Consequences I need ideas for Consequences!!!

theknowles 

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


Seamus 

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

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

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

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


Launchpad 

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

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

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


theknowles 

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

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


Karing4Kids 

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


Coach4HIM 

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


MomforLife 

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


 bradykim 

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

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


webmaster 

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

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


Craig Bridges 

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

Don’t believe everything you hear

dontlietokids.net 

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

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

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


webmaster 

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

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

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


dontlietokids.net 

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


Launchpad

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

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

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

A Valuable Lesson!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dating in your home

dontlietokids.net 

Do you allow your kids to bring their boyfriends or girlfriends into your home? I’ve met many house parents who are proud that a member of the opposite sex has NEVER entered their home.

This puzzles me. Have we never been teenagers before? Have we forgotten what dating was like? The house parents who don’t allow bf/gf to visit in their home always talk about raging hormones and such, but that’s exactly why I do allow my girls boyfriends to visit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I make them stay in a public place. I check on them frequently, and I always get to know the boy, telling them my expectations. I get involved with my girls relationships offering advice and opinion as much as possible.

Look, if you never allow your kids to date, if they can’t bring home this person they THINK they love, what do you think they will do? So often they will end up in the bushes somewhere. What’s more scary still is that you can set up a “Romeo and Juliet” relationship where the kids think “it’s us against the world” and then you’re asking for even bigger trouble.

I suggest the following.

1) Get to know the person your child likes.

2) Invite them over, talk to them, lay down ground rules.

3) Let the bf/gf know that you are involved in your kids lives and that can be good or bad for them, it’s up to them.

4) Talk frequently to your kids about why you do what you do and what you expect from them in return.

5) Supervise, interact, and walk around like a warden when the visits happen. I am very relational with my kids, but when their boyfriends visit I don’t care if I act like a prison guard (lol). I care about my kids too much to allow anything to happen, but I also care to much to ban bf’s from my house because I KNOW the result of that approach.

At least think about it..


webmaster 

This may surprise some people considering the history I have with Adam but I 100% agree with him on this one.

In addition I would like to add that I feel much better when my son’s girlfriend is here than when he is out with her, because when they are here I know nothing inappropriate is happening. Same goes for kids I’ve had in the past and also in the future when our daughter and other children become old enough to be immune to cooties.


Launchpad 

I know sooner or later I will be dealing with this issue. At present I have no kids that are at the dating stage, but we are getting close. It’s kinda one of those things Iv’e taken for granted. I really don’t even know our policy on it- but will be finding out shortly after seeing this post.

What are the guidelines set in the house? Sitting on the couch together or different seats?

What are the limits of personal display of affection?

How do you handle (or do you) off campus dates, for example movies?

Just the nature of what we do, supervision has to be a constant. I am very curious as to how to effectively balance the supervision and personal space with teens that are at the next level of developing a healthy relationship with the opposite gender. I believe a lot of facilities choose to not even allow a dating relationship to happen because of the above mentioned concerns and the unmentioned but obvious sexual concerns.


dontlietokids.net 

I let our girls sit with their boyfriends. I must be able to see their head and hands at all times.

I try and make other kids sit in the same room with them when at all possible. I often try and have double dates in the home, not just ONE couple in a room by themselves.

PDA can be no more than one arm around a shoulder or a head (high) on a shoulder. That’s it.

Off campus dates are granted based on trust, level of student (we have levels where I work that kids earn by behavior and attitude), and their willingness to allow me to know about their relationship and talk to me and or my wife about it.


Launchpad 

Thanks!

I do like the level achievement systems. It really gives kids something to work towards and a little easier on staff discussions as to which kids qualify to do what without all the drama a treatment team can muster. Kind of makes me long for the ole’ Boys Town Achievement levels.

Cool topic- Looking forward to going back on shift and finding out where we stand on the dating issue.


Called2workwith youth
Have any of you had to deal with the kids that put on a real good facade of being good and trustworthy and all that, just to get on the highest level. Then once they do and get the privilege of going in town on a date, they get caught having sex and get dropped. That seemed to happen a lot at the place we worked at.

I agree teens should be allowed to date, but there should definitely be supervision.

A Trip to the Store!

Today we made a trip to that really big nationwide discount department store. That normally would be no big deal and is something that houseparents all over the country do on a regular basis; however we decided to take all the children with us while we did our shopping. The children in our cottage range in age from 4 to 11 so you can only imagine what it was like with their whole focus on trying to get us to buy stuff they wanted and visit the departments they find most enjoyable.

