Blood!!! Maundy Thursday


 We had service last night at the church on campus. One of the new boys who is seven became very interested in the communion part of the service. Being seven, as soon as he heard the communion cup was the blood of Christ he started getting real anxious. As we made our way up to the altar he started asking if he had to drink the blood.

Realizing he thought the cup was O negative hemoglobin, I tried to explain to him the best I could on our short walk to the altar that it was grape juice in the cup. After communion all he could talk about was how good the blood was. He then said Dracula probably just really liked grape juice and probably wasn’t that bad after all. We spent the remainder of the night trying to convince him he did not have grape juice in his veins.

Sunday Cottage Routine


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

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

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

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



Our Sunday routine is this:

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

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

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

Return from Church at about Noon.

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

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

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

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

That’s about it.



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



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

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



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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

What makes a facility “Christian”


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

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

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



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



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



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



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



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

Not preachin, just testifyin’ – TexPop


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


Craig Bridges

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

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

How much work do you do with your Church??


We work at a residential foster care facility and attend a fairly small church (less than 100 members). We help out with children’s ministries because the children from our facility make up 90% of all the children in the church.

Today we were supposed to attend a big meeting at the church for a new children’s ministry the church is starting this fall, but we had a conflicting engagement that we had to attend as a PR event with the home. When I tried to explain that to the pastor, I am not sure he truly understood that what we do with the children and with the facility comes first. He talks a lot about people being involved in ministry, but I am not sure he fully considers what we do ministry.

I think I am going to have to have a meeting with him, and try to explain it better.

Anyway the point of all this rambling is to ask. How much do y’all get involved with your Churches? & Do you find it difficult to balance what your local church expects from you with what you are required to do



The local church we attend, both as a cottage and belong to personally, has financially supported our facility for years. The pastors have been invited to speak to our H/Ps during chapel many times and have visited our cottages. This interaction has built a good understanding of what we do here. The ministries of our church that we are involved in understand when we have a conflict due to our responsibilities with our kids.

I think I understand the situation you described. I would advise inviting your church leadership to come spend an evening with you and your kids.




Since we have chapel on the campus we can’t really get too involved in our own church. Sometimes we do take the boys to our own church but then they still have to go to chapel.



The church we attend off campus has no clue as to what we do. My wife and I get borderline harassment calls about playing music for service and every church project/ open position/ committee. They are in awe when we say no way- our schedule is way to packed and busy to take on any new projects. I don’t even feel guilty anymore.

The problem is most do not consider what we do as “Real Ministry”. They just have no clue. They see us as full time baby-sitters.

I’m not sure that perception can be easily solved. To really understand the lifestyle you have to live it. An outsider looking in just can’t possibly relate. Kinda like when I loaded the Uhaul for the first facility and thought I would save the world. 

Anyway- My perception of this ministry has definitely changed, for the better- not worse. After a year or two any misconceptions or fairy tales about being an HP fade away. I definitely believe this is the greatest ministry on earth. My pastor just can’t relate.

On the flip side, my father in law was a pastor for twenty some odd years. He retired and became an HP to lead a less stressful life . After a year he is now going back into the pastorate after living the HP life. He has whole new appreciation for what we do.



My husband is a pastor & we are full time houseparents to 6 boys & we have 1 boy & 1 girl of our own. We love doing both but sometimes I don’t think people understand how much we have to do & they don’t understand when we say no to invitations to go out between services. We are exhausted alot on Sundays & want to relax. When I was asked to teach AWANA, I had NO problems saying NO. (I hope God doesn’t want me to though because then I would have to.) I don’t think people understand what is normal according to the boys & that a fist hitting a wall is something that just sometimes happens. You deal with it & just keep loving them. Also, after taking 10 people out on Sat. the money for eating out is tight.

Going to church on campus


We have a chapel here on campus. Our campus is 80+ kids. Our boys are well behaved and dress appropriately.

For the past year since my kids are young (2 &3) I have opted out of chapel as 1.) not age appropriate and 2.) I don’t want to take away the focus from chapel to my kids which in a crowd of residents, they get some.

