We have recently opened a group home on our campus. Currently we have two house parents interested in moving into the home.
What are some of the rules and regulations regarding house parents and their behavior. Such as personal entertaining and outside interests?
We have been houseparents for 7 years. Every facility we have worked at has allowed guests and visitors. At our current facility we are in a unique situation because we work a 29 day shift and are a residential foster care facility Here you are allowed to have guests as long as they don’t interfere with your duties and they can’t stay longer than a week without administration approval. We are not allowed to have an outside job, but we can participate in outside activities like church and sports if it don’t interfere with our duties. We are allowed up to two small pets, but are responsible for any damage they may do and we must take them with us on relief, and provide all their shots. While the kids are in school, we are able to do whatever except on training days, lawn mowing days, or if we have a special assignment. If hope you find this helpful.
Our local Dept of Children and Families doesn’t allow guests to stay at the program unless they have all the same background checks as the employees. But staff can do what they want while the kids are at school including another job as long as it doesn’t interfere with their houseparent duties. So having another job is pretty unrealistic. Can have a small pet also.
As for off time you can do what you want but we are not a religious org.
Both Florida and California seem to have similair regulations.
No one that has not been screened by the State and DOJ are allowed contact with the children. Even after that individual CaseWrokers usually have to sign off on it as well.
That seems to be policy in most states I’ve looked into.
So visitors have to come by while everyone is gone to school.
The reality of that however for us has proven to be difficult to arrange.
6 Teenagers in placement for different reasons, many of which inclusde behavioral issues, tend to have days when they get suspended, expelled, have court, Dr appointments, Dentist appointments, Vision appointments, Therapy, etc, etc….. Then there is turnover and the time it gets to get all documentation to get them registered…… For us there have only been 6 days in the last year and a half when every kid that should have been in school WAS in school.
Every Agency told us the same thing but our experience proved to be different. The reality for us of time to ourselves while kids are in school is that it is very, very rare.
We balance it with my covering extra shifts while my wife works on her Masters but our program also has a higher staff to resident ration than many others.
The stability of your house and program will determine your freetime but if house parents are new to it then they should plan on devoting their first couple of years to learning their new job.
I was mistaken in thinking that parenting my own three through graduation and being a Grandparent gave me some special understanding of working with children.
Kids in placement are nothing like your own children.
Some State regulations do not allow pets. I believe when we looked at North Carolina and Virginia that was an issue for us.
Some programs don’t allow for it either.
But many do. We have a small dog that has been raised as a puppy in Group Homes that just loves the kids and they love her.
If you allow pets then definitely require and copy proof of all vacinations and annual checkups for the animal.
Outside jobs seem to be the norm for any and all relief staff and part time staff but House Parenting is a priority and they need to understand that residents needs will always supersede the needs of a part time employer.
Although you might be “off” technically, when one of your kids is in a crisis mode it’s the House Parent that is needed.
We had to try 3 programs before we found the right mix that would allow for outside pursuit of education. By that I mean the ability to attend classes in a regular and 3/4 or full time capacity.
Everyone SAID it would be no issue but the reality of the responsibilities never allowed for it.
A lot of common sense applies to “rules”…. Most of your rules will actually be dictated by licensing regulations for your state. Some suggestions we’ve encountered that SHOULD have been rules that we adopt ourselves are;
1) No consumption of alcohol within 12 hours of starting a shift. This includes even having a glass of wine with dinner.
2) Male House parents should never be alone in the house with female residents.
3) Kids are not responsible for caring for other kids. Do not expect the older kids to care for the younger ones. This will be the job of the Staff.
4) Staff should always do chores WITH the kids and not simply by direction. They should lead by example. Things are much more harmonious this way.
5) Food and Snacks: All meals, food and snacks should be prepared under the DIRECT SUPERVISION of staff if not directly by staff. No resident should be in the refrigerator or cupboards at anytime without staff in the kitchen with them directly supervising their activity. All meals and snacks are to be prepared and eaten as a group with staff sitting down at the table with the residents. This is a great time to discuss activities, plan the next few hours or just socialize. Unless your House Parents will have totally separate quarters or have specific medical needs they should always eat the same meals prepared for the kids. We have seen so much dissent in houses where the parents cooked themselves different food than that they were providing for the kids.
6) Every staff should always know where other working staff and every resident is and when they are expected to return if gone from the house. Staff leaving on an activity should communicate where they are going and when they are to be expected to return and keep the remaining staff informed of any changes in plans. IF both staff are leaving the house with the kids then the a manager or supervisor should be called and notified where they will be and when they will return. Either the Facility Manager or a staff in the house should at all times know where every resident is and when they are expected back.
7) Dress Code. Your Agency should have a dress code for the Staff as well as the kids. Especially for younger female staff. If you don’t spell it out up front it’s much harder to deal with later and your idea of proper attire will seldom be the same others share totally.
8) Personal Cell Phone Usage. There should be a policy banning usage of personal cell phones during work hours. Personal interests and business should be taken care of during hours outside of those being charged to your Agency.