We at ACES believe that the host family component of our programs is the most important aspect of the cross-cultural exchange experience as it allows American families the rewarding experience of having a new family member from another country, while offering program participants the opportunity to become a member of an American family and to be immersed in everyday American culture.
We are dedicated to making this an enriching, pleasant, and educational experience for your family. ACES Local Coordinators and the national office stand ready to help at any point during the program.
Host Family Qualifications
The most important qualification for becoming an ACES host family is the genuine desire to share your heart, home and way of life with a visitor from another country so that he or she becomes a true member of your family for the duration of their stay.
There are no “typical” ACES host families. Our host families come from all walks of life and represent different socio-economic backgrounds. They live in urban, suburban and rural areas, and include single parent and two parent families as well as couples with no children.
Host Family Responsibilities
Beyond sharing your daily family life with your program participant, ACES host families’ responsibilities include the following:
- Provide a safe, supportive and nurturing environment appropriate to the age of the participant.
- Provide an appropriate sleeping area for your new family member. Teenage participants can share a bedroom with a child of the same gender and similar age, but must have his or her own bed, a place to study, and a space to keep his or her belongings.
- Provide all meals eaten at home.
- Attend the host family orientation conducted by an ACES representative before the arrival of the participant.
- Be flexible, understanding and communicative with the new family member in order to assist him or her in adjusting to the U.S. and your family’s way of life.
Visitors are expected to participate fully as a member of the family, not as a guest.
ACES provides support for host families from the time a host family commits to hosting until the end of the program. This support comes from both the Local Coordinator in your area as well as the national office staff. The Local Coordinator and the national office staff will offer orientation before the participant arrives, as well as guidance, counseling, and program information throughout the program duration to both the host family and the participant. Finally, program officials are available 24 hours a day for emergencies.
How to Become a Host Family
Prospective host families must complete a Host Family Application, which is an introduction to you and your family, and provide two references. Once the application has been submitted, an in-home interview will be conducted by the ACES Local Coordinator in your community. Additionally, a criminal background check is conducted by ACES to ensure the safety of all program participants. Contact the ACES national office to find out more about becoming a host family by filling out an online inquiry form.
Choosing Your New Family Member
After being approved as an ACES host family, your Local Coordinator will aid your family in choosing your new family member by reviewing program participants’ applications together. ACES works very hard to match participants and host families whose interests and backgrounds are compatible.