Union ??????


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

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

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

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

The Webmaster



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Healthy Bank Account?


I’m not familiar with all the facilities out there but the one we are going to supplies room and board which means pretty much nearly all the income we will make can go towards paying off bills and then saving. I was wondering if this seems a little too farfetched or have many/any of you other houseparenters been able to grow a nest egg? I don’t want to know $  $ amounts, just whether it is feasible or not…thanks.



I am not rich by any means, in fact by worldly standards I am on the lower end of average, however we are more financially secure than at any time during our marriage. We work at a facility that is on the lower end of average as far as pay goes, but all our needs are met. We are building a retirement account, we have a small house we go to on relief that continues to build equity, and I have gained 60 pounds since we became houseparents, so I am surely not hungry.

We also have money left over that we are able to spend on the children in our care, other causes, and people that we can help directly, as well as buy a few neat electronic toys from time to time. It’s very feasible to build a nest egg and work on getting out of debt, but you still have to live within you means. I have known several houseparents that no matter where they work or how much money the make, they are still always broke.

Ten years ago we worked at a facility that paid $900 a month and we were able to pay our bills and feel secure.



Thanks. We have been living within our means for years now, we choked off the use of credit cards a long time ago and made a promise to pay them off and kiss them goodbye once and for all. We are hoping that we can speed this process by applying the extra money to them that won’t normally be spent on utilities and house payments, etc.

We want to be debt free so we have money to bless others with…just as you have said. Thanks for the input.

Staff Quarters


Hi!! This is my first post. I have been working as a relief for almost 2 years. I am wondering what your set up is for staff housing at your facilities. Where I work I spend 2 nights in one house and 2 nights in a different house. The primary houseparents are able to decide whether or not “their” bathroom can be used. In one of the houses people are generous and don’t really care about their bathroom… however in the other house it is a huge deal. What kind of set up do you have? My boss is asking me for some ideas on this as I feel it is silly that we either have to use the kids bathroom in the middle of the night or unset the alarm to go downstairs to use the bathroom. Any ideas??? I’m also wondering how off time housing is assigned. The married couples here get treated much better than the single people… all of the rooms with bathrooms are given to married couples while the single people are stuck living like they are in college again. Any thoughts? Thanks for reading and replying 


Called2workwith youth

This varies greatly from facility to facility. Some places even the couples have to move off campus on their off days, while some places have nice, separate apartments that belong to the houseparents exclusively as long as they are employed there. Assistant’s quarters range from: (one of the places we worked) a bed in the office on the first floor with access to a half bath (had to turn off the alarm to use the shower upstairs in the girls’ bathroom)…to their own room and bathroom (rare).

I personally don’t think I could work in a situation where I had to basically live out of a suitcase. This job is stressful enough without having to pack up to go to off-duty quarters, then pack up to go back to work. I just can’t imagine doing that, and I think facilities that make people do that obviously don’t understand the importance of rest for the houseparents. And the kids are the ones who ultimately suffer, because they don’t get the best from the houseparents.

If they are not already set up for it, I don’t know that there is a good solution, as it would involve remodeling to provide a bathroom for the assistant. Very few, if any, facilities are going to spend the money to do that.

Oh, and welcome to the board!



At the facility I currently work at our relief staff have their own private apartment that they don’t have to share with anybody as their personal quarters while they are not doing relief. When they are on duty covering a cottage they have to be provided with their own bedroom and private bathroom. This can be accomplished by either sharing your bedroom with them (usually the case if you have staff children) or by having a relief room set up.

Until this summer, the relief staff used our room (we have to leave the cottage during relief) while we were gone and both of our birth children had their own room. Our son graduated from high school this year and moved out to the house we own so now we are able to give relief their own room. It is also used as a guest room while we are on duty.

We work a 29 day shift and are off for 6 days. We have to leave the cottage during relief and most houseparents share the relief apartment on campus (It is like a time share, but you bring your own linens.) or stay with friends and family. It is located down the street. We bought us a small fixer upper house in the county school district. It is only about 1100 square feet and was built in the early 70s, but it suits our purposes, has grown in equity, provides me something extra to do during our days off, and allows for our birth children to attend a better school.

