Please burst my bubble or Rain on my Parade… Whichever

louisville parents

My wife and are excited about some aspects of this job. I will list them and then you can feel free to point out the ones that seem too optimistic.

1) Now I am working 4 jobs and attending seminary. My wife takes care of our daughter and manages to put in 10-15hrs a week teaching kids remedial reading and math. We are looking forward to working together and having a single focus in our life and ministry.

2) My wife and I have always been frugal. We have never been in debt and have always saved a large portion of our income. We don’t know what we will be spending our paychecks on when our home, meals, insurance and gasoline are covered.

3) We are hoping to make a significant and noticeable difference in the lives of the children we care for. We’ve seen the website videos of kids and young adults saying how their lives have been totally changed by the work of the facility and the HPs.

4) Right now I work most every Saturday and Sunday. My wife and I have never had full days off and are really looking forward to connecting with each other during these days. One location offers two days off each week and another 1 day off per week and 1 weekend per month. Is this realistic? Will we really have these days off?

I’d really appreciate your perspective on these things. We want to go in with our eyes wide open.

It would also be really great to hear your worst misconceptions of the job.

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Launchpad

You guys definitely are in better financial shape than most people going into the job.

As for the time off, I have been a soldier, a truck driver, worked in a factory and did a short stint as a youth pastor. In all of those jobs I worked a lot of overtime, but not near as much as I work now. The difference now though is my wife and I work as a team. We spend most of our time together, not separate. When our daughter arrives (1 month!!!) she will have mom and dad there, together, all the time.

There is down time. After getting the kids to school you can have some breathing room. A lot of facilities will try to say that will be part of your down time also- They are only half right. There are still Dr. Appointments, paperwork, staff meetings general house care stuff, shopping and food prep that needs to be done. Most people I see that stay content doing this job seem to be able to budget their time wisely. You can go back to sleep until noon when the kids are in school, but you will pay for it later when you are trying to throw dinner together at the last moment. Your week can seem impossible if you don’t schedule it.

One really cool aspect of this job I learned from a former supervisor. His son is a excellent wrestler, his dad is at almost every event. He helps train his son and is very involved in all of his children’s lives. Because of being a HP he has been able to be a dad who is there for his kids almost 24/7. When he is on duty, his time is split between his kids and the other kids, but the bottom line is he is there.

The respite time is a big factor. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Some people prefer working 30 days straight and only having a weekend off. I have learned that’s not for me. You have to find your comfort zone and find what works best for you, your family and the children your serving. If your losing your cool after three weeks of being on duty and start losing the professional, ministry focus- you may need to re figure your situation. We ain’t doing anyone any good if we are screaming fools. 

As for you actually getting a week end off you need to talk with them and find out exactly what they mean. A weekend off can mean you go off at 10pm on Friday when the respite shows up, and need to back on at 10pm on Sunday after respite has reconfigured your living room and changed all the house rules 

One day off can also mean your off after the kids go to school and back after they are in bed.

As for making a noticeable difference? The fruits of our labor may not be visible until they turn thirty. There are victories but I have gone to bed some nights wondering if I make a difference at all. You have to be content with the fact you are doing the best you can and know you are following Gods call. I think most of the burn out in this job is from poor management of ourselves and/ or the facility. I really don’t think it’s the kids that run most of us out. 

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Launchpad

Actually here is a better example. Diary of a Houseparent

Very good example. Worth a read for everyone!!!

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TexPop

Oh, that’s just funny! Similar to our first cottage assignment, but still funny! 

For a little perspective, I’ve also been present when some of the kids accepted Christ as their savior. Way cool! There’s good and bad in everything. Finding a well-run campus with a good support structure is very important. Talk to the current HPs on staff. Visit the cottages. Visit the kids. -TexPop

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webmaster

I have basically raised my children in residential childcare. Being a houseparent at the facilities I have worked at has made it easy to spend time with them. Additionally they have always been good about letting us off for special activities. I rarely hear about houseparents that have a difficult find time with their children, the hardest thing is being able to balance the demands of your birth children with the demands of the home children. Some children have a difficult time sharing Mom and Dad.

I very much enjoy spending time with my wife, we have been married for over 18 years, but sometimes I just want to do something by myself or doing manly men things, and it seems hard to be able to do that, because I feel bad about leaving her with 9 children for more than an hour or two. My alone time is left to the couple of hours I spend at the office each day while the kids are in school.

Being frugal surely helps, You can save your money for a rainy day or to buy a house later on. If you are like most you will end up spending some of your money on your kids, the occasional pizza or sundae are hard to pass up.

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rachel

My husband and I are making less money that we ever have. But, we have more money that we ever have – our spending has decreased significantly! (We also know that God has been blessing us!) Do keep in mind that you will spend some money while you are working – pizza nights, ice cream runs, birthday presents, etc. It’s easy to get carried away and spend lots of money on the kids (and be prepared that they will rarely appreciate it the way you expect them to), but just be careful to stay thrifty. The good news about spending on the kids – they love even the smallest things (dollar movie theatre, McDonalds 99 cent menu, a coke or candy bar, etc.)

My husband worked 3 jobs and I worked 2 before we came here. (Not quite as busy as you were!) While we are still putting in the same amount of hours (well more hours actually), it is very nice to just have one focus as you said.

Be sure and talk to the current houseparents at the facilities you are considering to find out if they really do get their days off. We discussed this issue very frankly with our director, and he let us know that time off is something he takes very seriously. We always get the days off that we are scheduled for.

As for making a “significant and noticeable change” in the kids – be careful about your expectations. You have to remember the number of years of poor lifestyle / bad parenting that have damaged these kids. It took time for them to form their bad habits, and it will take time to change those bad habits. I try to look at it from the perspective of planting a seed. We may never see it start to sprout, but it’s there in the soil. We as houseparents have to be sure that we aren’t looking at the kids behavior to see whether or not we are being effective. (Otherwise we would constantly be frustrated!!!) If we plant a strong seed, then we are being effective. I have to remind myself that I am not in this job to be made to feel like some hero that has just swooped in and changed the world for these kids. It’s not about whether or not I feel good and accomplished, it’s about planting a seed. I may not get many opportunities to be a gardener, but I am happy to just be a planter. (FYI- I am mostly preaching to myself right now!! )

This is a wonderful career field and I hope your family just loves it as much as we do!! Adorable family by the way!!!

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louisville parents

Rachel,

Thanks for your post. That was very encouraging. All of you: launchpad, admin, texaspop etc have been very helpful these last couple days. My wife is changing her outlook on this line of work. Today she said that she is excited about this opportunity. This is a huge shift in her thinking.

About three weeks ago we received an application from a facility. I had it filled out two days later. My wife is still working on hers and many days she would get overwhelmed just answering the questions. I began reading her stories from houseparent.net out loud. They were funny, entertaining, and real. A couple days ago she began reading things from hp.net and this forum herself. Yesterday and today she made more progress on her application than she had in 3 weeks. Thanks to you all.

My wife Laura was very skeptical about the photos and videos on the facility websites and knew that it couldn’t be as good as it sounds. What she did find comforting were the real stories and frustrations that you all have written. Your stories have truth, humor, pain, life, love and joy. Thank you for sharing. We’re in!*

*At least we’re in for some interviews and campus visits.

Teaching Family Model Any feedback?

Launchpad

I have been looking into the Family Teaching Model and getting ready to do training on it next week. I have been very impressed with what I have seen and read so far. The residents behavior and the communication between Admin, residents and staff have been nothing short of amazing. Again- from what I have seen so far.

Does anyone have a working knowledge of the Family Teaching Model? What are the comparisons, if known, in regards to CPI and/ or TCI?

Advantages/ Disadvantages of the FTM?

I’m looking for your honest opinion, so feel free to let the good, the bad and the ugly roll.

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webmaster

Would like to help you on this, but I don’t have the personal knowledge to give an opinion. None of the three facilities I have worked for used it. My wife used a morphed version of it in a facility she worked at during our sabbatical, that was not a good experience.

But to be fair, it wasn’t a true version of the FTM.

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teacher

I am currently at a facility that utilizes the Teaching Family Model, and I love it. I could not imagine being a houseparent without it. It allows for consistency. The kids know what consequences (good or bad) that follow their actions. It also allows HPs to show the kids how their actions will help them or stop them from reaching their goals. The TFM is also very user friendly. I give it two thumbs up!

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Launchpad

Thank you! We start training Monday, but so far from what I have seen in some of the other cottages I have been absolutely amazed. It is a better system and support structure than what I have seen before. I have also noticed a lot of (positive) dialogue between the staff.

 Some areas remind of the Boys Town model and the specific skills seem to be the same. This system seems to function a little more smoothly than what I worked before on the Boys Town model. (In fairness to Boys Town we probably were not running the program 100% at the facility I was with).

I take it we are at the same facility? (Your profile has you in SC) If so I hope we have meet or soon will. I really feel blessed being here. 