Thinking back to my early days of houseparenting is wasn’t any more fun to do the trip with teenagers. I remember walking into the store with our kids and the first words you hear over the PA system is something like, “All departments on zone defense” which meant, “Here come the group home kids, make sure they don’t shoplift.” The easy thing to do would be to just leave the kids at home with your spouse and avoid all the hassles of taking them to a public place. That is the choice we usually make, but I have to ask, “If you never take your kids out into public, how will they ever learn how to behave in public?”

Our kids weren’t perfect but they are one step closer to knowing that you can go to the store without getting everything you ask for, that you are expected to behave in public places, and that things don’t just come from the kitchen or supply room. In a few weeks we will recover from this trip and do it again so that they can learn even more.

We should all remember that the easiest way of doing things isn’t always the best way, especially when it deprives the children in our care an opportunity to learn.


 rachel

That is awesome advice! The easy way is not always the best way.

Here is a little praise report about the whole grocery shopping with kids thing…

We have six teenage girls in our home. My husband and I do all the shopping for the facility we work at (there are only two bunkhouses to shop for right now though). We usually shop during the school day. Well, since school has been out, we have been taking the girls shopping with us every week.

The first week – nightmare!! Two girls got into a LOUD argument with each other, one girl was lost for a while, two girls run down the aisles screaming “mommy, daddy”, and one girl is found laying on her stomach on the ground trying to find spare change under the coke machines!!!! My husband was mortified – vowed to never step foot into Walmart with this group of Neanderthals again.

Well, he did not stick to his promise and we returned the next week. We wore bags over our heads so that we could not be recognized – but things went much better this go round.

In the following weeks, we began to divide the shopping list. Each girl is assigned a shopping partner, and they are given a portion of the list. The girls go and get the assigned items, and then we meet back at the front. I check their carts and we check out. Throughout the experience, we all communicate with walkie talkies.

I now love to shop with the girls. They make things sooo much easier on us. Sometimes, my husband and I will even sit in the snack bar for a “Walmart date” while the girls do the shopping! I am sad that school has started and we will have to go back to shopping without them.

Moral of the story – don’t take the easy way out with your kids. Put in the time and effort up front, then sit back and reap the rewards!!

BUSTED!

Launchpad

 We caught one of our boys sneaking a dip of snuff in the rest room the other night. Immediately he spit out what he had and went directly to the family couch and had a seat (He is familiar with the drill) while we tossed his room. We found a can in his room and finished up the search. We then went into my office to have a talk and discuss the ramifications of this new discovery.

A few minutes into our discussion, I noticed he was becoming very uncomfortable. Since this was not exactly the first time we had this little talk I figured something was going on. I then saw him swallow VERY hard. I knew then he had another dip in.

Instead of making him spit it out, I decided to have a little fun. I figured he had either a lot of courage to try and sneak a dip into my office or he just plum lost his mind. I started asking him how he was feeling and trying to get him to talk (Every question I asked caused him to swallow more tobacco juice in order to answer). After about ten minutes I noticed he was sweating and not looking very well. I then proceeded to go into how great men can overcome obstacles, the history of tobacco which somehow led into Valentine’s Day (?) and Nazi occupied France. This was a good twenty minute roll. By this time he was wiping tears out of his eyes.

He finally lost it when I grabbed my bible and asked him if he knew what Proverbs had to say on our discussion. He jumped for the trash can coughing and gagging.

He apologized, confessed and told me he had a dip in, and swore never to touch the stuff again (Which I doubt). Needless to say my yard should be looking good by the time he gets done raking next week. He is also very confused about France now.

When You’re off…..

momofmany

When you’re off duty for respite how does your house run? The same, better or worse. We just took time off with new relief people and our kids ran our house, and not in a good way. Any tips on how you handle this?

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TexPop

I’ve dealt with this too. It makes it almost more stressful to go off-duty than staying on. In our situation, our off-duty apartment is attached to the cottage – so we’re always here.

We’ve made a cottage handbook, specifically for the Relief Houseparents, which includes our rules and practices as well as a handbook on the kids so the Relief knows what to expect from each child. This also includes things like daily cottage routines and generally-used consequences. On our very first meeting with the Relief we reviewed this handbook at length.

