[December 11, 2013] Are you ready to host international students in local families’ homes? We are seeing a noteworthy increase in the number and variety of homestay programs offered by our independent schools. One reason for this surge is the substantial increase in international students enrolling in independent schools in the United States. Approximately 50,000 high school students come to the U.S. from abroad each year, about half of them from China. The inclusion of foreign students through homestay programs can bring welcome diversity to the student body and enhance the school’s funding through tuition and advancement, as many students from abroad are able to pay full tuition.
In addition, student exchange programs remain popular and often involve local homestays. For instance, when international students spend time in the United States, their visits constitute a “homestay” from a risk management perspective.
Independent schools involved in homestay programs are well-advised to ensure that they have appropriate procedures, authorization forms, handbooks and contracts in place for managing the enrollment of international students, as well as their short-term homestay visits, in order to mitigate the risks associated with educating students whose natural parents live outside of the U.S.
We recommend the following components of a comprehensive homestay compliance package:
- A special enrollment contract, which is the school’s opportunity to establish a contractual relationship with the international students and their natural families.
- A “conduct guide,” outlining in detail the conduct expectations for international students and their host families.
- A host family “application kit,” including: (a) host family application; (b) host family site inspection sheet; (c) interview questions for prospective host families; and (d) host family authorization for background clearances.
- A host family contract, so that host families acknowledge and agree to abide by conduct standards in their interactions with the student and the school.
- A host family authorization form, permitting host families to arrange for medical care and grant permission for school trips, sports participation, and the like.
- A host family handbook, describing provisions that target the unique issues that may confront the hosts of homestay international students.
Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Firm’s Education Practice Group if you have any questions about homestay best practices, contracts, authorization forms or handbooks.