Welcome to The Houseparent Network Forum Archive

I have had to close down the forum for several reasons.  1. Because the latest version of the forum was causing issues with the server hosting my website.  They were threatening to suspend my account and there was no way I could roll back to a previous version.  2. Constant attacks by spammers compared to the lack of new activity on the forum convinced me that the effort to maintain it, didn’t equal the benefit of having it. 

In it’s place I have created this fully searchable and categorized archive.  It has the best and most useful posts from all the previous forums I have had since the beginning of The Houseparent Network.  I imagine that it would take several days to read all the posts, and in spending three weeks to put this together I think most questions you might have about becoming a houseparent (Residential Childcare Worker) or being a houseparent has been discussed.

I tried to put the posts in catagories to make finding the information you are looking for easier, and I will be adding tags to all the posts to further make searching better.  If you have information or comments you would like to add to the archive, feel free to register and post your comments.  If you are NOT a spammer I will review and approve them rather quickly.

Stories of First Houseparenting Positions, What was it like and what did you take with you??

shansimons77
Ok well, my husband and I are taking on our first houseparent position and were wondering what it was like for you. Our facility is one where we are moving into a home in a normal neighborhood. We are the only Houseparents, no rotation. We have 5 1/2 days off straight a month for respite, but our girls pack a bag and go to a respite home and we don’t have to leave the house. As they put it, it’s “our house”. So we either can choose to stay there for the 5 1/2 days or visit family and friends, who aren’t too far away or they can come and stay with us.

Were you scared? Nervous? What kind of facility did you start working in? What did you take with you? What did you have to sell or store? How did the children react to you when you first started? Did you think you could make it after first starting?

Sorry we have so many questions, we’d just like to know others experiences even if they are nothing like our own will be.

Thanks and I can’t wait to hear some stories and experiences.


putkidsfirst

Ok, I’ll give it a try.

My wife and I began working as house parents at the age of twenty-three. We discovered that we would be full time relief’s meaning we would work seven days a week rotating between a boy’s home and a girl’s home. One week it was three at the girls and four at the boys, the next week the opposite four at the girls and three with the boys. That sounded great to us and we couldn’t wait to start!

We packed everything we owned (stored nothing) and headed off for our new career. We were nervous but very excited. We had no idea what to expect but were anxious to find out what this was all about. We both loved the idea of helping kids and would take some difficulty if it meant we would be serving others for a living.

We arrived on campus of the beautiful setting our first facility was built upon. It looks very much like a College campus and sits nuzzled at the foot of a mountain. This place is filled with a variety of children, most adjudicated but a few who are privately placed, or there because they had no other place to go (like the young lady we adopted after she graduated high school).

As we drove up the long pathway to our cottages we passed a scary looking young lady. She was very pale with pitch-black hair. She had a giant dragon tattoo on her back and a snake around each wrist. She had a wife-beater muscle shirt on with cut off jean shorts. I looked at my wife and asked her if we knew what we were getting into. She smiled and squeezed my hand. Do you know what happened though? We LOVED that girl! She was funny, pleasant, hard working, and respectful. Of course it helped that she was seventeen and we were only six years her senior! That sounds like trouble, but it helped us a lot. What’s funny about this part of my story is that just yesterday she made contact with me! I had not heard from her in a many years and now I have and find myself telling you the story of when I first saw her. She’s thirty now and that’s so odd! She and my wife and I are now in the same peer group. How crazy is that?

Our first day working with the girls was interesting. They were shocked to have house parents so young, but they instantly bonded with us. However, there was one young lady who was quiet. She hadn’t been bad but just seemed to keep to herself. At one point in the day I couldn’t find my wife. I was asking girls if they had seen her as I passed them. When I saw Amy (real name, and she wouldn’t mind me saying it) I asked if she had seen Mrs. Leavelle. She looked up at me and said, “I don’t know, it’s not my turn to watch her.” Angry, I stopped, looked at her and said “Amy, can we get one thing straight? If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s a smart a**.” She huffed off to her room. Now, I will tell you that I don’t recommend responding that way…EVER! I am not proud of it, but today it’s funny because we became very, very close to Amy and to this day are involved in her life and her two daughter’s lives as well. You never know whom you are going to get close to in this line of work. The girl who scares you one day, may be the girl you appreciate the next. The girl who angers you today, may make you feel great every day after that.