If the problems observed don’t pertain to the health and well being of the kids then I wait until our “changeover meeting” to discuss it with the relief Houseparents. Make a list with specifics and review them in your meeting. There may be a need for a “shadowing” period so the Relief can understand what you mean. All in all, it will depend on the attitude and receptiveness of the Relief. I would definitely be prepared to raise the issue with the campus administrator if problems persist. This is another good reason to document specific examples.

Also, I tell the kids that I will continue to hold them responsible for following the well-known rules of the cottage – even though I may be off-duty.

-TexPop

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momofmany

The guys know we hold them accountable, it just seems this time they went wild. I don’t know what it was. The notes from the people covering were not good, which I have taken up with my supervisor. I know I am a control freak, and that does not help, but the house was a wreck, the kids were horrible. Everyone on campus knew what my kids had done and that we were off. I think that coming back on was the most frustrated I had been. Our apartment attaches to the house, but we had made a quick trip out of town. It has been hard just trying to get them back on track.

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Launchpad

Awesome tip with the cottage handbook Texpop!

If there has been serious problems with respite I have talked with the respite to find out what’s going on, (Maybe the kids are giving them an extra hard tim) try to resolve the issue and if that does not work, it’s time to take it up the chain with the supervisor for satisfaction.

I’m also a bit of a control freak so I’ve had to learn to just live with some stuff and recognize some people have different expectations. Just cause the cereal bowls ended up in the wrong cabinet does not mean I need to get ugly on the relief.

Kids (even your most trustworthy kid) will hustle any adult that is not with them full time. Kinda like substitute teacher day in school. A cottage handbook like Texpop is talking about should reduce much of the drama.

I use to really hate going on respite because it seemed like we had to start over from scratch every time we came back on. Anytime there is a flux in the schedule it sends a lot of kids into a tail spin. Unfortunately in this setting it is not possible for a facility to keep the same HP’s in the house 24- 7, 365 days a year without a break. So the house spinning up is going to be reality no matter what we do. The only thing we can do is try to minimize the spinning as much as possible. Set rules and very, well defined boundaries that are strictly followed by the respite help a great deal. If the respite is not willing to do that- It will be bad for everyone.

 I have only worked with one lady that was absolutely horrible at being respite. Kids allowance came up missing and groceries would just vanish. She did not last long. Most of the respite couples I worked with were awesome. Glad I don’t live that life!

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webmaster

Relief is a necessary evil of residential childcare, which by the way I am very much enjoying at the moment, and will always cause some disruption with the children and staff when it happens. I used to be really uptight about everything being perfect with the kids and relief staff but have come to realize it’s not going to be.

I do however very much agree with Texpop that holding the children responsible for their behavior whether or not you are there goes a long way in helping the situation. Our kids know that if they try to manipulate the relief staff and do things they are not supposed to we will give them consequences on top of whatever relief staff gave them.

It’s also much better when you have consistent relief staff. Our kids don’t try to get over on regular relief staff near as much as they do, when we have vacation relief staff covering the cottage. I think familiarity with the children is one of the top stabilizing factors with the children. When relief staff knows the children and what the rules are things seem to go better.

You also have to consider the frequency that there seems to be chaos. Even with good relief staff, fair and consistent rules, and great relationships between the kids and staff, there are going to be those times when the kids seem to just flip out and that’s when you hammer them when you get back. Our kids seem to do it about once a year. If it’s happening every relief then there is probably a problem with staff (either you or relief), or the program.

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bakergirl

Our kids love testing relief. They will pull stuff that doesn’t even sound like them. It’s pretty sad. I just consistently tell them “we know what you did” and give consequences. I think it will eventually settle down when the relief has been here for awhile.

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Seamus

I know that everyone has complaints about relief – including myself – and how the house is messy when you come back and the kids are a struggle, but think about it from the kids perspective as well. When we are at the home, the kids feel safe, protected, and structured. Each of these is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the life that they have come from. Each of these kids have been abandoned, abused, left, ripped out of homes and thrown into new ones. They finally start letting their defenses down with us because we have provided a safe and structured home environment for them. They can learn to be the “responsible” kids that we see each day. Well, when we up and leave every month or two weeks or whatever our schedule is, it is just like when mom left or dad left or those foster parents they were with for two days that they were never able to trust and build a relationship with. OF COURSE all those old behaviors – that we don’t see anymore – start coming out again. It’s their way to cope – they are putting their defenses back up. This is especially true if the relief is inconsistent or constantly changing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT excusing the behavior AT ALL. We do give consequences when we come back for things that might have happened, but ‘s sometimes good to think of it from the kids perspective as well.

