June 2020 Update: Some of the processes below have changed due to the effects of COVID-19. Please contact your Regional Field Specialist with any questions.
We are using a new system to distribute student applications for students arriving in the fall of 2020. Experience shows that different times of the year require different strategies to ensure that ALL hosted students are placed in families and able to start their AFS programs on time. In addition, our success depends on engaging volunteers in getting to know our students and providing useful resources to learn about students and identify families for them.
This new process will make students available to be placed in any Team in early winter (December-February) when we don’t have as many students available. And in February through April, volunteers will be able to place students without needing to compete with other teams for specific students. And, finally, in May volunteers will select their final pool of students to focus on placing before the August 31st placement deadline.
Some smaller gateways will even have access to MORE students now that our students will be sorted by Region and not by Gateway, and all regions host about the same number of students (300+) making student access more equitable nationally. In addition, teams and gateways will have an equitable number of more challenging-to-place students by diligently tracking where they are distributed.
Overall the distribution of NH20 hosted student applications was designed to put our students and volunteers first.
If you have questions about this process, please contact your Hosting Programs Specialist (HPS) and/or check out the Frequently Asked Questions below. Thank you!
|February 20, 2020||
|May 1-8, 2020||
Volunteers may move Area Team Available students to Regionally Available.
|May 20th 2020||No new Area Team Hold requests allowed for YES and FLEX students.|
|May 28, 2020||Sponsored Programs Student Draft (YES & FLEX)|
|July 29, 2020||
Paperwork deadline for August arrivals
|August 12, 2020||Student Arrivals|
|August 31, 2020||Placement deadline for all students|
|September 2, 2020||Paperwork deadline for Sept. 10th arrivals|
|September 10, 2020||
|January 14, 2021||
First Semester Students return home
|January 21, 2021||
Second Semester (SH21) Students Arrive
|June 21/22, 2021||
Year-long and spring-semester students return home (though NY state students remain until 6/28)
Overview of Placement Process
Hosting Distribution is comprised of the three Stages described below.
Once Hosting Operations Staff have reviewed and accepted student applications, the applications will be made available in Global Link and visible on MyAFS. Click here for more information on finding available students.
Stage One: Nationally Available
At the beginning of the season (December 10th– February 20th, 2020) when we don’t have as many student applications available, it is helpful to have students be available to go to any team in the country. This process of finding students in Nationally Available status, entering Area Team Hold requests when wanting to show a specific student to a family, and entering a Placed without Papers request when a family commits to hosting a specific student will not differ from the process with which returning volunteers are familiar.
December-February 20th Highlights:
- Core students are Nationally Available for placement in any team.
- Sponsored Programs (SP) students (YES, FLEX, and CBYX) are Regionally Available for placement in any Sponsored Programs cluster in the Region.
Stage Two: Area Team Available
From February 20th through April, all core students will be linked directly to Area Teams by our Hosting Operations staff and put into Area Team Available status on Mondays and Thursdays. During this phase, volunteers will:
- get to know specific students without needing to compete with other teams
- know when new students will be available
- have the opportunity to write short bios to help communicate about these students in their local communities
- work to identify families for these specific students using new resources provided by AFS staff.
Hosting Operations staff will link students to Teams ensuring each Team receives students from a variety of countries, and they will give special care in spreading out challenging-to-place students among Teams and across Regions.
Sponsored Programs (SP) students (YES, FLEX, and CBYX) will continue to be released on a rolling basis to Regionally Available status to be placed in any Sponsored Programs cluster in the Region in alignment with team Sponsored Programs goals.
While teams will focus on Regionally Available students and their Area Team Available students, they will be able to see other students in their region and can work with volunteers in other teams to trade students if needed. See below for more details on showing students linked to other teams.
Also beginning on February 20th no new Area Team Hold requests can be entered for Nationally Available students. Nationally Available students will also be linked directly to teams once any pending Holds run their course (or the student is PWPd) until no more Nationally Available students remain.
