When supporting our AFS participants and their families, it is important to be familiar with the chain of communication at AFS-USA. You can find a pdf version of this chart by clicking here for the hosting version and here for the sending or study abroad version.
The Hosting Chain of Communication:
The Study Abroad Chain of Communication:
Who's who in the Support Chain of Communication
Hosted Student- AFS-USA hosts approximately 2000 students annually.
Host Family- Many host families have hosted AFS students in the past, have been on an AFS program, or have a family member who has participated on an AFS program abroad.
Liaison- Each student and host family is assigned a local volunteer or liaison. Throughout the student's program, the AFS liaison will initiate separate contact with both the student and host family each month. It is not necessary for the student to wait to be contacted by the Liaison, in fact, we urge students to ask for assistance at any time before difficulties and misunderstandings escalate to a less manageable situation.
AFS Chapter or Team Support Coordinator- The liaison will keep the Chapter and/or Team Support Coordinator apprised of any important matters concerning the student and host family. Support Coordinators serve as a resource to help resolve any support issues or questions. The Team Support Coordinator can also assist natural families of U.S participants who go abroad. Many teams have Liaison Coordinators or Associate Support Coordinators to help with support in the team.
AFS-USA Staff- The AFS-USA Office is located in New York City. By calling 1-800-876-2377 between the hours of 9am – 6pm (EST) on weekdays, you will be automatically connected. In most cases, 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 AFS has a 24-hour duty officer system in place. To reach the AFS Duty Officer in case of emergency, call 1-800-876-2376. You will be connected with 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.
AFS Staff in the U.S. and Partner Country- AFS staff in the U.S. and in your student’s home country work with volunteers in their respective countries to resolve issues and questions that cannot be resolved at the local level.
AFS Volunteers in the Home Country- The volunteer structure varies around the world, but in every AFS partner country you will find volunteers who serve as a bridge between the parent/guardian of the student and the staff in the partner office.
Natural Family Members- Like host family members, natural family members abroad may have been exchange students themselves, or have hosted an AFS student. Some may even ben hosting an AFS student while their child is in your home.
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 Specialist. However, there may be situations where they need to communicate directly with the Participant Support Staff or other Staff at AFS-USA.
The AFS Staff assigned to each Area Team can be found in the Team’s Directory in MyAFS as shown in the example below.