Host Family Obligations

American host families have a small number of obligations after they are accepted.
All of these obligations are easily met, and are listed below.

Host Family Criteria

Primarily we ask our host families to provide your Belfast guest with love, room and board – the operative word being “love”. The other host family obligations are as follows.

o Host for 4 weeks
o Prefer a host child in the 10-14 year old range. If not, then we request that you bring over two Belfast children
o We require that a parent or a dedicated home-care adult (e.g. a grandmother, a nanny, an aunt) is home with the kids during the stay.

  • 1. General Principle
    o Attend an Irish Children’s Program Information Meeting is the first step to learn more about hosting a child from Belfast.
    o Fill out an application form and sign an ICP contract. Also help your child to fill out a child information sheet. These forms are distributed at the Information Meetings.
    2. Attendance:
    o There are three meetings prior to the arrival of the Belfast children. These are: (1)the Introduction meeting, once you have been selected, (2) the match-up meeting, where you learn who your child is, and (3) the pre-arrival meeting giving last minute instructions and obligations.
    o While the Belfast children are in Rochester, attend the mandatory opening and closing picnics and the teambuilding event (host and Belfast children only). Obviously, you are also required to be present at the children’s arrival and departure from Rochester. Again we need to emphasize that these are mandatory events that the host families and Belfast child must attend.
    o Attend as many optional events during the summer as you can. These events allow Belfast children to interact while in America. In the past, some of these events have included Red Wings games, bowling, roller skating, ice skating, miniature golf, an evening at the Sports Garden and a trip to Niagara Falls. We encourage you to attend as many as you can. Remember one of our objectives is for the kids to build relationships with the other Belfast kids that they are traveling with.
    o You are strongly encouraged to attend other ICP events: St. Patrick’s Day Parade and our annual Benefit Concert and Silent Auction, held in the Spring.
    3. Fundraising/Financial:
    o You are required to participate in the Carnation Sales fundraising. The Carnation committee will determine the number of time slots that you need to cover, but typically you will be asked to sign up for up to three 2 hour time slots.
    o Host families are asked to provide auction items for the Silent Auction. The Silent Auction committee will determine the number of items and the dollar amount required, but typically it is any number of items with a total value of $150. The host families are encouraged to either make or get these items donated from local businesses.
    o Provide insurance coverage for the child while in your care. The cost for this coverage is approximately $45.00- $75.00. This covers any travel and/or medical needs.
    o Your other financial obligations are associated with the support of your child while he or she is in your home. Obviously, there is the cost of food for the child. Other than meals, an exact amount is difficult to quantify, but imagine hosting a niece or nephew for five weeks.
    o There also may be some cost of attending the ICP events. The program makes every effort to provide free or reduced price tickets for the host child and Belfast child, but some will incur a nominal price (The ICP does acquires discount pricing wherever possible.
  • It is important that you discuss these obligations as a family, since the obligations will affect everyone, adults and children alike.

  • 1. General Principle
    The ICP is obligated to ensure every child brought from Northern Ireland under its auspices is placed in a stable and safe family environment. The central principle is that anyone in whose home a child is placed should be the kind of individual with whom we would gladly place our own children for four (4) to six (6) weeks.
  • There are two classifications of families that may be selected to participate in the program as host families: initial (or first time) and returnee.
  • First Time
    Families selected to be a first time host family would host a child who is a first time participant in the program. The program will select which child is placed with the family. The family is not required to pay travel expenses, but they are required to provide and pay for medical/travdel insurance coverage. After the Belfast group has returned home to Belfast, all personal information provided for the insurance application will be destroyed. Donations will not be solicited from families but will be accepted if offered. Obligations of first time host families are outlined in a separate section of this policy document. If a host family does not have a child within the 10-14 year age range, the family must host two children of different religions.
  • Returnee Families
    Families selected to be returnee host families would host a child that they request. These families will usually have been previous first time host families. The child being requested will usually be a returning child or a sibling of a child that previously participated in our program. Returnee host families are under the same obligations as the first time host families as outlined in the following section of this document. Returnee host family applications will be considered from families not previously involved in the program and the family must follow the normal path of being selected and be willing to participate as a host family.
  • Those families who wish to return a Belfast child must attend a special returnee informational meeting that will be scheduled prior to the November board meeting. Interviewing of returnee families will be done no later than 12/1. Selection of returnee families will be completed no later than 12/15.
  • Returnee families are instructed not to invite their Belfast children back until both American and Belfast Boards have approved them. Returnee families should be aware that a returning child is expected to attend Belfast events following his or her return home to Northern Ireland (see section D. 10. Returnee policy). If a host family wishes to return a child who is not within the 10-14 year age range, they may do so privately. These children may participate in ICP summer events only after meeting all the requirements set forth by the Rochester and Belfast Boards.
  • It is the exclusive responsibility of the prospective returnee host family to contact the Belfast child’s parents to secure their commitment to participate in the program again. A Returnee application must be submitted and approved by the Rochester Board and a recommendation made by the Belfast Board prior to contacting the returnee child. The inclusion of returnee host families provides first-time selected children
    with the reinforcement of traveling with children who have previously participated in the program. For the ICP they provide a source of additional income through their participation in our raffle and other fund raising activities. Support for returnee host families helps to reinforce and strengthen the bonds between the families and the ICP while increasing the size of the program. Increased program size provides many intangible benefits including public exposure.
  • Note: Returnees normally arrive and depart with the first time children; however, with prior permission of the Rochester Board and both the Belfast and Rochester families, the returnee may travel separate from the group either before and/or after the first time children travel. If the returnee children do NOT arrive and/or depart with general ICP group, it is the returnee host families responsibility alone to insure the child is picked up upon arrival and is returned for departure.

