Being a Good Birth Parent Won’t Make You a Good Houseparent!

As, I believe, the successful parent of two birth children I have to say that being a successful parent does not insure that you will be a successful houseparent.

I have spoke with many people that were interviewing to be first time houseparents tell me how being successful as parents of birth children will help them to be great houseparents only to come to me about three months later and confess how wrong they were. That parenting other people’s children is very different from parenting your own.

Unless you have successfully parented birth children that have been abused and/or neglected, lived in extreme poverty, been raised in a family where crime was not only condoned but encouraged, or had behavioral disorders you are probably going to have to learn a whole new set of parenting skills.

Additionally, the children you care for will not have the same relationship with you that your birth children have. Their blood bond will not be with you but with the abusive, neglectful or dysfunctional family they are not currently living with yet in most cases will continue to love.

Not that your previous parenting skills will be worthless either, they will be very useful in other areas of household management like scheduling, working with schools, etc. What I am referring to is how you will need new skills to deal with the many new behaviors that you probably never had to deal with raising your birth children.

The only solution is training. Either through your facility or on your own, but being a good houseparent takes training. Most facilities provide initial training that is very important. Pay attention and participate. You will also want to attend any additional training that they provide and if they provide reimbursement for outside training I would take advantage of all that time would allow for.

If your facility does not provide training or only minimal training and you want to continue to stay there, you need to get the training on your own. There are several books I can recommend: No Such Thing As a Bad Kid!: Understanding and Responding to the Challenging behavior of Troubled Children and Youth — By: Charles D. Appelstein and Respecting Residential Work with Children -By: James R. Harris Jr., M.A. are two very good books to start with. There are also several others that I have read and reviewed on my site. Buy them from me or from somebody else, but please don’t fall into the I don’t need any extra training trap. There are also usually several opportunities to attend seminars in the community. You can find them through local colleges, schools and family service organizations.

If you are thinking about becoming a houseparent and want to get a head start on training you might want to sign up for foster parent training either through your local family services department or through a private agency. Before my wife and I became houseparents we were foster parents and the training we received during that certification process has been invaluable throughout our houseparenting career.

Training and experience will make you a good houseparent!!


Launchpad 

My in-laws retired a few months ago and decided to become houseparents. They raised a great family that lives for the Lord, now they are going thru quite a change up in how these kids behave differently from their own! I’m calling them tonight to have them read this it will definitely help them feel much better. Thanks!!!


Coach4HIM 
I agree with you about the training and experience but, I think it also takes some natural ability (talent) and also patience, and a good spiritual life.

How do you let them go?

Seamus

Hi Everyone!

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

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

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

Thanks in advance for any help.

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webmaster

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

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

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Seamus

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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dmitchell_00

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

Fly With Christ

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.

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.

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.

Relief Parents

Ravefamily

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

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dontlietokids.net

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

Which gender? Living with girls vs. boys

foshgirl

We are currently hoping to be placed in a home for boys. Growing up with 3 brothers, and always being “one of the guys” leaves me wondering just how much I could relate to a house full of girls. What are the major differences between houses full of girls or boys? Off the bat, with no actual experience, I would assume troubled girls tend to be more manipulative, but I was never the “typical” girl, so that’s mostly from listening to others and some classes I’ve taken. What about in practical terms from those of you who have done it? What are advantages/challenges you face unique to the gender you live with?

Also, I understand some facilities are co-ed. What is your take on this?

Appreciate any feedback!

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Launchpad

I prefer boys to girls just due to my own comfort level. However I have had more meaningful relationships with all the girls I have worked with. Actually my wife and I have discussed at some point of adopting almost every girl we worked with.

The girls IMO seem to be more work on a relational level. They were also more violent than the boys I have worked with. When the girls at our facility in MD fought other peers they went for blood. The boys seemed to re-direct a little easier. But the dynamics of the facility were much different than what most facilities are. They had girls and boys living in the same house. I really think that played a huge part into the aggression of the girls and them trying to prove to all housemates they were not to be messed with.

I will not work another co-ed house. I have no problem with a co-ed facility, but a co-ed house is a disaster. The facility tried telling us they wanted to present normal “family” conditions. Trust me, if a kid is in a group home with the opposite sex, they know it is not their brother or sister.

Co-ed facilities are going to have sexual issues, but honestly so do gender specific facilities, just no one gets pregnant. I am at a co-ed facility now and I actually prefer it to gender specific facility.

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webmaster

Makes no difference to me. Each has their pros and cons.

Boys are messier and more mischievous.

Girls are more emotional, dramatic and petty.

Girls are more helpful in running the house.

We currently live in a co-ed house with young children. Our oldest is 11. I guess we will see if we have the issues launchpad addressed when they get older. Other co-ed cottages on campus have raised co-ed children together from a very young age without issues. Most of our sexual problems on campus are with children from different cottages meeting out at the barn.

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Launchpad

Well, there goes my theory!

It probably helps having a good program and some seasoned HP’s running the house. Maybe in the future I will come across a more pleasant experience than what I had. 

