Don’t Count on Technology!!!!

If you are concerned about the things your children see on the Internet and want to try and protect them from it, don’t count on technology to do it for you. I work at a children’s home that uses the most current filtering software to try and protect our children from the bad influences of the Internet. I found out today how easy it is to defeat.

You would think that since I work with the Internet everyday that I would know about these things, but I had never heard of tunnel proxies until today. Tunnel proxies are what our children use to access blocked sites such myspace.com, penthouse.com, and all the other sites that our filtering software is supposed to block. Type in “unblock myspace” or “tunnel proxy” in a search engine and you will get listing after listing of different sites that offer a free tunnel proxy to allow your children to access material you thought was being blocked by your filtering software.

Using several of these proxies I was able to view several of the sites that our filtering software was supposed to be blocking. Just so you know, we use top of the line filtering software installed on our server and updated daily. I am sure there are other programs that can be used to stop these proxies but I am also sure it will just continue to be a tit for tat game of cat and mouse that will continued to played with us putting up blocks and somebody else writing software to defeat it.

So the realization that I came to today as did our administrators is that protecting our children from the Internet comes down to good parenting skills; you can’t rely on technology to do it for you.

So what can you do?

  1. Be clear with your children and explain to them your expectations and under what conditions they will be allowed to continue to use the computer.
  2. Keep the computers in the public parts of the house. Children are less likely to view offensive material if they have to do it in a public place.
  3. Do not be a afraid to look over their shoulder when they are viewing the internet. Accountability goes a long ways in helping somebody make good choices. If they suddenly close the browser as you approach, don’t be afraid to look at the history and see what they were viewing. There are also programs that run in the background that can record sites viewed and everything typed by the user.
  4. If your child continues to view inappropriate material don’t be afraid to block them from the computer. There are several good programs that can be used to limit access to the computer and internet. At the facility I work at we use “Computer Time” and I highly recommend it.
  5. Don’t bury your head in the sand and think your children are immune from the garbage on the internet, turns out every kid on campus over the age for 13 knew how to do this. Be proactive, and most of all spend time with them, get to know them, and know what they are doing (have a relationship with them).
  6. Continue to use filtering software; it still works great for protecting younger children from the perils of the internet.

I believe these measures can be effective whether you are a birth parent trying to limit the offensive material your children have access to or a houseparent trying to do the same for the children in your care.

Dating in your home

dontlietokids.net 

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

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

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

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

I suggest the following.

1) Get to know the person your child likes.

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

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

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

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

At least think about it..


webmaster 

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

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


Launchpad 

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

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

What are the limits of personal display of affection?

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

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


dontlietokids.net 

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

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

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

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


Launchpad 

Thanks!

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

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


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

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

When You’re off…..

momofmany

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

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TexPop

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

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

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

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

-TexPop

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momofmany

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

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Launchpad

Awesome tip with the cottage handbook Texpop!

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

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

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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Seamus

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

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glidenhi

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

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

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

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

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JonNDeb

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

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missy

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

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Karing4Kids

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

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missy

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

Sunday Cottage Routine

TexPop

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

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

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

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

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webmaster

Our Sunday routine is this:

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

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

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

Return from Church at about Noon.

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

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

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

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

That’s about it.

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TexPop

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

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webmaster

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

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

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TexPop

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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

Other Houseparents

bakergirl

I think I have finally come to understand what our moderator was talking about when I first began to haunt this sight. He mentioned that it seems like hps within the same agency have a hard time being friends. There is only one other hp couple where we work and frankly, they seem perfect. I feel like we will never measure up to them. I know they have been doing this a long time but it feels so frustrating, especially since we are their relief. At first, I believed them and our director that it would take time for the kids to treat us the way they treat them but its been months.

It’s just that I constantly feel tired and stressed out while on duty and they just don’t! I sleep the first half of our time off just to recoup. I can see why relief get burned out so easily. I feel lucky that they have been so good to us, they share their stuff and are not critical or territorial but strangely, that just makes me feel less competent (in other words how will I be that unselfish with our relief in the future). We are STILL waiting to get our home set up. Its been months since we should have had our own kids yet here we sit. Maybe it will be better once we feel settled in.