The best set up we ever had was a facility we worked at in Texas. We had a private 3 bedroom apartment attached to the cottage. It was great we just went in our space and dead bolted the door. We fully trusted our relief staff so we didn’t have to feel like we needed to be involved with what was happening on the other side of the door and they didn’t allow the kids to bother us when we were on relief. They had their own suite in the cottage that included a bedroom, private bathroom, and a small living room, that came off the cottage office. It was pretty sweet. On top of that, the relief staff had their own private apartment in the staff apartment building. We would probably stayed a lot longer than 5 months there, had it not been for the new administrator that came in the week after we did. He was not a very nice person, and though I felt bad for him when he finally got fired, it was a great thing for the facility.

Our worst living set up was at our first facility. The facility was great as far as the people we worked with, but the living arrangement was rough. My entire family of four lived in one 110 square foot room during the 10 days we were on duty. We also only had one bathroom that was also the guest bathroom for all visitors to the cottage. The facility had a two bedroom apartment that we all shared. The relief staff got one bedroom as their private quarters and the houseparents shared the other bedroom when they were on relief. We were really blessed for most of the time we were there because the one set of relief houseparents allowed our kids to use their room when we were on relief so we all got some space.

There you have it for all the facilities I have worked at, hope it provides you with some information and I think you are a totally awesome person to have done relief for as long as you have with the arrangement you have.

Renters insurance and first interview overview


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 



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.



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.



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.



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.

Vacation Time…


Some of the houseparents at our facility were asked to back a request for more vacation time with some research. Would any of you be willing to post or email your company vacation benefits. We will also have to have the name of your facility for our proposal. So far I have only gotten the info. from Boystown. Thanks for any help.


I work for Grace Children’s Home in Henderson, Nebraska. We work 6 days on, 3 days off. The vacation policy is 2 weeks (10 days) a year up to 2 years of employment. After 2 years, we get 3 weeks (15 days) a year. Hope that’s helpful.

Milton Hershey School (approximates)
12 days on, two days off (100% responsible for coverage if relief not found even if you are scheduled off)
6 weeks off Summer
*1 week Thanksgiving
*2 weeks Christmas
*1 week Easter
5 flex days
Short term disability for sick leave
Long term disability over 3 months
3 Personal days
Family leave for births deaths, severe illness
100% adoption coverage

*must work at least one of the holidays for 1/2 of the break period

Holidays and flex days are bid by seniority

10 month contract

Palmer Home for Children.

Vacation: 10 Days 1-3 Years, 15 days 4-9 years, 20 days 10 or more years.

9 Holidays and personal days each calendar year

12 sick days a year, 4 of which can be used for family sick leave. However, unless you have a real emergency their is nobody to cover your cottage, so sick days are pointless.

29 days on and 6 days off schedule, that is a killer.

You know Plumcrazy, we are union at MHS. We use collective barganing. If you can even informally organize, it helps to sing the same or a similar song as a worker group.

40-54 Hour Work Week. 2 days off a week

Overtime over 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day (time and a half)

Double Time over 48 hours a week double time after 10 hours a day

21 Personal days a year years 1-3 (Sick or Vacation time)

All Federal or State Mandated Holidays off or Double Time if worked. 2 Optional Days chosen based on Personal Beliefs.

Pretty Common in the Thousands of Group Homes throughout California.

What seems to vary is how long you have to be employed for the benefits to kick in. 30 days to 6 months seems common

Milton Hershey School (approximates)

12 days on, two days off (100% responsible for coverage if relief not found even if you are scheduled off)
6 weeks off Summer
*1 week Thanksgiving
*2 weeks Christmas
*1.5 week Easter
10 flex days
Short term disability for sick leave
Long term disability over 3 months
5 Personal days (2 can be taken with spouse)
Family leave for births deaths, severe illness
100% adoption coverage

*must work at least one of the holidays for 1/2 of the break period if under 10 year employee, and for pay

holidays and flex days are bid by seniority


Week on week off.
12 sick days a yr. but is really 24 because week on week off.
Makes my job seem real easy seeing everyone’s schedule.
We have 3 emergency days a yr. for deaths.
Once you’ve worked here for over 5 yrs. you start to accumulate vacation days.

