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!)

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

How do you let them go?

Seamus

Hi Everyone!

This is my first post. My wife has been posting for months now (bakergirl), but I just got around to doing this. We’ve been houseparents for about 8 months now, but 7 of those 8 have been as relief, and we are now opening a brand new home that we are the hps of. We took in our first kid (5 yrs old) 3 weeks ago and its been amazing, but different. We have been working with teenage girls for relief and now we will have boys and the first is only 5!

Anyways, my question is how do you deal with parents that have been abusive, served time, but still have visitation rights and get to come and pick up a kid for several hours? I can’t stand it! When they come over I just want to slam the door in their face at the very least. This kid is perfect – he even LIKES taking his bath and going to bed at night – yet we have to allow is abuser access! I know that I can only hope that nothing happens and report it if it does but how do control the anger you feel toward someone like that?

I pray that God will give me patience and understanding and so far I have been patient, but it tears me up inside to let him go with them.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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webmaster

The best piece of advice I can give you is DON”T MAKE THE PARENTS YOUR ENEMY!! If the children you care for get the impression that you have made their parents your enemy they will in 99% of the cases take the side of the birth parent. Even at a very young age. In most cases children that are placed in care with loving people that provide everything they need both physically and emotionally would rather be with their birth parents even if it means they will be living in the back of a van on the street, getting a meal every other day, and sitting alone while their parents are in the bar drinking until two in the morning. I have seen this in children as young as three years old.

We have to do our best to work with the birth parents and remain neutral with the children. Be honest with the children, but do it in such a way as it doesn’t appear that you are attacking their parents. A new trend in residential care is family centered services, where the facility and system work with the parents and provide training, counseling, job training, etc. They have found that working with the whole family is much more effective than just removing the children only to send them back to the same situation they left. Hopefully your state is doing something like that, if not become an advocate for it. Read some of Charles Applestein’s stuff. I have reviews of his books on my main site.

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Seamus

I never let the child know that I feel this way. I act excited that he is getting to see his parents and am excited that they give him gifts (even if they look like something that came from the trash can). I know that the child can NEVER know that I have these feelings because we do work with the families and our intent is to be able to put these families back together in a way that is more positive and much safer for the child. I’ve worked with many teenagers, but in many cases they are different. Their parents often want nothing to do with them. Now I’m in a situation where they parents would be at our house 2-3 days a week each if they could. Seeing parents as often as I do and listening to their lies to the kids is so hard! But, thanks so much for the advice, I will be actively trying to not create enemies.

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webmaster

Here is something else that might help you, it was shared with my by a supervisor that I trust.

Try to keep in mind that regardless of how things turn out, it is good for the children to have spent time with you especially it they get the opportunity to experience having their needs met, to experience love and affection, to learn morality and social skills, to receive a better education, etc.

Regardless of what else happens, it is better for the children RIGHT NOW.

They will remember that all their lives, even if they develop a resentment for the system or facility. They will always remember houseparents that have made a difference just as they do those that were negative or abusive.

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dmitchell_00

I am a foster parent so my situation is a little different but still we deal with parents that don’t understand how to meet their child’s needs. It is frustrating but we still respect them and every time I know that I will be in contact with them I pray that God will give me the opportunity to show his love to them. It is hard to let my negative emotions show after praying such a prayer. Good luck

Fly With Christ

Union ??????

Launchpad

Yeah Washington!!!! VIVA REVOLUCION!!!!

 I have had to remove the article that was posted here because it is copyrighted material and I don’t have a license from the AP to publish it on my site. Here is a link to the article on another website:

Foster parents in state are nation’s first to join union (http://www.seattlepi.com/local/270817_foster19.html)

I am sorry for any inconvenience but I have learned from what the big-name user content sites have gone through over Copyrighted material.

The Webmaster

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Launchpad

I think what really excited me about this article is the potential to have a lot of impact in the entire child care system when there is a bargaining chip. I am not a big fan of the modern union system (It killed my hometown) but in some cases it is a good thing.

We are in the mission field. But there are many HP’s that have found themselves in a position at a facility that abuses the HP. I know a couple that was told a year ago that if a child in their facility hits them or assaults another staff, the child will be given a 72 hour notice. The couple has had to endure punches and assaults almost weekly for a solid year. The admin has since changed their position and now states that they cannot discharge a child because they need the money the state pays for the child. But all new couples arriving at the facility are told any child that assaults them will be out of the program.

