Become a Host Family
Could you care for a child?
What is a host family?
Host families generally look after a child who is attending a boarding school in the UK and whose parents are based abroad. For practical reasons, it may not always be suitable for them to travel back home during these times, which is where host families step in.
Host families are well prepared and look forward to welcoming an overseas pupil into their home as part of their extended family. This may be for a leave out/exeat weekend or school holiday generally lasting from one to three weeks at a time.
Children should always feel welcome and comfortable with their host family and able to join in with all family activities in a happy, caring and safe environment.
At College Guardians, most of our host families tend to take on an international pupil for an extended period. During this time we have witnessed families and pupils build long standing relationships which last for many years after the pupil leaves school. Attending university graduation ceremonies and weddings later down the line are not uncommon!
Host families need to have full accountability for the child’s well-being and safety. While a child is in the care of a host family, they must take the day-to-day responsibility for the child and care for them as any good parent would.
What does it take to be a successful host?
If you can provide a welcoming environment with the right facilities and provisions for a child to thrive in, you’re already most of the way there.
We absolutely live by our motto ‘Your child, the most important person in the world’ and in line with that, we do all that we can to provide the best experience for the young people in our care. The three points below pinpoint the essential elements of all host families.
A wholesome family environment
This is something so simple but so very important to a child and their parents. Whatever family traditions or routines your family undertakes together - whether it’s eating dinner together around a table or a weekly sporting activity – including our pupil is absolutely essential. Communicating the value of family time will help each child to feel included within a stable, supportive environment.
It is also important to take the time to learn about our pupils' culture and gain a better idea of where they are from and their beliefs. This will enable you to build a bond with each child, as well as have an awareness of how your actions could be interpreted by them. Having an interest in this will build a sense of inclusion and respect, both of which are fundamental elements that contribute to the enjoyment of each child’s stay.
It is important to say that we don’t discriminate against single parent families, or couples who don’t already have children; we simple require our hosts to provide a high level of care and environment that is beneficial to the children in our care.
Knowing that safety is paramount
Safety applies to anything inside and outside of the family home.
A host family will know that it is their responsibility to keep the child safe and secure during the time that our pupils reside within their home. Reasonable rules and boundaries will need to be established and enforced to ensure they keep that out of harm’s way. This might include outlining hazardous areas or setting curfews for older pupils.
It is also very important to know what children need to be shielded from. Naturally family life comes with its ups and downs and care need to be taken not to allow this to affect our pupils. For example, if you have other children, they should be expected to get on well and respect each other. Disagreements in general can happen but children shouldn’t be exposed to situations that might make them feel uncomfortable e.g. family arguments.
In line with rules and regulations of all establishments involved in the care for young people, we must comply with various safety and security checks. These include meeting the following criteria:
- All household members over the age of 16 passing an enhanced DBS check
- No previous criminal records for anyone within the household
A balanced environment that is fun and conducive to learning
It’s all about building the right balance when it comes to hosting.
Activities like board games, outdoor adventures and cinema trips brings families together however work, studying and other responsibilities also need to be carried out during a pupils stay. The best host families establish the perfect blend of work and play.
How to apply to become a host family
If you think you would make a great host and would like to apply, please email us and we will arrange a time to have an initial discussion over the phone. During this time we can answer any questions you may have and get a feel for you as a potential candidate.
After this, if both parties feel that this is suitable to continue with, we will ask you to complete our Host Family Recruitment Form. This formally starts the application procedure to becoming a host family.
After this point, there are several checks that must be completed which can take anywhere between one to three months. After reviewing your completed Host Family Recruitment Form, we will:
- Make an appointment to meet you in your home – during this time we will conduct an interview with you and other family members living in the household. We will also ask to view the proposed accommodation where the child would stay.
- Commence background and enhanced DBS checks for all household members over the age of 16. These can take some time to be returned to us.
- Adding you to our database of vetted host families.
After all checks have been completed, we will contact you if there is a suitable pupil who is in need of a host family home to stay. We will always provide in depth information on each pupil and the expected stay durations before arranging contracts with you and initiating introductions.