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International Education
Central Okanagan School District
Guidelines

GUIDELINES FOR HOMESTAY PLACEMENTS

Students and homestay families understand that the homestay student relationship is not that of landlord and tenant, but rather one of mutual support where the student will conform to the normal rules of the family life and contribute to the operation of the household and the homestay family will care for the student and include the student in their regular activities as they would any of their children.

 
EXPECTATIONS OF HOST FAMILIES:
 
Host families are expected to make provisions for and take note of the following areas:
  1. accommodation and meals,
  2. home and neighbourhood orientation,
  3. transportation,
  4. student health and safety,
  5. emotional and academic support,
  6. communication with program staff,
  7. property damage,
  8. homestay reimbursement and student moves,
  9. policy on tenants/boarders and hosting for other agencies, and
  10. Criminal Record Search.
 
1.   Accommodation, meals and family chores:
The student’s bedroom will be at least an 8’ x 10’ private room with a window to an exterior wall.  The bedroom will not provide access to other parts of the house.  It will contain a closet and be furnished with bed, bedding, dresser, desk with chair, desk lamp, wastebasket and laundry hamper.  The bathroom may be shared, but should be easily accessible with a locking door.  Basic toiletries are to be provided, but special soaps, shampoos and lotions are the responsibility of the student. Laundry facilities are to be available for students.

The home must have an internet connection and smoke detectors.  Carbon monoxide detectors are also recommended.  Please ensure that you have a family escape route in the event of a fire.

Three meals each day are provided.  Breakfast may be self-serve and during the week may be simply milk, juice, toast or cereal.  Weekend breakfasts may be more elaborate with eggs and cooked items.  Host families should provide a packed lunch for school including sandwiches, fruit and a beverage.  Dinners are a nutritious hot meal with the family.  Snacks should be available as desired – fruit, cookies, popcorn, etc.

If the family will not be home for a meal or the student will arrive home later in the evening, a prepared meal will be left for the student.  If the student will not be home for dinner they will inform their host family.

It is reasonable to expect your student to keep their room and bathroom clean.  Helping with the dishes, meals and other routine household chores is to be discussed and expectations agreed upon.   Your student should be able to assist as would your own children.  Babysitting is not permitted on a regular basis.

2.  Home and neighbourhood orientation:

When you arrive home from the airport, help your student get organized in your home.  Encourage them to unpack their belongings and show them where things are kept in the kitchen and bathroom.  Front door keys and security codes are important to share.  A walk around your neighborhood is also recommended – show them your yard and the outside of your home, point out which neighbors are known to you and where to catch the city or school bus.

Discuss your house rules with the student.  You should make clear your expectations around curfew, meal times, laundry schedules, timelines for incoming phone calls and computer use, and chores.  You may also want to address the issue of sleep overs and having friends visit the home.

It is important that you also educate your student on the correct use of household appliances such as the washer and dryer, micro-wave and kitchen range.  Appliances can be very different from country to country. Please review bathroom use with your student – what goes into the toilet and how the shower works.  Show them the hot water tank and point out that the hot water supply in homes is less than in an apartment building, so it is important to limit shower or bath time.  Review your family’s fire escape route with the student.

3. Transportation:

Students will walk, take the school bus, or the city bus to and from school each day.  If you drive your own children to school you would also provide transportation for your student.  Driving to and from school based extra-curricular activities or to and from outside of school lessons and activities will be negotiated with the student.  A reasonable amount of driving is to be expected.  Students are not permitted to ride with an L or an N driver.

Students are expected to pay for their own city bus pass, but a school bus pass is provided by the program if the student is eligible.

4. Student Health and Safety: 

All international students will receive a red laminated Emergency Card which identifies them as an international student and gives your contact details.  You should know where your student is at all times.  Most students will have a cell phone, so keep their number and be sure to share all your contact phone numbers with the student.  Please do not sign a cell phone contract for your student.  If students do not bring a cell phone with them, they should purchase one and then pay as they use it.  The program by Telus is called “Pay and Talk” and there are no contracts required.  Phones range in price from $59.99 to $179.99.  Obtain the names and phone numbers of your student’s friends and keep your monthly Host Family Contact Lists.

Assist your student with doctor and dental visits.  Your student may see your family doctor or dentist or use a walk-in clinic.  Students will be covered by private insurance (Ingle) and doctor visits may be direct billed to the insurance company or paid by the student.  Dental visits and visits to the optometrist are covered only for accidental injuries.  Familiarize yourself with the insurance coverage and the reimbursement claim forms and help your student complete reimbursement claims.  Students who have a study permit and are enrolled with the district for one year and have a pre-existing medical condition will be eligible to enroll in  MSP (Medical Services Plan of BC) after the 6 month waiting period.

In the event of an emergency, including ambulance service, please call 911, then notify us on the emergency line (250-801-5684).  Emergency services are expensive, so if the student is not able to make initial medical payment, contact program staff on the emergency line.   All illnesses or injuries must be reported to program staff.

Sleep-overs with friends are the responsibility of host parents to approve and monitor.  The program does not permit mixed-gender sleep overs.  Treat these requests with due diligence as you would with your own children.

