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Prospective Host Families’ Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be a SHARE! host family? The most important qualities for any potential Host Family are a generosity of heart and spirit - that ability to make an outsider feel like a member of your own family. The desire to learn from others while conveying a very personal view of life in country is what it’s all about. Families headed by a single parent, or those without children at home are enthusiastically welcomed. The diversity that is our country’s heritage is something we hope to reflect in all our programs. SHARE! finds homes that generate warmth and friendliness while possessing a reasonable degree of stability, as the host family must provide room and meals for their student.

The Basics

Do host families receive compensation for hosting? All SHARE! Host Families are volunteer and do not receive payment for hosting. By eliminating any monetary incentives for hosting, ERDT/SHARE! ensures that all motivation for hosting comes from the heart. The IRS allows each family to deduct $50.00 for each month that the exchange student lives with them. Exchange students bring their own spending money and are expected to pay for souvenirs and personal items.

How long is the SHARE! High School Exchange Program? SHARE! exchange students live with a Host Family and attend high school for a full, 10-month academic year or for a 5-month semester program. All students arrive 7-10 days before school begins and depart 7-10 days after the program ends.

Role of the Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC)

What kind of support will we receive? Your SHARE! Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) has been trained to be sensitive to both the needs of the Host Family and the needs of your exchange student. Your Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) will provide orientations and will conduct Monthly Progress Reports, and is available to answer questions and offer support. On the occasion when your Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) might not be available, the SHARE! office staff may be reached by phone or email. In the event of an emergency, an SHARE! staff member is always available on a 24-hour basis at 800-321-3738.

Will we receive information about the hosting experience? Yes. Your Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) will visit you in your home to explain the hosting experience and to answer any questions that you may have. He/she will also provide you with a pre-arrival orientation and post-arrival orientation, where you will receive information and materials that provide more details about the intercultural experience of hosting. You’ll also receive a Host Family Packet from the SHARE! National Office, which contains information about insurance coverage, policies, rules and regulations and a SHARE! Host Family Handbook.

Your Student

What will our exchange student expect? The exchange students who participate in the SHARE! High School Exchange Program expect to be treated as a member of your family. The international students are as diverse as the families who host them. Some are outgoing and gregarious; others are quiet and shy. Your exchange student will expect you to communicate with him/her about your values, and will also expect you to listen when he/she tells you about the way of life of his/her country.

Will our student abide by the rules of our home? Yes. Your student is expected to behave as a member of your family and follow all of the rules and expectations of your household. The SHARE! Host Family Handbook contains information about communicating rules and regulations to your exchange student. You should be honest and open about your household rules. Remember, your student is not merely a quest, but a new member of your family! SHARE! also has specific rules that students must follow, a signed copy of which can be found in the students’ applications.

Who pays for our exchange student’s expenses during the program? All exchange students are required to bring or receive from home $200 - $300 per month to cover personal expenses, such as school supplies, clothing, snacks outside of the home and entertainment, etc. Host families are expected to provide only room and board (meals) for the student.

May our exchange student share a bedroom with one of our children? Yes. Many SHARE! families do not have enough bedrooms in their home to accommodate an exchange student with a private bedroom. We require only that your student share a room with a child of the same gender, be given his or her own bed, space for his or her belongings and a place to study. Consideration should be given to the fact that your student will be attending high school and will be required to study and do homework.

Will our student have insurance coverage? Yes. Your exchange student is covered with medical/accident insurance and will receive an insurance card. Emergency dental treatment is covered for relief of pain or when damage to the teeth is caused by an accident. You will receive insurance information and claim forms prior to the arrival of your student.

Is the host family the legal guardian or sponsor for the student? No. ERDT/SHARE! is the legal sponsor for the student. As the legal sponsor, ERDT/SHARE! issues the documents necessary for the student to obtain J1 exchange visitor visa to enter the United States and to participate in the SHARE! High School Exchange Program. ERDT/SHARE! remains legally responsible for the student for the duration of the program. The Host Family does, however, have permission to obtain medical treatment from a licensed physician for the student when necessary. A medical release signed by the biological parents is included in the student’s application.