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glidenhi

Well I guess I feel mostly for the kids, cause they are the ones that have multiple bosses. They are the ones that have to switch gears if there isn’t consistency. Have you ever worked in the business world and had two bosses who do things differently? I have…and it’s the pits!

 I believe the secret to a wholesome household…be it a regular family or a group family….is unity among those that run the house. It is rare. Just like a wife and husband are one in marriage and better present a united front to the children; houseparents….all of the houseparents…had better be married in purpose and understand each other and come up with a compromise/unified plan that works for the household. The main houseparents should have an outline of each child’s character traits and strengths and weaknesses and a plan for building/redeeming each child with progress reporting. All other houseparents should add to and maintain the outline/plan/progress. Part of the completion of any stay at the house should be an update to the plan and a meeting in the changeover to assure that the plan is still unified and on track. If that takes meeting in the office on the morning of the changeover, then so be it.

Too often, I saw no plan and no unity and no coordination going on. I saw a lot of turf protection and keeping of secrets, though. I saw kids that were being punished for bad behavior with no explanation of how they could repair the confidence of the houseparents. They weren’t given satisfactory encouragement when they demonstrated the type of behavior that would lead to their redemption. As a result, kids that already had little hope of being well thought of would despair quickly. I believe that a clear visible path to redemption with help and encouragement along the way is the only thing that will bring hope and results. In my opinion, duplication of punishment by houseparents just destroys credibility for the other houseparents.

I’ve seen what happens when kids have to make changeover under those circumstances…..after being full of life and joy, …..about an hour before the changeover, ….they would all go quietly into the living room and sit down and become silent. As you would go in to bid them goodbye, they would be as stiff as a board and not even respond. How could you not have compassion for them.

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JonNDeb

At times we hate to get off. we only ask to have off one weekend out of the month. As we like to stay on duty. and in our home. as that is what it is and every time we leave it is like leaving our home, bed, stuff… etc. The Kids will always try to play the houseparents for the weekend. Getting away with anything and everything. We have just gotten a family who fills in when we are away once a month we have started to trust and enjoy and fill better with leaving and knowing that the house will not be burned down when we get back. We still have a few days when we get back getting the kids back on track but things are getting better.

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missy

Sometimes I wish I had not even taken off because it takes DAYS to get the house back to “normal”. Please pray for our new respite; there fruit isn’t producing a good crop.

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Karing4Kids

It’s pretty much a given fact that it’s going to happen. Sometimes the kids do things just to see how we react. Usually after a couple of days things return to normal and then you can start worrying about the next time your going to be off. I’ve worked with good relief and also with the bad. I’ve found that if you try not to make too big of a deal out of it the kids seem to do better. Try to find something good that the relief did and praise them for that. Don’t let the kids know your feelings or they will play them like a cheap banjo! Hang in there and try enjoy your time off. If you’re worrying while you’re gone then you’re not really getting the rest that you need. 

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missy

It really isn’t the kids, it’s the house. Everything is moved, including our stuff on the computer being deleted. Our ministry only allows Christian music, which our boys love & our respite is listening to 80’s heavy metal & even told our kids that’s what we had the radio on but, they knew better. 30 minutes after we leave the petty cash is spent on food that they, not the kids, like. They also live close by & I don’t think they even go to church. They have stated they would never be full time houseparents but are respite for 2 homes with 12 + days off a month. Please pray for all of us.

How do you let them go?

Seamus

Hi Everyone!

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

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

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

Thanks in advance for any help.

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webmaster

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

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

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Seamus

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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dmitchell_00

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

Fly With Christ

Suicide Watch

momofmany

Have you ever had a kid in your care on “Suicide watch”? What preventive measures do you take? Any idea on the best way to talk with them? Any help would be appreciated.

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webmaster

In all the facilities that we have worked at, we did not do “Suicide watches.” If they threatened suicide or we suspected it was a possibility, they would be taken to the emergency room and evaluated by a mental health professional. If needed they were admitted and watched by the hospital or mental health facility.

If they were just manipulating they came back and in most cases never tried that again.

I am thankful for having administrators that are aggressive in dealing with that.