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Housepop

My wife and I used the Boys Town Model in the first children’s home we worked in and it was very good for keeping things consistent and clear. Like you said the boys we worked with always knew what the consequence would be and what to expect if they stepped out of line. It gave us the basis and skills to go on to other houseparent positions and do well when they did not have a program that was as good or as organized. As the webmaster always says though it is not the program it is the people. You still have to have the skills and the gifts to make it work and also I believe the call of God to continue. I think you will like it and gain much from it. 

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Housepop

In the teaching family model you use is there a skill for positive attitude? If so I would love to have that please. All help would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

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Launchpad

I had a response from someone that has not worked or seen the program in action. Their concern was that the program would be “Clinical” and very restrictive on the kids freedom. The kids here have way more freedom and responsibility than the other two facilities I have been with. It seems the kids here can be just that- kids. The responsibility they have for their own actions is amazing. The FT’s I have seen in action displayed the utmost in professionalism.

I am very impressed (So Far).

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foshgirl

Can someone explain exactly what this is? All I can find online (even on the TFM website) is a vague description of how it reinforces good behaviors or something like that. Can you explain in basic practical terms how this system differs from any other? Or a sample situation/conversation in which you would use it and how?

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Launchpad

Sorry for such a delay in responding. I was hoping someone with much more experience and background in the Teaching Family Model would be able to respond… I guess not 

So gathering from my extensive week long training and actually working with the kids for all of three days; here goes it.

FTM focuses on the behavior of the child. Not just the negative but the positive. It is a point based system where the child is responsible for the outcome of their week.

The difference I have seen (so far) in this program and the other two programs I have worked in the past has been very drastic. Everyone is evaluated. From the kids all the way up to the administration is evaluated and receives feedback from everyone else. The kids evaluate the Family Teachers and so on.

The kids have self government and are invested in the program. It is a B- Mod program but from what I have seen so far the kids have WAY more freedom than any facility I have seen to date. I believe the difference is in this program is the boundaries are extremely clear to not only the kids but the Family Teachers as well. There is a much higher accountability of Family teachers. All communication with the kids is done in a calm manner, very professionally.

I wish I could say that I was one those HP’s that had a calm easy temperament all the time with all of the kids I have worked with in the past. After going thru the FTM training I found myself wishing I had some of the skills the program mandates you use with program. For example, working a solid month straight at the boys ranch I would find myself using no rationals when trying to correct a kid. There were times when I would want a kid to behave in a certain way just because I said so. Another example- If a kid rolled his eyes at my last facility, most of the time I would let it go, I have to save the consequences for the big stuff. With a point system the kid is invested in I can address the eye rolling and correct the tiny behaviors before the kid gets all worked up and has a bigger issue.

The kids also don’t get buried alive in consequences. There have been quite a few times in the past I would really turn the screws down tight on a kid because of their behavior. Looking back on it now, I probably did more to escalate the kid rather than help make a change in their behavior. From my own personal experience a facility without a program and specific guidelines is just a act of frustration for the HP and the kids. instead of creating a least restrictive environment, they are creating more restriction.

Communication on every level is done very professionally. I guess when everyone is being evaluated by everyone else, using courtesy, tact and professionalism is just part of everyday business.

So far I am impressed. I am also being challenged. I have found a program and facility where the HP is considered a professional. I am required to learn and develop new ways of ministering to those in my charge. I am expected to receive feedback in professional evaluations and learn from them. I work with competent Family Teachers who see this as a profession and ministry, not a glorified baby sitter.

This is my view of the FTM program to date. I have worked with alot of other HP’s in other programs that were every bit as committed to the kids and the HP profession as a whole. Matter of fact my heart is still in Georgia at my last facility with alot of people that I hold in the highest regard. I am just very happy to have the opportunity to see another program, feel challenged to develop myself and to be considered a professional. 

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Launchpad

QUOTE

In the teaching family model you use is there a skill for positive attitude? If so I would love to have that please. All help would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

Acepting Feedback

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dontlietokids.net

Wow….the children “rate” the staff?! While that wouldn’t bother me, I know of very few House Parents who could/would tolerate that!

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Launchpad

Yeah I wasn’t real stoked about it at first, but I have actually came to like the idea. You have to keep in mind some kids are going to have issue with a HP, but if you your seeing consistent complaints about being an abusive jerk from all the kids, chances are you just might be. At the very least it gives the powers that be a heads up. It also sends a very strong message to the kids that their opinions matter and actually count for something.

I really think that HP’s that have issue with a regular evaluation from others is just afraid to be held accountable for their own actions and probably extremely insecure. Same goes for admin. When you have a 360 degree eval and the people under you that you never really thought of acting like a professional with can make you think twice. 

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dontlietokids.net

Oh it wouldn’t bother me, but most HP’s I know would hate the idea.

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webmaster

 I try to be fair, and have been more than happy (kinda) to apologize when I am wrong.

I’m not perfect, but I think I wouldn’t want to be a houseparent if I thought I had to fear what the children would say about me in an evaluation.

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sunbeam

We do not have a point system. From others I have talked with they were not really pleased with always making a child work on a card or board.

I do agree with the praise. All our kids here before coming here is negativity.

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Launchpad

I agree with grace and sunbeam. Honestly my struggle now is praise. The program seems like it is built on it. If you think its easy giving praise try it for a day. Every single time one of your kids has a behavior problem try giving them praise first for something they are doing right, followed by emphatic statement, followed by a rational and then a consequence.

That much praise seems good on paper, but try it. Most of us do not operate that way. It is starting to seem more natural, but I still feel corny giving constant praise. But hey, I can’t argue with results. The kids on this campus are functioning on much higher behavior and academic level than what I ever imagined.

Whats your main address? Drivers license etc

bakergirl

It looks like we will be working at a home in Austin Tx on a 15 day on, 8 day off schedule. Our home is 3 hours away. I don’t have a clue about which to put as our main mailing address. I will have someone going by our house each day so technically I could hear about any mail we got. But I’ve been pulled over in Austin and asked why we were there. If that happens with a load of kids, what do you say? I mean, technically our addy should be in Austin but that would change voting and everything. 

Plus, we will need a bank account in Austin and so we would have to have the same address on our DL right? Oh dear, this is soooo complicated.

HELP!

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Launchpad

Congratulations on the position!

Sounds like a really unique situation. I suppose it would depend on where you want to vote and set up your “Base of Operations” at.

That’s why the wife and I are going the RV route. Kinda fits the nomadic side of us.

Just wondering- What issue would the officer have of you being in Austin?

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webmaster

Congratulations on the position. What you use as an address depends on what you want to be your residency.

We own a house and have declared that our residency. It is in different school district than the one the home is in, which is where we want our children to attend school.

There are other houseparents that we know that claim residency at places several hours from our home and go back when they are on relief, but have all their mail sent to the children’s home so they don’t have an issue with getting their bills late and not paid on time.

Your driver’s license should not be an issue if it is a Texas license, hopefully getting pulled-over will not be a habit you are into, otherwise being a houseparent is not a career you will have very long.  Honestly, I don’t think the police can harass you if your address on your license is from a different town than where you work, millions of people commute to different towns everyday. I know some people that drive over two hours to work one way, everyday.

As far as a banking account, I would just make sure it is with a bank that has branches in both locations. We bank with a national bank that has branches all around the country, so we have access to ATMs without getting big usage fees when we travel. Checks are becoming obsolete, the only place I can really use them now is to make my monthly payments. Most places of business won’t accept them anymore where we live. We have to use our check card or cash.

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momofmany

I moved from 8 hours away to my current position. I acquired a P.O. box as I did not want everyone to know my business, and I good check my mail on weekends and days after a holiday when the office is closed. I also put that address on my license.

I did not change my bank account. My checks are automatically deposited. I have not had a problem writing a check here, but I mostly use my debit card. I have not changed it as of yet (and it has been 7 months) as I have no fees where I bank and they take really good care of me. I just have to call by phone, toll free.

In Texas you have 30 days to change your license.

And, I too, hope you don’t talk to the police officer too often as you won’t last long in this job.

Good Luck, and God Bless.

Second interview at a home, what to wear?

bakergirl

Our first interview was in an office, then a tour of the place. We wore very professional clothing but the scene was far more relaxed than we anticipated. The second interview is with a different director (they have more than one campus but you have to go through the first to get to the second) at one of the children’s homes. They want to show us how this home functions because it is a model for the new one opening (which they are considering us for). They are hoping to introduce us to some kids too. I’m confused as to what to wear. We usually dress professional- skirt, jacket, hose, and heels for me and black pants, nice shirt and tie for hubby (we are in tx so many professionals skip dress jackets). I’m afraid this could be too formal and off-putting though. I was considering wearing dress pants and keeping the rest the same- any thoughts?

Also we were not put “through the wringer” with role playing and tough questions. The hiring supervisor said she likes to ‘get a feel’ for people. We stayed overnight there and spent time with two families. It all seemed good but I worry a little bit about not being put through the wringer. At first we thought that would be done with the second interview but I don’t see that happening at a children’s home. Did any of y’all get hired this way and it all turn out ok?

Thanks for the input; I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s posts lately.