(The following policies apply to both first time and returnee host families)

  • 1. Adult Supervision
    One responsible adult family member will be at home at all times. Generally, no child will be placed in a situation in which supervision would regularly fall to paid childcare provided outside the home. This policy should not be construed to prevent occasional care by a paid babysitter nor to prevent occasional sleep-overs by the Belfast child in the homes of friends and neighbors.
  • 2. Host Family Children
    Prospective host families should have children of approximately the same age and gender as the visiting Belfast child. The targeted age range for host children is 10 years of age by July 1st and not turning 15 years of age before August 1st of the host year. Any deviation in the targeted host child age range will be at the discretion and agreement of the current selection committee and current executive board. Any children in the prospective host family should show evidence of an interest in sharing their home and their summer experience with a child from another country.
  • Couples or families without children in the targeted ages of 10-14 who wish to host should demonstrate a willingness to accept two children (one Catholic and one Protestant) and their lifestyle should be supportive of children. The age of the couple will not be considered except that older couples will be evaluated with respect to their awareness of and tolerance for the active nature that two youngsters will bring to their lives and their ability to attend ICP functions.
  • 3. Attitudes Toward Discipline
    Prospective host families should demonstrate a willingness to treat the Belfast child as their own with respect to household chores and discipline. The ICP will not place a child in a home where physical, sexual or mental abuse is suspected, nor will it place a child in a home which does not set clear guidelines for acceptable behavior enforced by a gentle, consistent policy toward discipline.
    4. Family Stability
    The ICP will not place a child in a home situation that is under undue stress. Specifically, the ICP seeks to avoid family situations in which illness, unemployment, marital stress, drug or alcohol abuse, or other factors, might interfere with the family’s ability to support the Belfast child during that child’s stay.
  • 5. Guns and Other Weapons
    The ICP does not take a position with respect to the right of host families to own and use firearms. However, the ICP does seek to ensure that no Northern Irish child has access to a weapon or to firearms training. Prospective host families must be willing to lock away any firearms they may own throughout the child’s stay. Any family violating this provision is subject to having the Belfast child immediately removed from their care. This rule reflects the need to maintain the programs reputation in Belfast. If the program were to permit use of firearms, the perception in Belfast could be that the program is encouraging one side or the other in the political struggle.
  • 6. Religion of Host Families
    Host families need not be religious but must arrange for the Belfast child to attend the church of that child’s (parent’s) choice. Hopefully, they will be open to participation across religious lines. Potential host family religious preferences will be determined in order to place the Belfast children appropriately. Such a cross-religious placement is basic to and supported by both the Rochester and Belfast Boards as necessary to break down barriers. Any potential host family or Belfast visitor not willing to interact with persons of different religions will not participate in the ICP. Host families of mixed religions may host Belfast children of either religion.

• Recruiting: September to January
• Host Family Selection: February
• Carnations: March
• Benefit Concert & Silent Auction: April
• Matchup & Pre-Arrival Prep: May – June
• Summer Fun!: July to Early August