I’ve seen three single women promised the same position in a house just to keep them from leaving.

I have seen part time staff that never worked under 70 hours a week. How about couples that work a solid month straight, but are then consistently expected to still take care of facility business on respite time. (Training, paper work, fill-in, etc…).

Why do some of these facilities treat their employees this way. Easy- you let them. Most couples in this profession have no intention or delusions of becoming rich. Most are HP’s because of a calling to serve Christ. As such we become accustomed to going the extra mile, which is great until the facility begins to take advantage of it. Take a look back thru the history of the union and you will see some shocking similarities. People working hard for their families and giving it their all, just to be used and abused by the people they are employed by.

 I know many people that use this forum think that their is no way to change the current system. I believe that is very short sighted. This profession has changed by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years. Don’t believe me? Talk to an old timer that worked a home about corporal punishment. Look around your facility. All the HP’s that are dead weight and lack professionalism are on the way out. If your facility has even half a brain they are using resources like this network and filling empty slots with qualified people who are ministry minded. You think it’s just coincidence that many facilities that are treating employees as professionals and networking have more applicants than slots for HP’s? If your an administrator and your facility has constant turnover and never enough HP’s to go around, maybe you should re-think your entire program. You know what they say, “If you build it, they will come” (Great movie). 

If you wonder if your being taken advantage of look at the labor laws. If you are a single HP at a facility and not in a supervisory position they must pay you by the hour. There are no exceptions to that rule. If you’re a married couple they can work you as much as they want and you agree to on a agreed upon salary. That is why facilities love couples (Besides the family style atmosphere). Boys Town was instrumental in advocating the paid couple salary in the new labor laws. (Which I agree was necessary). Are you part time and consistently working more than 38 hours a week? Do some research and see what the Federal Government says about your pay and benefits. 

Point is, be professional. EXPECT to be treated as a professional. DO not allow yourself to be abused, God will open doors to other opportunities if you listen to him. Stay in some place that refuses to treat you with respect will affect how well you take care of the kids there.

If conditions in the system continue I believe there could be a real chance a HP union will form. Maybe sooner than you think. 

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webmaster

Honestly, I don’t see any chance of a national union for houseparents. There are already some private and state ran facilities with unions. But I don’t foresee a national one for the same reason I don’t see national standards. Childcare is regulated by each individual state. Additionally the states contract most of their care with individually owned facilities (whether for profit or not) My understanding of labor laws is each company would have to decide to form a union and cannot be mandated by the government.

On top of the whole individual facility thing, you have all the religious organizations that are exempt from most labor laws to begin with. There is no way there will ever be union in any large scale.

The biggest voice we have as far as change is our presence. If a facility is unable to keep good qualified staff, their only choice is to change or accept the hassles of continually recruiting and training new staff.

Sunday Cottage Routine

TexPop

Today is Sunday and it’s been a good day. God is good. I got to wondering what routines other places have on Sundays. I’ll describe ours first:

I get up early and have a little quiet time then some more casual reading. After about an hour one of our 8 boys usually gets up and comes into the living room for some early morning chatter. Around 8:00 my wife gets up and we begin breakfast. At 8:30 I wake the rest of the boys up for breakfast and we then get ready for Sunday School which begins at 9:45. Afterwards, we meet up with the boys in the church sanctuary in a pre-selected area and sit together for the worship service.

After lunch at the cottage the boys go their separate ways in various groups for touch football outside, bike riding, or even naps. All in all they are a good group of guys.  At 5:30 I call them in to get cleaned up for our on-campus chapel service from 5:00 to 6:00. After chapel, we walk back to the cottage for dinner and evening chores. They then might watch a little TV if their grades allow it, or a few of them may get together for board games or cards. In-Room time/showers and lights-out begin at 8:30pm for the youngest and all are finally down and out by 10:00pm.

Yes – I left out the occasional wrestling match that got out of hand, the kid that got upset because he thought something at football was unfair, the kid that had to be rounded up for chores, etc. But that’s all normal stuff. My wife and I are able to enjoy our evening together after all is quiet. We work as Relief Houseparents so when we move to other cottages the kids aren’t always this compliant, but the routine is basically the same. -TexPop

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webmaster

Our Sunday routine is this:

I wake up at 7:00 AM – shower and start breakfast.

My wife wakes up at 7:40 – showers and wakes up children

We eat breakfast around 8:00 am and leave for Sunday School at 9:00 am

Return from Church at about Noon.