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webmaster

I personally think you are way overdresses for a houseparent interview. Khakis and a polo shirt for guys, khakis, and a blouse, sweater, or polo shirt for gals is appropriate for the initial meeting. Bring some jeans and t-shirts with you to change into if you find the home more casual.

I was always taught to wear slightly better than you will be working in and the only time we wear ties at the facility I work at is for board meeting, awards banquet, open house, and some wear them to Church. Our administrators wear khakis and polo shirts or t-shirts. Only the executives wear dress slacks and button up shirts and usually without the tie.

As far as the interview goes: I have worked at three facilities, my wife four, plus we have interviewed with at-least 6 other facilities and have never had to do role playing. We have had to(or would have had to) do it during training at some facilities. But don’t think they are not watching how you interact with the children and other staff. That type of interviewing is much more common at therapeutic facilities. Basic care children’s homes are much less formal, though it may not be such a bad idea to at least discuss some scenarios with prospective staff.

Relax, be honest and ask lots of questions.

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momofmany

There is one facility, also in Texas, that we interviewed at – we were dressed “business casual” and felt way underdressed – it seemed it was more a corporation than a children’s home. We turned down the job because of this reason. On one interview, I ended up ironing all the kid’s clothes for a special event they were having…. so I guess you never know what you will be doing. We never had to role play, but it seemed like we went through a lot of group interviews (several people asking my hubby and me the questions). Go with your gut, and show them your heart. Most importantly, be honest, and hopefully they will also be honest.

Good luck in your search.

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Launchpad

I had interviews at two facilities a little while back. The first one my wife and I showed up and dressed like we were going to an awards banquet. I even spit shined my shoes. The interview went great, but we were stressed out and feeling very uncomfortable the entire time. But we were offered the job.

The second interview (the next day) we were very sure that we were going to the first facility. So we showed up to this interview wearing what we normally wear, flannel and jeans. I might have brushed my teeth that morning. My wife and I were very relaxed. The interview was MUCH more comfortable and flowed very naturally. Thankfully we decided to go for the second facility.

Hello experienced houseparents! More questions from a prospective….

Lyssiej

Hello!

I hate to do this to everyone again, since I see a lot of newbies are on here in various stages, but I have a few more specific questions about houseparenting that I was hoping to ask the seasoned veterans….

1. What was your “aha moment” that made you want to get into this line of work? (Does not apply if you have something in a blog or on a “testimony” section — I’ve read it!)

2. You’ve all undoubtedly been surrounded by people quitting/burning out for years — What would you say is the one trait, decision or circumstance that has MOST influenced you to stick with it? Or do you see something consistent with people who burn out?

 

3. DH is a very soft-spoken, contemplative kind of guy. He has good boundaries, but hasn’t worked a ton with kids (He’s a chef, whereas I’m a teacher…..). Kids tend to open up to him and he’s one of those people everyone ends up telling their life story to, but his his biggest fear is that we would be getting in over our heads. Do you guys know any successful houseparents where one of them has that kind of personality? Is there a particular model that works better with that personality?

4. I don’t know if this is allowed, and if it’s not DON’T DO IT, but can you PM me your lists of top 5 reputable facilities?

Going from what I’ve read all over this website and this forum, I think we would be looking for:

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

4. Use a gentle-ish model with a specific plan for consequences

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

 

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webmaster

1. N/A – You have already read it.

2. I have been around people that have burned out and quit, a lot of days I think about doing the very same thing. However, on the flip side I have also seen people that have been houseparents for years that probably should quit, and I am not sure why they continue. I think the thing that keeps me going is the delusion that what I am doing makes a difference. Fortunately, I occasionally see things that feed my delusion; I’m sure you have read some of my writings and have an idea what I am talking about.

3. Being soft-spoken and contemplative is not a bad thing, and every person that decides to be a houseparent is getting in over their heads. You either learn how to swim or drown. There is no way to be fully prepared to become a houseparent, not even if they came up with a 4 year college degree in houseparenting. You can learn skills that will make things so much easier for you, but I guarantee that at some point very early in your career you will feel overwhelmed. I have been doing it for over ten years and often feel overwhelmed, like tonight. The trick is have the fortitude to stick it out, and the next time it gets easier.

4. It is allowed and I encourage people to do it, I just don’t want it done publicly on the boards.

Your guidelines for a facility look fine, and I hope you find the one that is right for you. I would like to add that when my birth children are grown, we may very well look for a position in a B-mod facility. I enjoyed working B-mod, but I also enjoy the cat and mouse aspect of things. I always hated seeing a kid take a fall, but I have to admit I enjoyed playing the game. You can build relationships with children, even at a B-mod facility, and in all honesty any real change that takes place with a child in a facility like that is a direct result of the relationships the staff have with the children. Some people do really well in B-mod.

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Launchpad

QUOTE

1. What was your “aha moment” that made you want to get into this line of work? (Does not apply if you have something in a blog or on a “testimony” section — I’ve read it!)

I had worked as a youth pastor in St. Louis and thought there had to be a more rewarding way to serve kids besides pizza parties and sleep overs and concerts.

QUOTE

2. You’ve all undoubtedly been surrounded by people quitting/burning out for years — What would you say is the one trait, decision or circumstance that has MOST influenced you to stick with it? Or do you see something consistent with people who burn out?

 

I have to say the single most important decision to stay in this ministry would be God has opened this door and I accepted the invitation. I will serve until that door is shut. The encouragement that keeps me going, even after some rough nights with the kids, is that I know I am doing all I can to make a positive difference in their lives.

QUOTE

3. DH is a very soft-spoken, contemplative kind of guy. He has good boundaries, but hasn’t worked a ton with kids (He’s a chef, whereas I’m a teacher…..). Kids tend to open up to him and he’s one of those people everyone ends up telling their life story to, but his biggest fear is that we would be getting in over our heads. Do you guys know any successful houseparents where one of them has that kind of personality? Is there a particular model that works better with that personality?

IMO the best attitude is calmness. I have come to a point where I have seen that staying calm and in control at all times is the best answer in every situation. I can also tell you I wish I would have discovered that method four years ago! As far as a model? Teaching Family Model is the one for me. I am definitely a believer after seeing this program in action. There is less stress on everyone, more calm, and more freedom for staff and kids. The Boys Town model is also awesome if the facility runs the program the way it is meant to be. Those are really the only set programs I have worked with, but there are many great programs out there.

Bottom line- Intimidation of someone else by elevated voice tone or body posture is never ok unless your a Drill Sargent or trying to establish yourself in a prison setting 

QUOTE

4. I don’t know if this is allowed, and if it’s not DON’T DO IT, but can you PM me your lists of top 5 reputable facilities?

I’ll send you a PM of facilities that I know some people at who really enjoy where they are at. Again much about these facilities are personal preferences.

QUOTE

Going from what I’ve read all over this website and this forum, I think we would be looking for:

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

4. Use a gentle-ish model with a specific plan for consequences

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

Sounds like ya got it! 

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Lyssiej

Wow, you guys! Thanks so much for all of your insight! DH read it and is feeling a little more confident that we may be okay for this. We agreed to think/pray about it until January (he’s a very process-oriented person), so we have time. In the meantime, we’re going to look into foster parenting classes and ask if we can volunteer at a Christian children’s home near where we live, just to get a feel. And I got No Such Thing as a Bad kid from the library yesterday! I’ll be frequenting these boards while we’re looking into all of this.

Launchpad — It was funny to see you write that you wanted something that would help more than being a youth pastor. It’s almost exactly what I told my husband about being an elementary music teacher. It’s just getting really frustrating to not be able to help more directly. I love music, but I’m thinking a kid who’s in total chaos at home doesn’t desperately need to know how many beats a half note gets….

Bottom line, we’re scared and we want to carefully discern God’s will here. It’s really intimidating, but as my favorite quote from Corrie Ten Boom says, “The safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will.” My biggest fear in life is losing track of that call.

Thanks again, and keep the wisdom coming!

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rachel

I wanted to share my “aha moment” with you because I think you will relate to it. I was a first grade teacher, and I loved it for the most part. But I was starting to realize that I really enjoyed teaching character, morals, manners, etc. I didn’t really enjoy teaching academics! I also thought so many times that I could be much more effective if I could go home with these kids – rather than sending them into chaos and turmoil at 3:00 every afternoon. So, houseparenting really is alot like teaching – but it’s the really good part of teaching, with a stronger and more meaningful connection with the kids.

My husband owned his own restaurant before we became houseparents. (Is our story sounding a little familiar to you?)  He is also the type that people feel very comfortable talking to, and he is very patient and calm. When we first started (January 2, 2007), I did most of the disciplining. As a teacher, I was used to being bossy! He kind of laid back and stuck to the lighter situations with our girls. But now (and it’s only been four months) he is much more comfortable dishing out the punishments when needed.

It is ALWAYS better to stay cool and calm with the kids. If you raise your voice or become angry, then the kids will just yell louder than you and become much angrier than you. It’s like they try to make you yell at them so that they have the right to scream at you. Sounds like your husband would be really good at deescalating these types of situations – its a good thing to be soft-spoken!

