welcoming them.
- Make sure to check the Field Hub for materials including press release templates, sample emails, and PSAs.
- Social Media is a great way to share AFS messages, photos, and videos. Please follow these social media guidelines.
- List AFS in the bulletins of local religious organizations. To locate e-mails and addresses for your local churches go to the Church Angel website.
- Team websites can help community members get in contact with your local team.
- Invite school officials to AFS events.
- Make sure to provide high quality support for schools.
- Make personal appearances at all of your high schools.
- Do not forget to contact all high school counselors and foreign language teachers.
- Send thank you notes and small gifts to schools.
- Most schools now have a web site with faculty e-mails: Use these to send personal messages to specific counselors, principals, and teachers.
- Sending hosting opportunities and thank yous to the school announcements, newsletter, or other similar publication.
- Refer to the Field Hub for School Outreach Materials.
AFS Facts to Share
- AFS is open to all kinds of families, two-parent households, single parent families, and same-sex couples.
- Host families provide: meals, a bed, transportation to and from school, and inclusion in family activities.
- AFS volunteers are experienced in placing students with families and we provide extensive support throughout the year. AFS also provides intercultural training to both the family and the student to help with communication. The student and family have a liaison, who they meet with separately (once a month at a minimum) to discuss any concerns that might arise.
- AFS students (approximately 2,300 each year) come from more than 90 countries and from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- All students are between 15 and 18 years old, are attending high school in the US, have maintained good grades and are seen as role models in their home schools and communities. They have demonstrated an interest in other cultures, completed an extensive application and interview process and have some level of proficiency in the English language.
- Families can host a year, semester, or 6-12 weeks (as a welcome family).
- Reasons to host an AFS Exchange Student: Enrich your daily life, introduce your family to other cultures, share your part of the US with your student, develop a lifelong connection and help a student grow into a more confident and knowledgeable individual.
Once you have identified some families interested in learning more, please be sure to enter them into Global Link using this form or by asking your TDS for assistance. Visit the Place Hosted Students section to learn more about reaching out to your new Hosting Leads.