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TexPop

I’d have to agree with WM on how we handle suspected suicide “attempters” at our facility too. I HAVE had times when I needed to keep a close watch on kids because of other behavior issues. In these cases, we’d do an intensive room sweep and then remove the bedroom door (they could change cothes in the bathroom).

What kind of measures are you having to take? Is this normal at your facility? Is there training provided?

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momofmany

I don’t think it happens too often, it is just one of those where the ER does not think they need further psych eval, however, the facility is more cautious. I have wonderful support. We keep them line of sight AT ALL TIMES. We often times get “Night Coverage” so that we do not have to be awake all night. I think my facility has some of the best training out there, and luckily our supervisors are available by hand held radio. I have dealt with a lot of abused kids, but it seems that three times in the last three months I have had one with suicidal ideation. Our bedrooms don’t have doors, so that is not an issue. Almost everything is taken away during these times and we do a lot of talking with the resident. It just breaks my heart that this is the thought of a teenager.

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Launchpad

The first facility we worked in was a much higher care facility. When/ if the kid made a suicide gesture or statement we would call the therapist or ambulance (Depending on how serious the attempt was). The therapist would make a decision on whether the kid needed to be placed back to the children’s psych ward (Where most came from to our facility).

IF the kid came back- Any objects that could cause harm where taken out, which meant more or less everything. Given enough time to think about it, you can kill yourself with pert near anything. Over night staff would keep watch on the kid.

I have never had to deal with a suicide attempt since I got married and my wife and I moved to another facility. Since then, suicide statements that kids have made would be reported, we would talk to the kid briefly but we also don’t make a big deal about it. Most of the time it is a negative attention seeking thing and the more emotional you get the more adventurous they get.

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.

In the public

sonshine_mom

I just wanted to know if anyone else deals with their kids in the public, i.e., schools, etc.

Our program is more of a foster home-type setting. These kids go to public school (not a very good public school), are able to go to friend’s houses and spend the night, able to go on outings by themselves, etc. They have A LOT of freedoms. This proves very difficult in keeping outside influences from filtering in. Each day it seems like we have to remind them of their language and their attitude. Each day we argue with them about the privileges “regular” families have (like cell phones, etc.). It is a battle.

One of our kids absolutely does not want to be in this program so he is protesting by not eating anything in the home. He does not eat lunch at school and then does not eat breakfast and maybe only eats a few bites for supper because he does not want ANYTHING from our program. He protests about not being able to have his own money to carry around on him or have cell phones; definitely feels entitlement and thinks he’s better than the others in the program. I feel he needs humbled pretty bad–LOL. The other kids in the home do not like him because of his behaviors toward the houseparents and to peers. He has a bad choice of friends at school and brings home this bad attitude. He is 16 so, you know, he thinks he should have all the freedoms of an adult! LOL. It’s just so frustrating as a houseparent to have this many outside influences.

We will be dropping the bomb to him tonight and his privileges probably over the next week will be null due to his behavior. He does not want to sign forms to be in the program (which require his signature) AND last night we caught him throwing out clothes that our facility bought him (luckily we dug them out of the trash and saved them). Like I said, it will be like jail for him over the next week due to his behavior.

Do you guys have any similar problems?

Thx!

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webmaster

We work in a residential foster care home and the children we have the most difficulty getting adapted to living in our home are the ones that come when they are older. For the majority of the older kids they have had little or no supervision prior to coming to live with us and find it very difficult adapting to the structure. On top of that they attract to the very same kind of kids at school, so they believe that all kids are just allowed to do whatever they please, to go where they wish, anytime they wish.

They don’t understand that in normal families, there is structure and boundaries, and have a hard time adapting to it. What makes it easier, is having a good sponsor program, where they can spend time with families in the community that are stable so they can see there are families that have structure and boundaries.

My personal feelings are that facilities that are more foster care than they are therapeutic need to make provisions for the kids to be able to earn money, be able to carry money, and use their money even on things like cell phones. In our facility all our older kids are allowed to have money, and once they are in high school can get prepaid cell phones provided they are responsible with them. I think foster care facilities need to provide for the normal things of life as much as possible to include things like Internet access, phones, outings, dates, school sports, etc.

As for your 16 year old, be patient. I think I would use some serious restrictions like you describe. He will eventually get hungry enough to eat, and will run out of other things to wear and start to settle in, or do something bad enough to be sent home or somewhere else or possibly run away, which result in the same thing. Either way it will get easier.