Houseparenting is hard – and I am certainly no expert. But, I really love it and I feel like God has provided me with the skills I need to be good at it. I feel confident and challenged at the same time. If this is the path that God wants you to take, then He will equip you as he has us. It really sounds like we have alot in common! 

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Housepop

House parenting is not for everyone nor should everyone do it but with God’s help you can. I think first and foremost you need to understand that for all the teaching you may do about making good choices and how much you tell a child about God you may not get to be the one to see the results and THAT HAS TO BE OK. I look at house parenting as a twofold job, First I believe I am called to plant God’s seed of love, grace, compassion, and joy and since our true boss is the son of a Jewish carpenter I believe I should help each child fill his tool box with new tools to make better choices, work harder, and be a better person not because I said so or they might get a reward for it but because that is what God would want of them. And the REALLY IMPORTANT thing to remember is that when that seed grows or when they use those tools may not happen while they are with you and that really is ok. The important thing is, you did what God called you to do and the rest will happen in God’s time and in God’s way. Houseparenting is not a results visible kind of job most days. Yes sometimes you get to see it and sometimes you get to experience it and for that moment it is like touching a piece of heaven, so wrap that moment up in your memories and save it for all of those days that you want to chuck it all and go to work at Walmart. My Wife and I have been houseparenting for 10 years now and it definitely is not what I planned to do with my life. We were on career paths that were lucrative and enjoyable but not kingdom related at all. We let God have the reigns of our life and this has been the most fun and entertaining journey I have had the privileged to be a part of. Kids really do say the darndest things and love in the most amazing ways. And the one thing I live for more than anything else is that one day in heaven when a little voice says thank you because if not for you I would not be here to see this.

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Lyssiej

That is so encouraging and inspiring!

I talked again with DH and he’s not feeling the call just yet. My theory is that when God speaks, He’ll speak to both, so I’ll wait. DH said he wants to wait a year and see where we’re at. We’re both praying hard, though.

I’m going to an informational meeting about foster parenting today, thinking that maybe that’s what God is speaking to me about now. DH is a lot more open to that, so maybe that’s “the tug.” We’ll see.

I definitely see (and actually, DH sees) houseparenting in our future. Speaking of planting seeds, you guys have planted that one. I think God meant for us to start thinking about it now so we’re ready to get the call when it comes. Of course, I’ll wait for that call, but you guys have been so helpful. Thank you and I’ll keep checking back in!

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rachel

Very well said Housepop – brought a tear to my eye!! You are definitely right on about the fact that we must be okay with not seeing the results of our work. It’s all in God’s time.

Lyssiej my DH was definitely harder to convince about this job than I was (yet another similiarity between us). I think that being a man, he was concerned about the decrease in pay. He wanted to be the big tough manly provider and all. I knew that it wasn’t a true calling unless we both felt certain. You wouldn’t believe all the things that God did to help our faith. He did everything that we needed to make us feel comfortable about taking the plunge. Just a few things God did for us – got the agency to offer us $10,000 more dollars a year than they did at first, got all of our family to be supportive, found a replacement teacher immediately for my job, made my boss and coworkers totally supportive of a teacher leaving in the middle of the school year, Dh mom sent us a check (totally random) for $5000, unexpected Christmas bonus at work for $500, cell phone bill reduced by $120 a month, and the list goes on. I guess my point is just to praise God that He is a big enough God to bring us to our comfort level in his calling. He didn’t have to do that, but He did. After all of these pieces fell into place, my DH and I knew without a doubt that this is the job that God has called us to do. I will be praying that God will give you guys the same clear cut guidance that He gave us – what a blessing that kind of guidance is!! In the meantime, enjoy every minute of teaching half notes and recorder songs that you can – if you do become a houseparent, you will miss those sweet babies, trust me! (But it’s worth it.) 

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bakergirl

Lyssie and rachel: I too have a introspective husband. It takes him awhile to answer a question, to make a big decision. However, for us, we knew what could happen with hping for 2 yrs. The idea was presented before we graduated from college. Then after 2 yrs, we suddenly knew it was time to apply. It was amazing how God worked. Lyssie, our aha moment was very clear. We were at the dinner table, talking, and suddenly I realized that dh hated his job and some other things all clicked at once and I just blurted out “I think God’s telling me its time to apply”. The kicker was that it didn’t scare him or take him long to agree. We got up and went and prayed and he immediately felt a calm about it. And here we are, five months later, loving it. I have to say, there are big challenges. The agency you work for and director you get are crucial. I’ve heard horror stories but so far dh and I have been very blessed.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated I cry. But I would never quit. If your dh is praying about it and doesn’t feel called, I would be waiting too. Both of you have to be in this. Blessings!

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dmitchell_00

We are foster parents and love it and that is why we are looking into becoming HP. I think it is great place to start. I was reading your post about being in God’s will, Have you read the book The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. It is amazing you should check it out. The main theme is are you “just” living your life or are you living your dream. I feel like for now I am living my life and God has a dream out there and kids like this are part of that dream. We are in the beginning stages of trying to figure out which place we belong. Good luck to you and you DH.

Is Houseparenting for me?

louisville parents

Hey,

My name is Tim. My wife and I have been considering becoming house parents for several weeks now. Your material on houseparent.net has been very helpful to us, thank you. We will be making this decision within the next 6-12 months. We’d like to visit many homes and talk with lots of houseparents in the mean time.

So, I don’t even know what I don’t know. What questions should I be asking these homes and myself?

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louisville parents

Ok, let me add a little bit here.

My wife Laura and I are both 28, we have been married 3yrs and we have a one year old daughter, Teresa.

I have worked as a campus pastor at the University of Louisville for 4 years.

Along with my work on campus I have attended seminary, and worked as a substitute teacher and freelance musician.

My wife worked as a secretary for two years and has been a stay at home mom since the birth of our daughter.

Both of us studied music education in college.

Basically, what we want to know is:

What do you wish you had known when considering becoming a houseparent?

What are the most important character traits and job skills we must have to be successful HPs?

If you could suggest one book to read to prepare for becoming an HP what would it be?

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webmaster

I would suggest two books: Respecting Residential Work with Children -By: James R. Harris Jr., M.A and No Such Thing As a Bad Kid!: Understanding and Responding to the Challenging behavior of Troubled Children and Youth — By: Charles D. Appelstein

I also recommend everything I and others have written on this site. The old forum archive has a lot of good information as well as the houseparent articles section.

There are many character traits that will make somebody a good houseparent: compassion, faith, motivation, etc. But, I think the most important is perseverance. There are many days you will just want to quit, even at the best facilities, and you need perseverance to keep going until you can see the good you do again, and there is a lot of good that a houseparent does.

I am sure there are others here that will be happy to share with you also.

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Launchpad

I wish I would have known there were different models of facilities and procedures and had known the difference.

I wish I would have known about this site before my first HP job. 

I wish I would have known that there are other HP’s who only do this for a paycheck, nothing else.

As far as what you should ask these homes? Make sure you and your family can live with what they are providing in the package. Sleeping in the hayloft is fun during the spring but come winter…..

Being able to set up interviews at several facilities will also help you to see differences in style and procedures. Talk with other HP’s while you are at the facility. If the admin will not make arrangements for you to do so be careful, BIG RED FLAG.

After thinking about it for a while, I have to go with the webmaster on perseverance. Some days are gravy, others you pray for an early death. It is a very emotional environment. You will get attached to the kids. But it’s the greatest ministry on earth! 

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rachel

Definitely read through the old forum questions – extremely informative.

I think good, solid houseparenting boils down to simply this…

unconditional love, consistent consequences

These two things are your greatest tools in modifying behavior. But they are much easier said than done at times!!

State Gov’t Bureaucracies Better or Worse?

TexPop

I’ve been asking myself lately if there are some states where it is easier to run a Children’s Home than others due to the amount of state control and hoops to jump through. I’ve only workied in Texas where it used to be a lot easier to operate than it is today. About three years ago a new person took charge of our state’s licensing system and, since I’m told he came from the day-care industry, he decided to “beef up” our licensing requirements and restrictions. Our list of “Minimum Standards” more than doubled. Sometimes I think bureaucrats do this just to justify their existance.

I also wonder what it’s like working with your State’s Child Protective System. What I observe here is a lot of good intent – but not much common sense. We as House parents and therefore primary care-givers have very little input on the disposition of a CPS child in our care.

What are your opinions of your States’ services?

-TexPop

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webmaster

There are definitely states where there is less regulation. I have worked in three different states: Wyoming (twice), Texas, and Mississippi. Of the states I have worked at:

Mississippi (1999-present) is by far the least regulated, in fact there have only been licensing requirements for about 7 years. However things are becoming more strict since they settled the lawsuit with children’s rights and I expect that trend to continue.

Wyoming the first time is next (1997-1999). We were licensed and regulated but things weren’t real strict.

Texas (1999) We quickly noticed how much more strict Texas was than Wyoming. Among other things, child supervision and child/staff ratios were strict and strictly enforces.

Wyoming the second time (Nov 2000-Mar 2001) In the time we were gone regulations had changes drastically. We were required to have 24 hour awake staff, logs with entries every 15 minutes, much more strict facilities regs, etc.

