Selection Criteria for the Recruitment of Homestay Hosts



This policy is subject to change at any time. Please check all AHN Policies on a regular basis for updates.

Document Outline
This document is for use by an AHN staff member when dealing with new Host applicants. It outlines the standards that all Hosts will need to meet to be acceptable to the American Homestay Network (AHN) community. It should be used as a guide during initial contact with new applicants and referred to when conducting their home inspection.

Selection Criteria for Recruitment of Homestay Hosts
The goal of AHN is to recruit Hosts who can deliver quality homestay services to Guests who are placed through AHN. Customer satisfaction can be achieved if Hosts understand their duty of care and receive support and training on an ongoing basis. Hosting for the right reasons is paramount. Hosts must be financially stable and have time to spend with the Guest and be willing to include their guests in their home/family activities.

Selection Process
The chronological sequence of host selection allows AHN staff to make an informed decision based on how well the prospective Host deals with each stage of their application and their ability to communicate with the staff member throughout this process. The Supervisor should pay particular attention to the tone and quality of their initial communication, how well they proceed with the training and orientation and, finally, the result of their home interview and inspection. 

Hosts must offer:

  • Good quality accommodation within the same living quarters as the host family
  • Clean and tidy home with fire alarm installed
  • Access to the home if a security system is installed
  • Private bedroom that is part of the family home with internal access
  • Good quality bed and bedding
  • Study desk with comfortable chair and lighting
  • Wardrobe free of family belongings
  • Drawer space (can be incorporated within the closet)
  • Heater or fan (depending on climate/season)
  • Bathroom facilities close to the bedroom
  • Lockable bathroom doors
  • Laundry facilities
  • Access to a telephone
  • Access to internet facilities
  • No intimidating pets

Hosts must display:

  • Caring, positive, flexible, open-minded attitude towards the homestay situation
  • Willingness to communicate with the Guest
  • Positive, tolerant attitude towards other cultures
  • Interest and good motivational skills (e.g. do they sound excited at the prospect of hosting?)
  • Knowledge of specific needs of international Guests (e.g. prior experience and/or a willingness to train)
  • Ability to facilitate guests’ needs (e.g. emotional, behavioral, cultural)
  • Ability to manage conflict
  • Ability to introduce appropriate boundaries depending on Guests’ age and maturity
  • Stability and strength (e.g. financial, social, emotional, etc.)
  • Willingness of other members residing in the home to accept the Guest
  • Ability to speak English in a clear and concise manner and agreement to only speak English whilst the Guest is in the presence of any family members

What is Duty of Care?

The AHN community has a duty of care to all international Guests. There are four key factors outlined below:

  • Duty of care exists when a stakeholder’s action, or failure to act, could reasonably be expected to affect another stakeholder. Duty of care then means being in a position where someone else is likely to be affected by what you do or do not do and where it is reasonably predictable that the other person might suffer some harm.
  • Standard of care is the ‘reasonable’ standard expected. A reasonable standard does not mean perfection but will vary considerably depending on who you are and the circumstances.
  • A breach of duty of care is the failure to meet the relevant standard of care which might happen through the failure to do something that should have been done. This does not mean that every mistake constitutes a breach of duty of care. This will depend on whether or not the mistake was reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Harm or loss or injury in a negligence action must be demonstrated to have been caused either directly or indirectly by the breach of duty of care. It must be able to be shown that were it not for the other person’s carelessness the damage would not have occurred. It must also be shown that the harm was reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances.

Warning Signs

  • Excessive focus on financial gain as motivation for hosting
  • Mannerisms which may be interpreted by staff as threatening or have potential to make Guests feel uncomfortable
  • Houses designed to be boarding houses
  • The presence of many other homestay guests
  • Apparent lack of cultural sensitivity or flexibility (e.g. unwillingness to provide Asian Guests with rice meals or permit Guests to practice religious rituals at home etc.)
  • Household arrangements not conducive to providing adequate privacy for Guests (e.g. shared sleeping arrangements)
  • Rooms are not exclusively for homestay Guests – AHN does not support moving family members from bedrooms to make room for AHN Guests
  • Transportation not available or not as stated on Host application

AHN representatives must be aware of discrimination legislation. Racial discrimination abounds in the homestay industry because the majority of homestay Guests wish to live with what they perceive as a ‘typical’ American family. Race is not sufficient grounds to reject an applicant as a Host. 

While the Supervisor must avoid discrimination, if a potential Host, regardless of race, does not meet the selection criteria set by the Host Manager then the Host Manager must refuse them. For example, homestay Guests expect to stay with an English-speaking family to improve their English language capabilities. If a high level of English is an established criterion for placing Guests and a household does not meet the criterion, the household can be refused as a Host. If the Supervisor chooses to reject potential Hosts based on this criterion (or any other), the code of conduct and program policies should clearly reflect this position to legally protect the Supervisor and the AHN community.

It is at the Supervisor’s discretion whether or not the Host should be informed of the reasons they are being rejected. For example, if requirements are currently lacking that may be met in the future a Supervisor may wish to alert the Host of what is needed. However, if a Host is completely unsuitable (e.g. hosting as primary income, prior exclusion from network, etc.) the Supervisor may choose to simply inform the prospective Host of their unsuitability without elaboration. If the Host chooses to challenge this they may be informed of the Grievance Management Policy. Please note that as part of the grievance proceedings applicants do have a legal right to view information collected regarding them. As such, Host files should be objective and not overly explicit in listing reasons for Host unsuitability.

Monitoring Hosts

The objective of monitoring Hosts ensures that continued performance is identified and measured against the criterion in place. Support can be offered where the need is identified to better protect both the Host and the Supervisor. Monitoring should take place once in each six month period.

Background Checks

All Hosts must provide their Social Security number and date of birth when applying to join AHN. Any persons over the age of 18 residing in a Host’s home must also agree to a criminal background check prior to any Guest being placed with the Host. AHN will conduct periodic criminal background checks for Hosts biennially (i.e. every two years) if the Host offers standard homestay services or annually (i.e. every year) if hosting younger students participating in the AHN High School Program. The cost is $20.00USD per person.

Home Inspection

Accommodation must be inspected prior to any Guest being placed according to the appropriate checklist (above). A Host should be advised if they have failed to supply any part of the requirements and re-checked when requirements are complete. 

Host residences should be inspected on an annual basis unless otherwise required (e.g. inspections will be carried out every six months for Hosts participating in the AHN High School Program).

Updated July 2019