So now I need to go and take my kids. The pastor said it was ok for my kids to make noise, run up and down the aisle etc. which I am NOT ok with as it is not appropriate behavior for church (which is why I don’t go!)

What happens at your facility? Are you allowed to take your kids to your church? If you have a chapel on campus, do you take your small kids? If so, how do you train them to behave during chapel?




In the Church that we attend, our children have to leave the nursery and attend Church with us when they turn three. We have our older (7-10) children sit in the pew in front of us, and my wife and I sit between our young (3-6) children. They are less likely to play around, and we are able to help them participate in the service: when to stand, when to sit, when to pray, etc. We allow them to draw on the children’s bulletin during the service, but we don’t allow food, drinks, or other activities.

I think we have great kids and we often receive compliments on how well behaved they are. I don’t think we are mean or overbearing, but I have found that the children will usually live up to the expectations we set for them. Even our youngest who was a total wild child when she came in November behaves very well in Church most of the time.

I love the concept of Children’s Church and wish every Church had one, but I also think you need at least one service each week where the whole family attends so that young children can learn how to behave in regular Church. 

Hope this helps.



Our youngest is 5 and has always hated church but our church provides Bible lessons and colors to draw on them. Of course, he is done within 10 minutes so we always take an extra coloring book. He will get bored about 10 mins before the service ends but he knows he has to sit still until we are done. I’ve been amazed that he just does what is expected of him in this area. We may not be so lucky with the next child.



This is just my opinion so take it or leave it, but I am a two year old teacher and honestly it is not age appropriate to have two and three year olds sit and be quiet for more than like ten minutes. Seriously their bodies can’t do it. They aren’t trying to be naughty they just can’t do it. So that is why churches have nurseries are there any other houseparents with young children maybe you could trade babysitting each other’s children that you get something from your service. Good luck to you.

Fly With Christ




I agree. I think a quick solution to your problem may be to do exactly what they are asking you to. Just smile and grin when they run down the aisle and scream. You’ll probably see an announcement in the bulletin asking for nursery volunteers before too long 

We normally have a nursery here on campus. The younger kids definitely need it.



I thank you so much for your replies! I too don’t think it is really age appropriate for my kiddo’s to be there but the administration says tough since it is a job and I took it. Well, they hired a family. 

My DH is fine with letting them run wild but I would be embarrassed if they acted that way. The other two kids who are my kids age are quiet in church because one girl has developmental issues and the other girl is very quiet. That is NOT the personality of my children. They behave well, just are inquisitive kids!

I would love to hear other opinions.

Oh, unfortunately, there is no area for a nursery. My option is to sit out in the lobby while my cottage is less than 100 yards from the chapel.

I went to chapel with a good attitude the other day and as far as building relationships with the other residents, the ones who wanted to pick up my kids and talk to them I had to place boundaries with as I can’t have everyone picking up my kids. So the ones that I do have good relationships with, I had to say no to. I felt so bad because it made the residents feel as if I didn’t trust them. So while administration thinks it will benefit the residents with me being there, I have to differ.

Sabbaticals ???


My wife and I have been houseparents for 12 years and were foster parents for 2 years before that. In that time we have cared for hundreds of children and hopefully made a difference for some. We have virtually raised our birth children in care and now that they are older we were thinking it would be nice to spend some time with just them, before they are gone living their own lives.

We are seriously considering taking a sabbatical for a few years, moving back home to our small town in Montana and finding jobs that don’t involve caring for other people’s children. I would still run the site, but from a different perspective and with a few extra hours, may even be able to do some things with it, I haven’t had time to do lately.

I would like to hear from others that left for a while (a few years) and how it worked for them. Also how it was different when you came back.

Right now we feel so tired and frustrated that we feel totally ineffective.   


Called2workwith youth

My personal experience…

We took a couple of years off, tired, tired of the regulations and administration, etc. (We wanted a break and weren’t sure we wanted to do this anymore). We struggled mightily in terms of finances, and I believe this is because God called us to this and we had stepped out of His will. We took a break without His consent. He did not let us starve or be homeless, but we struggled until we submitted to His will.