Kids Hurting Animals lying and other stuff

tigersfan

I haven’t posted in awhile but I am always looking at the forums so here is a couple of situations that I would appreciate some feedback on:

1)The new girl, seven years old, in our house threw our dog, a toy poodle, down tonight and now he won’t put any weight on his back left leg. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do for a consequence? My wife almost went through the roof when it happened.  The new girl refuses to do what we ask of her. She was only here a week and was banned from petting, holding, walking or anything related to the dog because of the way she mistreated him. I can honestly say that she has been in time out and has lost just as many privileges than any other kid in our house, and she has only been here for a month and a half.

2) We have a girl in our house that about 80% of what she says is a lie. We catch her in lie, after lie, after lie. I know she is doing it for attention and she wants us to favor her more than the other girls. But it is getting to where we can’t believe anything she says anymore.

Any thoughts that you guys have I would appreciate. 

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Launchpad

Best thing you can do in regards to the dog- don’t freak out. Be very calm when giving consequences and talking about the event with her. This may help to keep her from seeking negative attention.

Sounds like she has some very serious issues and needs therapy- now. Animal abuse is a very big red flag with adolescent behavior.

I have only had two kids that would try to harm our pets. One of them was trying to impress the other boys and the other was deeply disturbed. In any case, working and living in residential child care means you have to expect the worst at all times. I love animals, but I wouldn’t get overly attached to the dog if I were you. Your living in an environment where you may wake up one morning and find the poodle laying in the middle of a chalk outline and three kids standing around playing “CSI”.

QUOTE

2) We have a girl in our house that about 80% of what she says is a lie. We catch her in lie, after lie, after lie. I know she is doing it for attention and she wants us to favor her more than the other girls. But it is getting to where we can’t believe anything she says anymore.

Every fib you catch her on, tell her and give out a consequence. Every time you suspect she is lying, tell her and give a consequence. You don’t need concrete proof to give a child a response cost for suspecting they are lying. It is a tough behavior to correct, but eventually she will get tired of being accused of lying every time she opens her mouth and being given a consequence.

Pets in the House

rachel

We are starting our job as houseparents on January 2. We have a five pound dog and a cat – both stay indoors. Our administrator has given us the okay to bring the pets to live in the house with us. Should we be concerned about the safety of our pets – living in a home with trouble teenaged girls?

I know that this is an ugly question to ask, and I apologize in advance. But hey, if you’ve read the “diary of a childcare worker” then you saw the cat that was hanging from a noose!

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webmaster

You are fortunate to be allowed to have a pet, most facilities have stopped allowing pets.

Our facility also allows pets, though we don’t have one now. We have to leave the cottage when we go on relief, and don’t want to move pets anymore, but when we had them, we found that the children were very nurturing toward them for the most part. Even our Juvenile Delinquent children in Wyoming.

The only issue I have ever had with children and pets was with my Cockatiel. We had a group of boys in one cottage that teased it, and it became mean. I lost all my cats (4 total) to stray dogs. They would get out of the house and never come back.

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dontlietokids.net

Yep! No pets allowed where I am.

As for the kids, most times the only child you have to watch out for will be the mean child you can spot a mile away. From my experience, they are rare unless you’re going to a very troubled facility (meaning they take on especially hard cases).

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Housepop

All three homes that we have worked at have allowed pets. Our first dog a cocker spaniel always knew which child needed a little extra loving or when a new child came into the house he was always there next to them. He became an important part of our team. Always giving special attention to someone who needed him to love on them. Sometimes Spud,( he was the runt of the litter and looked like a little tater) would just adopt someone for the day and follow them around the house and love on them until they didn’t need him any longer and then he would return to my wife’s side where he spent most of his time. The unconditional love a pet can sometimes make a difference in a child’s life. Our current dog Bogart is really good at checking the rooms when the girls are out for the day, he is real good at finding notes they have hidden or socks that they hide under the bed that they didn’t want to put away like instructed. He has also found a candy stash or two, so the girls have learned that if we don’t find it Bogart probably will. Pets can add such joy to a house that we have found that the children have responded very will to having them around. Neither dog was ever hurt by any of the children we have had in 3 different homes and 10years of house parenting. Just blessed I guess. 