We will either eat Lunch in the Dining Hall at 12:30 if they are serving or I will serve something that has been cooking in the oven or crock pot while we were at Church.

The afternoon is pretty much spent with the children playing or watching the NASCAR race with me, except during the months of December and January, when we watch football.

My wife and the older kids leave for Kids Church and Youth Group at about 5:15 pm and I stay with the preschooler’s. They eat at Church so I only have to feed the little ones.

She returns at about 7:15 and everyone gets ready for bed with the little ones in bed by 8:00. The rest of us watch TV (Cold Case, Sunday Night Football, etc.) or work on next week’s Sunday School lessons. Both my wife and I teach Sunday School. All are in bed by 10:00 and then my wife and I get about 30 minutes of alone time, before we go to sleep.

That’s about it.

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TexPop

I assume you have a house of boys? What are the age ranges?

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webmaster

We actually have a co-ed cottage with 7 home children. The youngest is 4 and the oldest is 11. We also have a birth daughter that is 13 and a birth son that is 16.

I can’t wait until the home children get older, I have had enough little kids to last a lifetime.

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TexPop

I realized there are people reading these posts that are interested in becoming houseparents and might be interested in what to expect in a typical day. I would have loved to have known these little things before I started.

My wife and I are about to take over a cottage of little boys – eight of them from 5yrs to 11. We’re excited about the change from the High Schoolers we’ve had for the last 8 months. I know it’ll be more physically demanding, but we’re ready to be out of the older girl’s constant “drama” for a while 

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bakergirl

Y’alls Sunday routine comes close to what the houseparents we met said. We got to meet and interact with several homes when we interviewed. We are looking at a job with 6 boys age 10-18. Could anyone give me the – and + of this group? We’ve felt called to boys so it seemed right. We were very impressed with the atmosphere of the homes. The kids were typically naughty but not downright aggressive or threatening. We are told the boys we would have are basic care. In tx that means the kids can’t have had trouble with the law, right? Thanks for this post, it was enlightening.

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Launchpad

Our routine is really laid back on Sundays. Our church is only about 5 minutes away so we get to sleep in until 9am. Breakfast at 9:20 and Sunday school at 10am.

We usually start the Crock pot the night before so lunch is ready when we come back from church.

Most Sundays we go for a hike or fish for a few hours at a lake on campus. Then we head back to church at 6:00pm.

We are watching CSI by 8pm. Bed at 9.

Normally the kids with no privs will set at the table and read on Sundays while the rest of the group goes and has fun.

What makes a facility “Christian”

momofmany

What makes a facility “Christian”????? Ours has a chapel, but it is used for storage. Since I have been here, it has NEVER been used for any type of service.

Is it the people – would that be your supervisor, admin, other houseparents, or whom? Most don’t act Christian, though I try not to judge as I am far from perfect. They don’t ask blessings before meals or at functions. Nothing that they do would make you think – WOW what a Godly person.

So I guess my thought is… Do you work at a “Christian” facility, and if so, what practices are in place that show this is a place that God is truly a part of? And, IMO, it has to be more than just in their mission statement. 

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bakergirl

I’ve wondered the same. We’ve interviewed at places that called themselves Christian but houseparents couldn’t talk about God. We just interviewed at a place that I felt was Christian. The hiring manager talked about how you get through the tough parts with faith, etc. When we hung out with families, the parents seemed much like our friends from church. Of course, we were there for only 2 days but I still felt a kind of presence, you know? Of course if we get the job I may have something different to say but so far, I feel like God is really pulling us toward this place.

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TexPop

I was thinking of all the things we do here at my place of employment that would probably occur at most “Christian” facilities. Then I realized – if you are a Christian and have to ask about whether a facility is a Christian one after you’ve visited and been interviewed – then it’s probably not.

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momofmany

I agree fully with what you say. However, when we visited we were not told that the chapel was used for storage. It is that, and many, many other things we have learned over the past few months. I think I was mainly asking that question as while looking through the facilities hiring – some state they are Christian, as does mine. I knew this was where God wanted my husband and I, yet now, I question WHY?

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TexPop

I understand what you mean. My wife and I have had that same thought while looking at that list – wondering how much restriction there might be to our sharing our faith or attending the church of our choice, etc……I don’t know that it’s possible to tell from their listings. I do know that a facility’s reputation should be known by the clergy of your faith if it’s a place they may have considered referring people to during the course of their own ministry. This “reputation” was what we used to guide us toward certain facilities when we were first considering this ministry.