I would have a hard time supporting house parents today who would want to start at the age we started at, and yes I know that’s hypocritical. It just seems that my wife and I had a gift. Our kids responded very well to us. They respected us and did what we asked of them (for the most part). The best advice I can give is to go in to the job showing the kids you care about them. Yes, enforce the rules!!!! But please, remember that they are children, and in many instances damaged children, abused children, neglected children. Many will be angry and over emotional. Once they believe you care about them, the job gets much easier. Do you care? Do you care enough to be inconvenienced? Will you sacrifice your comfort for theirs? If your answer is YES then the biggest problem you will face (and trust me, it can be a BIG problem) are other staff members who will not like your attitude and think you’re trying too hard, or caring too much. The kids will be a joy and a blessing!

My prayers are with you!


shansimons77
Thank you for that story. You and your wife sound like my husband and I. Teenagers bond with us quickly and we are very involved with our huge youth group at church as counselors, so we have a lot of experience in that aspect. However, the youth in our group are not troubled like the children we’ll be servicing, so it’s not totally comparable.

We are 28 and 27 so we’ve had a lot of time just being married and being with one another. We’ve been together for almost 10 years and married for almost 6. I can’t imagine being houseparents at the age you started. I remember ourselves at that age and I know that we weren’t mature enough 5 years ago, plus we had only been married a few months when we turned 23! We are each others best friends and are so excited to start this adventure together.

We know we picked the right facility for us for our first time being houseparents. The Administration is very involved in every step, we’ve been dealing with the Executive Director the entire time. They have nothing to hide and have been very honest with us especially about the placement we will currently have in our home…very difficult, smokes, is sexually active etc. We also appreciate the fact that they are placing us in a 2 placement home first until a 4 placement opens up. That way we get used to being houseparents by gradually adding girls.

I appreciate all of your information and stories. I hope more people will post theirs as well…maybe then we’ll get to the 1000 post mark too!


webmaster

You can read about our early years on The Houseparent Network blog beginning with the following entry.

My First Day as a Houseparent


shansimons77
Thanks! I did read all of those articles on that part of the website. Very good insight. Some crazy stories too

I wish more houseparents would post on this website. I mean, isn’t that what it’s here for, to share experiences, joys and frustrations? That’s what I’m going to do more when we get into our houseparent role. I know houseparents are very busy, but come on everybody, share I would love to hear some stories that you all have.

I appreciate what has been shared already and can’t wait to hear more!

Consequences I need ideas for Consequences!!!

theknowles 

My wife and I are going into our third month of being houseparents for teenage girls. The girls that we have range from ages 14-18 and can be quite difficult. Here where we are we use a level system to hold them accountable for their actions. To give you an example level one girls are not allowed to have any of their own belongings and are required to wear uniforms on all outings, as well as many other consequences. Whereas the other levels (2-4) are allowed certain privileges. Our level ones have recently started to revolt and not care what level they and have no motivation to move up to the next level, and they feel like they can do what they want when they want to. I need some ideas or consequences in dealing with them. Anyone have any interesting things that work.


Seamus 

We use a similar level system it seems, but our level 1 does not seem to be quite a strict and we don’t have uniforms. This is coming from someone who doesn’t work where you are and I don’t know how much you can change things in your own home and what you have to run by your director and get approval for. I sounds as though level 1 seems very suffocating. My director (and I agree with him) feels that a kid has to have a light at the end of the tunnel. I understand that at level 2 you get privileges, but to a teenager (especially if they have ADD/ADHD) it’s hard to see how to get there. If you have no instant rewards for good behavior and they have to wait a week or 2 before moving up to the nest level, then is it really worth it to them? One thing I have learned is that even though they may still be on level 1, if they do something very well, then they need to be rewarded for that. For example, one of my boys got bumped down to level one a few weeks ago, and had no TV, computer, iPod, stereo, etc. However, one day, he had done very well at school and come home and did his homework and I let him play a game on the computer for 10 minutes. It was only 10 minutes, but it wet his tongue and made him want more. Therefore, the next day he worked even harder. However, if he were to slack off just a little, NO WAY.

I’m not in your home, so I don’t know what all is going on, but if a kid feels as though they can’t do anything right or even if they do they don’t get anything for it, then why do the right thing, you know? After all, it is kinda funny to see the hp get upset and frustrated – and I already have nothing, so what’s the big deal.

I would attempt to begin giving a little back and really rewarding the good behaviors (stay up 10 min later than the rest of the girls that night, 5 min of TV, change out of uniform for the night, etc.)

These are just suggestions, but again, I don’t know your campus, director, or how exactly things are done there. I may be way out in left field for you, but it sounds like they need to see a light at the end of the tunnel.


Launchpad 

I totally agree with Seamus. It sounds like the girls need to get a little of something to keep them motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully your program and facility is flexible enough to find something that they are interested in achieving in the short term. As crazy as it sounds, some kids could care less about achieving a facilities’ pre-set goals. Especially if the kid never had any say in what it is they would like to achieve.