Anyway, is anyone else relief out there?

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webmaster

My wife and I did relief for a year and it is the hardest job there is. I am so thankful for people that can do it, because I am one that can’t.

My advice to you about your feelings of inferiority is “don’t try to compare yourself to others” just be the best houseparents you can be. As far as building relationships with the children, being relief staff doesn’t help things and when you are only there part of the time it could take much longer than if you were primary houseparents.

Also when you compare yourself to longtime experienced houseparents think about how long they have been doing it, and how many personal meltdowns you haven’t seen over the years. I have been a houseparent for over 10 years and many days question my ability, however others have shared differing opinions, and even consider me competent.

As far as stress goes, I have learned that we can alleviate a good portion of it just by lightening up a little, we don’t always have to be so serious.

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glidenhi

We were relief for almost four years. The more you can observe the regular houseparents in operation the better you will know how to operate and know what works with each kid. I hope you had the opportunity to do this before you had them on your own….if not…go with them on outings…even if it is on your own time. Also….make sure that you aren’t more rigorous with the rules than the regular houseparents are. …otherwise ….you are going to take the heat.

Take the time to watch and encourage the kids as they play…..even play with them…and help them to find things to do that are fun. It is amazing how much kids love an audience…they love to show off their skills.

If you see that a kid does something over and over that really annoys another kid, help them both with it….talk with each one. Usually…no kid wants to be offensive…so establish signals that you can use to warn the offending kid….when the other kid sees that you are working with it…it gives them hope and there is less chance of murder. Notwithstanding, you have to have an understanding with the kid that is being annoyed that you will not tolerate fighting or cruel language….and they need to warn the offender…..and if all else fails…..come to you when they are being annoyed.

By the way…..we never left the home that our first two days at home weren’t spent sleeping in front of the TV set on the sofa. After all…..it is eight teenagers and subteens who are smart, active and creative….and a lot of their experience with adults is often one of inconsistency and imbalance and injustice.

There will be times when each one of the kids honestly seeks your help. Watch for it, and give it to them……and give them a hug. When you see a special aspect of their character that stands out…..tell them about it……encourage them. Give them a nickname that’s just between you and them. If they need courage, tell them that you believe in them. When you have a really bad day….tell them….”I’d rather be with you when we’re having a bad day than not be with you at all.”….and mean it.

Leave your bedroom door open at night so you can hear when a kid is having breathing problems or when they are crying…and go to them and give them relief. It may be the first time anyone ever did.

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Launchpad

I had a supervisor that had been a houseparent for eight years prior to me taking his position in his house and him becoming my supervisor. The problem was I constantly felt I needed to copy my style after him. Him and his wife were more or less legends on the ranch, had been extremely successful in handling all of the residents PLUS three of their own kids. It drove me insane they were so good.

I still hold him and his wife in the highest regard for the ministry they did and continue to do now. But I have matured to the point I realize that everyone has their own style. Are they better HP’s than my wife and I? I guarantee it. They can out HP us any day of the week. They have also been doing this for, like, ten years. My wife and I are pushing four years.

My problem was I compared myself to another couple with years more of experience. While it’s good to look to those couples and learn from them and strive for the qualities you admire in them, it is insane to compare your success to theirs. I wasn’t there to see all the storms they weathered and the many, many, many mistakes they made to become the great HP’s they are now. The unfortunate thing is if it wasn’t for my fear of measuring up to them, I may have learned much more from them and furthered my skills as an effective HP. But you know what they say about hind sight…

Get a good relationship going with the couple you are talking about if possible. You may be surprised they are not rockin as steady as you think. They may just be able to weather the abuse a little better in their old age 

As for relief work- You guys are the hardest working people in the child care field. Most HP’s take for granted the nomadic lifestyle you live. It is always harder to find a good relief couple than a primary HP couple. I will also tell you the best HP’s come out of the relief ranks, they have proven they can take it and come back for more. You are a rising star!

GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!

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bakergirl

Thanks guys! I can’t tell you how much your replies helped. Its relatively easy to remember that our experience vs. their experience can’t compare but when you are in the thick of it-its tough. Especially when your director is only used to them for the last few years (its been the only home our director has over seen). It makes us a little jumpy bc we think our dir expects us to be that good.