Unfortunately people that have done very bad jobs at caring for children have resulted in the vast majority of the regs we live with today. I think it sucks that we have as many regs as we do, but if people in the past would have done better jobs we wouldn’t have as many. On the same note, the better the job we do today, the less additional regs we will have to deal with in the future.

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TexPop

Wow! 24 hr staff for “basic care”??

I understand, but tend to disagree. If there are no problems in the future because we are doing a better job – most regulating agencies will simply figure it’s because their rules are so beneficial. Reducing regulation is VERY rare. -TexPop

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webmaster

I never said reduce current regulation. The better job we do today will reduce the amount of additional regulation we have to face in the future.

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MomforLife

I finally got to read the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas just before I left the state! When I read the Texas standards, it appeared to be very similar.

Seriously, I believe the major difference in the amount of harrassment appears to be in the types of placement. My current facility in Texas has a lot of state placed children, parental rights terminated. When your facility is a ‘private placement’ the state is usually too busy to bother, unless a compliant is made. The facility I came from in Arkansas was 100% private placement…the courts sent us children, but the parents still retained legal custody. We rarely had a visit from any state official. Since coming to Texas, it feels like everyone is expecting the worst…fearful of mis-stepping…worried about being censored by the State. It puts an unnecessary burden on people trying to devote their time and energies to the children in need.

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Craig Bridges

I just do not want to post on this subject. It is going to get worse in the future for facilities that take state placements. Sadly, many Christian homes have the answer to many of these kid’s problems but have to spend too much time worrying about state regs & red tape & money instead of focusing on programs that

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TexPop

Craig – I agree with you, but why don’t you want to post on this? I thought some might be hesitant to post because they didn’t know who might be lurking.  Are these your thoughts?

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Craig Bridges

No, no. I just didn’t want to get on my soap box as this subject is a huge frustration to me. There are so many kids out there not getting served all because of lack of $ and state regs that become the focus rather than kids. Government just does not have the answer to the problem and the system is broken, even in crisis in my opinion. I am not worried about posting for others to see and think that it is a very worthy subject.

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TexPop

Good. I know we spend lots of time, $$ and effort to satisfy state licensing regs – rather than opening up more beds and ministering to kids. It’s the shotgun approach to management via the state. I mean, if a facility is endangering kids, close them down. Don’t regulate the rest of us to death. Craig, I can’t even imagine the frustration you as an administrator must feel when you are asked to conform to a rule that was put into place because of someone else’s substandard faciltiy. Thanks for responding.

-TexPop

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Launchpad

At this moment I truly believe I am at ground zero when it comes to state regulations and red tape. I have never seen the amount of policies and procedures that a facility has to comply with to be licensed as here in DC. To be fair, I also may have been shielded from dealing with the state because I worked for some administrators that did their job and dealt with the paperwork and red tape, while I was allowed to take care of the kids.

90% of my time is spent doing paperwork and reporting to the powers that be in the District Of Columbia. In case you’re wondering what I have been doing with the other 10% of my time it has been divided between actual childcare and sleeping (about 5 hours if I’m lucky).

I have seen firsthand the differences in state placements. In Georgia and South Carolina I may have seen someone from the state doing an inspection or file audit once every few months. Here we have audits on a bi- weekly basis and walk through inspections at random times every week.

Oversight is a good thing and it keeps an honest facility honest. To much oversight has the the potential to rip the guts out of a facility and create a climate of fear and dread. The turnover at our site in DC is all about the paperwork, redundant regulations and reporting procedures. The kids are the easiest (and most enjoyable part) of our work here.

Someday, I’ll open my own outlaw facility in the wilds of Alaska and thumb my nose at the man. Until then I’ll be asking every state employee if they would like some cream in their coffee or a foot massage…… 

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TexPop

Launch,

Since DC is not actually a state – how does it work? Is it run by some federal department? 

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Launchpad

Dc actually operates like a pseudo state. It’s a city, but the social services branches and every other government function you would find in a state government are here. We just do not have representation in the House or Senate, which is how DC was able to get around the Second Amendment for so many years (Sorry, that’s a rant for another forum).

Living in a group home with every inspector and Social Worker in the District being less than 4 miles away definitely has its drawbacks.

There is a bright side to all of this though. Our house is so sterile that I can eat off the floor without hesitation and I have more inside knowledge on the social service system than I ever cared to know.

How soon should we start applying?

dmitchell_00

I may have asked this before but I am wondering how soon should we start applying for jobs. We are not going to be ready until next July at the earliest. That is when we are going to be moving back down south. I am so anxious to talk to some facilities but don’t want to jump the gun either. So my experienced friends what do you think.

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Launchpad

Everyone’s situation is different. 11 months before you want to move would be a little too far out for me personally.

But it would be a good time to research and find out all you can about certain facilities before even applying. Research the local areas around the facility and see if it will be something you and your family will be comfortable with. Some like being out in the sticks, while others are more comfortable with the suburbs. Coming from Upstate NY your husband may be shocked as I was at the complete lack of glorious trout in the south and the total lack of respect for anyone that dares to cast a fly out on a pond.  (But it will never snow in May here)

Look for churches in the area that you might be interested in, pastors in a facility’s area will also have more firsthand knowledge of the facility. Chances are good they may have projects with the facility or at the very least know someone who works there.

Then again, carpet bombing facilities now with your resume may open up some doors for you and your family early. You may go to a facility for an interview, and everything will fall into place. But if your still not ready- it would be good for them to know you and your family, so when next summer rolls around and your ready to make the move they will have your resume and they will have a better feel for you. Remember, a lot of these places have high turn-overs. 

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dmitchell_00

Thanks Launchpad,

You crack me up with your fishing (I am more of a fisherman than my husband he is an off roader) anyways. We are actually native southerners. We are both originally from Texas and are transplanted here in NY. We are excited to get back to more laid back people and life style. We love Buffalo but it is time to be home. Thanks for the advice. I feel like that is all I do is research facilities which is why I am so excited to send in our info, but I have not thought about hooking up with pastors in the area, what a great idea. Thank you. We appreciate it. Talk to you later.

Interview to Hire How long?

foshgirl

Sorry about all the newbie questions! About how long did it take between interview (or 1st and 2nd interview if you had more than one) and getting a call? We are willing to wait until the best place is found and are not expecting to jump into the first place we interview, but with moving and all we need some kind of plan. We return to the USA April 1st, then interview during April. If we should expect to wait 2-6 weeks or longer, we’ll need to make plans for somewhere to stay in the interim.

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TexPop

As difficult as it is to find good, quality houseparents – and with all the opportunities out there – I’d expect to hear from a prospective employer within 10-14 days. That’s about what it is here anyway.

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webmaster

At our first facility we were offered a position before we left from the interview.

At our second facility, we made a huge mistake and didn’t go and interview at the facility. We did it all over the phone and they offered us a position sight unseen after about 3 weeks of conversations back and forth over the phone and by E-mail

At our current facility, I called them after about a week to see how things were and how they were leaning and they offered it to me then.

We applied at a couple of other places a while back and always heard in about a week what their decision was.

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webmaster

QUOTE

I have to say that if you were indeed offered a position at the first interview then most likely that facility is very desperate

They were in great need of houseparents, but we had also gone through a 2 hour phone interview, completed our 20 page application and had our background checks finished. Plus the on-site interview lasted for 3 days, so it wasn’t like they hired us after talking to us for 5 minutes.

I like to think they knew they were hiring the future webmaster of The Houseparent Network

If your facility expects multiple on-site interviews, they either have a huge budget to reimburse for travel or do most of their hiring locally. Most houseparent applicants don’t have the money to travel out of pocket for interviews very often.

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momofmany

Not only would a facility have to have a huge budget to provide travel but who has the time to go on several interviews? We took a week when we were first looking and visited three different homes. We were offered jobs at all, and took our time deciding. We chose the one we spent the least amount of time at as that is where we felt God wanted us to be. I do have to say at this point, I feel he is calling us elsewhere. If it was up to me, I would research every job available in the location you want. They don’t have to be advertising on the houseparent website to have an opening. Look at the facility directories that are listed, and check on their websites – we found a lot of good information that way.

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rachel

We came to look at our facility and spoke with the houseparents that were here at the time. We came in for an interview about a week later. We were offered the job during the interview.

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Launchpad

One of my best friends decided to move from one facility to another. He made a spread sheet of all the facilities he thought he would be interested in (From the HP Network of course) and started calling around. He had a spread of over thirty facilities complete with salary, benefits, comp time, housing options and other criteria that was important to him and his wife.

After a month he had several offers. But he took his time and worked down the list to 5 facilities. He told me some of the determining factors in his decision:

  1. 1. Facility does not return phone call or cannot give a candidate a up or down decision in two weeks- FORGET IT.
  2. 2. Program- How the facility was ran, what impact it was having on the kids.
  3. 3. School system (For his bio)
  4. 4. Housing conditions
  5. 5. Benefits

It is a ministry, but if a place you interviewed at cannot call after two weeks with a yea, nea or just to check in and let you know they are still interviewing, shows a total lack of professionalism on their part. I personally would lose interest in them. Don’t forget- you are interviewing them as well. Fact is, if there is a question in your mind about this place being even a little shady or uncomfortable for your taste, move on. I wish I would have at one point.