Again, that was my personal situation.




We know we want to do it again this would only be a break. We have been very faithful for over 12 years and only have a few years left with our birth children before they are fully grown. It seems like many things are starting to align to confirm for me that God is probably ok with it. I also know that almost everyone I have known in full time occupational ministry have periods of refreshment and renewal. Missionaries usually do it every few years, rarely do they go 12 straight in the field.

Also financially, things would be pretty good. I would have one less house payment. I am already making a payment on the other one we would be living in and have been the whole time we have been houseparents. The house we would be selling is in a market that we would make enough profit from to pay off all our bills plus some. We also have a pretty good emergency fund in our retirement account if we really needed it. On top of all that, I have this website which will never make me rich, but would help with finances. As far as employment I have skills in many different areas that are pretty marketable and since I have lost all my weight I wouldn’t have to worry about limitations because of obesity.



I have never taken a sabbatical, although I did leave one position and take another one closer to home to watch over two recently widowed Moms. I’m not sure if I followed God, or my own needs, when we moved…as things were very rocky for several months; however, I can still see God’s hand in our lives and I think that God is using our position and experiences to grow us during this time. When my husband and I entered the HP world, we had raised our children – all were in college. We took in a few children during our kid’s middle school / high school years, but all were friends of our boys that needed a place to stay and someone to care. Our children invited these add-ins to our family and loved them along side us. I can say that God blesses our families thru helping others, but I am glad that I have continually fought for alone time with my children even through my houseparenting years and their early adult years. I never wanted my kids to think that they took 2nd place. I understand your need to spend time with your family, and I agree that sabbaticals are often times to rest and recharge. If God says it’s time to rest and enjoy your family, then he will also guide you into whatever future service he deems best for you. God Bless.



We are coming in off a year-long break from houseparenting, which we did to enjoy time with our now toddler-age daughter (and it was time to leave the home we were at due to a corrupt director and lack of funding to keep our cottage open).

We have truly missed it.

We did not adjust well to NOT working with each other every day.

We have struggled financially.

Emily misses having a houseful of kids to interact with.

Needless to say, we are currently interviewing at two homes, and praying God will open doors there (one we will interview at tomorrow in North Carolina, so pray for us!).

Anyway, we hope to continue to be posting on her regularly again soon!

–Debbie (and Jonathan)

Turn Over


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

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



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

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



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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Questions about being a Houseparent



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

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

Now, my questions:

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

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

What are our choices?

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

Glad your here bro.

What to search for?


Ok, question number 2. As we search for a position, what am I looking for in an organization? What kind of questions do I ask? Also, how do you as houseparents not come to the place of burnout? I am making a huge move with my family to another state possibly, and I do not want to get burned out of this job. Just searching for some Godly Wisdom on this area



I have never replied before, I am the webmasters wife, but we have been houseparents for almost 10 years and as for your question about burning out. There is no easy answer because I believe this is a calling from God and when things get hard, and they will, he will give you the strength. My best advice is to pray a lot and have other people also pray. This is a life altering move and there are a lot of tough days but if this is what God has asked you to do you will lead you path and he will always make that clear to you even on the days when it looks dark. God has always blessed us, protected our birth children and given us children that we would not be the same people without. We work in a facility that is 1000’s of miles away from our extended family and yet he has sent us wonderful Godly people to fill that void. I guess what I am trying to say is give this to God and he will not let you down. 



I am not a houseparent yet (my husband and I start on January 2), so I don’t really have an expert opinion. But I do know that these questions you are struggling with were on the forefront of our minds as well. We have been especially worried about the burnout issue. We are giving up careers, and we don’t want to just be houseparents for one year and then start new careers all over again. Our pastor said something during his sermon recently that really helped us feel confident to take this plunge…

God will never ask you to do something that does not require you to have full faith in Him.