Asking for raise

My wife and I are Houseparents for a wonderful Christian Maternity Home and are asking our Director and Board for a salary increase, we would like some help in knowing what is reasonable. Thank You , in advance for your help.

The Child Welfare League of America has a book on Salary ranges for the social work field. I don’t know if direct care positions are covered or not but it is worth looking at.
Another helpful tool is the poll on this website. It tells you what others are making and what kind of insurance they are getting. Of course it is not scientific but it is still helpful.

Otherwise I would assume you ask for what you need to pay your bills, take care of yourselves and family and put enough aside for retirement. Good luck.


Thank You for the help, I will check out the sources you mentioned. No, we’re definitely NOT in this for the money; we left everything and everybody to follow GOD’S calling on our lives. Our executive director simply asked if I could give her some idea of what other organizations are offering. Thank You and GOD bless.

Medical Insurance


Soooooooo, I’m wondering…..

If we get injured on the job, the company pays for the doctor/hospital visits, correct? We don’t pay out of our pockets if we are injured on the job, correct?

If that is the case, then what is the policy when we are exposed to (from the clients) and become infected with diseases, invasive or not? Say, for instance…RINGWORM! Say that a houseparent contacted ringworm from a client several months ago and is still battling outbreaks….some of which now appear on the face. Some of them SCAR. Is this considered a on the job “injury?”

What is your organization’s policy?


It is true that if you are injured on the job, it should be covered by Worker’s Compensation. Sicknesses are not usually covered- I’m not sure how Ringworm would be classified.

A few years ago when I was playing football with the kids, I injured my back and it was covered by Worker’s Compensation.

But last year at another organization, several of the girls in our home had the flu and the doctor prescribed all of the girls Tamiflu to help prevent the others from getting it (all the girls were covered by Medicaid). The admin wanted my husband and I to get the medication too so that we wouldn’t get sick- but it would be $60 per person for the prescription. So we didn’t do it- and praise the Lord didn’t get sick.

So I don’t know about the ringworm- but these are just my thoughts


You really need to contact the person that administers your workers Comp Policy. The admin at your facility should have that information.

I would imagine that policies on illnesses would be so varied from facility to facility that it would be of little help in your situation.

I can tell you that at the facility I work at and all previous facilities I have worked at, illnesses were my responsibility regardless of how I contracted it. I am thankful that the facility I currently work at provides medical insurance that covers most of our expenses and also a medical savings plan that allows us to pay non-covered expenses with pre-tax dollars.

You will also find that at most facilities personal property is also at risk. I have had several things damaged or stolen in the 9+ years I have been a houseparent and in most cases there was no restitution.

I also found out recently that some facilities are exempt from unemployment insurance. I know of an organization that recently closed a facility and because they were a religious non-profit organization they were not required to pay into the unemployment fund. Their laid off workers had no coverage and were on their own. That is something people should know when they accept a position. You don’t expect the facility you are working for to close, but it can happen. The first facility I ever worked for in about one year went from being in the best financial situation it has ever been to closed because of funding.


My place of employment covers EVERYTHING and not one dime ever comes out of your pay check.

2 Homes? Do You Keep Your House?


Have any of you houseparents kept your home? Is it possible to pay your bills at home & at your home/job?


My wife and I have a home. The facility that we work at does not provide a private apartment for houseparents. When they go on relief they have to pack up and move to the relief apartments.

We found that we didn’t enjoy living out of suit cases and plastic tubs all the time so we purchased a small fixer upper. It serves several purposes:
When we go on relief we only have to pack our daily wear clothing.
It provides therapy for me to work on when we are on relief.
It provides a sanctuary for us and our birth children away from the home and the daily hustle and bustle of the home.
It provided a home for one of the girls that grew up at the home we work at that aged out (She is getting her own apartment next month)
It at times seems like a burden:
Like when I have to find an afternoon sometime during my 29 day shift to get out and mow the lawn.
When something major breaks and I have to come up with the money to fix it (Like the $1800 I had to come up with last spring when my drain field clogged)
When I write my mortgage and tax check every month for a house I spend 6 days out of every 5 weeks in.
The good thing is that it is a very good investment and has appreciated almost 50% in the two years we have had it because of the work we have done. And when we retire we will have our own place, something very few long term houseparents have at the end of their service.

