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School board seeking host families for Homestay program

Host homes needed for incoming students this fall

The Avon Maitland District School Board needs you – well, more specifically, they need your home.

The board is currently searching for homestay families that will help house exchange students this coming fall. It’s expected there will be 18 visiting students for the new school year in Stratford, but that number could grow.

Sarah Riley of the AMDSB’s International Education department said students usually spend one semester at Stratford District Secondary School (September through the end of January), but there are times when they spend an entire school year as a Golden Bear.

“The biggest issue we have is finding enough homes,” she said. “There are instances where we will house two visiting students with the same family, and in those cases we try to put ones from different countries together so they’re learning about each other while experiencing school in Canada as well.”

Riley said the students are mostly from European countries or from Vietnam, and most students arrive with a good degree of understanding in English to make their transition easier. There are some requirements that host families have to meet, but she said it’s not as restrictive as you might think.

“Students are brought to and from the airport, and the board pays host families $800 per month for each student they have in their home,” she said. “Hosts can be retired or single - you don’t need to be a two parent, two child home to host a student. We encourage families to have meals together, but there are some things that families and students have to work out with each other.”

Riley said that Stratford typically hosts between 15-20 students but that number could go up by the time the June cut-off for student applications comes around. Finding homes for visiting students was easier prior to COVID, Riley said, as some former hosts haven’t returned to the practice following the pandemic

Those interested in finding out more information about being a Homestay family can visit the AMDSB website here.