Resources for Host Families

Host Family Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. What is the Volunteer Host Family Program?
  • A. The heart and soul of this life-changing program is the network of families across thirteen east coast states that invite New York City kids into their homes for one or two weeks. Each summer, about 4,000 children leave their city apartments and head into rural, suburban, and small town communities where the sights, sounds, and spirit of summer await them. The goal of the Volunteer Host Family Program is to give Fresh Air kids the inspirational summer experiences that can open their minds and nurture their love of life and nature.
  • Q. Who are the children who visit host families?
  • A. Fresh Air children are some of New York City’s best and brightest. They’re between six and 18 years of age and typically come from low-income communities. Fresh Air children register to participate in the Volunteer Host family Program through more than 90 city-based social service organizations. Many kids have had limited exposure to the world outside the city, and are excited to see what summer is like in rural and suburban neighborhoods.
  • Q. Who are the volunteer host families?
  • A. Almost any family living along the east coast, from Virginia to Maine, can be a host family. If you have an extra seat at the kitchen table and a spare bed, you’re on your way to becoming a host family. Host families come in all shapes and sizes; anyone with room in their heart and home is welcome to host a child.
  • Q. Can host families request a Fresh Air child based on age and gender?
  • A. Absolutely. Additionally, we’re always looking for families who are able to host children with special emotional or physical needs. If this sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you.
  • Q. Do children return to the same host family year after year?
  • A. Hosting is about giving an inner-city child the gift of an outdoors summer experience, but it’s also about building relationships. More than 65% of children are invited back to their host family’s home for multiple summers. Some host family relationships can last a lifetime and some can last for one summer. Each relationship is as different as it is special.
  • Q. Host families are spread along the east coast. How are these communities managed?
  • A. “Friendly Towns,” or volunteer communities, are each managed by a committee of community leaders who promote the program in their community and screen prospective host families. Each committee is headed by a Chairperson and is overseen by a Fresh Air Fund representative. The volunteer committee is also available to lend a hand to hosts while their Fresh Air child is visiting. If you have questions during your child’s stay, the committee is your go-to resource.
  • Q. How can a community get involved in the hosting experience?
  • A. We love it when a whole community gets behind the hosting experience. Because media outlets often get the word out about hosting opportunities, the word spreads quickly. Local businesses are often pleased to donate services that will help families plan fun activities for Fresh Air children, and some civic groups plan picnics or parties for Fresh Air children and their host families. Community support helps make the hosting experience warm, welcoming, and action-packed.
  • Q. What does The Fresh Air Fund provide?
  • A. Transportation to and from Friendly Towns is provided by The Fresh Air Fund. Additionally, The Fresh Air Fund covers liability insurance for hosts and committee volunteers, as well as any medical expenses for uninsured children.
  • Q. I’m interested in hosting a Fresh Air child. Where do I begin?
  • A. Great! You can get started here.