At the moment we have an advantage of more job opportunities than people. Facilities that fail to be professional and invest in staff will suffer.

Prospective Houseparents Former student looking to make a difference

hersheytom

I am a 25 year old graduate of Milton Hershey School. My wife and I are interested in pursuing a career as house parents and are looking for more information to help decide which facility is best for us. Location isn’t an issue, and we’d be willing to pretty much anywhere. As a graduate of Milton Hershey, I understand the importance a houseparent plays in the life of a student, and I dream of an opportunity to return the service that was provided to me as a student of a similar school. We currently live in NE Texas, and both work at an after school recreation facility and summer day camp at a local church.

Particular details about the type of facility we are looking for include a few different criteria. While we dont mind working with troubled kids, we do not have an interest in working with mentally unstable or special needs children, as I feel completely unqualified to work in that environment. We are looking for locations that may accept a pet or two (I’ve found a good deal of information about this in a previous thread.) Also, we are looking for a location that does not have a problem with young/less experienced houseparents. My wife has been working in child care for approximately 10 years, while I have only worked 1 year relative experience, I do think my experience as a student at a similar school must count for something.

Anyway, if anyone can help guide us in the right direction, any information would be greatly appreciated.

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webmaster

The most difficult part of your criteria will be finding a facility that will allow pets, there seems to be less and less of them all the time and although regulation is usually what is blamed, but I think the true blame can be placed of those few irresponsible staff that allowed their pets to be a problem. When you look at facilities, it wouldn’t be the first thing I asked about, but if it is really important for you, it should surely be a question early in the process.

There are many facilities that will not have mentally unstable or special needs kids in the sense of handicap’s or disabilities, but as you know all the kids in care have special needs as a result of abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc.

As far as being young, there is always going to be somebody that will be suspicious of your age. There will often be that staff member that thinks you are just going to be try and be peers with the kids. Your professionalism when you start will go a long way in changing those perceptions. I know many houseparents that have started young and are respected and very successful.

I do have one word of advice for you as far as your experience in a facility when it comes to the kids in your care, and I share this from my own personal experience. My wife was in foster care and I should have been. When we first started as houseparents we thought the kids would be encouraged by the fact that we had experienced something similar in our youth, turns out they couldn’t care less. They felt that our situation was nothing like their situation; therefore we couldn’t possibly understand what they were going through. After going through that a few times, we simply decided to keep our past to ourselves and use the experience of our past make us better houseparents. To be more compassionate, understanding and caring as well as being really good at the cat and mouse game that youth can play. We still have kids that are amazed that we would think to look there, where ever that may be or how we can tell something is wrong, even when they are trying to appear normal.

I hope your search for a position goes well. I hope you will find tons of information on this forum/site and if you can’t find an answer to a question you have please ask it. Chances are somebody here has the answer or at least a piece of the answer and if you can get enough pieces together you will have something substantial. Welcome. 

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hersheytom

Thank you for your response! In terms of my pets, its not necessarily something that will keep me from accepting a position, but it is definitely something I’d obviously prefer. In terms of my experience as a student, I don’t think it is an advantage so much as you had stated, the experience I was referring to as a student was more related to my extensive inner knowledge of how a home is run (at least at MHS). I was a leader as a student within my home, and continue to be a strong leader in my adulthood.

I feel that do to my youth, children relate well with me, however I do try to be an authoritative/parental figure, more than just a friend. What I didn’t mention in the previous post is that I would prefer to work with younger children (k-5th grade) as that is what my wife and I have the most experience with.

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webmaster

That is the age group that my wife and I have worked with the last 6 years. I think they are easier to work with mentally, but much harder physically. However in our case, long term residential foster care, it is MUCH harder on you emotionally when they leave.

It is great that you were a leader in your house, and that information you have about the workings of a home, will truly benefit you.

teenage girls

rachel

My husband and I are about to accept a position as full time houseparents for seven girls between the ages of 13-17. (Well, we haven’t officially accepted the position yet- but we are pretty sure that we are going to take it.) I have heard from several people that girls are much more difficult than boys. Girls are said to be more dramatic, emotional, etc. I was wondering if anyone has any advice or stories specific to dealing with the drama of teenage girls.

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Launchpad

I worked in a co-ed facility for two years. My dealings with the females were very positive, and in general the girls were better behaved.

However the dynamics were much different. We had six boys and two girls in every house. Most of the time we were dealing with boy issues and the girls would tend to fly under the radar. They seemed to kind of enjoy the status of being the more “Mature” ones.

But when they had an issue, it was always more dramatic and way more volatile than the boys. Most boys I have worked with that become agressive will do so until a point is reached. The females I have worked with that become agressive go all out. They fight for keeps.

All that aside, I have really enjoyed working with the girls. Communication seemed to be easier with most of them and the relationships seemed more genuine than with alot of the boys.

I do feel more comfortable with the boys, but I definitly would work with girls in the future. 

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dontlietokids.net

My wife and I LOVE girls! Here is an answer I gave regarding girls and their “moodiness” that I think might help you.

I live and work with 13 teen girls and have for 14 years now. So, including my wife (and up until a year ago our daughter) it’s me and 14 (was 15) women. Can anyone else claim that kind of experience with females?

I LOVE girls (lol) I love their complexity, I love their minds, emotions, and moodiness. I just love the challenge. Now my daughter has me a bit depressed because she continues to reject Christ, but when we are together we get along, talk, joke, and just have a pretty solid relationship.

Some simple advice:

-Girls LOVE to talk. Do not deprive them of this. Don’t expect them to shut up and go play. That works with boys, not girls.

-Girls need an explanation, “because I said so” doesn’t go over well with females. There is a time for that, but when you can discuss the situation with a female you should.

-Girls need attention. Put the ball game on mute, go to their sporting events, spelling bees, recitals, etc. They love that.

-Girls need to see what a real Godly man is. Like my daughter they may chose to reject it, but they still need to see it, BADLY.

-Girls need a fatherly figure, but they also need a strong woman (mother), yet the woman CANNOT be domineering. Tough mix to find today, but it’s a must to raise a strong daughter who understands her role as a female.

Now, when dealing with moodiness…ready for this???

Call them on it!

Don’t be mean, sometimes you can even be a little funny about it, but call them on it. A girl who grows up with parents who excuse or ignore her moodiness makes a terrible woman. As the dad discuss their emotions and hormones with them, point out what’s bad and why along with what’s normal and why. Conversations like this is why a strong mother is also a must as I mentioned earlier.

If you need any other opinions let me know

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webmaster

My wife and I have cared for Teen Girls, Teen Boys, Little Kids, and Co-eds. She personally prefers Younger children or boys over girls. I however prefer Teen Girls.

They are more emotional and petty than the other groups, but most of that can be ignored or as Don’t Lie says call them on it.

Teen Girls are also more nurturing and helpful. It’s much easier to get them to help you around the house than the other groups and they are usually much cleaner.

One of the major down sides to teen girls is that they are, at least in my experience, much more likely to make accusations against staff than Boys. So, you have to be extra cautious about not putting yourself into questionable situations with girls. The male staff should never be left alone with one girl and should never go into the sleeping or changing areas without at least announcing themselves. I always had my wife check that everyone was dressed and appropriate before I ever entered their areas. (to make repairs, move furniture, etc.)

Don’t sweat it too bad, they’re not that bad.

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dontlietokids.net

You DO have to be careful of false accusations, but know this, in 14 years of working with girls (many of them sexually abused) I have never been falsely accused (thank God) of anything at all! Just be aware of it, sensitive to it, and SMART!

Mike is correct about them being cleaner and more willing to help around the house too. I think teen girls are the best kids to work with. 

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Launchpad

How well does it work logistically with trying to always have another peer or houseparent with you while working an all girl house?

At my last facility we usually had three staff and at least one of the boys around, so I never had an issue with isolation. The one staff that I know of that was accused of doing something repeatedly found himself in rather awkward circumstances that I believe were more of his own making.

Just wondering how much different or on guard you would have to be in an all girl environment.

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glidenhi

In an all girl facility….expect the woman of the couple to do most of the work. When the man takes a girl somewhere, you have to take two more girls along to always have more than one in the car. Most of the time kids have homework or tutoring to do and if you have a working girl that needs transportaion…or anyone else that needs transportation in the afternoon, the woman ends up doing it. If the man doesn’t cook, that means the woman has to cook, drive and do all the managing that requiers the houseparent to go into the girls’ halls and bedrooms. The man better learn to cook….that’s all I can say…..and I don’t like for my wife to do all the work. Also….when I’m in the house I run the house, and a lot of the girls aren’t used to the man doing that…so that can cause some issues….especially if they are used to houseparents where the woman runs things and the man sits on his royal and is scarcely more than a “teddy bear daddy.”

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webmaster

How well does it work logistically with trying to always have another peer or houseparent with you while working an all girl house?

