Host Family Guide

THE ROLE OF THE HOST FAMILY

The role of the Host Family is to provide the student emotional support, an opportunity to experience life in the community from a family perspective, academic encouragement to achieve her goals and advocacy if needed. The Host Family has the opportunity to build a relationship with an adolescent and engage in student life from the perspective of a minority student.

Relationship between Host Family and Student

Each student is assigned a Host Family who is from the community and has applied and been accepted to fulfill this role. Acknowledging that each student is unique, in the personality, needs and experiences and that the Host Family has its own individual characteristics, the relationship between the student and their Host Family is necessarily fluid and dynamic.

General information
o Host Family nights are Wednesday after school until the students' curfew 8:30PM.

o Host Family weekends occur once each month during the second weekend, from Friday after school to Sunday or Monday evening (if it is a long weekend), curfew time. Approximately two three-day weekends are assigned to Host Families.

o The Host Family should be clear about transportation to their home after school. The student should know which bus to take, if applicable, directions for walking, if applicable, or who will pick her up, and when. Luggage can be picked up in the back hallway at the ABC House on the Friday of the Host Family weekend.

o If a student will be late from a Host Family evening or weekend, the Resident Director must be notified.

o Host Families are welcome to visit with their student at other times, either at the ABC House or at their home. Dinner is often a good time to visit with your ABC student at the house. Birthdays are especially encouraged. Any visits should be arranged through the Resident Directors, and if you plan to go for dinner, give them a couple of days notice.

o There are approximately four Host Family meetings scheduled during the year to discuss general activities and concerns regarding the Host Family role.

o The Resident Directors are invited to host family meetings to discuss both specific and general issues and to coordinate activities. However, the Host Family can call the Resident Directors directly with a question or concern. The Host Family Liaison from the ABC Board is also available for this purpose.

o Several social functions (such as a holiday party and graduation party) are held throughout the year and Host Family members are encouraged to attend.

o The Host Family will receive monthly board meeting minutes and is welcome to attend board meetings.

Living with your ABC Student

o The Host Family encourages the student to be a part of their famly, yet understands that the family’s style of interaction is possibly quite different from the student’s home family.

o The Host Family should be thoughtful about encouraging faith-service attendance, and should be aware of the student’s wishes in relation to faith-related activities. Some students may wish to participate with a particular denomination; in such cases ABC will make every effort to make that possible.

o Students are responsible for their own day-to-day expenses. Host Families may choose to pay for small items, especially on Host Family Weekends. The rule of thumb would be to treat students the same as the family’s children. For birthdays and some holidays, gifts are appropriate but should not be lavish. If a Host Family would like to make a special donation, a contribution to the whole program is most welcome. In the past, gifts of food, concert or movie tickets, furnishings, or a party have been much appreciated. Notable expenses on the behalf of the student should be brought to the attention of the Treasurer.

o Set expectations: The Host Family might want to explain to your ABC student that she is a guest for the first 24 hours, and after that she is one of the family. She can feel like queen for a day, and then tell her that she can help with the dishes, cooking, house chores (if appropriate), as the Host Family’s children do. The Host Family may want to ask their ABC student what her favorite foods are, and have them on hand.

o Dinner can be a challenging time because your ABC student was brought up in a different household than yours, so her approach to a “family dinner” may be quite different than your family. You are encouraged to let your host daughter know how you view the family dinner time in terms of carrying on a conversation, table manners that you feel are important, and the use of cell phones or music players during dinner.

o Going out to eat can also be an adventure for the Host Family and ABC student. Let her know ahead of time if you are planning to pay for dinner out, and if you wish for her to pay her own way, give her a choice whether or not to go. If you are planning to pay for dinner, set expectations as to the type of things she can order from the menu so that she knows to order an appropriately priced item. Don’t assume that every student understands that you may not be wealthy enough to afford the most expensive meals.

o The students often set up activities with each other during host family weekends. This is YOUR TIME together and you can say no to visits to the other girls’ host family’s houses, or limit them in a way that you can have quality time together.

o There may be a host family weekend or Wednesday that you will be away or not able to host your ABC student. Just talk with your ABC student ahead of time to find out which Host Family she will feel comfortable with and phone that family. People are generally happy to take an additional student when they can. If not, a board member is found who can host the student.

o A Host Family may invite their student to stay with them for a vacation period if the student does not go home.

