Saanich School District has been successfully welcoming international students for nearly 20 years. Host families play a pivotal role in our program as they become the “Canadian family” for our students. We are always looking for new families to join our wonderful and dedicated community of host families that is helping to create an unforgettable experience for the international students in our program.
As a host family for Saanich International Student Program, you become the “home away from home” for the young person staying with your family. By welcoming the student into your home and treating them as a valued member of your family, your family is offering them the chance to experience true Canadian family life which will make them much more than a visitor here. In turn, you will also begin to understand their country, their family, their customs, and their beliefs as well. Host families and their students often develop a strong relationship that can last a lifetime. Many of our host families are still in touch with their former students and have even made trips to visit them in their home countries!
For more detailed information about hosting an international student, please go to tour FAQs. Thank you for your interest in hosting for Saanich International Student Program!
Can I apply to be a host family?
Saanich International Student Program welcomes all families living in the catchment area of one of our schools (Claremont Secondary, Parkland Secondary, Stellys Secondary, North Saanich Middle School, Royal Oak Middle School and Bayside Middle School) to apply as a host family. Large families, singles, empty-nesters, young couples, retirees; we have host families of all shapes and sizes! English should be the spoken language in the home.
Becoming a host family is an important decision. It takes openness, kindness, and understanding to host a teenager from a different culture. Students will often become part of the family. All members of the family have to be on board in making this commitment.
How long will the student be living with my family?
We have short term and long term students. Short term students stay here 3-5 months, long term students stay 10 months or longer. You can state your preference for hosting either a short or long term student.
How old are the students in the program?
Students in our program can reside in a homestay when they are in Grades 6-12. Even though the majority of our students is in high school, we also have some middle school students living with host families. Elementary students can be enrolled in our program but are required to live with a member of their family and don’t qualify for our homestay program.
What are the requirements for hosting?
As a home-stay parent you are expected to provide the environment and support that you would normally provide for your own family. This means you are required to offer your student:
- a private bedroom furnished with the following:
- a bed with a proper mattress and bedding
- a desk with a lamp and adequate lighting
- a window that opens
- a closet and set of drawers
- three wholesome meals a day and snacks as required
- a quiet, adequately lit and heated study space
- hot water and facilities for daily bathing and basic toiletries, such as soap, shampoo, etc.
- laundry (you may expect a student to do their own laundry if you wish)
- access to the common living areas of the house
Additionally, we require you to treat the student as a valued member of your family. This looks like:
- emotional support if the student suffers from homesickness, difficulties at school, etc.
- academic support (help with homework if possible, communication with teachers, attendance at parent-teacher-student interview, etc.)
- inclusion of the student in family outings, trips to restaurants, special occasions, recreational activities
- giving your student a house key
- pickup and drop-off to the airport or ferry
- transportation to and from student activities (host families living in remote areas will be required to provide more transportation)
What does the program offer host families?
We offer our host families:
- a monthly remuneration
- orientation at the beginning of the year
- homestay meet-ups to connect with other host families
- ongoing support of the SISP Homestay Team
- 24/7 emergency contact number
How does the Homestay Application process work?
You can apply to become a host family by filling in the online application: https://mytruenorth.ca/hsportalindex.php?db=saanich
After filling in and submitting the application, the Homestay Coordinator for the school in your catchment area will contact you to set up a home visit. The Homestay Coordinator will conduct a home visit, where we can get to know you and your family and learn about your motivation for hosting for our program. After the home visit, if there is a mutual connection, we will ask you to fill out the necessary paperwork and apply for a Criminal Record Check. Once this is all taken care off, you can be accepted as a host family for our program!
When I get accepted as a host family, or if I have hosted successfully for SISP before, does that automatically mean I’ll get a student?
No; getting accepted into the program as a host family or having hosted successfully for us before, does not guarantee a student will be placed with you. Student placement all depends on whether or not we have a good match for your family.
What are some things I can do to smoothen the transition for my student during the first days?
Some suggestions are:
- Teach your student how to use the phone, what your family’s phone numbers are and emergency numbers, how to use the phone directory, and rules for making calls
- Help your student arrange for a personal phone (but don’t sign any contracts for them)
- Go with your student to open a bank account. Stress not to carry large amounts of money or leave it at home
- Show your student how to use his/her ATM card and explain the importance of keeping the PIN number secret
- Go over school information with your student
- Discuss schedules for breakfast, showering, school, supper, etc.