Personally I would be motivated to get to the next level to get all my stuff back, but for some kids they have a hard time actually seeing themselves achieving a goal beyond the end of the day, let alone next week. It can lead, for some, to a feeling of hopelessness. I think finding out what each individual girl would like to be rewarded with and setting short term goals for them to achieve may work.


theknowles 

I just want to say thanks for the information. We know why we are here and it is not to punish the girls, and sometimes you get caught up in do this. I am glad for the info and that fact that I have never thought about why they didn’t care but it makes sense seeing as how most of our girls do have add adhd. I will surely take this and run with it, as much as I can. We are in a really good program and they allow us to make a lot of the decisions about rules( of course we do have a set book of guidelines). Thanks again for the feedback.

“The Safest Place is in the Center of God’s Will”


Karing4Kids 

Sometimes we have to do something to give the kids hope. If they dig themselves a hole it can be hard to get out of. We have to let them smell a little bit of success from time to time. We have to dangle the carrot in front of them sometimes so they want to go for it. Who knows when it will be the time that they turn their life around and continue to want to be on a higher level.


Coach4HIM 

If you have one or some who are misbehaving find out what they like to do. When they are not on level have the others do what they like to do and do not allow them to participate. This might mean that one of the houseparents stay back. For example we had a girl who really liked this part and to go down trails we made sure that when she was not on level that we went to the park. Another idea is movies. You can have show a movie like on the weekend and have the ones who are not on level to set in another room etc.
-Coach4HIM


MomforLife 

I had two young men that did not ‘care’ about rising up thru the ranks. Life’s experiences for them had convinced them that it did no good to advance, because someone or something would always beat them back down. Nothing seemed to motivate them…UNTIL… we discovered their passion. Sometimes it is hard to see a child’s passion when they are conditioned to express nothing, but we were blessed. When we went the extra mile to provide an outlet for their passion (for one it was individual guitar lessons with a really good instructor), we found these two young men responding to us with real emotion (mostly positive). HOWEVER, we could not use these lessons as reward or consequences… that would have just shut the boys down again. For the one child – the lessons cost money, we worked with others to give him opportunities to earn his lessons. We had to use opportunities not connected to our house or regular chores, he worked for other people on the facility grounds. We kept the requirements very low, so that the boys could not fail. Within one month, the boys began to do better in school and at home, and we were able to build some relationship bonds that were healthy…it felt like a miracle.


 bradykim 

You just can’t keep giving negative consequences to these kids. Are you changing or modifying the behavior just giving out consequences. If one of your Natural children was in trouble you could give very harsh and long consequences and it would change their behavior. With the children we care for we can’t keep piling it on. They have to have hope. If we take privileges away they usually can earn some back. These kids have been through so much, it makes me laugh when I hear someone say they are going to break them. Most of my guys have been beaten, some with lamp cords and who know what else. Yet we think we can break them by taking stuff from them. Some people are motivated by the positive and some by the negative, you have to know what will work for each child. We use a chip system, some will cry if we take a chip some do no care, yet will respond when they earn chips. We made a modified family teaching model with the chips. Family teaching is 4 to 1 ratio positive to negative we used Family teaching in a DJJ home with teens most gang members, I thought it worked well and they teach don’t pile it on, give them a chance to earn something back. You also need the teaching part, they need to be taught correct behavior and rewarded when the do it.

Our Rad daughter was giving us problems we used love and logic all she had was a mattress on the floor. She said you did everything you can do I’m still going to do what I want. F YOU and walked out the door and we did not see her for weeks. That taught me that you need not only consequence but give positive reinforcement and bait them back.


webmaster 

Every person I have ever known to live by the break-em philosophy is now doing something else for a living. Though the so called breaking of a child may work for the very few, it won’t work for the vast majority of children in placement. They have already been broken by their situation and have learned ways to cope and deal with it. They have to be taught that adults can be dependable, caring and respectful, that not every situation is bad.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a very hard thing to do. It’s hard to be caring a respectful when you are being cussed at, yelled at, spit on, or disrespected, but it has to be done. Our daughter that we raised in placement and that chose us as her parents, put us through test after test after test to see if we would stick around and continue to care. We did and now she calls us mom and dad. But even if she had never decided to make us her parents, but only learned to be a productive member of society and how to treat others, it is worth it.


Craig Bridges 

The other problem with the break them philosophy (control) is it is usually external and only works while when the kids are in the “break them” environment. It is a combination biblically of truth & grace. How does God deal with us? He tells us what or how we should do things, tells us the consequence of both obedience & disobedience, allows us to make a choice & experience the consequence of our choices. What I love is his blessings, mercy, & grace far outweigh the penalties. Also he is always there with open arms, willing to forgive & give us the support & love we need to get back on track.
We need negative consequences when raising our children but they should not be the focus. We should go out of our way to give grace, build relationships, find hot buttons (blessings) and have open arms. I don’t know about everyone else but I need Jesus because as the webmaster said it is hard when time and time again you are being disrespected, disobeyed and everything else. Thank you heavenly Father for your example on how to be a house parent.