Would it be acceptable to invite our exchange student to our place of worship? Yes. Your exchange student should be invited to attend your place of worship. If your exchange student is of a different religion, but is interested in attending your church, temple, or synagogue to learn more about this aspect of our culture, they should be welcomed and encouraged. However, attendance of religious services should not be forced upon the student. Arrangements should be made to allow the exchange student to attend the church of his/her choice if so desired.

May we bring a teen that we already know to the U.S., to live with us as an exchange student? Perhaps. The SHARE! High School Exchange Program offers a partial end-of-year refund to students who already have a host family arranged in the U.S. at the time they apply. This type of placement is called a "self-placement" or "direct placement." The following U.S. State Department regulations apply for self-placements (and all exchange student placements on a J-1 visa):

  1. Students may not be hosted by a relative.
  2. Students may not be matched with a host family based on their abilities in a certain sport. (Students who excel in a certain sport may not be hosted by that sport's coach).
  3. English must be the language spoken in the host family's home.
  4. Students may not have previously come to the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
  5. A local high school (public or private) must agree to enroll the student.
  6. Students must be between the age of 15 and 18 1/2 upon arrival.

If you meet these criteria, please contact the SHARE! National Office to find out if SHARE! has an overseas partner in the student's country of origin, and an Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) who lives near your family. The host family must pass background checks, reference checks, and a home visit and interview by the Exchange Program Coordinator prior to the student's flight being booked. If the student should need to change host families, they will forfeit the partial refund.

If you are related to the student you would like to host, please contact us to inquire about our F-1 visa program.

Travel

May our student arrive early to travel with us? No. Travel before the program is not allowed. In certain cases, travel after the program may be approved. Check with your Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) for more details.

May we allow our student to travel on his/her own? No. Your exchange student is not permitted to travel outside the local area by himself/herself or with peers. Overnight travel with the host family or Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) is permitted (provided the student has been excused from school, if necessary). For travel with others or international travel, contact your Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) to find out about specific requirements.

About ERDT

What should I know about ERDT and SHARE!? Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT) has over twenty years experience promoting cross-cultural exchange. We are well respected in the exchange community (overseas agents, host families and coordinators) specifically for our personal approach to student exchange. We are a medium-sized organization—large enough to provide stability and variety but small enough to maintain a personal touch. Being as selective as we are, we can maintain a family-like atmosphere that extends to our field staff, host families, and exchange students.

ERDT/SHARE! was established in 1974 and has been successfully involved in working with international students--both individually and in groups—for short-term and long-term educational and homestay programs. In 1980, ERDT/SHARE! was designated by the United States Department of State to sponsor high school exchange students—our SHARE! Student Exchange Program. In addition, ERDT/SHARE! organizes various Special Programs, including short-term homestays and outbound programs for Americans. ERDT/SHARE! is included in the Advisory List published by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), an independent not-for-profit organization committed to qualify international educational travel. CSIET establishes standards for organizations and monitors compliance with those standards. ERDT/SHARE! is proud to have met the criteria for listing in the CSIET Advisory List since 1984.

How is the participant’s fee put to use? The exchange students pay a fee in their home country that is established by our partner in their home country. The fee covers the many costs and expenses that are necessary for a successful exchange program, including round-trip airfare to the final destination in the U.S. and a student pre-arrival orientation meeting. The overseas office also uses a portion of the fee for promoting the program and for office overhead and administration.

In the United States, ERDT/SHARE! uses approximately 30% of our fee for placement, orientations, and supervision. Another 10% covers health and accident insurance for the entire period of the students’ stay in the United States. Advertising, promotion, and materials are approximately 20% of the fee, with the remaining 40% used to cover office overhead and administration of the program in the United States. ERDT/SHARE! is a nonprofit educational foundation, and as a designated sponsor of high school exchange students is subject to regulations established by the United States Department of State.

Can we send our own child to another country on an exchange program? SHARE! does not have an outbound high school program. We do have an excellent volunteer program, called Volunteer Ventures, that provides people 18 and over with volunteer opportunities abroad. Contact us for more information about this program.

Is there a question you think we missed? Let us know at info@erdtshare.org, and thanks!