We wrote last week about what happens when Project 143’s teams meet children for the hosting programs, Interview Trip Expectations.
You think you may want to host, but now what? Now it is time to decide which child(ren) to invite into your home. Upon registration for hosting, you will receive a link to the photolisting, a place where we can highlight the amazing children and where families can get to know their interests and personalities. This is your chance as a family to decide on a child or sibling set that appears to be a good fit with your home situation. In this blog we will discuss some factors to consider when choosing a host child/sibling set.
The first thing to think about is who currently lives in the home: parents, children, extended family, pets, etc. What are their ages and maturity levels, especially the children’s? For some children, bringing another child into the home can cause jealousy issues which could in turn make it a difficult hosting for the host child and the family alike. Our incredible volunteers can help talk through these with some information from you about your family and what we know about the host children, too!
An important consideration also is any family members with special needs. It is not uncommon for host families to have a member with special needs, but it is important to understand how adding a child or children to the dynamic can pose extra challenges. Some host children are great with younger or special needs children, but some of these kids may be more demanding of attention or not get along well with your children at home. At P143, we try to get all of the information we can on how potential host children interact with other children as well as with adults so we can help them to be placed in the best family for them, and our volunteers consider both the child and family when helping to confirm your selections.
One of the most important reflections you can do when thinking of hosting is what your family dynamic is like. For example, if your family is big into basketball and your kids play frequently, then a host child who loves basketball could likely be a great fit into your dynamic. However, if your family enjoys going to amusement parks frequently during the summer, then a child who prefers to stay at home and just play board games as a family may not do as well.
Also related to the dynamic is the presence of extended family. Some children love to spend time with grandparents and cousins and getting to meet everyone, but many children get overwhelmed in these situations. If you frequently have people to your house or go out with other people, it is good to consider if the child you would like to host would do well in that situation or not. These are just some examples of different family dynamics, but every family and child is different so it is good to have an open conversation with your P143 contact about your family so they can help you to find the right child for your home.
After you have looked through the photolisting, it is likely that at least one child has caught your eye, so now you must consider how this child may fit into your family. It is important to think about their age versus the ages of your family members, as well as to remember that often children who are available for hosting are mentally and emotionally younger than their biological age. These delays are the products of their trauma and history, which are also important factors when it comes to hosting. That said, P143 rarely has access to a child’s entire file and therefore has limited information on a child’s past. We try to prepare families as best as possible with the information we are given, but there is always a chance that a child has more trauma than we were able to prepare you for.
The most common traumas to think about in regards to your family’s preparedness are sexual abuse, neglect (especially food insecurity), abandonment, and history of violence. Families with small children in particular really need to think about ways they can ensure safety for everyone and set yourselves up for a successful hosting.
Some host children also have special needs ranging from being on the ADD spectrum to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to Down Syndrome. Please carefully consider what your family is capable of managing when looking to host.
Now you have processed and discussed what your family can take on as far as trauma and special needs, and what age range and gender of child that your family can accommodate, it is time to narrow down the fun part: the child’s interests! Of course it is unlikely for a child to happen to have the exact interests as your family, but having shared interests can make a hosting much more enjoyable and likely to be successful. That said, many host children do not truly know what their interests/preferences are and it can be difficult for our team members to get a good understanding during the short interview they have with the children. Therefore, keep an open mind and try to not get hung up on the small things. For example, if a child says they want a brother and a sister but your family only has a single girl, do not stress. That is not a deal-breaker.
Another thing that these kids may say is that they want to visit an amusement park and go on roller coasters while in America, but most have never been or even seen one. They may have even been led to say that by the interviews since roller coasters are something America is known in other countries. Do not count a child out because you would not be able to take them to an amusement park, and also do not be surprised if you take a host child on a roller coaster and they do not enjoy it.
I know I have stated this many times above, but the most important thing to remember when making this important decision is that P143 has limited information on these children. Our information to share with you can only be as good as what we are told and how it translates - both in language and culture.
Our amazing volunteers do the absolute best they can to understand your family and the children to confirm your decision. All P143 volunteers are experienced host parents who have been through the ups and downs of hosting and are dedicated to setting families and children up for success.
There are many things to consider when choosing a host child or a sibling set, but in the end you know your family best. With the help of your P143 volunteer team, we look forward to your life-changing hosting experience - for your host child/ren as well as each of you!
For any questions about hosting or P143 in general, please contact our Program Director, Traci Mai at firstname.lastname@example.org.