Secure your Network!!

Here is a funny story that has a point.

There once was an individual that worked at a children’s home. (NO, it’s not me) He decided we wanted to have a wireless network so he could work on his laptop anywhere in the house. He bought a router, plugged it in, and got everything hooked up and working. A knowledgeable person (Me), told him for months that he needed to secure his network to keep other people from using it, but of course he didn’t listen.

Anyway several people on campus and in the neighborhood have been using his Internet connection. In fact about a week ago, one our college kids came back for the weekend and brought her notebook computer with her. She and several other girls proceeded to access the Internet and view large quantities of inappropriate material. The housemom caught them and contacted administration. Needless to say, that individual came and asked me how to secure their network today.

Moral of the story is, if your going to have a wireless network make sure it is secure. Wireless devices are easy to get and can be used with any computer. A smart kid can get hold of a USB network device and use it to connect virtually any computer to your insecure wireless network without your knowledge, even the old donated desktop unit they use to play games on.

Securing a wireless network is real easy and is explained in the manual or quick-start guide you get with the router. Things to remember are:

  • Change the ssid. Anybody that knows anything about wireless routers, knows that the default ssid is “default”
  • Do not broadcast your ssid. Unless you own a business that offers wireless access, there is no reason to broadcast your ssid.
  • Encrypt your signal. The easiest way to keep somebody off your network is to require a key. This will also provide some protection to the personal data on your machine. There are so many insecure networks out there that a hacker will most likely leave your machine alone and move onto easier pickings if you require a key to log on.

Let’s not make it easy for our kids to get in trouble – secure that network!

Don’t believe everything you hear

dontlietokids.net 

A friend of mine heard he was going to get a young lady from another home and he was pretty uptight about it because he had been told that she was a trouble maker who manipulated a lot. I knew the young lady and told him that I believed she was a great kid and that I would love to have her in my home. He rolled his eyes at me and said a very important staff person told him she was trouble.

Well, that was months ago and so far the young lady is one of his best kids earning the highest level possible by being mature and responsible. My friend had to admit I was correct and that he was happy about that.

So, don’t believe everything you hear. You never know how a child might be in your care no matter how they may have behaved or been perceived in another home.


webmaster 

Again Adam and I agree. There are going to be kids you don’t like – PERIOD!! Regardless of what they do, even if they were to walk on water, you are not going to like them and will have a very hard time seeing the good in them. Yet will be able to spot every single flaw.

On the other hand there will be children you will bond with that will defy explanation, and will be able to bring out the best in them.

Be your own judge. Just because a situation didn’t work for a child or for you in the past, try to focus on the present and always try to be fair even with the kids that rub you wrong.


dontlietokids.net 

Right now, maybe for the FIRST time in 13 years I like every child in my house. There are some I feel closer to than others, but that honestly bothers me because I have some great kids and I would like to feel just as close to all of them as I do to others. Thankfully my wife seems to bond with those girls who seem distant or shy. I am much better with open kids who aren’t afraid to step up and be who they are. I thank God that my wife and I seem to be gifted completely differently in regard to reaching kids! Of course there are some we both equally click with, which is great too!


Launchpad

A lot of staff tend to cringe whenever a new kid is coming into the facility for the first time and they have a rap sheet or some adverse behaviors. Mention sexual issues about a incoming kid and you can hear a collective sigh.

I have one kid now that for whatever reason had a hard time in some of the houses before. He’s been a good kid for the most part, but not a week goes by that I don’t hear someone say they are glad they don’t have him, totally based off of behavior from a year ago.

To be honest I have had kids in the past that if they were to show up in the facility I would struggle with wiping the slate clean. I know it’s what we are called to do, but some history runs deep.

Christmas Traditions

One thing I have noticed about many of the children we have worked with is that they don’t have many traditions, especially during Christmas and the holiday season. It is important to have roots and traditions and I believe that is one of the more important things we can do for the children we care for.

We have always allowed the children to help decorate the house for Christmas. In fact, we have two Christmas Trees. One formal tree that we must have for Open House and a second tree we have in the family room that only the children decorate. They place all the decorations and where they place them is where they stay, even if there is a huge blank spot on the tree. We may offer suggestions on how to decorate it, but we allow them to do it their way. Funny thing about this tradition is that our home teenagers have enjoyed it much more than our birth children that are now teens. I wonder if they have so many traditions that tradition has less meaning to them.