Thank y’all so much for the encouragement!!!

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TexPop

Bakergirl,

Just remember, Gods is preparing you for the children he wants YOU to take care of. You “training” and experience will be perfect for what he has in mind! Try not to compare yourself to other HP’s, but rather learn what methods and practices work for you and what doesn’t. the Relief position puts you in a great position to do that. My wife and I worked relief our first year too.

In the public

sonshine_mom

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

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

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

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

Do you guys have any similar problems?

Thx!

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

Pets in the House

rachel

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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dontlietokids.net

Yep! No pets allowed where I am.

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

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Housepop

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

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bakergirl

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

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

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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bakergirl

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

Resident Relationships: Same Sex Dating at Facility

Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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rachel

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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glidenhi

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

Kids Diet Will only eat deep fried food

Launchpad

I am involved in the mother of all power struggles right now. I have a boy that REFUSES to eat anything that does not get deep fried or has sugar loaded into it. He has more or less sustained himself on whatever he can sneak when we are not looking.

Any suggestions?

He is six years old and obviously overweight. This kid will have a heart attack by the time he is twelve if we can’t break his poor eating habits. 

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Karing4Kids

We had a kid that sounded similar to yours. I took him to the Dr. and told the Dr. that all he wanted was sugar. The Dr. chewed me out and said that the only reason he eats sugar is cause you give it to him. I told the Dr. that he would not eat anything else. She told me to take away the junk food and he would eat when he got hungry. I talked it over with administration and we decided to give it a try. It took a few days but he finally started eating regular food.

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webmaster

We deal with this with many of the children we work with and some of the things we do is. Lock the pantry. If it is OK with your administration, lock the pantry, or at the very least, take everything junky out and lock it up. This way the kids won’t sneak the junk food when you are sleeping, or in the other room dealing with another child. In doing so we don’t limit what the children eat. There is always fruit and vegetable sticks available.

We also have a rule that you must eat a protein and a vegetable with each meal, and we don’t count any type of white potato as a veggie. So French Fries don’t count. Sweet potatoes do count. If you don’t eat a protein and a veggie you can’t have seconds, desert, or anything sweet to drink (i.e. Koolaid, sweet tea, etc.)

We also have a rule that you get one thing that you don’t have to like. My daughter hates fish and has since birth. She is not required to eat fish when it is served and is still able to get desert, seconds etc. Knowing that we live in a children’s home and green beans are served at least 4 times a week, my son picked them. The children seem much more open to eating better foods when they have some say.

Finally we have free days. Those include cook-outs and holidays. They seem to accept the other eating rules when they get a chance to binge.

We have the best eaters on campus, and our new kids that were not eating veggies when they were in other cottages are now eating balanced meals without issues.

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Launchpad

I really like the idea of letting the kid choose one thing they don’t like and not having to eat it. We have also started telling him he has to eat one vegetable or fruit with every meal, otherwise he can go hungry until the next meal, at witch time he has to eat a vegetable or fruit. So far he chose not to eat today. A little fasting is good for everyone and I figure even the most stubborn kid won’t go longer than three days.

Thanks for the advice; it definitely helps to get some second, third and fourth opinions.

How to find a place when you have 5 birth kids

momof5

Does anyone know where we might look to become house parents if we have 4 of our own kids and one coming home from college in the summer and at Christmas? Are we nuts to even think we can find such a place? We are an experienced foster family and have had foster kids for years with our own bio kids but wondered if we might be able to find a program to work for and bring our own kids along to live there… maybe we shouldn’t even consider. Any suggestions?

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JonNDeb

That I don’t know – most of the group homes that my husband and I have looked at in the Southeast US limit kids to 2 or 3 max… I’m not sure where you’d look… sorry I’m not any help!

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Launchpad

There seems to an unwritten rule in this field when it comes to your own children- 2 is all that most facilities will consider. But, there are some that will consider three and I even heard of one facility that has a couple with four. (I will pm you the facility name).

