working with hosts

Caring and supportive hosts are what makes the Host Homes program so successful. This alternative housing option for young people who might need more support than what a shelter or transitional housing can offer would not exist with without these important people opening their homes.


What hosts can provide in the program? 

  • A sense of safety for the youth

  • A listening ear, moral support

  • Basic needs: 2 meals a day, access to basic household amenities, a private place to sleep in a warm bed

  • Life skills education: how to cook, do laundry, wash dishes etc...

  • Additional supports if they choose to do so like driving the youth to work or school, connecting young people to job opportunities, homework help.


What hosts get out of the program?


  • A daily per diem to help offset the costs of having another person in their home

  • Support from the Community Agency to help mediate any arguments or issues

  • Support from the Community Agency to set up a living agreement to ensure all parties are aware of their responsibilities

  • A sense of giving back to the community

  • The opportunity to watch young people thrive when they have the support they need

  • Building friendships with the young people 

Step 1.

Information Sessions

Step 2.

Application & Screening Process

Step 3.

Host Training

Step 4.

Matching Process

The Process of working with Hosts


Information Sessions

The information sessions are a time for prospective volunteers to learn about responsibilities, eligibility, and expectations of hosts. Host learn that they are expected to provide food, a safe place to live, and a private room. Hosts will also learn about the application process that includes reference letters, background checks, home visits, and training. Information sessions can be formal, planned events or informal conversations with interested volunteers.

Best Practices:


  • Include information and statistics on youth homelessness and what is included in this definition

  • Explain why youth homelessness is such an issue and how it can be prevented

  • Disclose local statistics of youth homelessness to hit close to home

  • Emphasize how easy it can be for someone to participate in the Host Homes program

  • Give examples of already existing programs and their successes


Application & Screening Process

The application process for hosts consists of an application form and

checklistinterviews, home study, references, background checks, and safety checks to ensure that Hosts are capable of housing young people in safe and secure environments. The steps involved in the screening process are necessary for community organizations to maintain the safety of young people in their care.

The host application form includes host information such as the relationship of applicants (married, children, etc.), housing information, contact information, transportation routes near the host's home, three references, questions regarding gender identity, questions regarding the type of youth preferred to host, employment history, descriptions of the hosts and their relationships, as well as ways in which they might respond to different situations.

The interview helps:

- agencies get to know potential hosts better,

- the potential hosts more deeply understand what hosting entails.


Depending on the agency there may be more than one interview.

Reference letters or interviews help organizations learn more about potential hosts. Some questions ask how the reference became acquainted with the applicant(s), what they think the applicant(s) strengths and weaknesses are, and what kind of youth would fit in well with the applicant(s). The information provided is confidential and will become a part of the total screening process. 

Another aspect of ensuring volunteers are able to host is the review of insurance.  A host must have renter/homeowner's insurance, a copy must be provided if requested. 



Host training varies based on the needs of the organization and the population of youth served. Some topics are de-escalation, sensitivity, racism, privilege and questions of consideration regarding topics like gender identity. Training should include an explanation of how Hosts will be supported (financially, emotionally, emergencies, conflict, etc.) 

Some topics to get hosts to consider would be:

• Who would be an ideal guest?
• Have you ever lived with a queer and/or transgender youth? 
• Have you explored (personally or otherwise) issues such as white privilege and racism?
• Are you willing to put in some time to create a nurturing relationship with a youth? 
• Are you capable of living with a youth who may be working through difficult issues? 


Best practices: when hosts do not reflect the young people in the program, hosts should consider their experiences and the community organization should help hosts understand what differences in perspectives might mean for the young people in their home.


Matching Process

The matching process consists of:

  1. interviews,

  2. meetings between host and guest,

  3. the development of a living agreement, and

  4. ongoing support once a match is made.


The ongoing support consists of staff providing:

  • conflict mediation 

  • information on rights and responsibilities.

Best practices:


Create a Host Profile Book, where each Host include a profile of themselves including a description of themselves and their neighbourhood, photos and videos. The Host Profile Book should be used as a tool for Youth to look through to get a glimpse of a potential Host with whom they would like to begin the matching process.

Once hosts and guests decide to live together, the organization supports with the design of a living agreement/contract or liability waiver that allows hosts and guests to discuss expectations of sharing a living space. This part of the process brings the host and guest to work collaboratively and come to an agreement around a set of norms during the course of the stay.


Outlining agreements allows for a smoother transition into the Host-Guest relationship and ability to address concerns if they come up.

Click on each organization of the list on the right to learn more about the specifics of the organization in term of Hosts.

Boys and Girls Club of Calgary

Information Sessions

Hosts are invited to an information session that is framed as a community night where attendees are informed of the program and what would be expected of them going forward. Something to highlight is that they make sure to discuss the vulnerabilities of specific populations and make sure that hosts would have a deep understanding of who they would be involved with.