- Show your student the route to and from school, or where to get on/off the bus
- Visit some local points of interest and go shopping for food together
- Have fun getting to know each other!
How/where can I apply for a Criminal Record Check or share the CRC I already have had done?
You can now apply for your Criminal Record Check (CRC) online. Go to the link below and follow the instructions:
https://justice.gov.bc.ca/eCRC/ and use Access Code 8MC7PY29BC
There is a $28 charge for the CRC which can be paid online. Clearance Letters will be sent directly to us. When it is not possible to complete the application for a CRC online, you can print out the forms and come by our office to have us submit it manually, or visit a local police station.
If you already have a CRC (make sure it has the “vulnerable sector” check, since you are working with children), you can share this with us. The process for sharing a CRC is the same as applying for it online. When you click on the link above, it will give you the option to choose “share a CRC”.
What is the Emergency Contact Number?
The SISP Emergency Contact Number is: 250-812-0731
Who do I contact if my student is absent from school?
Please call or email the school absence line:
My student has been injured or is ill and requires urgent medical care. Who should l inform?
Once you have arranged the appropriate medical care please inform SISP Administrators through the emergency number: 250-812-0731
What do I need to do when my student wants to travel independently?
Students are required to fill out travel applications if they are going outside of Greater Victoria without their host parents. Once we receive the travel application, signed by you and their natural parents, SISP will email host parents with the approval or denial, not the student so please let them know. When students are going on a trip out of Canada during their stay here, we will need a release waiver signed by their natural parents.
- Day Trip Form:
- Overnight Trip Form:
- Flight Travel Form:
- Release Waiver for Travel Outside of Canada:
I will be away overnight, what are my responsibilities?
You are required to inform your Homestay Coordinator at least 5 days in advance whenever you are planning to be away and get approval for the responsible adult over the age of 25 that you have arranged to supervise your student. Under no circumstance are students to be left alone overnight.
Who do I contact if my student is skipping classes or not doing well in school?
Please contact the school directly, each student is assigned an advisor that you will be directed to. The advisors will help you and your student figure out how to improve the situation.
My student wants me to sign a cell phone contract, what should I do?
Host families should not sign any contracts for students. Please assist them with setting up a pay-as-you-go cell phone account and be sure they have cancelled everything before leaving your home.
My student says marijuana is legal now. Is it ok for them to have it?
No! SISP maintains a zero tolerance policy and students in the SISP program may not use drugs or alcohol under any circumstance.
My student is coming back from the ferry after a school trip, do I need to be available to pick them up?
Your assistance for pick up and drop off at the ferry/airport for arrivals, departures and school related trips is required, however arranging carpools with other host families is encouraged. Please regard these situations as you would if the student were your own child.
My student wants to sleep over at another homestay is this allowed?
Yes, students may engage in sleepovers as long you have confirmed with the other parents that they will be properly supervised.
What is an appropriate curfew for my student?
Ultimately it is up to you to set the curfew, but we have created the following guideline for weekends:
- Grade 9 ⇨ 9:00pm
- Grade 10 ⇨ 10:00pm
- Grade 11 ⇨ 11:00pm
- Grade 12 ⇨ 12:00am
Students should be home by 9:00pm on weeknights and home most nights for a family dinner when possible.
My student’s mother is coming to visit, am I required to accommodate her?
No, you are not required to accommodate any family members that come to visit. You may want to recommend a nearby hotel or AirBNB.
My student is not following the house rules, what should I do?
Please contact your Homestay Coordinator if you and your student have not been able to work a problem out quickly. Usually lack of communication, cultural differences or simply being a teen can contribute to homestay issues. Let us help you work things out!
What is it
In order to recruit more host families for Saanich International Student Program, we are giving current host families a chance to refer families they think would be a great potential host for us. If you are currently hosting for us and think that a family in your community would be a good fit for our program, we encourage you to let us know about this family, and collect a $100 reward!
How it works
Complete the Host Family Referral Form. When the potential family has applied, has gone through our screening process and has been officially approved as a host family, you receive $100.
An important note: we need to receive this form before the potential family actually applies, in order to qualify for the referral reward.