As far as whether somebody else can afford to do it; I think it depends on the facility you work at and the housing market in which you live. It’s pretty easy for me in rural Mississippi, but if I lived in San Diego, where my dad is, I don’t think I could afford a box under the overpass. Also the last facility we worked at we never could afforded it, we just didn’t make enough


We would like to keep our home in Ohio because our daughter will need somewhere to stay while she finishes college. She can’t afford rent on a part-time fast food income. We would also like to come back “home” on our time off to be closer to family. I always like to have backup plan–with 2 children at home, you just have to have one!


We have a home that we own and go to during our off time. We have a week on/week off schedule so it really works for us. Sometimes though it is aggravating since we go out of town so much so we don’t really get to have “home” time often.

As Michael stated, it is great to have an investment. Our home has appreciated 100% (Florida) since when we bought it in 2002.

We set our water heater on vacation mode, up the air conditioning so it won’t run the whole time we are gone. Our utilities are not that bad considering what they used to be when we both worked “normal” 9-5 jobs.

Hope you figure things out!

Houseparent Expenses


Since housing, utilities & food are taken care of for houseparents, what is left to use the income on? I know there are things like personal hygiene, clothes, personal vehicle/gas expenses, etc. But, we have to take care of those now with the major expenses on the income we get now from my husband’s job (which seems to be about the same as allot of houseparenting positions). Are there any other expenses (major or minor)??? I want a good life for the house children, but I want to make sure my birth children have a good life also.


Well, you ask a good question and make me feel a little guilty for spending the kind of money that I do. My wife and I own a 2005 Chrysler Crossfire and a 1997 Chevy Blazer. Payments on those are very high (especially the Crossfire). Other places we spend money is on food. Yes, we can eat here but I am a very picky eater and my wife uses the Atkins diet so we end up buying our own groceries most of the time. (But we do eat with the kids!) I am talking about lunch (when kids are in school) or other times when the kids aren’t here, etc.

I also pay for high speed internet on my computer. I have to use satellite because the house we are in won’t carry the cable connection. It’s sickeningly expensive and I may drop it. I also have Direct TV hooked up in my apartment. We have a nice plasma TV and I want a high def signal with as many channels as I can get (especially sports).

When we are off duty we like to try and go OUT. Since we are so often shut up in this house or on this campus we have a strong desire to go somewhere and do something entertaining so we tend to spend a nice amount of cash on entertainment. This also happens on our vacations, we like to take NICE ones.

But, if you are disciplined, don’t need a new car, don’t need to buy your own food (especially this one!!!), and don’t need other “nice” things, you can save a TON of money, especially where I work. As for the kids in the house, we get a budget (on a credit/debit card) to take care of them with. I do spend small amounts of my personal money on them from time to time but it’s nothing much and certainly not enough to worry about.


My race is on rain delay so I will take time to answer this question now instead of later.

Besides our house that we keep, most of our other income goes to our children. School, clothing, orthodontic work, camp, birthdays, Christmas, etc. My 6th grade daughter wants to go to Norway as an exchange student when she is a Jr, so we are now saving for that.

We travel on vacation once a year, I have an old Pick-up and small fishing boat, a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, a retirement account and a savings account. Compared to most of society we live a somewhat modest lifestyle

We do spend a good amount on the children in our cottage. I have a payroll deduction that goes into a special fund for cottage activities. I also spend close to $200 a month for cottage stuff like Lunchables for field trips, Gatorade for field days and sports events, as well as special groceries that we are unable to get from the food service people. We have some kids that really enjoy steak and shrimp; I can’t afford to take them out and the kitchen won’t provide it, so I buy the groceries and cook it at the cottage occasionally.

I will also spring for pizza every now and then and have been known to purchase a DVD or two a month for our cottage movie library.

The savings in being able to eat at the home, use their hot water and electricity, burn their gasoline, and washing with their shampoo, soap, laundry detergent and toothpaste makes a huge difference in what we are able to spend our salary on or not spend on and save. I don’t mind using the cheap stuff, but others do and will by their own stuff.

I have also known many houseparents that don’t pay anything out of their pockets for cottage expenses, which is their choice as well as houseparents that spend a bunch more than we do, you just have to make your choice.