Tips for Parents:
CSFES is receiving requests from parents to recommend suitable student exchange organizations. While CSFES is not in the position to make such referrals, we offer the following when making this very important decision:
Fingerprint Background Checks:
Ask specifically if the student exchange organization conducts fingerprint background checks. If the answer is no, search for another company.
In Case of an Emergency:
Check how well the student exchange organization responds to emergencies, especially of an evening, weekends and holidays. Find out the emergency telephone number in which to call. Then call the telephone number. The response will tell you if this is a responsible organization.
Reviewing Student Profiles:
When visiting the exchange organization's website, what controls are in place to prevent easy access to the student's profile? Is personal information easily accessible complete with the student's photo? Is this the method in which you would like for your son or daughter to be placed by the student exchange organization?
There is an increase in sexual predators targeting children through the Internet, therefore, this is a vital concern to CSFES.
Host Family Information:
In the event you have progressed to receiving your son or daughter's prospective Host Family information packet from the student exchange organization:
Check to see that this family's interests are similar to your son or daughters.
If your child has allergies or asthma; is he/she being placed in a home with animals or those who smoke?
**Be very concerned if prior to your son or daughter's departure, you are notified by the student exchange organization that there has been a sudden change with the Host Family selected for your child. If you are told the Host Family is no longer the same "due to a divorce or unforeseen circumstances," etc., this is a major concern to CSFES." **
You will be told that a Welcome Family will instead await your son or daughter. It has been our experience that this gives cause for your child to potentially be bounced around among Welcome Families many times prior to a "permanent" family being secured. Does the organization pre-screen welcome families, including fingerprint background checks?
As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (d)(3) "Ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor for any student participant whom that organizational representative may host."
Your son or daughter should not be placed in a home where his/her host mother or father is also the organization's supervisor, area representative or regional director. This provides no neutrality in the event your son or daughter has concerns or an emergency.
Secure High School Placement:
Do you have a letter of acknowledgement from the high school your son or daughter will attend?
As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25(f)(4) "Under no circumstance shall a sponsor facilitate the entry into the United States of a student for whom a school placement hs not been secured."
Student Identification Card:
As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (g)(4) "An identification card which lists the student's name, United States home placement address and telephone number, and a telephone number which affords immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor in case of emergency. Such cards may be provided in advance of home country departure or immediately upon entry into the United States."
Parents: Make certain your son or daughter has this information; complete with a telephone number that will provide immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor.
** In the event your child is not provided with a Student Identification Card complete with the above-referenced information, prior to departure or arrival into the United States, please notify CSFES immediately. **
Ask who has the final say on the selection of family. If you have concerns about the family (age of host parents, etc.) and you are told that if you have to accept the family -- ask more questions.
CSFES asks that parents:
1) ask for a copy of the child protection policy of the agency responsible for placing students.
2) ask for a guarantee in writing that the home of the host family has been inspected and the privacy of the student in bathroom and bedroom ensured.
3) ensure that their children are aware of what constitutes sexual harassment given that most rapes are preceded by touching the thigh, commenting on the sexual attractiveness of the student, "accidentally" touching breasts etc., which if ignored leads the perpetrator to think that it is acceptable to proceed further.
4) ask if the agency informs the student of telephone numbers to call if abusive behavior occurs (police, rape crisis centers, etc) ? If not, do not use that agency.
5) make certain your child can access the passport and return ticket if an unacceptable situation is encountered.
6) ensure your child knows how to phone home from overseas.
7) ensure they know how to contact their consulate in case they encounter problems that the agency ignores.
Studentexchange.net informs, "Before Sending Your Child to The United States as an Exchange Student" for your review:
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
CSFES is a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit corporation (EIN 43-2100110) advocating the safety, protection and well being of exchange students around the world and was instrumental in the strengthening of the U.S. Department of State regulations for the protection of these young people.
CSFES raises public awareness and provides education related to the safety of exchange students to prospective and current, exchange students natural parents and school
administrators, with a specific focus on educating exchange organizations and government agencies to ensure the protection of exchange students around the world.
Presently we are an all-volunteer organization advocating for the safety of foreign exchange students.
CSFES supports cultural exchange and is committed to the idea that every foreign student deserves a safe and memorable exchange experience. We believe without reservation that while these sons and daughters are studying abroad, they should expect and fully deserve, to be treated as if they are our own.
As an organization, CSFES strives for cooperative relationships with exchange programs, based on the explicit understanding that CSFES will always prioritize exchange student safety above all other concerns.
Given this understanding, CSFES sees the following issues as specific cause for concern exchange students should:
If you are an exchange student with concerns about your safety, please contact CSFES 760-583-9593 or BeSafe@csfes.org. All international visitors may also contact local law enforcement agencies in the event of an emergency by dialing 911.
Anyone who suspects suspicious behavior or maltreatment of foreign exchange students, please report it to the proper authorities or CSFES at Complaint@csfes.org.
CSFES monitors exchange student abuse and provides information to interested parties in an effort to significantly reduce the number of children who become victims of child/sexual abuse, neglect and extortion.
"Too often the poorly-regulated industry acts as an agent delivering victims to predator's doorsteps." -- Danielle Grijalva, Director
November 2, 2016
Ex-O.C. teacher investigated in 1980s allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with students
by T. Saavedra The Orange County Register
November 30, 2016 Note from CSFES: It has been reported that Mr. Charles T. Ritz has allegedly hosted foreign exchange students from many countries to include Austria, Germany and Finland. CSFES would like to encourage you to please contact the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students in the event you were hosted or supervised by this man or his wife Candace Adams. Contact: Ms. Danielle Grijalva at DGrijalva@csfes.org
You are also encouraged to contact Detective Forgash of the La Habra Police Department: Jforgash@lahabraca.gov. Detective Jason Forgash may also be reached at 562-383-4323
12/29/2016 Note from CSFES: Detective Forgash is out of the office until January 17, 2017. In his absence, you may contact either Sergeant Jose Quirarte at firstname.lastname@example.org, Corporal Scott Irwin at email@example.com, or Investigations Secretary Reta Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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