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TexPop

Having worked in the secular job world for many years I can only tell you that you may never know the reason why God has placed you where you are. You can only remain obedient and upright and let the Holy Spirit take care of the “why”.

Not preachin, just testifyin’ – TexPop

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dontlietokids.net

I have a dream of opening up a REAL “Christian” home. I am 36 and am in the process of making some sound investments in hopes (and prayer) that they work out well enabling me to fully finance the home asking no one for any money at all. If you would, please pray for this endevour.

I have more detailed plans if anyone is interested send me a private message.

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webmaster

I think the bigger question, and this is one to ask yourself when you are looking for a position, is – what makes you a Christian? After you answer that find a facility that has the doctrines you believe in and/or can live with.

When you interview you need to ask questions, and be direct, about the beliefs and philosophies of the facility. I have interviewed at facilities that considered themselves evangelical Christian and allowed witnessing, devotions, and all the other stuff, yet felt that abortion and other alternative lifestyles were acceptable. I am thankful I found that out during the interview, because of my beliefs I would have not been able to stay there.

I had a friend that worked at a facility that claimed to be Christian with a chapel that they used every Sunday for service, yet had no problem hiring an atheist that was allowed to share his doctrines with the children.

I currently work for an independent facility of Presbyterian heritage. Here we have houseparents that range from what I consider Extreme Calvinist Presbyterians to very liberal Christians that attend Presbyterian Church. I am somewhere in the middle on the more conservative side. We all see Christianity somewhat differently, yet we are able to agree on enough essentials to work together.

I am certain that if or when we look for another position someday, we will all be looking for different things in a new facility, and I believe there are enough facilities out there that we all would be able to find it.

That is why I say, “Know what to believe and don’t compromise”. Some Christians find it easier to work at a secular facility, because they don’t have to hold it to the same standards as a Christian Facility.

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Craig Bridges

I believe what makes a facility Christian is when the leadership starting with the board, ED, supervisors and all other admin staff are committed to a foundation that Christ is the center in all that they do, a clear vision not just on paper but in all they do. An admin staff that states before all else these young people need to know a God who loves them, a God who has a plan for them, a God who knows them, forgives them and can heal them, a God that they can find true adoption from and an everlasting identity in. A God they can call Lord, Savior, Friend, Provider, Counselor. We need to stop catering to the world and LIVE OUT GOD’S LOVE. If admin would support house parents with that vision and allow them the tools to model God’s awesome love I believe we would see victory, over comers, more than conquers. This is not to say that we don’t need therapeutic services such as education programs, counseling, etc. But if we lay the foundation of Christ and discipleship and that always remains the center in all that we do, WOW! What a place that would be.

Then you can find house parents who are like minded and with the right SUPPORT can carry out that vision.

Not a Real Family?

webmaster

In order to be effective at this job (long term residential care) you have to get emotionally involved with the children you care for, yet it almost always leads to getting your feelings hurt. Let me explain.

We have been in the same cottage for almost 6 years and most of the kids in the cottage have been here for several years and came at a young age. Some of them are getting to the age that they are really starting to fantasize about the relationship with their birth parents and believe that the solution to their happiness is to be back with them. They are starting to identify with the culture of their birth parents and rebel against our values. Most don’t even remember living with their birth parents so they create their own memories.

Some can’t even recognize their birth parents. We have a set of twins that just turned 6, they were two when they came and don’t even know what their mother looks like. This Christmas she made contact for the first time by sending them Christmas gifts. Now all they talk about is going to live with their “Real Mom”.

My wife really got her feelings hurt by this.

The question I have is this. Do any of you struggle with this? And if so, besides lots of prayer, are there things you do that help you feel better about it.

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Seamus

I think that all of know that to these kids “mom” is always going to be “mom” and “dad” is always going to be “dad.” It doesn’t matter what the parents have done these kids will always love them and talk about living with them again. However, when we are the ones with them every day and night. We feed them, love them, raise them, teach them, and nurture them, we can’t seem to understand why.

Our facility does not take emergency placements. The kids come for a pre-placement visit and they decide if this is where they want to be and we decide if the child will work in our home. Therefore, we often have contact with the parents or guardians of these kids. We encourage contact with the hope that with therapy this family can be civil at some point with each other. This is difficult because it does not allow the children to really attach onto us as “parents.”