February 20th-May 1st Highlights:
- Core students linked directly to Teams on Mondays and Thursdays
- Sponsored Programs students continue to be Regionally Available for placement in any SP cluster in the Region
- Nationally Available Students will be moved to Area Team Available as Hold queues end
- Resources provided to write student bios and identify families locally
- Regional collaboration and support in finding families for all students
Stage Three: Refresh your Pool
Between May 1-8th, volunteers will have the opportunity to move any Area Team Available students they have yet to place into the Regionally Available pool. Each Area Team will be expected to take a specific number of YES, FLEX, CBYX, German, Thai, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese students. Some areas may also be asked to take a specific number of students from other countries too based on student travel needs.
The draft for Sponsored Programs students will take place on Thursday, May 28th. Additional details will be sent out in the spring.
Before the end of May, volunteer teams will have their final pool of students to focus on placing along with a variety of tools and resources to ensure success in identifying families for all of our 2020-2021 AFS students by August 31st.
- Volunteers can move Area Team Available students to Regionally Available May 1-8.
- Volunteers will select remaining students for their teams via a draft process in May.
- Regional collaboration and support in finding families for all students by the August 31st deadline.
Placing a Student on Hold (Area Team (AT) Hold/Family Hold)
Hosting Volunteers may request an Area Team Hold for a student that is Regionally or Nationally Available or a Family Hold for a student who is Area Team Available to give volunteers time to reach families and to give families time to decide about hosting that specific student.
Only two students may be on Hold at one time for any given family. Thus, the family name must be included in the Hold request. One Area Team Hold request may be submitted per student per Area Team per day, even if multiple families are interested in the same student.
Holds will automatically be released at 11:45pm Eastern on the 2nd day after the Hold request is accepted. (For example, if a hold request is accepted on Monday, the hold will expire at 11:45pm E on Wednesday.) Of note, an email goes to the requester to alert them when their Hold has been accepted and when it will expire.
While a student is on Hold for a team, that team only has the right to PWP the student. If a queue of Holds or other requests forms for the same student, each subsequent request will be processed in the order in which it was entered. For example, School Placed requests are accepted in the order they are received; having a student on Hold gives no advantage in School Placing.
Volunteers and staff are expected to release Holds as soon as it is apparent that the intended family will not be hosting the student. To release a hold, submit a “Release AT Hold” or “Release Family Hold” placement request in Global Link. To help ensure that hold queues move as quickly as possible, people will receive auto emails 10 days after entering a Hold request if the Hold is still in queue to confirm if they still want the Hold or if the family they had in mind is no longer interested and the Hold can be released.
Starting on February 20th, no new Area Team Hold requests will be allowed for Nationally Available students and starting on May 20th, there will be no new Hold requests for YES and FLEX students. Any Holds already in queue on this date will be accepted, but no new Hold requests will be allowed. This is to allow teams to finalize their pools of students. Placed without Papers requests are always allowed. Volunteers can also use the Comments section in Global Link to communicate if they are showing or likely to place a specific student during the “no Holds” period.
Placing a Student with a Family (Placed without Papers, PWP)
When a family commits to hosting a particular student, a PWP request should be entered. If additional approval is needed before accepting the PWP request, such as school or nontraditional approval, a detailed note should be added to the “Comments” box here:
If a Team wants to place a Regionally or Nationally Available student who is on AT Hold for another Team, they may enter a PWP request, but it will not be honored until their place in the queue arrives.
Once a family is fully screened, Hosting Operations staff will assign the student a Family Placement Confirm (FPC) status, and the host family application will be transferred to the partner country to share with the student.
Important Reminder: until a placement is FPC, host families should not be given student contact information. Volunteers also should not reach out to students or natural families until the placement is FPC (e.g., regarding arrival orientation information or any other Team information). This helps avoid confusion on the part of the student, natural family, and AFS partner country who are not informed of the placement until it is FPC.