 We worked all girls for almost two years and it was usually not difficult to not be alone. It was pretty easy to find a couple of girls that wanted to ride along or want to stay at the house. My wife did do most of the one on one and “glidenhi” is right “I did the cooking and most of the other household management stuff”

 I learned to cook when I was 16 and all of a sudden became the household manager of my family household because my parents divorced and my mom had to work.

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dontlietokids.net

I’ve taken girls on short trips alone. First of all I developed a very strong trust with my girls, and secondly, these trips are 5 minutes or less. I AM careful, but the way I look at is that if a girl lies about me, then I no longer want to do this.

Renters insurance and first interview overview

bakergirl

I’ve been re-reading the topics on the other forum and the issue of personal property came up. Do any of y’all hold renters insurance? I’m not even sure if we would qualify.

We had our first interview a few weeks ago with an agency that we really like. It was held at their primary location but they really wanted to interview us for a different location. It was a little surprising because we expected the interview to be the next day and it was conducted the moment we got there (we were not informed of the change of plans). It was ok though, but odd because we expected it to be formal.

Our interviewer was very open and honest. She told us what to expect, females that would come onto the father figure, etc. After about an hour, maybe less, we went onto the campus and looked around. We went to one house (that was NOT expecting us, lol) and joined a Halloween party. It was great, kids everywhere, food being cooked, decorations on the floor. I was afraid it would be so uptight and institutionalized but I didn’t feel that at all. The next home was the one we spent more time with. We met the family, older girls, and made plans for church the next day. After that we had the evening alone in an unoccupied home. It was nice, upkeep except that the paint had peeled and been repainted on all the closet doors from being slammed repeatedly.

We attended church and then ate out with the teenage girl family. The couple had been there 18 years total. They had left and gone other places a couple of times but came back. They were a much older couple and the kids seemed to respect them. The girls asked us questions and talked about themselves during lunch. There were times that they could have told us bad things but they didn’t.

The second interview is with the director from the location we are wanting to go. There is only one home in a neighborhood there and they are opening another in the same city. We are meeting at the first home for the interview. I get the feeling its more to get a feel for us than an interview.

The schedule would be 15 days on, 8 days off. We really like this because we own a home three hours away, and most of our family lives near our home. My grandmother and one sister also live where we would be houseparenting.

Oh and the position would be with 6 boys, age 10-18. We are young with no kids so I’m hoping this will work well for us. If anyone could share what to expect with basic care teenage boys, please do.

I had to add this, it cracked me up 

Thanks everyone, esp momofmany and 

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TexPop

My wife and I have renter’s insurance on our stuff. It was no problem to get thru our previous homeowner’s insurance company.

Our first cottage was also Jr. and High school boys – “basic care”. I’m not going to detail our experience because it might scare you. However, they may treat you as if the house is “their turf” and you have no right to tell them what to to in it. This can be a constant struggle until the passage of time or the turnover of kids.

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webmaster

I don’t have renter’s insurance but I probably should. However, everything I have that is most valuable I keep at my house, and have homeowners insurance. Everything I keep at the cottage is my second set and although I would lose financially if it was damaged, I just don’t want to pay for anymore insurance.

There are others at my facility that have everything they own at the cottage and carry Renter’s Insurance.

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dontlietokids.net

My car insurance company (Erie) offered me a big discount on renters insurance. We carry 50K dollars worth because we own a lot of nice electronics.

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momofmany

TexPop is right – it is their turf – and you are invading their space! On our first day, the oldest kid in the cottage bowed up to my husband (former Marine, and not real small) and asked why do I have to say sir to you – why do I owe you respect as this is MY house, you are new here, and I have seen a lot of houseparents come and go? My husband QUICKLY informed him that he was hired to be the houseparent, and deserves the respect because we will be taking care of him. My husband reassured him that if the kid ever did not respect us, we should talk. The kid actually seemed to respect that. Just don’t try to be their friend right off the bat – it never worked for us. Both sides have to earn trust.

Two important things that I was told that have stuck with me – It is not about you AND Don’t take anything personally. Although I am in my 40s, I quite often start singing Jesus Loves Me this I know, for the Bible tells me so ……… because constantly reminding yourself of God’s love, you can endure any arrow satan is shooting your direction.

Good Luck, and God Bless.

Turn Over

ThomFam

I am wondering as to why the heavy turnover. It sounds as though the typical person starting out as a house parent is out of the field in less than a year. I am sure things like lack of training and facilities not taking care of their people. I am sure people go into the field with rose colored glasses on as well. Here is my question, aside from what I mentioned, why is there such high turnover? I am concerned for myself and my family. If we were to accept a position at the facility I am interested in we have to move half way across the country to a state I have never lived in. I am willing to do this, but it would not be good to find my family “Stuck” in a faraway place. Any help you can provide in enlightening me as to the high turnover I would appreciate it.

Also ideas for me to prepare myself and my family for the long haul would be great.

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Housepop

The answers to your question vary greatly. But not enough people truly research what it is they are getting into. These aren’t regular kids. They are kids that have been damaged by adults that don’t know how to parent or who selfishly think that their needs come before the child’s, or adults who are involved in drugs and alcohol. you have kids that have been preyed on by sexual deviants. These are often kids that have been thrown away and really just want to be loved but don’t know how to love back. They have food issues from not having enough food in the house when they were hungry and the list goes on and on. Many different issues and many different kids. And then there are the gang kids that found family and don’t want to give it up or change because it is way too hard to do things any differently. These are often kids that are so used to pain (emotional and physical) that it becomes comfortable and not to feel it hurts worse. This is just a small list of some of the things you will see and experience and many adults that want to change a life and love a kid don’t take in to account that it is not an easy job. NOW having said that even with the insanity of the kids you have staff and faculties that are just as confused as how to help them and try so many different methods and have so many different theories that it certainly adds to the challenging job we do. But if you are truly called by God to do this job none of the craziness truly matters because if you walk with him you will make it past the national average and truly love what you do. There are many people who visit this board that can share stores that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. But it truly is one of the greatest jobs you can ever do, the difference is that you can’t do it alone and I don’t mean your spouse of other staff which are important but you have to have a very good relationship with God the father and lean on him each and every day.

I hope I haven’t rambled to much or babbled on incoherently but truly pray about this endeavor before you take it on. My wife and I have been house parents for almost 12 years in 3 different facilities and yes it is truly one of the hardest things you will ever do but without a doubt one with the greatest rewards. I can’t wait for that day in heaven when I hear a small voice say thank you because if not for you I wouldn’t be here. Then every sleepless night and being called names that most people have never heard will be so worth it.

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ThomFam

Thanks for your heart felt reply. I have been praying God would remind me the work is His, it is mine to simply obey. I can see this line of work being frustrating to those who are performance oriented. My guess is you often do not see the results you would like to. I hope that I can still show them love, kindness, and grace in spite of what they have done or how they act. It is what Jesus has done for me, I hope to pass it on to these kids.

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webmaster

I agree with Housepop, most people don’t fully consider what they are getting in to, or do it for the wrong reason. I can honestly tell you that after 12 plus years as a houseparent, there is only one good reason to be a houseparent – to help kids. There may be different reasons for wanting to help kids, called by God, service to community, etc, but unless you want to help and do what is best for the children you serve, you will come up with countless reasons to quit.

I also think people lack persistence. This job is VERY, VERY hard and stressful. You have to deal with situations, people and cultures you are not used to dealing with and you have to learn new skills. Being a newbie makes it that much harder, but once you get experience and learn how to react to situations, learn how to work with social workers, judges, psychiatrists, therapists, etc., learn how to work with parents and families that think it is ok to lie, cheat, steal, use drugs, etc., learn how to make a decent meal out of your limited grocery resources, learn how to get to all the different places you have to go, things get easier!! You have to be persistent to work through the tough times at first, to get to the not as tough times later.

You can be performance oriented and do this because I am very much so, you just have to be very careful to use the right scale for measuring. You have to say things like, “Johnny only stole 25 things today, last week he was stealing 30 a day – that’s progress.” “Suzie is now passing two classes, last year she failed them all.” “Johnny is now just calling me an a$$hole, last week he called me a F–king a$$hole.” However, I think most people are unable to do that, and quit because they don’t see enough progress and to be perfectly honest, there are many days I want to also.

I on the other hand don’t believe that being a houseparent is meant to be a lifelong career for most, and I mean MOST people. I honestly don’t see me doing it another 12 plus years. I just wish more people would commit to doing it for a season, whether it be 2 year, 5 years or 10 years. Look at it as a mission. How many missionaries do you know that go on a mission for a lifetime? Most do it for a season and then do something else to recuperate for their next mission. I think houseparenting should be looked at the same way.

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Launchpad

I agree 100% with all the above. This is truly a love/ hate situation and you have no chance of making it long unless you either walk with Christ or are clinically insane.

I love what I do very much; I’ve also never done as much cussing, spitting and loathing about any other occupation as I have about Houseparenting. Emotions get very raw when you start pulling 16 hour days, the kids hate you, admin is crawling down your back about a missing receipt and although you are with your wife 24 hours a day, you haven’t had a conversation that didn’t revolve around a kid in three weeks.