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bakergirl

I agree with the others. The home we spent time at had teenage girls and they LOVED the family dog. I think unless you go to a very high level care facility you will be fine. We are taking our Brittany (formerly called brittany spaniel) and are looking forward to watching her take care of the kids. She was a rescue dog so I think she will fit in perfect. I’ve seen her change attitudes between my dh and a small child so I know she will be great with the kids. I don’t worry about her safety because she knows danger from a mile away. Animals are so instinctual I bet your pets will be fine. Another idea is to email another hp couple that has pets and see how their animals are doing (I mean a hp couple from your facility).

One thing we do that might help keep them safe is to make sure they sleep in your room. Our Brittany does that anyway because she needs the contact but that would add an extra bit of protection.

Congrats on the job! We start our first job Jan 8th so I bet we have similar stories soon!

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Launchpad

We have a dog and a cat mixed in with six boys. I agree with everyone else here that the pets are an awesome addition and for the most part the kids are great with them, but stay vigilant on ALL shots and vaccinations. Keep the paper work in the office of the house or somewhere close you can pull them out if asked. I have never had any issues with a state inspection asking for the copies but I figure I have them if the man comes knocking. It would also come in handy if a kid ever got bitten or scratched.

When we were up north the kids were actually calmer when the dog was around. We had a boy that would always calm down when he could pet the dog. He started learning the dog would only sit with him if he was calm.

We have had a boy here throw the cat over the stair banister into the basement. The cat was fine but the other boys wanted to throw him over the banister. No issues since then. 

The only other animal issue I have heard of was a couple of kids at my old facility dumped a quart of 10w-40 they snagged out of a staff members truck, into the houses aquarium (30 gallon). The aquarium got smashed a few months later from a flying projectile. I have no idea what happened to the fish, but it probably wasn’t good.

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bakergirl

Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat. My dh wanted to get a big aquarium for our house. We have two and when the fish have babies (which is often), every kid that comes over sits staring at them. We thought it would be good for the kids but that scares me a lot. Our kids are going to be basic care- I wonder if this will be an issue…

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Launchpad

If you’re allowed to have an aquarium and want to get one for you and your kids- do it.

I have come to the realization that everything I own and hold near and dear to me will not make into eternity with me. We do have a nice apartment aside from the house, but we choose to hang all of our family pictures and knick-knacks throughout the house. I even have a key wind clock my grandfather made sitting on the mantle in the house.

Have any of my personal belongings been broken? Yep, it sure has. It has also taught me what is really important. I loved Grandpa, but if the clock gets broke, the clock gets broke. I think Gramps would be more honored that I’m doing my best to make a home for kids who need it rather than putting his craftsmanship in the attic. All the knick-knacks my wife and I have collected tell a story. Every kid in the house knows the stories, just like my own bio kids will. We take pictures of the kids and hang them along with all of our bio families, there is no separation between the two. The kids have really liked it, and to date they have not messed with or broken any heirlooms, pictures or knick-knacks. They have treated it with respect because it has become part of their story as well. But I am fully prepared for something to get demolished.

The things that have been busted up of mine have been a laptop and a cell phone. Both of those got thrown by a kid at the last facility. I also like nice pens and they disappear frequently (At least they are working on penmanship!)

My philosophy is this job is your life. It’s a mixture of the professional and the emotional. If God has truly called you, how much are you willing to lay down to follow that voice? Ask yourself if a kid destroyed everything you owned and the facility was two weeks late in paying you, would you still be a house parent? There is enough that happens in a week that would make me want to explore other professions and ministries, but I can’t. I have only been doing this work now for about three years. in that short amount of time I bet I have seen 50 people (admin and hp’s) quit who were “Called by God”.

True story- My wife and I were talking with a lady who had just started about two days before. We were at the kitchen table and she was talking about how God specifically called her to work at the facility. She about had me in tears with her testimony. She walked out of the house, got in her car, and began to pull out. A baseball from the house next door hit her windshield and cracked it (accidentally). She got out of the car, screamed at the kid and left. The next day we were informed she quit. 

Share your life with the kids, don’t hold back. It will probably cause an early death from all the stress of putting it on the line every day, but at least you can go with the knowledge your relatives won’t have to fight over what’s left of your estate after being a house parent for thirty years. 