My favorite tradition is on Christmas Eve:

  • We have a light supper, and then go to candlelight Church service.
  • Then we come home and watch a goofy Christmas movie and have eggnog milkshakes. Past movies have included: “Christmas Vacation”, “Elf”, “The Santa Clause”
  • Finally, before opening presents we load into the van and drive around town looking for the gaudiest Christmas display we can find to give our imaginary “Griswold Award” Usually by the end of the evening we have a winner and several runner up displays.

I would love to hear about what others have for traditions and what their children think of them.

Don’t Count on Technology!!!!

If you are concerned about the things your children see on the Internet and want to try and protect them from it, don’t count on technology to do it for you. I work at a children’s home that uses the most current filtering software to try and protect our children from the bad influences of the Internet. I found out today how easy it is to defeat.

You would think that since I work with the Internet everyday that I would know about these things, but I had never heard of tunnel proxies until today. Tunnel proxies are what our children use to access blocked sites such myspace.com, penthouse.com, and all the other sites that our filtering software is supposed to block. Type in “unblock myspace” or “tunnel proxy” in a search engine and you will get listing after listing of different sites that offer a free tunnel proxy to allow your children to access material you thought was being blocked by your filtering software.

Using several of these proxies I was able to view several of the sites that our filtering software was supposed to be blocking. Just so you know, we use top of the line filtering software installed on our server and updated daily. I am sure there are other programs that can be used to stop these proxies but I am also sure it will just continue to be a tit for tat game of cat and mouse that will continued to played with us putting up blocks and somebody else writing software to defeat it.

So the realization that I came to today as did our administrators is that protecting our children from the Internet comes down to good parenting skills; you can’t rely on technology to do it for you.

So what can you do?

  1. Be clear with your children and explain to them your expectations and under what conditions they will be allowed to continue to use the computer.
  2. Keep the computers in the public parts of the house. Children are less likely to view offensive material if they have to do it in a public place.
  3. Do not be a afraid to look over their shoulder when they are viewing the internet. Accountability goes a long ways in helping somebody make good choices. If they suddenly close the browser as you approach, don’t be afraid to look at the history and see what they were viewing. There are also programs that run in the background that can record sites viewed and everything typed by the user.
  4. If your child continues to view inappropriate material don’t be afraid to block them from the computer. There are several good programs that can be used to limit access to the computer and internet. At the facility I work at we use “Computer Time” and I highly recommend it.
  5. Don’t bury your head in the sand and think your children are immune from the garbage on the internet, turns out every kid on campus over the age for 13 knew how to do this. Be proactive, and most of all spend time with them, get to know them, and know what they are doing (have a relationship with them).
  6. Continue to use filtering software; it still works great for protecting younger children from the perils of the internet.

I believe these measures can be effective whether you are a birth parent trying to limit the offensive material your children have access to or a houseparent trying to do the same for the children in your care.

Don’t Pencil Whip Your Fire Drills

webmaster

“Pencil whipping” is a term we used in the military which means to complete the paperwork on something without actually doing it. It was most often used for checks, drills and inspections that people didn’t want to do. I was much too uptight to do it very often but I have been known to do it.

Since becoming a houseparent I have discovered that fire drills and safety inspections are things that could very easily be blown off and pencil whipped. I assure you I will never, ever do it again. I have become aware of at least two fires recently at facilities. One was in staff quarters the other was in a cottage. Thankfully nobody was hurt in either fire.

In the cottage fire I have to commend the houseparents. All their smoke detectors had been recently checked and were working and they had practiced a fire drill just a week earlier. All the children and staff evacuated the cottage just like they had practiced and it went very smoothly. The fact that it happened at 12:30 AM and everyone was in bed makes the smooth evacuation even more impressive.

The fire started when the water heater malfunctioned and started a fire in the stack. It set off the smoke alarm in the laundry room and also one in the hall. The houseparent responded and was able to put the fire out with the cottage fire extinguisher (that also requires monthly checks. Look at the back of the tag) At the same time the housemom was insuring the evacuation went smoothly and accounted for all the children. Because of their quick action, damage was limited to the area around the water heater and some minor smoke damage throughout the house. Repairs are being made and they should be back in the cottage by next week, which I am sure they are very thankful for, because the temporary cottage is not nearly as convenient as the regular one.

Please do your safety checks, inspect your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and practice your fire drills. The life you save may be your own.


Launchpad 

AMEN.

Without incriminating myself, there have been times when I think all of us get comfortable and may let some of the mundane tasks slip and then try to catch up by bending the rules.