That fact really resonated with us. Houseparenting takes a lot of faith, and it does not really make sense to the natural mind. Working 24 hours a day, with someone else’s kids, for very little pay – those aren’t qualities that we would normally look for in a job. But, throughout the Bible, God is constantly asking people to have faith and follow His direction in situations that make no sense to the natural mind. And in all of those Bible stories that we know so well (Noah and the Ark for just one example), God provides above and beyond the human expectation.

There is a reason that God wants us in houseparenting, and what God ordains, He sustains.

I hope that some of this helps. It’s all stuff that we already know, but sometimes it just helps to hear it again before taking such a huge leap of faith. I know it has helped us! God bless you!



Thank you all for your responses. I am taking one step at a time. We believe with all of our hearts that God is calling us to be Houseparents. It is a big leap of faith, and I am glad there is this forum to help us in our decision process. The Lord brings into our lives forerunners that can help us in our ministry. To show us what to do and not to do. This is all new to us, so we will take any advice we can get. Thanks again.

Also please pray for God’s direction as we are fasting and praying for these next 3 days for this decision.



Hey there! DH and I just secured our job so I remember these questions keenly. Here is what spoke to us about organizations (the one we almost got hired at and then found out later they had a bad rep for houseparents, and the one we accepted the job at)

In interview:

Do they want you to communicate with other houseparents? I’m talking more than meeting for lunch, are you allowed to hang out with a family and do activities (go to church, eat dinner) If you are allowed limited contact or no contact with houseparents- that’s a big red flag! Facilities that take care of their houseparents will be eager for you to see how happy their staff is! And don’t be afraid to ask either, a facility may not offer but once you ask to spend a day with them, will allow it.

Do they admit their problems? Do they let you know up front that some kids might be violent? (our facility admitted it could be a problem and provides non-violent restraint training but it has only had a few instances) Or do they deny it will ever be a problem and look at you like you are crazy? Denying problems that you know have to be an issue with troubled kids is a big red flag.

Do they let you check out the grounds and homes? We received a tour but were not allowed into the homes at one place and found out later that probably meant BIG red flag. Our current facility let us spend the night in a home.

Do they let you share your faith? One place that called themselves Christian would not allow hps to talk about God, just take the kids to the church on campus. I would have had a real problem with that since faith is the only way dh and I can handle this job.

Lastly, do you feel a connection with the people at the facility? DH and I didn’t know that would happen since we didn’t feel it the first place we interviewed at. Once we found the place God led us to, there was a huge difference, a feeling of rightness. A LOT of prayer went into our search and decision.

It sounds like you guys are approaching this exactly the way it should be- as a ministry.

Oops- forgot the burnout question. Our current facility (the main campus) has several hps that have been there 18 years. That spoke volumes to us. Then, the branch-off campus where we will be working has had the same hps, same director for five years and that’s as long as it has been running. You could see that the hps and the director liked and cared about each other (the hps were in on the interview). I think finding out the average time of turnover helps. The national average is 6 months. The place that had a bad rep w/hps had a 3 year rate so sometimes the statistics can lie.

Good luck and prayers!

Up rooted to a new place far from home following our calling


We have uprooted and left all we know behind to follow our calling as house parents in a Christian group home in the east coast. I am finding out now that all Christians are not the same. we are progressive Christians and we are not only being treated different but our belongings are being rummaged thru on our days off and when we take a trip on our days off they rummage thru the house we stay in during those days. i would not mind if they inspected our belongings up front i would not even be against random drug testing after all we are working with children but going into our private things behind our backs and also accusing us of things without questioning us has me paranoid. We have no money saved yet so if we are ousted or if the invading continues I’m afraid I will speak up and we will be out in the street in a place we know no one or have anyone to help us. Please don’t get me wrong I love being a houseparent we can’t think of anything else that would give us so much joy and sense of purpose but the insecurity and feeling outcast is making me feel lost and alone can anyone please help !!!


I would suggest that you begin to look at other job options (this site has a good listing of programs, many of them Christian.) and once you have some options confront your current agency. If it is not resolved to your satisfaction move on. That way you will not be dealing with them from a position of weakness.
But do remember that if they are really Christians then they will probably want to work things out and the actions of a few might not reflect the agencies overall attitude.


