Our host family program is one of the most important community links for our scholars. Host families welcome a new ABCLM scholar into their home as a member of their family one Sunday each month, ideally throughout his four years of high school. Host families offer a ‘home away from home’ and an opportunity to experience the community by participating in normal everyday family activities – from chores to family meals to social functions and sports activities. This link is tremendously important to our ABCLM scholars, who often form strong familial relationships with their host family. The relationships between host families and scholars are incredibly significant and frequently result in life-long friendships.
We try to consider personality and interests when possible. Some scholars have a lot of siblings and may want a quieter household, or conversely love being around lots of kids. We try to get as much input as we can to make the best match.
We do require background checks for host families just as we do for all volunteers who are directly involved with our scholars. Aside from that, we look for a loving, open-hearted family who enjoys spending time with high school students and helping them navigate high school.
Yes, from September through mid-June. The scholars return to their primary home for summer and extended school vacations. Having said that, it is not unusual to keep in contact with your scholar during the summer months.
What if we feel we are not able to continue after a year or two? Ideally, you are committing to hosting a scholar through his duration at LMHS. Like any relationship, each year builds on the connection and relationship and consistency is key. However, if it really is not working out, we won’t force the relationship.
Broadly speaking, the family does its thing and the scholar is incorporated. For example, they may join a sporting event, run errands, got to movies, have family dinner, etc. Having downtime is OK. The scholars live in a busy house on a regular basis with lots of school work and extracurricular activities, so they relish an opportunity to relax on weekends.
ABC Lower Merion owns and operates a residence in Ardmore (on Ardmore Avenue). We employ a full-time resident director who lives in an attached apartment as well as 2-3 resident tutors who live on the third floor of the house.
Scheduling conflicts are inevitable. We will work with you. Host families receive a calendar for the entire year so you will be able to look through and see the days in advance. If there is a conflict, we will work with you. Sometimes if a family has a conflict, they simply arrange to visit with their scholar on another day.
That really depends on each family. Some scholar families are eager to meet everyone involved in their child’s life, while others (for a variety of reasons) are not. We generally provide opportunities but do not formally push a connection.
ABC LM scholars receive a weekly allowance for chores performed. Host families are not required to contribute money to their lives outside the home. However, host families will certainly spend money on their scholars whether a meal out with the family or to purchase tickets to an event the family is attending. Beyond that, purchases, including gifts should be modest. Any significant purchase (over $50) should be discussed with the Resident Director.
Each scholar has an Academic Advisor, SAT Tutor as well as a College Committee member who generally guide them through the academic and college selection process. Host families have been involved in informally discussing what’s going on at school and often take their scholars on college visits when the time comes.