Application and Screening Process

Aura Host Homes Youth is the name of Boys and Girls Club of Calgary Program. The AURA host homes program has a set list of questions before screening hosts and as part of a host screening interview.


Additionally, the BGCC asks potential hosts what their motivations are for becoming a hosts and what their expectations are as a host. Hosts are asked what kind of supports they can provide to the young people in their home. This screening process also includes a physical evaluation of the home and the space in which the young person would be living.


Hosts are expected to list which areas youth has access to, potential access to weapons, alcohol and prescription drugs in the home, locked restricted areas, and house rules. Knowing where the youth would be staying is important to ensure it is a safe and secure environment as well as how much of a rent supplement the BGCC should be providing.


Hosts are asked questions about their relationship style, and how they might handle different situations with a young person. The BGCC host screening process works to get a whole view of how a potential host might fit within the program.

Host Training

Hosts are expected to:

  • have a current certification in First Aid/CPR,

  • attend Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NVCI) training funded by BGCC

  • have a passion for supporting LGBTQ2S+ youth who are homeless.


Hosts are:

  • educated on ways to support LGBTQ2S+ youth with understanding the use of proper terms and pronouns.

  • given sex positivity training, diversity training,

  • trained in trauma informed care.

Matching Process

Hosts are asked to consider what kind of young person would fit in their home. For example, they may not be willing to have a young person who smokes in their home or they may not feel able to support young people with specific needs.


Hosts are also asked to consider their motivations, expectations, lifestyle (personal triggers, hobbies), and relationships in order for the BGCC to direct a young person to their home that would be a good match. Hosts and youth have the opportunity to meet as many times as they like before they commit to the living arrangement.

Family and Community Support Services

Information Sessions

During the Information Sessions, this organization provides context about the research in the community regarding youth homelessness. They then speak to the numbers in the program. They highlight the importance of confidentiality in such a small community. 

Application and Screening Process

The Safe Coach program consists of an initial application form that acts as our intake form during the first meeting with an interested family or individual who is interested in becoming a Host.

This is followed by an interview form that is completed with prospective hosts and FCSS staff if everyone would like to continue to move forward with the Host Home application process after completing the initial intake/assessment. This serves as the Host Home interview, and if the family becomes a Host Home, it helps FCSS assess potential matches with youth. The home study is then completed during a home visit to assess the safety of the home and fit for the program. 


In addition to a criminal record check, everyone in the household over 18 is expected to undergo a child welfare intervention check.

Host Training

Hosts are expected to:

  • have a current certification in First Aid/CPR

  • attend Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).


FCSS covers the cost of both these training sessions. 

Matching Process

Multiple conversations occur with the youth and Host Home both separately and together. Confidentiality is maintained until the Host Home and youth agree to move forward with the process and meet each other. FCSS offers continued support before, during, and after the stay to make sure things are as smooth as possible. Something to highlight about this process is that it ensures both host and youth feel comfortable and ready before move in.

Bridging the Gap

Information Sessions

Informal conversations where program staff explain the program to community members who may be interested.

Application and Screening Process

The application form and information is provided to people interested in becoming hosts. Bridging the Gap then reviews the completed application forms. Hosts are expected to provide references as part of the application package. If BTG is interested in continuing the screening process with volunteers, they will arrange an interview.

After the interview, a vulnerable sector screening and child protection background check is done to ensure the home will be a safe place for any young people entering it.  

A home visit follows this process where BTG staff and Host Homes volunteers make sure the house and room any youth would be staying in are suitable and to review the host home manual.

BTG leverages the relationship they have with children's services to do a background check in their system and to connect with any young people that Children's services takes into care that BTG would be able to support with their various services.

Host Trainings

Hosts have free or inexpensive access to various trainings that BTG staff may have access. When reviewing the Host Homes Manual, volunteers are shown:

  • what to do in case of emergency, 

  • who to reach out to when they have concerns, and 

  • what is expected of them as a Hosts. 

Matching Process

Hosts are matched with young people from their part of Halton Region. Seeing as the match is predominately placement based, BTG makes sure to maintain their engagement with regular check-ins whenever youth or hosts need it.

Something to highlight about this model is that it is particularly interested in keeping young people close to their natural supports. 

oneROOF Youth Services

Information Sessions

Information sessions are both formal and informal. Community members can call Host Homes Staff, or attend public presentations in the community to gain basic information about the context of Host Homes, and eligibility criteria.

Application and Screening Process

Interested volunteers have an informal conversation about how they came to know about the program, and what interests them. An interview is scheduled at this point.

The interview contains questions based on Family and Children's Services "Safe Homes" to assess the home environment. Other questions relating to stay preferences are used in the Host Homes profile to give youth an idea of fit (i.e.: curfews, transportation routes, smoking area). If the interview is successful, request for paperwork including criminal record check is made. Paperwork is collected during the home check. 

Hosts are expected to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure that no private information about any young person in the program is released.