Having experienced a fire this past week really drives your message home.- Thanks!


momofmany 

I have a close friend who has 10 biological children. They practice fire drills regularly. One thing they did every couple of months was to blindfold the children (for the drill, of course). Next, dad would go outside the child’s bedroom window, and talk to them from there, having the child get out of the house with the blindfold on. Mom would stay inside to make sure the older children did not cheat and to encourage the younger children. This paid off big time. They had a fire sweep their house and everyone was safe. They felt the extra step of doing it blindfolded made a huge difference as it was dark when their actual fire happened and especially the younger ones were more prepared.

We are here to protect these kids. And true, the life we save may be our own.


Launchpad 

That is a really cool idea with the blindfolds. Will probably help the kids (and HP’s) look forward to the monthly drill! Not to mention making it second nature getting out of the house quickly and safely.

First Aid Kit My kit

Launchpad

We went to the beach this weekend and had a great time. Unfortunately one of our kids were climbing on the breaker rock and cut himself really good on a piece of coral. So I walked back to the bus and got the first aid kit (Standard tin can kit) and started fixing up the boy.

I noticed that while the kit was sufficient for one or two minor mishaps, it still leaves alot to be desired.

I decided to go with a back pack with multiple pockets so I can dived supplies up and find them quickly. The kids helped to put it together also so they have an idea of where some of the stuff is. It is also much more comfortable to carry along, which means I am more apt to grab it and have it with me when I need it. Some items listed are EMT level of care. Although I am certified to use the items, my wife is not. We decided it is still a good idea to carry the items because in a critical situation there may be someone on scene that can use the item. Please feel free to add.

Shears (super heavy duty scissors)
First Aid Guide
CPR Microshield/Face Shield
Pocket Mask/Micro Mask
Penlight
36″ moldable Splint
SAM Finger Splint
Arm Splints, Cardboard
Digital Hypo/Hyperthermia Thermometer
Splinter Forceps
Scalpel #11 Blade (Sterile)
Window Punch (Works great for those bus wrecks you’ll be on)
Adjustable Neck Collar
Space Blanket (Foil)
20cc Irrigation Syringe (Flushing out wounds, eyes) One of those blue baby suction bulb things would work great also.
Bottled Water
PVP Wipes/PVP Swab sticks
Wound Closure Strips card
Tincture of Benzoin
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Instant Ice Packs
Instant Heat Packs
Moleskin
Latex Exam Gloves
Antimicrobial hand wipes
Alcohol Wipes
Infectious Control bag
Spill Clean-up Kit
Water Gel Burn Dressing
Eye Pad
Normal Saline, 12 oz bottle
4×4′s (Sterile)
4×4′s (Non-sterile)
3×3′s (Sterile)
2×2′s (Sterile)
Bloodstopper-Style Bandage
10 x 30 Multi-Trauma Dressing
8×10 Trauma Pad
5×9 Trauma Pad
Conforming Gauze Bandage (2″)
Conforming Gauze Bandage (3″)
Conforming Gauze Bandage (4″)
Krinkle Gauze Roll 6-ply (Kurlex)
Triangular Bandage
Elastic Bandage with clips (3′)
Adhesive Tape (1″ x 10 yds)
Hypoallergenic Tape (1″)
Strip Bandages
Knuckle Bandages
Fingertip Bandages
Extra-large Bandages
Butterfly Bandages
Cotton Tipped Applicators
Cortisone Cream
Sting Relief Pads
Ammonia Inhalant
Safety Pins
Lightsticks
Whistle w/Lanyard
Flares

Most of this will never be used, but hey, I got it just in case. Total weight when it is all packed is about 10 pounds.

I also carry a cell phone everywhere. Even if you have no service, in some areas if you dial 911 you can get connected in many areas.

Sometimes it’s Best Just to Keep Your Mouth Shut

webmaster 

Thursday was our annual “Open House” at the facility I work at. It is the largest event of the year and takes a ton of work to get ready for. There are also things you have to do afterwards to get back to normal.

One job is to return the golf-carts, we use for transporting guests, back to the golf-cart shop. That was the job I wanted. I thought it to be more prestigious than the other jobs and more fun. I didn’t get that job. They called me to go and help return the dining hall to it’s usual condition; something I didn’t want to do.

However, I thought it best just to keep my mouth shut and do what I was asked to do. It took us a total of 36 minutes to set up. When we were done, we were free to do whatever. For me that was delivering angel tree gifts our church members had purchased so that some less fortunate children would have a better Christmas. My wife and I returned from that about the same time the golf-cart people finished their job. It took over two hours to return those carts.

It wasn’t hard to recognize which was the better job that morning and I was very glad I kept my mouth shut.