I have seen much evil perpetrated in the name of “Christianity”. I’ve met more “busy bodies” and simply “nosy” people that believe their “faith” justifies all they do. What you are experiencing is not just wrong it is most likely illegal.

Although your financial situation is limiting options there are still many available. More than one agency advertising on this board has paid up front or reimbursed the cost of interviewing as well as relocation expenses. We recently turned down a position we were offered after they flew us in for the interviews and did offer relocation expenses. PM me if interested in the lead.

Take a stand and confront them. They need you much more than you need them. Should they “terminate” you should be eligible for unemployment which may be more than your being paid and you might have other options available o recover your relocation expenses.

Discipline (Spanking)

(Christian Themed Discussion)


Hi everyone,
My wife and I are Christian and raised our children biblically. Including on occasion the rod of correction (spanking). My wife wants us to become house parents. I realize that if we decide to do this that the children will not be ours and we will not be able to care for them as if they were our own, however I feel strongly that spanking is a very important tool in an adult’s arsenal when dealing with inappropriate behavior, disrespect, etc… and that’s it’s a mandate from GOD. So I am struggling with this. Also I am looking for a program that is more for children who cannot find a home, and not a facility for juvenile delinquents. I feel we have a lot of love to give and a lot of experience and educational background. I have been praying about being house parents and I feel this may be a calling. We are new to this any help would be appreciated.

God Bless, Steven and Jennifer Roberts


My wife and I have been houseparents for 1 year. Our greatest struggle is the fact we can not paddle the children (as instructed in the word of God), especially the toddlers. We have been blessed in seeing many positive changes in the short time we have been allowed to work with children. It is sooo hard to ask God for direction and help when you know you are not allowed to do as He instructs. There have been unpleasant episodes that would have never developed or escalated into a crisis if we would have been able to apply proper punishment at the proper time. We work at a Christian home, but everyone seems to give in to the ways of the world in this issue. It all boils down to the fact that I know this is God’s calling on my life at this time. I had to be obedient to his call and now depend on Him to see me through….I pray that he will lead me to a place that allows us to follow his word or give me the means to help the home change policy to HIS WAYS…..

Remain in prayer and be obedient to Gods direction in your life…..God Bless!

Houseparenting isn’t for people who paddle, whip or otherwise physically discipline children. Many of these kids have suffered horrible abuse and need to be taught other ways of discipline. Spanking may remind them too much of where they used to be. At that point you become, in the eyes of the child, no better than the ones before.

The bible has more to say on discipline than “spare the rod, spoil the child.”

Look at the passages on how you should treat those who have been afflicted or harmed in the past. You will see my point then.

If you rely on the paddle with your biological children then houseparenting isn’t for you.


As far as I see God has not taken it out of His word though man has yes kids may have been whipped beyond what they should have been done but there is a big huge difference in a spanking with a paddle and a beating with a stick the reason that the State removed paddling from the Foster care program and Child care facilities is because there has been a lot of physical abuse done and people called it discipline or spanking but is really Abuse. Now we had 2 case workers for the Child Protective Services in the State of Texas agreed that yes a lot of kids need a good paddling but the line was drawn when abuse got out of hand at one time it was allowed but then ruled out. These case workers also told us that they spanked their own kids but said that Child care workers need to refrain from it they were not against it just said that everyone needed to follow the rules. This conversation came up when some house parents approached them and asked for their honest opinion they were taking chances for their thoughts on the subject but proceeded with what they said.

We do need to refrain from spanking don’t even think about it even though you may spank your own kids you cannot spank those in your care.

But the secular government if you may knows better than God and i disagree with Max ones who paddle their own children should and need to become House parents it does not affect on them wanting to allow Christ to love those kids through themselves I know of a great number of House Parents who spank their own kids and are very compassionate people. I thought God calls people into the Ministry of Child Care Max not man.

Grace and Peace

I don’t think paddling a diaper with one’s bare hand is bad, but once they reach kindergarten they shouldn’t be spanked.

See what Dr. Johnson at thinks.

His book is great and he’s a great Christian man.


