Stories of First Houseparenting Positions, What was it like and what did you take with you??

shansimons77
Ok well, my husband and I are taking on our first houseparent position and were wondering what it was like for you. Our facility is one where we are moving into a home in a normal neighborhood. We are the only Houseparents, no rotation. We have 5 1/2 days off straight a month for respite, but our girls pack a bag and go to a respite home and we don’t have to leave the house. As they put it, it’s “our house”. So we either can choose to stay there for the 5 1/2 days or visit family and friends, who aren’t too far away or they can come and stay with us.

Were you scared? Nervous? What kind of facility did you start working in? What did you take with you? What did you have to sell or store? How did the children react to you when you first started? Did you think you could make it after first starting?

Sorry we have so many questions, we’d just like to know others experiences even if they are nothing like our own will be.

Thanks and I can’t wait to hear some stories and experiences.


putkidsfirst

Ok, I’ll give it a try.

My wife and I began working as house parents at the age of twenty-three. We discovered that we would be full time relief’s meaning we would work seven days a week rotating between a boy’s home and a girl’s home. One week it was three at the girls and four at the boys, the next week the opposite four at the girls and three with the boys. That sounded great to us and we couldn’t wait to start!

We packed everything we owned (stored nothing) and headed off for our new career. We were nervous but very excited. We had no idea what to expect but were anxious to find out what this was all about. We both loved the idea of helping kids and would take some difficulty if it meant we would be serving others for a living.

We arrived on campus of the beautiful setting our first facility was built upon. It looks very much like a College campus and sits nuzzled at the foot of a mountain. This place is filled with a variety of children, most adjudicated but a few who are privately placed, or there because they had no other place to go (like the young lady we adopted after she graduated high school).

As we drove up the long pathway to our cottages we passed a scary looking young lady. She was very pale with pitch-black hair. She had a giant dragon tattoo on her back and a snake around each wrist. She had a wife-beater muscle shirt on with cut off jean shorts. I looked at my wife and asked her if we knew what we were getting into. She smiled and squeezed my hand. Do you know what happened though? We LOVED that girl! She was funny, pleasant, hard working, and respectful. Of course it helped that she was seventeen and we were only six years her senior! That sounds like trouble, but it helped us a lot. What’s funny about this part of my story is that just yesterday she made contact with me! I had not heard from her in a many years and now I have and find myself telling you the story of when I first saw her. She’s thirty now and that’s so odd! She and my wife and I are now in the same peer group. How crazy is that?

Our first day working with the girls was interesting. They were shocked to have house parents so young, but they instantly bonded with us. However, there was one young lady who was quiet. She hadn’t been bad but just seemed to keep to herself. At one point in the day I couldn’t find my wife. I was asking girls if they had seen her as I passed them. When I saw Amy (real name, and she wouldn’t mind me saying it) I asked if she had seen Mrs. Leavelle. She looked up at me and said, “I don’t know, it’s not my turn to watch her.” Angry, I stopped, looked at her and said “Amy, can we get one thing straight? If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s a smart a**.” She huffed off to her room. Now, I will tell you that I don’t recommend responding that way…EVER! I am not proud of it, but today it’s funny because we became very, very close to Amy and to this day are involved in her life and her two daughter’s lives as well. You never know whom you are going to get close to in this line of work. The girl who scares you one day, may be the girl you appreciate the next. The girl who angers you today, may make you feel great every day after that.

I would have a hard time supporting house parents today who would want to start at the age we started at, and yes I know that’s hypocritical. It just seems that my wife and I had a gift. Our kids responded very well to us. They respected us and did what we asked of them (for the most part). The best advice I can give is to go in to the job showing the kids you care about them. Yes, enforce the rules!!!! But please, remember that they are children, and in many instances damaged children, abused children, neglected children. Many will be angry and over emotional. Once they believe you care about them, the job gets much easier. Do you care? Do you care enough to be inconvenienced? Will you sacrifice your comfort for theirs? If your answer is YES then the biggest problem you will face (and trust me, it can be a BIG problem) are other staff members who will not like your attitude and think you’re trying too hard, or caring too much. The kids will be a joy and a blessing!

My prayers are with you!


shansimons77
Thank you for that story. You and your wife sound like my husband and I. Teenagers bond with us quickly and we are very involved with our huge youth group at church as counselors, so we have a lot of experience in that aspect. However, the youth in our group are not troubled like the children we’ll be servicing, so it’s not totally comparable.

We are 28 and 27 so we’ve had a lot of time just being married and being with one another. We’ve been together for almost 10 years and married for almost 6. I can’t imagine being houseparents at the age you started. I remember ourselves at that age and I know that we weren’t mature enough 5 years ago, plus we had only been married a few months when we turned 23! We are each others best friends and are so excited to start this adventure together.

We know we picked the right facility for us for our first time being houseparents. The Administration is very involved in every step, we’ve been dealing with the Executive Director the entire time. They have nothing to hide and have been very honest with us especially about the placement we will currently have in our home…very difficult, smokes, is sexually active etc. We also appreciate the fact that they are placing us in a 2 placement home first until a 4 placement opens up. That way we get used to being houseparents by gradually adding girls.

I appreciate all of your information and stories. I hope more people will post theirs as well…maybe then we’ll get to the 1000 post mark too!


webmaster

You can read about our early years on The Houseparent Network blog beginning with the following entry.