Housepop 

My reply has nothing to do with your original post but every time I look at this post heading it just reminds me of how often I need to do just that. Just keep my mouth shut, whether it is with staff that might get on my nerves or that over excited child that just wants to share a little to much joy or a girl that wants to express a feeling I don’t want to deal with at that very moment. Sometimes I just need to say to myself “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and do what you know God called you to do.” Be a dad, be a comfort, be caring, be a worker bee and just keep your mouth shut.


TexPop

I am frequently reminded that a closed mouth gathers no feet..
-TexPop

3 pieces of Technology I Can’t Live Without

I was driving one of my children to a specialist in Tupelo, a city about an hour from our facility and also the birth place of Elvis, and I realized I had three things with me I wouldn’t want to do without.

1. My Cell Phone: I remember being a houseparent when not everyone had cell phones. When we started as a houseparent only our administrator had a phone and he carried it around in a bag about the size of my current notebook computer. It was so discouraging in the old days to get back to the facility and find out there was not enough milk for breakfast the next morning and you had to turn around and drive 20 miles back to town to get some. Or to find out the kid you were supposed to pick up in 4 hours was already done and finished 5 minutes before you left town.

Our jobs became so much easier after we got our first cell phone. Needless to say, I was one of the first houseparents in the facility to get one. 10 years ago it saved us probably 400 miles a month worth of driving and today it saves us at least that much. I honestly can’t imagine being a houseparent today without one, especially considering how inexpensive they are and all the features they have now. I also figure there aren’t too many houseparents left that don’t have one.

2. My GPS Navigator: The price of the technology has finally come down enough to afford it, and as usual I am one of the first ones on campus to have one. Last month I bought a “Magellan Maestro 3100″ on sale for $199 and I have to tell you it is one of the best electronic investments I have made.

A couple of days after I bought it, we had to take a group of kids to camp in North Carolina from our facility in Columbus, Mississippi. It directed me right through Atlanta and right up to the front gate of the camp in Hendersonville, NC. Afterward it directed us to our motel in a part of Greenville, SC that we had never been to, and back home with no incident. Today it directed me to the front door of that specialist, again with no problems.

The only downside I have at all with it, is that is looses some accuracy when you are out in the country. It was off by almost a mile in directing me to our church and a quarter mile to our house. Both are out on long country roads. I have found the more populated the area, the more accurate the navigator.

I will definitely dread driving to new places a whole lot less now that I have traded in my wife for a navigator that is much more accurate and doesn’t yell at me. I’m sure it will also help our relationship when we travel together, because we won’t be arguing over being lost or where my next turn is.

3. My Satellite Radio: Again I was the first on campus to have one and I can tell you I will never not have one again. It has been such a blessing to me with all the time I spend driving in the van. I am able to listen to my favorite music (without listening to commercials), or my other favorite pastime NASCAR radio.

The other great thing is when you travel you never have to change Cd’s or look for radio stations. When we traveled to North Carolina, we never had to change the station except to switch back to the NASCAR channel. It costs about $14 a month to have, but I would have spent that much on Cd’s each month anyway.

There you have it, three things I will always have with me when I am on the road, which I am a lot.


Launchpad 

I love the satellite radio. It’s the only time I get to check up on news or talk radio.

If you have a cell phone but can’t afford the gps units check out TeleNav. A few cell carriers are offering it now for download. It gives audible and screen turn by turn directions. You can mark waypoints and even tell your current speed. It costs about $10. a month. I like it because I can always take it with me.

The only problem I have had with it has been in the city. A lot of times it will be off a block or two. Sometimes it will tell me a business is on the left side when it is actually on the right. Basically it gets me in the vicinity. I really wish I would have had a GPS when I was driving a truck .

As far as the old bag phones? I remember when they first came out- my step-father would drive to the top of the mountain to be able to use his. (Thanks for the memories webdaddy!)

A Valuable Lesson!!!

Most everyone knows that we have birth children to go with all our home children. Our son is about to turn 17 and this last year has been a trying experience. It is one thing when you have to deal with difficult behavior when you are caring for other people’s children, but it adds a whole new dimension when it is your own birth child. (Don’t misunderstand, it’s not get you placed in a group home bad behavior, but it is definitely stuff we hoped we wouldn’t have to deal with)

Anyway my wife takes things very personal sometimes and the other day she was asking me, why I thought he hated us and wanted to make things so difficult on us. I wasn’t sure how to answer it, and really didn’t think there was a good answer for her, but I started thinking about the many conversations we have had with him recently and remembered something he said. He told us something like, ” I know you think I don’t want to be around you at all, but I really just want to hang out with my friends.”