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webmaster

Launchpad – we are the same way with our stuff. The entire house is decorated with many of our things, to include at least the better half of the Christmas Decorations. Our staff lounge is open to all members of the house, and we will even let the children on occasion watch the TV in our bedroom. (Our quarters are not separate from the house, but integrated with it – we leave during days off and share it with relief staff though all the furnishings are ours)

In 10 years as a houseparent I have lost a very expensive camera because a resident smashed it on the ground. I have had 3 cars keyed, all our cars dented by bats, balls, and bicycles. My children have lost several toys and collectibles to include a couple of game systems. He have had a couple of hundred dollars worth of cash stolen over the years, and I can’t count all the Cd’s & DVDs that have been lost or stolen. My cockatiel was ruined and we have had probably 20 houseplants killed by being fed various substances like tobacco juice. This is a partial list!!

I have lost some stuff as a houseparent, but on the other hand I know several normal families where birth children have destroyed tons of stuff, so I don’t think it is totally unique to just being a houseparent. I think about some of the stuff I destroyed as a kid, and can understand why I got some of the whoopins I got from my parents.

This is not directed to anyone in particular, but if God calls you to be a houseparent – He is calling all of you including your stuff. If a few things get broken or stolen consider it joy that you were able to sacrifice it in service to the Lord and think about other Christians that were called to sacrifice all they owned and even their lives.

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bakergirl

Wow, launchpad, you got me there. Frankly, I’m not worried about OUR stuff. For one thing, we will still have our house in another town where we will leave some stuff and besides, stuff is replaceable. I was more worried about the money the agency would spend on the fishtank (its all budgeted) but really once I think about it, its nothing compared to the house they spent money on. This is all stuff I’m still processing. Reading through all of these, I remembered what my baby brother (he’s 18 now) did to my sister’s fish tank. He decided to add Desitin (baby rash ointment) to the tank. They died quickly so I doubt it was painful…

Resident Relationships: Same Sex Dating at Facility

Launchpad

Ok… I never have really had to deal head on with this one until a recent conversation with a co-worker.

How have you in the past dealt with same sex relationships with the teens?

If you have not dealt with this before, how would you?

If the facility supports the relationship the same as a hetero relationship how would you deal/ feel with the situation.

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rachel

I know that it has been an issue at our facility in the past. Lucky for me, all we are having to deal with currently is keeping the boys and girls apart -and that’s hard enough!! You bring up a really good question. How would we handle it if two of our girls were after each other? They sleep in the same bedroom for crying out loud! I guess we would just have to discharge one or both of them. It would be impossible to keep them apart, and there is no way I could stand for that sort of activity going on in my house. But then again I am a new houseparent, maybe this is just my inexperience talking. However, I do know one thing for sure – I pray that I will never have to deal with this sort of situation!!!

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webmaster

I have seen this happen at two separate facilities I have worked at, one with girls the other with boys. In the first instance, the housemom in a girls cottage caught two girls in bed together naked. They claimed they were just sleeping, but it was obvious there was much more to it. They were both dropped to the lowest level without any privileges for several weeks. Both girls eventually left the program and when I last heard they were both involved in heterosexual relationships.

The second instance the houseparent caught two boys in a homosexual act. It was determined that one of the boys was a sexual predator, even though he was the smaller of the two. He was isolated from the remainder of the boys in a room that had an alarm system installed, so if he left his room at night the houseparents were alerted. A few weeks later he was sent to a residential treatment program for almost a year and returned to a separate facility. I think he was 14, the other boy was 15 at the time. The other boy was considered a victim and received no consequences that I know of. I personally think things were much more mutual, but it wasn’t in my cottage and I didn’t have a whole lot of say. I guess I also didn’t have all the facts, so what can I say.

I personally think no sexual encounter with youth should be condoned or allowed, whether they be same sex or opposite sex, there are just too many bad consequences that could happen.

I also don’t think same sex encounters with youth are as tragic as some may think they are. Fact is, most youth are a raging mess of hormones that express themselves in very strange ways. Even if youth try something while in placement, it doesn’t mean that’s who they will be as adults. In most cases, just giving consequences for whatever rule they broke is enough to deal with the situation. 

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glidenhi

I agree with the webmaster…..most sexual encounters at this age are experimentation. I believe that we have to make sure that the kids have opportunities for normal social relationships with the opposite sex under guidance….otherwise….they are going to get desperate and try something. I have seen houseparents so afraid of the worst and too lazy to provide a normal social life, and the result was opposite or same sex experimentation. When kids feel hopeless they get desperate. When they do something wrong they need a clear path to redemption or they will find a path to perversion.

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.