When supporting our AFS participants and their families, it is important to be familiar with the chain of communication at AFS-USA.
Who's who in the Support Chain of Communication
Hosted Participant: AFS-USA hosts approximately 1000-1500 students annually.
Host Family: Many host families have hosted AFS participants in the past, have been on an AFS program, or have a family member who has participated on an AFS program abroad.
Liaison: Each participant and host family match assigned a local volunteer as a liaison. Throughout the participant's program, the AFS liaison will initiate separate contact with both the participant and host family each month. It is not necessary for the participant to wait to be contacted by the Liaison. In fact, we urge participants to ask for assistance at any time. Similarly, we also encourage host parents to also reach out to their liaison at any time. Click here for more information on the Liaison role.
Local Support: Support Coordinator or Associate Support Coordinator: The liaison will keep the Chapter and/or Team Support Coordinator or Associate Support Coordinator apprised of any important matters concerning the participant and host family. Support Coordinators serve as a resource to help address any support issues or questions. Many teams also have Associate Support Coordinators to help with support in the team as well. Click here for more information on the Support Coordinator role.
AFS-USA Staff: By calling (800) 237-4636 or 1-800-876-2376 between the hours of 9am – 6pm (EST) on weekdays, you will be automatically connected. Dial extension #9 to reach the Support and Learning Department directly. Unless there is an emergency, it is best to contact the Team Support Coordinator or the Team Chair before contacting the AFS-USA Office.
AFS Duty Officer: After hours and on weekends and holidays AFS has a 24-hour duty officer system in place. AFS-USA volunteers must contact the AFS-USA Duty Officer in the event of a participant emergency. To reach the AFS-USA Duty Officer, call 1-800-876-2376 extension 9 or 1-800-237-4636 extension 9. You will an answering service, which will take your information and forward it to the AFS Duty Officer on call at that time. The AFS Duty Officer will then be in touch with you directly as soon as possible. Click here for more information on what situations are considered an Emergency situation for AFS. (Note, the same phone number and extension, when dialed during business hours, will connect you to the Support and Learning Department at AFS-USA. Please see the above note on AFS-USA staff).
AFS Staff in the US and Partner Country: AFS staff in the US and in the participant’s home country work with volunteers in their respective countries to resolve concerns and questions that cannot be resolved at the local level.
AFS Volunteers in the Home Country: The AFS volunteer structure varies around the world, but in most AFS partner countries you will find volunteers who serve as a bridge between the parent/guardian of the participant and the staff in the partner office.
Natural Family Members: Like host family members, sending family members abroad may have been exchange students themselves or have hosted an AFS student. Throughout the student’s program, their sending parents remain their legal guardians and need to be notified by AFS staff of certain situations. Likewise, when sending have questions or concerns, they are instructed to contact AFS partner staff in their country as their primary point of contact.
In most situations, the Liaisons follow the chain of communication and work directly with the Support Coordinators/Associate Support Coordinators in their team and/or chapter, who in turn contact their Participant Support and Learning Specialist. However, there may be situations where they need to communicate directly with the Participant Support and Learning Staff or other Staff at AFS-USA. The AFS Staff assigned to each Area Team can be found in the in MyAFS Team Widget as shown in the example below.