My First Day as a Houseparent


shansimons77
Thanks! I did read all of those articles on that part of the website. Very good insight. Some crazy stories too

I wish more houseparents would post on this website. I mean, isn’t that what it’s here for, to share experiences, joys and frustrations? That’s what I’m going to do more when we get into our houseparent role. I know houseparents are very busy, but come on everybody, share I would love to hear some stories that you all have.

I appreciate what has been shared already and can’t wait to hear more!

Union ??????

Launchpad

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

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

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

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

The Webmaster

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

What makes a facility “Christian”

momofmany

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

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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TexPop

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

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momofmany

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

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TexPop

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

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TexPop

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

Not preachin, just testifyin’ – TexPop

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dontlietokids.net

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Craig Bridges

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

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

Please burst my bubble or Rain on my Parade… Whichever

louisville parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Launchpad

Actually here is a better example. Diary of a Houseparent

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

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TexPop

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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rachel

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

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

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

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

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

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louisville parents

Rachel,

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

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

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

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

Whats your main address? Drivers license etc

bakergirl

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

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

HELP!

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Launchpad

Congratulations on the position!

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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

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momofmany

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

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

In Texas you have 30 days to change your license.

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

Good Luck, and God Bless.

Second interview at a home, what to wear?

bakergirl

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

Relax, be honest and ask lots of questions.

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momofmany

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

Good luck in your search.

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Launchpad

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

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

Healthy Bank Account?

RANCHERICK

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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RANCHERICK

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

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

Hello experienced houseparents! More questions from a prospective….

Lyssiej

Hello!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

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

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

 

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webmaster

1. N/A – You have already read it.

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

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

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

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

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Launchpad

QUOTE

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

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

QUOTE

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

 

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

QUOTE

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

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

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

QUOTE

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

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

QUOTE

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

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

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

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

Sounds like ya got it! 

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Lyssiej

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

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

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

Thanks again, and keep the wisdom coming!

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rachel

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

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

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

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

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Housepop

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

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Lyssiej

That is so encouraging and inspiring!

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

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

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

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rachel

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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

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dmitchell_00

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

Is Houseparenting for me?

louisville parents

Hey,

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

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

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louisville parents

Ok, let me add a little bit here.

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

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

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

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

Both of us studied music education in college.

Basically, what we want to know is:

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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rachel

Definitely read through the old forum questions – extremely informative.

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

unconditional love, consistent consequences

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

Staff Quarters

taffym21

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

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Called2workwith youth

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

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

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

Oh, and welcome to the board!

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

How soon should we start applying?

dmitchell_00

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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dmitchell_00

Thanks Launchpad,

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

Keep house or sell once houseparenting???

bakergirl

Hey everyone. It’s good to be back. I haven’t gone through and read everyone’s posts but I will after I post this. Welcome to all the newbies!

Here is our problem/situation. We have been houseparenting for 5 months now and although we don’t have our boys yet, we’ve been doing relief and getting the new boys house ready. We work a 20 on/8 off schedule now and will switch to about 15/6 or maybe 10/5. Its been difficult to keep our house (that we own, not the agency’s home) because after we get off, we go home and have to clean the whole house since it has become dusty and needs to be aired out in between (also ppl have been coming and checking on it and that’s tracked in dirt). Then after a few days, it has to be re-cleaned, and then cleaned again before we leave! It feels like all we do is upkeep on the house when we are supposed to be relaxing and visiting with friends and family. Other than cleaning or sleeping we are hardly there.

This led us to consider selling our house. We do love it but I’m beginning to think its more of a hassle. There is a couple of hotels in our hometown that will allow us to bring pets. The cost of the hotel vs. keeping the house and its bills would save us almost $400 a month.

What did you all do? If you sold your home, did you miss it? Have any of you used a hotel during off time? There is the issue of meals but its not that much time off and usually we eat out or at families during our time off.

Any response is appreciated. Thanks guys!

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Launchpad

Wow- Hard one.

I have spent more of my life living in hotels and other temporary situations than I care to admit. It was a lot of fun when I was 20, ok when I was 25 and downright depressing when I was 30. 

I prefer to have someplace now that I can call home, even if it is just to drive past it once a month. But it is definitely not the economical route.

Sounds like if you and the husband can save a few bucks at the local motel 6 and have quality time off it may be the way to go.

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webmaster

We have a small fixer upper home we bought a few years ago that we go to when we are on relief. Our situation is a little different though. It is in the same town that our job is in, and I have a 16, soon to be 17 year old, son that drives by it every day after school to check on it and get the mail. I use all the remodeling projects as therapy. Remodeling has very little ambiguity and produces instant results, unlike being a houseparent.

We are thousands of miles away from home so there is no family to visit, and we really enjoy being by ourselves out in the country during relief time. I often times cringe when I pay all the bills each month, but we would spend all of that money anyway traveling to get away from campus and relief housing.

If my home were not in the same community that we are working in, i would definitely consider selling it. I would not want the hassles of owning a home out of town. We have a set of houseparents here that were in the same situation as you. They put their house on the market about six months after they became houseparents and finally sold it a year later. They were very happy when it was gone. They had many of the same complaints that you have.

Interview to Hire How long?

foshgirl

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

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TexPop

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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webmaster

QUOTE

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

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

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

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

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momofmany

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

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rachel

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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

Prospective Houseparents Former student looking to make a difference

hersheytom

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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

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hersheytom

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

Renters insurance and first interview overview

bakergirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had to add this, it cracked me up 

Thanks everyone, esp momofmany and 

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TexPop

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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dontlietokids.net

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

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momofmany

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

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

Good Luck, and God Bless.