That got me to thinking about his overall behavior in general, and I think that statement can be applied to his entire life at the moment. It’s not that he don’t like us and wants to defy everything we say, it is that THE ONLY THING HE CARES ABOUT IS WHAT HE WANTS!

He doesn’t want to hurt us by hanging out with people we don’t approve of, our feelings are not even a consideration, because it is about what he wants. He doesn’t care that we think he should save some of his paycheck for the future, he only cares about what he can spend it on now. He doesn’t care that we think education is important and that you should put as much effort as you can into, he only cares about the work he doesn’t want to do.

The realization of this is very empowering. It allows you to recognize and deal with bad behavior without taking it personal, because it’s not about you. It’s totally about them; what they want and think is important. This same realization can apply to the work we do as houseparents. There always seems to be this one (or possibly two) kid(s) that seems to be out to get you or drive you nuts with their behavior. But if you realize it’s not about you, it should make it easier to deal with their behavior and to come up with reasonable expectations and consequences.

If only I can remember that the next time I’m dealing with my son, after he’s done something I am not real pleased with.

Dented Cans

Living in a children’s home we receive donated food items rather often. Many, many times we receive boxes of dented cans from stores. I have known for years that you shouldn’t buy dented cans from the store, now I know why, especially if they contain acidic foods.

We got several cans of tomato soup in our food order a few weeks ago. I went to make lunch one Saturday and was going to serve the soup, all of which came in dented cans. After I opened the cans and poured them in the pan, I noticed that it was a strange color and had a strange smell. I looked inside the cans they came in and noticed that there was rust or some type of corrosion right where the dent was.

What must have happened was when the can got dented it stretched and tore the plastic liner inside the can (all iron based food cans, have a thin plastic liner) which allowed the metal to corrode. I will be much more cautious of dented cans in the future.

Fishing Group Home Style Making my life easier

Launchpad 

 Being that I originate far above the Mason Dixon Line in the heart of Yankee territory I have had to struggle a little with this whole Southern Bass fishing thing. For one, my roots (and heart) remain steadfastly a fly fisherman- dry flies at that. But I gave in and geared up for Bass fishing.

Problem is taking the kids fishing. Every one of us that has spent a day on the water with several kids knows you spend 98% of the time fixing lines and setting bait. I started getting real annoyed with the needle nose pliers in the front pocket and having to hunt down the tackle box for hooks. So, using some Yankee ingenuity I went out this time with my vest instead of the box.

Not exactly southern etiquette but it worked great. Best part is my vest is designed for fishing streams. everything is tied down and set on retractable cords. Which means I never wonder where I laid my knife down.

So here is my basic set up on my vest.

1. Forceps- Works way better than the old needle nose, especially on pan fish and Bass. They are worthless on Catfish though.

2. Mag Light.

3. Hooks- On the front of the vest is a fuzz patch you can stick various hooks on. You need a hook, rip it off, tie it on. No more trips to the box trying to find some between kids.

4. Worm box- Simple tin box that you can snap on. Works awesome with little kids if your the one baiting all the time.

5. Line snip/ Finger nail clipper.- Quick and easy to cut the line, less dramatic than the Bowie knife.

6. Snaps- quick hook replacement, especially if your fishing ones with leaders already attached.

7. Hat with spinners attached- Just makes people think you know what what your doing.

8. Knife- Along with everything else, TIED DOWN.

9. Sinkers- I use the ones that come in a red container with a spin top because the container is easy to tie down.

10. Leatherman tool- Works great for on the spot repairs for the reel or hooks.

Non- Vest Items

Any kid I take out that I have to do most of the work with gets a closed faced reel- no discussion. I know one HP that will only get open faced reels for his kids. I think he is either bored or clinically insane.

If I’m out to slaughter pan fish, I carry brass salmon egg hooks in a old plastic snuff can.

gracecountry62 

I think I will take my kids to captain D’s lol, I probably would fall out the boat if I was in one trying to fish or lose my bait ever time I cast the line out .


webmaster

I like the whole fishing vest Idea. Seems like something I would have thought up, were I not a hater of fly fishing. Just never got it. I don’t understand how you can catch fish with your line stuck in a tree all the time.

I can’t say that I am a master of southern bass fishing either. In fact my boat is currently for sale, so I won’t be tempted to torture myself again.

I have decided to stick with cane-pole fishing with the kids on the private ponds that people invite us to or the seafood department at the local Kroger Supermarket.

Maybe someday I will be able to go home (permanently) and fish for Walleye and Northern Pike again. That I know how to do.


Launchpad

Now there’s an idea! I haven’t thought of using a cane pole in years. I need to invest in some for next week, the kids will probably have more fun with that than the Zebco reels.

As for the Pike, I have always wanted to catch one, but every time I was someplace to fish for them I never got a bite