Placing a Student Directly in a School (School Placed)
The School Placed status will be used when a school guarantees acceptance of a particular student with a signed Placement Acceptance Form uploaded into Global Link on the student’s Placement Detail page. If you are interested in showing a student to a school for potential school placement, please enter a Hold request immediately followed by the School Placed request. That way once your Hold is accepted you will have time to secure approval from the school. If they will not accept the student, you can release your Hold.
If the school fails to find a family for a School Placed student by May 8th, the Team must decide either to make the student Area Team Available or return the student to Regionally Available.
School Placement requests for Sponsored Programs students will be reviewed and accepted on a case by case basis. Contact your Sponsored Programs Hosting Specialist if you wish to School Place a YES, FLEX, or CBYX student.
Interested in Placing a Student Linked as Area Team Available in Another Team?
If your team would like to show a family a student who is Area Team Available in a different team, you should reach out to the volunteer Hosting Coordinator in the other team asking for permission to show the student. If the team does not have a lead for the student, they may be willing to release the student or facilitate a trade for one of your students. You can find details about finding volunteers in other teams here: Global Link Basics: Searching for People.
If Teams are actively promoting an Area Team Available student, they are not required to release the student to another team.
If the team agrees that you can show one of their students, a Family Hold request should be entered so that it is clear to all that the student is being shown in another team. Please also notify your HPS.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: If I see a student on MyAFS that I want to place with a family, what do I do?
A: You can review the section Placing a Student with a Family or consult with your local volunteer hosting coordinator or your staff Hosting Programs Specialist. If the student is not in the “My Team” portion of MyAFS, you may also need to consult the instructions above about placing a student linked to a different team.
Q: Why are new students made Area Team Available only on Mondays and Thursdays?
A: Volunteers have told us it can be frustrating not knowing when new students are available. To save volunteers from needing to check every day for new students linked to their teams, we will distribute new students twice a week. Sponsored Programs students will be made Regionally Available as their applications are available.
Q: Why do some students not have student bios?
A: These students are waiting for a volunteer to submit a bio! (Or in some cases the bio is written and is awaiting approval.) Releasing students without bios allows us to get student applications out to volunteers more quickly AND it allows volunteers to highlight student aspects that might be particularly attractive to the area (i.e. Mario loves water and would enjoy seeing Lake Michigan!)
Q: Who can write student bios?
A: Any volunteer with the Hosting Volunteer affiliation can write bios. Instructions and training will be provided on Help & Learning.
Q: Why are there times when I can’t enter a Hold request? What if I want to place a student during this timeframe?
A: Placed without Papers requests are always allowed when you have a family committed to hosting a student. Hold requests aren’t allowed for short windows when we are transitioning to a new time of year in order to make the transition smoother. If you are showing a student during a “no Holds” period, your Regional Field Specialist can update the Comments section of Global Link.
Q: What new resources is AFS providing in 2020?
A: AFS staff are providing updated training, regular regional meetings, new resources for engaging with schools, and new promotional materials including country-specific information to help place students. Check out Promote AFS/Marketing Materials regularly!
Q: How do I know how many students from specific countries my team needs to place?
A: Your Hosting Programs Specialist (HPS) will provide this information.
Q: Why don’t you just make all students available to go anywhere in the country?
A: We have learned that having students Nationally Available later in the hosting cycle works against our goal of getting all students placed on time. And, in recent years, the process of Community Placing students has turned into a burdensome and challenging process for volunteers. Thus in 2020 we are using a new system designed to be easier for volunteers.
Q: The schools in my team require academically-gifted students with strong English. How can I be sure my team can place such students?
A: There are schools across the country with very strict requirements and other school who are more flexible. Thus, our Hosting Operations staff will be working to provide each team with a variety of students paying close attention to factors that could make a student more difficult to place such as pet allergies, dietary restrictions, and age. Keep in mind that teams will still be able to see all available students in their region and can request to trade students when their Area Team Available and Regionally Available students do not fit the school requirements. In addition, our students who do not have an A average in school can be more well-rounded and adaptable compared to a student who is very focused on academics.