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Frequently asked Questions - Homestay Families

May 3, 2021

Potential homestay (HS)  families often have questions about hosting an international student.  We hope you will find some of the answers to your questions in the information below.  If you have further questions, please email us at homestays@wsd1.org


Where do the students come from? 

Students have attended the Winnipeg School Division’s (WSD)  International Education Program for many years, and have come from countries such as Brazil, China, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Uganda, Vietnam and many other countries.


Which schools do the students attend? 

Our students have attended a number of middle schools and high schools throughout the Division. The majority of our students attend Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, Grant Park, Churchill, Kelvin, Gordon Bell or Tec Voc.


How old are the students? 

The majority of our students are between the ages of 15-18.


How long do students attend our schools? 

Students attend for periods of three months, five months (a semester) or a full year.  Many international students have attended WSD schools for multiple school years and have lived with the same family for those years.  The length of a student’s stay with your family is your decision. 


Why are these students coming to attend our schools? 

Canada has a public education system that is admired and respected  around the world.  Canada is considered to be a safe and welcoming country, with a reputation for a high quality of life. Our international students attend Winnipeg School  Division for many reasons, including to prepare for university in Canada, to learn about Canadian culture and values and to improve their language skills. They are adventurous students who add greatly to our schools and to our communities. 


What do I need to provide?

Homestay families act as caring parents and treat the international student who is living in their home as a family member.  Our families provide three nutritious meals per day plus appropriate snacks. Generally, this means that students will have supper with families on a regular basis. (This also provides an opportunity to talk to each other, and to learn from each other!)   Students are expected to help themselves to breakfast and to make a bagged lunch for school.  Students will often need some help with this at the beginning of their time in Winnipeg. 


Homestay families provide international students with accommodation, including a private bedroom with a bed, linens and towels, desk, chair and lamp to use for private study, and a dresser and closet to store their clothing. Students must have access to a bathroom (it does not need to be a private bathroom.)  Our preference is that the student’s bedroom be on the main or upper floor, but depending on the home, some students may be comfortable in a basement bedroom. The bedroom window must meet the building requirements for egress or emergency exit.

 

Laundry facilities must be provided; families will have different levels of comfort with this!  Some homestay families are happy to do the laundry for a student, others will expect the student to wash their own clothing.  


High speed wi-fi access must be provided.  Homes must be equipped with a working smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.  We recommend that homes be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector. 


What are my responsibilities? 

Families monitor the student’s eating, sleeping, rest and exercise activities to assist the student in maintaining a healthy living routine.  Families also verify any student’s school absences with the International Education  Program.  Please provide appropriate curfew times appropriate for the age, well-being and development of the student living in your home.  Ensure the student receives timely medical attention as appropriate and when required, immediate medical attention where reasonably indicated.


What role do HS families play in academics?

Our students are here to attend our schools.  That is their primary reason for participating in the International Education Program. It is very important that our families provide an environment conducive to homework completion and studying.  While there is a great deal of assistance available to the students at school, and assistance from our office in terms of tracking a student’s academic progress, our HS families are important to the academic success of our students. 


How are students placed with a family?

Placements are finalized based on mutual agreement.  This includes understanding both a student’s and a family’s preferences, including personal interests and allergies. Families are able to specifically request either a female or male student. Distance to the student’s school may also be a factor in finalizing a homestay placement.


What about food or special diets? 

If a student has particular dietary needs, this will be determined before the student arrives in Canada.  This is also part of the “matching” process, to determine if a family can accommodate a student who is a vegetarian or has specific allergies, for example.   If a student has some preferences which are dissimilar to the family, WSD homestay support will assist with a solution.


What chores/household duties are the students expected to help with?

Students are expected to contribute to maintaining the household as any member of the family would be. Students are not expected to perform duties such as babysitting, dog walking, snow shovelling,  general labour, etc.  


Can I take my student to the cabin or to the family farm?

This may be possible, but it is necessary for the HS family to  obtain consent from our staff  for student travel outside of Winnipeg.  Adequate notice of a minimum of two business days must be provided if documents are required for travel, including travel to a cottage or a relative’s home. Travel outside of Canada is NOT permitted (not even to Grand Forks, for the day!) 


What rules do the students have to follow? 

Students must attend school full time. Students are prohibited from purchasing or using alcohol, cannabis products, or illegal drugs regardless of age. They may not operate a motor vehicle or any motorized form of transportation, including watercraft, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle. This includes taking Driver’s Education.


What assistance does WSD International provide?

Our  program provides assistance to both the student and the HS family to help resolve issues such as behaviour, homesickness,  acculturation, and “settling-in”.  We support families through regular communications and updates, including a pre-arrival orientation. As required, assistance is available by telephone and email during business hours; a WSD employee is available for emergencies after hours.


Do I need to drive the student to school?

No, students are generally expected to walk or take Winnipeg Transit to school.   If you have a bicycle  (with a lock) that you can loan your student, that is great!   We do ask families to assist our students to learn how to use local public transit and to purchase transit tickets or to use a Peggo card. Students will pay for their transit expenses; this is not an expense for homestay families.  Occasionally families may transport the student to certain activities in the evening and on weekends, if a student is involved in extracurricular activities. Families may not charge extra fees for driving a student to school.


What should homestay families pay for? 

Students are expected to purchase items like winter clothing and school supplies.  If you have an extra pair of mitts or boots that you can loan the student, that is wonderful,  but it is not expected.  


If you go out for a meal as a family, the family should pay for the student’s meal.  If a student goes out for a burger with their friends, it is their responsibility to pay for that meal. There are a number of places and Winnipeg attractions that you might want to show students that are free  of charge or very inexpensive.  We hope your family will take advantage of these and “see” Winnipeg through an international student’s perspective. To save any misunderstandings, it is a good idea to confirm who will pay for events and outings in advance.


What if I need to travel or be away for the night?

Students cannot be left alone overnight regardless of their age. Families are asked to avoid making travel/holiday plans that would interfere with a specific hosting commitment and to advise WSD immediately of any need to temporarily relocate a student to a respite host.


Do students ever have family members who come to visit them?

Family members do sometimes travel to Canada with the student, or want to visit them mid-way through an academic period of study.  Please let us know if your student is expecting visitors.  All visitors must make their own arrangements for accommodation and entertainment. 


Do I need special home insurance?

Adequate home and liability insurance including third party liability insurance to cover an international student living in the home must be maintained.


What if we are having trouble? 

We ask families to commit to the period of study that they have agreed to.  There may be some growing pains to having a student live in your home, and we are available to help you through that. We will work with both you and your student to help settle your student into life in Winnipeg. 


How are HS Families reimbursed?

WSD International provides families a generous monthly reimbursement for expenses incurred while hosting an international student. This is completed at the end of the month. Families are not employees of WSD and WSD does not automatically issue T-slips for the purposes of income declaration. However, WSD is obligated to report reimbursement payments to hosts to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), if requested. HS families are encouraged to consult tax professionals if they have questions about hosting and the CRA. T-Slips may be issued on request.


How do I apply?

First, complete the Homestay Application form.  (If possible, please complete this online.) Then, provide WSD with current, clear Winnipeg Police Service Police Record Check/Police Vulnerable Sector Checks, as well as a clear Child Abuse Registry Checks for every resident of the home who is 18 years or older, including adults who frequently stay overnight.

After those have been submitted, a visit to your home will be completed by our staff. The last step is to sign the Homestay Agreement and return it to our office.

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