Types of Host Families

CIEE host families are as varied as the students who participate in CIEE High School USA. Although the backgrounds, economic classes, and lifestyles of our host families may differ – in other words, there is no “typical” American family – all host families share an interest in young people and want to learn about another culture.

The role of your host family is to:

  • Welcome you into their home as a family member.
  • Provide you with a single bed. You may or may not have a single bedroom. If not, you will share the room with a child of the same gender and approximate age.
  • Provide you with a quiet place for study.
  • Provide you with three meals a day, including a bag lunch on school days.
  • Provide you with necessary transportation (or assistance in arranging transportation) to and from school.

Please note: While your host family is not your legal guardian, they are able to make emergency medical decisions on your behalf (due to the medical release form signed as part of the High School USA application).

For more information about the types of host families (and types of placements), please make a selection below.


Traditional host families consist of host parents and children living in one home. Some traditional host families may have one parent while others may have two. Some traditional host families may be a heterosexual couple while others may be a same-sex couple. When living with a traditional host family, there may, as previously noted, be children in the house. These children may be infants, toddlers, young kids, or teenagers.

Please note: Traditional families may or may not include step-parents or step-siblings, some of whom may not live in the home but may visit on weekends or at other intervals.

Single-person host families consist of a host mother or host father with no children. Single-person host family placements are considered special placements; this means that students have the option to decline them. However, because single-person host families may offer slightly more individual attention to the exchange student, they tend to provide some of the best exchange experiences.

Empty-nester host families are host families in which the host parents, who are usually middle-aged or retired, have children who are grown up and no longer live at home. The adult child (or adult children) may live in the same town or in a nearby town. If so, they may be frequent visitors. One of the best things about empty-nester host families is that they are very experienced parents!

A double placement is when two exchange students live with a single host family. Double placements are considered special placements; this means that students have the option to decline them. However, because double placements give you the opportunity to live with another exchange student, it can be a great opportunity to share your experience with someone who will understand it. It also provides a great opportunity to make friends with another international student.

Host families can choose to be either a welcome host family or a permanent host family. A permanent host family will host you for the duration of your program. A welcome host family will host you for a shorter period of time while CIEE and your Local Coordinator work to secure you a permanent host family.

Please note: In some cases, your welcome host family may become your permanent host family.