Host Training

The Host Homes Training Manual includes:

  • information on program goals and

  • training on how to approach youth (respecting boundaries, active listening, scenario activities, problem solving and conflict management, and de-escalation techniques),

  • list of community supports.


Training includes a review of the manual, and policies and procedures. Hosts are trained in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NVCI) if they are interested in having that additional training. 


Interview questions create the content for the Host Home Profile. This profile does not contain any identifying information: names, addresses, and neighbourhoods are left out, but details like "Indigenous Couple" or "LGBTQ2S+ friendly" included.


Youth selects a profile they would like to arrange to meet with and a meeting is facilitated. The training focuses on conflict mediation which makes sure that hosts have the tools to work with young people themselves and feel comfortable addressing any issues they might face.

Matching Process

Host Homes staff will share matching related information with the youth, as the first step in assessing for fit. Then the Host Home provider will be contacted to discuss the potential placement with staff. Once an agreement has been made, a time will be arranged where the Host and Youth can meet, and staff will note the strengths and connections that each share.


Once it has been established that all parties are interested, a living agreement contract will be reviewed and signed. On the occasion that a placement is not available the same day, alternate plans will be made until the youth can be matched and placed with a host home. Within a day or two of placement, staff will meet with youth and develop a service plan to outline the needs and goals of the youth.

Upon move in, hosts are provided with an orientation package containing bed sheets, starter pack of food, and thank you card. A lot of work goes into ensuring young people have shelter as soon as possible, even while the matching process is underway.

The Bridge Services

Information Sessions

This organization holds individual conversations and reaches out to trained care givers. Together, this organization and the caregivers decide if Host Homes is the right program for them. 

Application and Screening Process

Volunteer hosts have been previously screened by the Ministry of Child and Family Development in British Colombia. This is because all hosts in the program are previous foster care parents or trained as care givers. A strength of this model is that hosts are capable and well trained to work with young people. Additionally, hosts are able to choose when they would like to foster a young person or support as a Host Home. 

Host Training

Hosts have access to ongoing training activities. Specifically, training focuses on trauma-informed practice as well as information on homelessness and addiction. This training helps hosts understand why young people who have experienced trauma may act the way they do and what they can do to help these youth.

Matching Process

Matches in this program come down to availability of hosts. Although, if multiple hosts were available, the location would be taken into consideration as well. Because this program consists of a night by night basis, youth are continually choosing whether they would like to go back to the hosts home or enter a different program.


Information Sessions

This organizations holds various information sessions in different parts of York Region to ensure potential hosts can access the sessions easily.

Application and Screening Process

Nigthstop Program is the Host Homes 360°kids Program. The application process begins when interested volunteers complete an application form. All people living in the house over the age of 16 are required to take part in the process and anyone under that age is strongly encouraged.


Then, hosts are interviewed by a Nightstop Team Member within their home. They are asked about:

  • how they interact as a family,

  • how they mediate conflict,

  • how they would address issues with a young person in their home.


This is followed by the first home assessment. Any issues found in the home that can be adjusted (such as needed to lock away alcohol or cleaning products) will be noted and checked on again before guests enter the home. Hosts are asked to provide two references who they have known for a minimum of 2 years.


Finally, the Nightstop Team Lead brings the volunteer's profile, application, and interview responses to a preliminary panel review where it is decided if the volunteers can continue with the process. After a training session (8hrs), a clear health check from the host's family doctor, a police check and final home visit, the panel decides if the volunteers can become hosts.


This program includes an intense risk management. The process may seem long to some prospective hosts but it shows how important the safety of everyone in this program is to the organization.

Host Training

Hosts are educated on who 360°kids is as an organization and what the Nightstop program is. Some of the history of the program is covered to give it context and explain how it became a Canadian program. Hosts are taught about what homelessness is in a way that breaks down their assumptions of what homelessness looks like and who experiences homelessness.

Hosts are informed about who the youth are that would be using the Nightstop program, how the program works, and what is expected of them. Hosts are trained in how to maintain their confidentiality and safety, they learn about setting boundaries, and how to engage with young people.

Hosts get to run through different scenarios to better understand the needs of the young people that would be entering their home and how to address any issues with them.

Matching Process

Due to the same night placement nature of the Nightstop program, hosts and young people are not able to meet before youth are placed in a home. However, the Nightstop staff have an extensive conversation with hosts to let them know about each young person seeking help and hosts decide if they are able to take the young person in that night. Staff also has a conversation with the young people about who is available to take them in for the night and what these families are like. Based on the location of the Host Homes, youth are placed with a family they would feel comfortable with that might live close to their school, workplace, or community.


Additionally, other considerations are made when placing a youth like if there are pets in the home or other children in the home. Nightstop staff check-in with both hosts and young people each morning to see how the Night went and determine with the hosts and youth separately whether another night in the same home would be good for both parties or if the young person should be placed with new hosts.

In the Canadian Nightstop program, a host profile book has been developed with photos and biographies of the host families. Young people are shown the profiles of available families and are actively engaged in the matching process.