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foshgirl

Thanks. I had read the old post about girls, but there wasn’t really much about what to expect with boys, or boys vs girls vs co-ed. Can anyone give me insight into being the housemom in a boys home? Or even what your wives deal with, if I can’t get any female first-hand advice?

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Launchpad

The more I am seeing at this facility (Co-ed) the more my opinions on girls are changing. They are very well behaved here. My first experience in Maryland was borderline psycho.

It’s actually nice having a co-ed campus. They all seem to be more “Normalized”, than anywhere I have seen before.

I stand corrected on my opinion of the young ladies.

As for what my wife deals with? It depends. Some boys come into a house and think she is going to be a push over. They will act up as soon as I leave the house. This normally only happens once or twice before the boy figures out my wife can be way meaner than me, especially at dishing out the points and consequences.

My wife also has more of a emotional relationship with the boys than I do, kinda like what a mom would have. She does the majority of the cooking and the boys take turns helping her. My wife actually prefers boys to girls, but then she also had the same experience I had with them in Maryland.

She has had some sexual issues to deal with the boys on. She had one teenager actually kiss her and there have been two incidents we have found her under-garments in a boys room. You need to real careful about doing your laundry. For the most part they have been very respectful of her, especially since she became pregnant.

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tigersfan

I have a house with all girls 2 of my own and 6 that are placed there. The youngest is 6 (mine), one is 11, two are 10, 1 is 9, and three are eight. They are all about the same age so there is a lot of drama at the house. Sometimes I feel like I am in the theater department at my old high school because of all the drama. I don’t know if I would want me birth girls in a house that would have all boys, so I like having an all female house. Check back with me when they are all teenagers and we are going through the dating years and see how I am doing then.

If you build it, They will come

CaringCouple

We found our first position though a site advertised in a Social Worker publication. We later came across this site and found that they advertise her as well.
Our 2nd position was found because of an ad they had posted here. We had also subscribed to Mike’s list at the time and accomplished 7 interviews before making a decision. All but one with companies on Mike’s list or ads here.

Our current position is one for which we were actively recruited. By going to trainings outside the agency we met others doing what we do and began to “network”. Someone found out about us from one of their employees and we were contacted and ended up finding a program a bit better than the one we left.

As with ANY job, with House Parenting, the time and money you invest in additional training, seminars, etc makes you a more marketable commodity. You teach it to the kids so practice some of it and invest in your future as well.

Don’t sit around whining or waiting for someone else to do it for you.

A LOT of agencies will hire any warm set of bodies that can pass a background check. Some tend to prefer those who know NOTHING that they can control and manipulate easier.

But with any of the more structured and financially successful agencies (usually exhibited by growth) they are a bit more selective and your educational background will find you the better paid positions.

There are many inexpensive seminars. I paid $25 for a 4 hour course Tuesday in Behavior Management and $20 for a 4 hour course today in “Safely Driving a Passenger Van” (Insurance companies want to see this kind of stuff).

Many churches and Civic Organizations offer free training and parenting classes as well. They can all be used to build your resume.

An excellent source of training is Foster Parenting Classes. I’ve found 3 agencies that will let us sit in on classes because we are “thinking” of becoming Foster Parents”. When your kids leave you that is where they sometimes go so it’s nice knowing how they are prepared.

Yes it takes time.

Yes it takes a small investment sometimes on your part

But it also pays off financially if that is important to you.
If you are young or have 0 experience it can mean the difference between a minimum wage or voluntary “missionary” position vs a $12.50 an hour Child Care Worker position or even a $60K plus overhead and full benefits kind of job.

It also pays off in areas where you can do the most good sometimes. We work with VERY difficult kids. Kids that would have been institutionalized a few years ago and are so in other states. The training has certainly helped us feel more comfortable in assisting them with their needs and helping them solve their problems.


Katryn

Great Advice, thank you.

I think people get into houseparenting and end up in what we call “an Island named student home”

We find it difficult to even get together with fellow houseparents here, let alone others from different facilities.

But, this is a definite must, not just to keep your training up, and yourself more marketable…but to keep yourself sane.

Houseparent Requirements (Driving)

Lana

I am looking for a houseparent job, preferably in the Southeast, and I do not drive or have a driver’s license. Am I out of luck, or are there some places who would actually hire me?


Adam

I assume you’re married? If not becoming a HP may be tough. As for driving? Most places I know need House Parents to assist in taking kids to their appointments so you may be out of luck unless someone knows something I do not.


webmaster
It would be most difficult to become a live in Houseparent and not be a driver. However, if you have a desire to work with children there are still many positions out there that don’t require driving. A residential treatment center or shelter that does shift work is your best bet. They usually have several positions that are on campus only and don’t require you taking a child to an appointment. There is also usually several support positions you may consider that don’t require driving. In our facility, we have kitchen staff and housekeepers that do not drive. And I imagine that you could also be secretarial and not have to drive. There are many opportunities to work with hurting kids, keep looking!!


love4allkids
There is a select few that hire single people. Not many though. There is one in particular that will hire you without a driver’s license. It is in Texas. And they have advertised here before. It is in Denton,Texas. It is at CPCH. I would be glad to share more info. My husband & I use to be houseparent’s there.
God Bless!
Terrie