All international students must have a custodian to enter Canada.  In most cases the custodian will be the Program Manager.  Custodians must be 25 years or older, speak English and be a Canadian citizen.  The role of the Custodian is to ensure adequate provision is made for the student’s day to day needs and also to act in place of the natural parents in the event of a medical emergency.

5.  Emotional and academic support:

Parents should encourage student participation in family activities and treat students as you would your own children.  Students may experience homesickness from time to time as they adjust and adapt to your home and our culture.

Host parents are to monitor the student’s academic performance and attend parent/teacher conferences.  Report absences to the school and address any issues related to tardiness or truancy.  Parents may sign school-based field trip forms.  Refer any continuing issues with respect to absences or lack of academic performance to the Program Manager.

If your student has a tutor who comes to the home, they should work in an open area such as a dining room table or study and not in the student’s bedroom.

At least one host parent will be a native speaker of English.  If English is not your first language, speak only English when the student is present and require that the student does the same.  Respect religious/non-religious beliefs and practices of the student.  Treat the student with respect, tolerance and understanding.  They are proud of their culture and will want to share it with you.  Holidays and special events, especially birthdays and religious holidays, are important to the student.


6.  Communication with Program Staff:

Please inform the homestay coordinator of any changes in your family such as new pets, a change in your family composition or a change to your contact information.

Contact the homestay coordinator if difficulties arise that you are not able to resolve.  The coordinator will work with the student to address issues and may call a family meeting.

If your family will be away from home and are not able to include the student or the student does not wish to participate, you are responsible for ensuring a responsible adult is left in charge of the student.  A responsible adult is 25 years of age or older and will have a Criminal Records Search done and on file with the district.  Alternatively, you may contact another host family to provide temporary care.  Reimbursement of $25 per night will be made by you to the temporary host.  Always notify program staff of these arrangements.

If you and your student will be out of the school district on an over-night trip, a Travel Request Form must be completed and left on file with the district.  Travel within BC, Travel outside of BC but within Canada and Travel Outside of Canada forms must be completed and signed by yourselves as well as the natural parents.  For travel outside of Canada, documentation including a formal letter from the program and custodian documents must be obtained and kept with the student’s passport.  Students from Asia (except Singapore), Mexico, Central and South America will require a Visa to enter the U.S.  Please visit www.travel.state.gov for the list of countries that are Visa exempt and participate in the VWP (Visa Waiver Program).  If a student from a country that is not visa exempt is connecting through an American city on their return home, they may need a Transit Visa.  Please ensure that the student has checked this with his organization or travel agent.  Most European countries are visa exempt for travel to the U.S.   With all travel, please plan ahead.

If you have a holiday home such as a ski cabin or condo and wish to travel consistently through the season, one completed form with full contact details and signed by all parties is sufficient.  Following up with an email to your homestay coordinator to let her know the dates would be appreciated.

7. Property Damage:

Students do not pay a damage deposit and the program will not be responsible for damages.  Accidents do happen from time to time, and sometimes students are afraid to share this with host parents.  Please inspect the student’s room from time to time and prior to their departure.  Any damage outside of normal wear and tear is to be discussed with the student and a resolution made.  Contact program staff if you need assistance in this area.  Be sure to inform your insurance company that you have an international student residing with you, noting that this is not a landlord/tenant relationship.  There should be no increase in your premium rates.

8. Homestay reimbursement and student moves:

Host families will be reimbursed at the end of each month at a rate of $800 per calendar month.  Partial months are compensated at $25 per night.  This arrangement is regarded as a compensation for expenses incurred.  Payment is made by the program to your account by direct deposit.  Please ensure that you have provided the program with a void cheque.

It is sometimes necessary to move a student.  This is disruptive to your family as well as the student and all efforts are made to ensure that the initial placement is a fit for both parties.  Sometimes issues arise that cannot be resolved and a move is necessary.  In this case, the homestay coordinator will work with the family to ensure this is done as quickly as possible.  Notice is not required of either the family or the student and the coordinator will facilitate the physical move.

Every student is unique, and each situation is different.  Our program staff will act in the best interests of the student, but Host Parents are reminded that moving a student will not necessarily impact future participation in the program.

9.  Policy on tenants and hosting for other organizations:

If your home has a rental suite which is being occupied by a tenant, the suite must be self-contained and the tenants living independently from the host family.  We do not permit a boarding situation where there are shared meals and shared facilities in the home.

Hosting for other agencies is not permitted. 

10.  CRIMINAL RECORD SEARCH:

The school district requires a Criminal Record Search (CRS) for any person residing in the home who is 19 years of age or older.  The CRS is updated each year and the district will cover the cost of the renewal.  As we are not able to get criminal record checks done on international students that attend college or university, we do not allow our international students to stay with families that host for those programs. 

The CRS form will be handed out to host parents at the orientation held each year.  The record search will be done by the RCMP and the form will be returned directly to our office by the detachment.  You will be contacted by our office if we require further information.

The district cannot accept photocopies of a CRS done by another organization on your behalf.  If you have a CRS on file with Central Okanagan School District through your employment or volunteer activities, please let us know.  We are able to accept current CRS forms on file with our school district.