It’s definitely a lifestyle, and I can’t think of any other way I’d rather serve Christ than what I’m doing now. You’ll know after a year if it’s your calling, which is why most couples move on after a year.

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MomforLife

Be prepared to learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to. Being a houseparent exposes all your weaknesses, but your strengths as well. In my opinion you cannot do this ‘job’ without the understanding that only God is in control and only God can provide the strength and resources needed to stay focused, sane and find peace during the mayhem.

Be wise from the beginning to recognize your own needs, if your health deteriorates (and many do because of stress and diet) then you will find it hard to continue in this ministry. I am in the later category now. We moved to a new facility in September and the stress of the move and learning to be a ‘relief’ houseparent has been detrimental to my health.

Being a relief houseparent is more difficult that I imagined. If you don’t have a great relationship with your houseparents, it’s a very stressful arrangement. You expect the kids to test and try your knowledge, but you don’t expect to be in an adversarial relationship with the adults…it undermines your effectiveness with the kids, adds stress you don’t need and makes your relationship with management stressful as well. I’ve been to the ‘quitting’ stage at least 3 times in 4 months due the lack of a good relationship with a set of houseparents. As a full-time houseparent in a former facility with horrible management…I only got to this stage once year!!! An old boss of mine that I deeply respected once said “if you give a man a responsibility, you must also give him the authority to make it work.” This is so true … regular and relief houseparents must have a mutual goal of supporting one another so that they can provide the best care for their kids. Good, kind, supportive communication is imperative to providing long-term consistently healthy environments for our kids.

I don’t mean to sound negative. I cannot imagine my life without this work. I believe it is the most important ministry … if our children have no hope, our world, our future has no hope. Every time I think about quitting, I ask myself “and do what with my life?”… my answer is always the same…this is what I am meant to do.

I do ask for prayers for my health. Recent tests have revealed liver problems that now require more tests. I hate tests. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.

Relief Parents

Ravefamily

Have any of you been relief parents before? We have found a ranch that we love and they are needing relief parents, we are considering this and then when the next house is built we will move in as house parents. Any pros or cons to being a relief parent? Any questions we should ask as we look into this?

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dontlietokids.net

My wife and I we’re full time reliefs for five years between a boys home and a girls home. We loved it, but it was TOUGH! The regular house parents we’re fine people, but they we’re as different as night and day as was working with boys and girls. I’ll think of some questions shortly, but for now just know that full time relief is a very tough job but a good way to start and get to know/understand house parenting. I’ll be honest though. I’ve grown to dislike the full time relief position because I’ve seen it cause way more trouble than it helped. Unless you relieve couples that you like, and agree with nearly all of the time it’s nearly impossible to pull off successfully. You get gossiped about and you wind up gossiping as well because you start to feel unappreciated. Worst of all administration can (and often does) use both the regular house parents and the relief house parents to “spy” on each other. What I mean is that they will ask you about them, and them about you, rather than doing their hob and finding out what each of you do on their own through visits and such.

My last set of relief house parents burned me BAD. They praised me and my wife all of the time to our face but apparently secretly wanted our home. Eventually he took 4-5 girls into the office while we we’re off duty and grilled them trying to find out ANYTHING they didn’t like about us. Later that night he went and asked every single girl in the home questions about us based on anything those 4-5 girls told him. It was crazy! Sadly, that administration supported that kind of stuff. Make certain any place you consider working at as a relief does not support that and will instead come down on any staff that attempt such a thing.

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webmaster

My wife and I did relief for about a year and I absolutely hated it. It takes a special kind of person to be relief staff, and I am not one of them, though I am very for those that are.

Some people love doing relief. I had a former administrator that did relief his entire houseparent career and enjoyed it. In fact he had a hard time relating to regular houseparents because he looked at everything through the eyes of relief staff.

As far as experience goes it could be a very good thing, because you would have a chance to work with different people and see different ways of doing things.

Questions about being a Houseparent

Doug

Hello,

I am new to the forum here and this whole idea of being a houseparent. I have been amazed at the number of opportunities posted out there and how many facilities there are.

Before I get to my questions, I’d like to give you some background. My wife and I have been married 11 years (for each of us it’s our second marriage). We are both Christians, who tried for years to reconcile with spouses that just were not willing. We each brought two children into our marriage and yes I had custody of my two children, so we raised all four together. We now have two in their third year of college and we have two that are in their last year of High School. I have been doing youth ministry (both Jr-Hi and High School with a focus on Jr-Hi age) for 22 years. My wife has a training in Children’s ministry and has joined me in the past 11 years in working with children anywhere from 8 years old through High School (again mostly Jr-Hi age). We both feel strongly led to work with youth in some capacity, but recently have had some doors shut. My passion for youth is born out of a God given gift that allows me to relate very easily with children/youth.

Now, my questions:

With a strong passion to minister to youth, is being a houseparent something that my wife and I could consider?

Is there room for a 44 & 50 year old couple to get started in this area?

What are our choices?

For example, I would assume that there are facilities out there that are associated with denominations that would not allow a divorced & remarried couple to work. Is this assumption correct?

Is the market for workers such that there are more people seeking positions as houseparents than there are positions available? Or, is it such that facilities are finding it hard to fill positions?

I’m not sure if we’d be ready to make a move for a couple of years or so, so my plans for now are to sit by and watch these forums. I hope it’s OK to chime in from time to time with some questions as I’d like to learn as much as I can about this. I’d also like to take Lauchpad’s advice to do some networking and to find out some information about the different facilities out there. We’ve got some more good years left in us and we’d like to do some serious ministry work. The thought that we could move into a full-time position really sounds appealing to us. What do you all think?

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TexPop

Hi Doug. Welcome to the forum. Sorry you’ve not received any responses to your questions yet, but Christmas time is a wild and crazy time for Houseparents, so I assume everyone is running around trying to be 6 places at once like we are.

My wife and I have been doing this for 2 years now – so let me give you my perspective:

I know several houseparent couples that have Youth ministry experience (ourselves included). Some of the experience transfers, but there’s a difference to being with kids a couple times a week and then sending them home vs living with them 24/7 IN their home. You are then responsible for feeding them, discipline, and homework as well as spiritual growth and trying to overcome whatever situation led them here. Another thing – most kids don’t want to be here – at least initially.

This job DEFINITELY is a ministry and if God has led you in this direction it’s your responsibility to pursue it. I really don’t think your divorce history will be a big deal, but expect to speak about it openly and honestly. Your relationship with God as well as your spouse today is what will matter, as well as your health (long days/nights). Couples on my campus range from their 20’s to their 60’s. Some with kids and some without. There are lots of different types of facilities. My wife and I work in a Basic Care Facility. These kids have relatively few emotional/psycological issues and we operate in a mildly structured, family environment. This differs from a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) which may handle kids with more severe problems and be much more structured – as well as may require shift-work for 24hr coverage.

We are in a Christian facility – many are not. Based on the fact that you’re posting here I assume that’s what you’d be interested in. Be sure to check out exactly what a potential facility means if the say they are “Christian based”. Their definition may not line up with yours and this could cause some serious heartache later on.

As for the availability of positions out there vs job seekers – I think you’ll find many, many openings available. Our webmaster can speak to this more directly. I think you should seriously consider Houseparenting. Ask lots of questions. Participate in this forum.

My wife and I love it, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

 

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Launchpad

QUOTE

Is there room for a 44 & 50 year old couple to get started in this area?

IMO, you are in higher demand to a facility than any other age group. Stability is everything in this job. Hopefully by the time you hit your mid forties your getting much of the dynamics of this whole “life thing” down. Your kids should be getting close to leaving home to be on their own and you are probably in a better place financially than a couple that are in their twenties.

Unless you work out a lot and dying for the excitement of working with clinically insane children I would think you may want to look for a non restraint facility.

QUOTE

I would assume that there are facilities out there that are associated with denominations that would not allow a divorced & remarried couple to work. Is this assumption correct?

There may be a few places out there like that. But I also remember something in scripture about forgiveness and what not. I actually think it is one of those things ALL Christians are told to do. If a facility cannot look at you as being in a strong, stable and Godly marriage for the past 11 years you do not want to work for them. People that perfect are bound for hell, and I guarantee nothing the children in their care do will ever measure up to being good enough.

QUOTE

Is the market for workers such that there are more people seeking positions as houseparents than there are positions available? Or, is it such that facilities are finding it hard to fill positions?

There are definitely more positions available than there are couples. It’s not a real romantic job. Between child behaviors, long hours and barely making enough to feed the family in some places, to say there is a high turnover is an understatement. You have to be bi-polar or truly called from God to last in this ministry.

QUOTE

I hope it’s OK to chime in from time to time with some questions as I’d like to learn as much as I can about this.

Heck yeah. They let me run my mouth on here. There is no exact science or program that is perfect in what we do. By you talking on the board we more than likely will learn a great deal from you. Stuff that worked with your own kids and other relationships help us all grow.

Glad your here bro.