No problem with most of what you said but hey i got a better book that you should read and that is God’s word He created mankind and has the best tool for discipline it is called spanking i think i will stick to what God has to say concerning spanking than what Man thinks we should do. Because most dismiss paddling though man changes God does not change His word.

These children entrusted to our care are not OUR children and PUNISHMENT is not a part of what they are meant to experience in our care.

I haven’t seen much new in the recent years that God has chosen to share with us. Just different interpretations by MAN of the bible to justify his opinions on any given subject.

10Yr VeteranHP
There will always be this debate in Childcare. What you must consider now in becoming a houseparent is “Can I do this without corporal punishment”. Today’s standards are much different than yester years. As time has gone by more and more “psychologists” have stepped in bringing in new theories on how to raise a child. Their approach is more therapeutic and is more based on communication.

The days of the paddle and corporal punishment are dying out, that’s just the facts.

I am not saying it’s right that this is happening it’s just the way it is in today’s society.

I myself do believe there is a time and a place for corporal punishment, and have been sad to see it being totally removed. It like all the other training you receive is a good tool to have in your box, and should be used when the situation is appropriate for it.

Not all children in care have been abused physically. A higher majority have been verbally or mentally abused.

Our view of Punishment and the child is much different, and that issue gets twisted more and more each year.

Punishment is a consequence without meaning, discipline means a consequence with teaching added.

You see there will always be a consequence out there, it is simply how the consequence is handled that can determine if it was used as a punishment or as a discipline.

It doesn’t matter if you give a child a time out or if you paddle them, if you do it appropriately and if there is a lesson learned from them. Otherwise if there is no lesson to learn you have a punishment, and the child learns nothing.

God has in fact given us many tools to work with children and the use of corporal punishment needs to be held back as a last resort option, when the other tools have not worked and it is deemed necessary by more than just one adult that has lost their composure. It should be a team decision, and should be supervised. I would also state that if you have to give more than “2 swats” your defeating your purpose. If 2 doesn’t have an effect more won’t either.

I also don’t totally agree with the person who said by 2 or 3 you won’t need the paddle any more, it’s more like if you have done it right hopefully you won’t need to used it by the time they reach their early teens. I know if my parents had not used it I would not be as nice a person as I am today. If all they did was talk and give me timeouts, I would have been as disrespectful as the children I see day to day now as a houseparent.

We are here for the children, this is not an easy job as some might have people believe. Houseparents have the most challenging job in childcare because they deal with the children directly, as well as answering up to administration for their actions.

If your looking to be a houseparent get ready for the hardest job you’ll ever love.

These children are going to find every weakness you never thought you had and they are going to expose that weakness. Your buttons will be found and pushed. You need to get prepared ahead of time mentally.

I have toured many people thru houses, and frankly they haven’t had a clue as to what childcare is all about. They don’t get all the facts from office personnel, usually what they get is how nice the children are and how wonderful things are. “Look at the campus, look at the nice children” etc…etc.

This is not a realistic view, and because of this approach I have seen many good people that could have been good houseparents quit and leave because it wasn’t what they expected.

Sure there will be good times during childcare, but mind you the rewards are few and far between. You will not receive a lot of feedback, but you certainly will know if you messed up.

Also, keep in mind usually it’s not the children that are the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” it’s the lack of understanding and support showed and given to the houseparents from the Office. Many times the office personnel have not clue 1 as to the day to day running’s of a home. All they know is what they receive on paper. Many have never lived in a home nor dealt with the children in care on a 24 hour basis. All Office personnel need a taste of this. So you don’t get a comment like this we received once ” I don’t know how you can deal with that child, I sure couldn’t if he was in my house”. Now this is not an isolated incident, this came from an administrator with 20+ yrs experience as an administrator. Believe it or not we also had a similar response years later with another supervisor who had 9 years experience.

I have even been called out to deal with a child by an office person because they just didn’t know what to do with a child. Mind you they had all the training the houseparents had.

With all that said, corporal punishment is disappearing more and more each year, if you’re totally hung up on using the paddle, childcare of today is not for you.