Activities

o The Host Family encourages the ABC student to be involved in the community and in a broad range of activities that may be new to her. The Host Family can support this process by having their student participate in a variety of leisure-time activities, meeting new people, seeing different sights, and visiting colleges.

o On weekends, try and find a balance between interesting activities your host daughter might like and doing the chores you need to accomplish. You don’t want to burn yourself or your spouse out with too much running around, but you want to find activities that everyone will enjoy.

o Encourage your student to participate in activities at the high school. Find out what she is interested in pursuing and help her understand how she might go about following through on the activities.

o Encourage Reading-the ability to read quickly with comprehension is an important skill for success in high school, on standardized tests and in college. Read the books that they read, if possible, so you can discuss them together. Encourage reading books outside of class and have the scholars keep a list of the books they have read.

Communication

o Communication is key to the relationship between the Host Family and student. Not all young people are able to articulate their needs and interests, however. It is up to the Host Parents to be as open as possible about goals and expectations for your time together, as well as any concerns you might have as they come up.

o Students are not allowed to make or receive calls during Quiet Hours. In an emergency, Host Families can call the Resident Directors during these times in order to contact their student. Study Hours are sacred and there are no calls or visits between 7pm and 10pm Sunday-Thursday.

o The Host Family should feel free to contact their ABC student’s family to introduce themselves and begin that relationship. Let them know that they can call or email you with questions. An open relationship with the family often supports the Host Family relationship with the student.

o If the Host Family has questions or concerns about their ABC student, please call the Resident Director, President, or Host Family Liaison.

Academic process

o Each host family will receive a binder to be used by the Host Family and ABC student throughout her four years. It will include an overview of the academic support that ABC and high school provide during high school and during the college process, term plans and activities, and calendars. It will be a repository for college prep information and guidance. It can also serve as a diary for the scholar and the host family that captures memorable occasions, trips, etc. It will also be the place to collect progress reports and grades, standardized test results, and resume building information such as sports and clubs.
o If you have a question about your student’s academics ask the Resident Assistant and Resident Director. Each Resident Assistant is responsible for two to three students.

o Back to school night is a great way to get a sense of the teachers your ABC student sees each day, put faces to names, and open a conversation with your student.

o If a scholar wants to see a teacher or go to the high school directly, just ask the Resident Director first. We just need to manage the numbers so everyone won't descend on a teacher at once! The teachers tend to be very accessible, but they don’t need to have too many ABC folks asking the same questions.

o Read the minutes of the Board meetings. There is usually an update about the academics.

Transportation

o Students are not allowed to drive motor vehicles. The one exception to this is if they are involved in a driver education program. See the ABC House Rules.

o Transportation between Andover and Boston at school vacation times as well as at the beginning and end of the school year is coordinated by the Transportation Coordinator who will sometimes ask Host Parents to help.

o Host Families are sometimes asked by their student to drive on other occasions; however, a Host Family is not obligated to drive and should feel free to say “no.”

Families of ABC Students

o A guiding principle of the ABC program is that students will return to their original environments and that the Host Family should avoid anything that interferes with the students’ primary loyalties to their homes and families.

o The families of your ABC daughter can be invited to stay with your family, and often do for special events like graduations.

Medical Issues

o Everyone should have an authorization to take their student to the doctor in case of an emergency.

o If your host daughter wants an appointment for something, send her to the Resident Directors. They take care of routine appointments, but if you would like to help with transportation to appointments, the help will be welcome.

o If you travel somewhere, make sure you take authorization for medical treatment forms with you for whichever students you take. This is not needed for local trips, just anything requiring an overnight stay.