In your situation it must be unbearable to have someone contact the kids after 4 years of nothing. You are right though, prayer is the best thing that can be done. Also, I would suggest that you remember your ultimate mission in this job is not to turn yourself into these children’s parent, but to raise them in a way that gives them a chance to have a successful life unlike the one they came from.

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Craig Bridges

This is a great topic and one that doesn’t have any clear cut answers. It is hard to help kids identify with their parents while at the same time breaking behaviors and cycles from those very same people all the while trying to incorporate them into your family. Developing healthy bonds can be very confusing for these kids and even more true when they hit the crazy teens years.

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For my children

I am in a facility that runs like a real home, our kids go to private school (my husband has taught part=time and coached at this school). We have a lot of input on their care and lives. All of my kids do not have family contact, because they are not around. One of my older boys, we have had for 7 years got married in Oct. on campus. It was beautiful. We had 200 guests and it was on campus under one of our oak trees. (We have 24 acres and only two houses on the property). It was so awesome to see on their invitations the name of our agency, he was proud of his home. My husband and I were the parent figures. Yes even with these amazing bonds there still is times you feel that hurt. But I have found the joys and blessings have surpassed those little disappointments. I think real biological parents also have those twinges at times. My husband and I have been richly blessed.

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rachel

Oh the “real” mom and dad stuff really bugs me sometimes! I know it shouldn’t – we are here for these kids, not for our own feelings. But I especially hate it when they get mad and say “you’re not even my real mom!”. Hey now, aren’t I the one who holds back their hair when they puke, the one who attends all their school plays, the one who’s bedroom door they knock on at midnight when it’s thundering outside?? Man, it sure can be irritating sometimes!

All that said, when I feel myself getting frustrated about this whole “real mom” thing, my wonderful husband lovingly reminds me that we will always be second best, and that is okay. No matter how awful their “real” parents are (and believe me they are awful), our girls have this undying loyalty and admiration for their biological parents. We just always need to remember that that is the way it is. And because of that, we should be especially thankful for those precious family moments we have with these kids – when they introduce you as mom to their friends, when they slip their hand into yours during praise and worship at church, when they remind you (even though you do it every night) to tuck them into bed before they fall asleep.

When you look at the whole picture, I know we are all blessed beyond measure by these kids!!

Lice?

seriously

This is a first for us, but we’re pretty sure that our biological kids have lice. We haven’t checked the rest of the kids in the house yet because they’re still at school, but we’re expecting that at least some of them will have it too. My husband and I have never dealt with this before (as kids or adults). Does anyone have any tips on getting rid of it in with such a large group of people? There are 14 of us living here right now, and I have no idea where to begin! 

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webmaster

Although we have been lice free for about 3.5 years there was a 1 year period before that when we were having to deal with lice every month. We had one group of children that would come back with lice every time they went home on a visit. So we got pretty good at treating it.

We would use the commercially available lice shampoo to wash their hair. Then I would comb out their hair with a lice comb every day for 10 days and wash it again one final time. We purchased the metal lice combs and reused them over and over again.

My wife would wash all the clothing they took with them on the visit. She would also wash their bedding and their clothes everyday during that 10 day period we were treating them. That was usually enough to do away with the lice.

I found that the most effective part of that for us was combing their hair daily with the lice comb. It seems that you can never get all the eggs out with just one combing and the shampoo doesn’t kill all the eggs. Combing daily removes any newly hatched lice before they have a chance to lay more eggs.

We also have some very hard and fast rules to keep lice from spreading to all the children and staff. My wife has gotten lice, twice from the children since we have been houseparents, I don’t have enough hair.

Rule #1: Everybody has their own comb or brush and nobody shares, ever!!!!

Rule #2: Bedding is washed weekly and nobody shares personal pillows, ever!!!

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momofmany

We had run into the same problem (I think I originally asked that question on the forum a long time ago). We seemed to be unable to get rid of it as we had some kids too young to use the commercial shampoo, and some with extremely thick and long hair. After the third go round, we used Vaseline. We slathered Vaseline over everyone’s head (even those where we could not find nits or live bugs) and then put a shower cap on. We left it on all day and night (Saturday). To wash it out, use peanut butter (oil fights oil). They never came back after that. The morning we spent washing everyone’s hair (it took a couple of washes) we also rewashed all the sheets, sprayed the van, couches, etc. Good luck and don’t give up.