The problem is that your house/ cottage will have at a minimum six children with various degrees of issues. With five of your own children plus you and your husband your up to thirteen in the house. That worked great back in 1890 but it is frowned upon nowadays.

I personally would reconsider what I do now if I had more than two of my own bio with me in the house I would seriously consider a change into another related field. I just believe it is extremely important to be there for all of the kids and to provide the the best quality of childcare- physically and emotionally, that you can. I really do not think I have that much stamina to keep up with that many kids without snapping and turning into a Drill Sargent.

However if God is putting a calling on you to do this- he will open the doors for you. 

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webmaster

The vast majority of facilities will not even consider houseparents with more than two birth children.

 I know there are facilities that will hire people with more, but you have to be willing to accept in most cases: lower wages, less time off, less benefits.

I personally would never consider being a houseparent with more than two birth children and in fact I am almost looking forward to when my birth children graduate so that the conflicts created with having birth children and being houseparents is alleviated. Not that I am in a big hurry to get rid of my birth children, because I enjoy being with them very much, but their growing up and leaving is inevitable and they are getting close to that age.

On the other hand I am not you, and don’t know what your calling is. I do however pray that you will be led in the correct direction.

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dmitchell_00

How do you feel having your own children in a houseparenting situation affects your job as a houseparent. We don’t have any bio children but are hoping to adopt our foster child by the end of the summer. I was just talking to my husband the other day, how it would affect him when we decide to embark upon houseparenting.

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webmaster

Let me preface with saying that none of the issues are enough to make me want to quit being a houseparent and I have dealt with them for over 10 years, but I am definitely looking forward to not having to deal with them anymore.

1. My birth children are not included in Christmas lists and they have at times been discouraged to see home children receive huge amounts of Christmas gifts and they don’t. I quickly learned that I did not have the resources to compete with what the home children received. I have made it much easier on my birth children by explaining to them that they receive stuff throughout the year, when we are on relief and vacation that the home children don’t receive and now that they are almost 14 and 17 it is much easier for them to accept.

2. It is hard for my home children when we go on vacation and relief and they are left behind. We work with children that have very little family ties and we are their best representation of family. They have a hard time understanding that we take our birth children and not them when we leave once a month for relief and those times we leave on vacation.

3. Administration has often made a distinction between home children and staff children which has caused them to be excluded from activities that they would have liked to attend. Choir, camps, trips, etc.

4. Home children are discouraged that our birth children are allowed to get cell phones, and drive when they are 16, and get other privileges when they are not or have much stiffer restrictions on what they can do.

Working in a residential foster care facility exacerbates the situation, because you are supposed to be living like a family. It is just hard for both sides to accept the family concept when so many things are different, however I don’t know if there is a solution. I do know that working in a therapeutic program is easier in this respect because there is a clear distinction between birth children and home children. However it opens itself up to a whole new set of problems, like your birth children being exposed to behaviors you really don’t want them being exposed to or the possibility of them being bullied.

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dontlietokids.net

Mike

Major kudos to you for admitting it’s tough being a HP with personal children. I know many who do a GREAT job with their own kids, but I’ve always known it has to be more difficult! Many won’t admit that though, which I find odd.

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dmitchell_00

Very Interesting information, thanks for sharing. One more question, Do you feel that starting when your children are younger will make a difference? Maybe they will feel that this is just the norm as oppose to starting when they are grade school age and already have a view of the way things should be in a family. How old were children when you and your wife decided to become house parents and if they were old enough were they part of the decision process of this life change? Me being nosy, sorry.

I guess it teaches your children sacrifice rather want to learn about it or not.

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webmaster

My Daughter was 3 my son was 6. We had been foster parents for two years prior to becoming houseparents. As far as affecting children, I don’t think it really matters; I have come to believe your children will be who they become regardless of many of the choices you make. Both of my children have been raised under the same conditions and with the same expectations and have turned out very differently. My daughter is very committed to her faith, does well in school, and is very devoted to the family and the ministry we have been called to. My son, although he is a very good person, is very worldly, couldn’t care less about school, and in the past year has come to resent having to live with us caring for other children.

As far as including them in the decision I guess I have to say that we always valued their opinion, but the final say was ours. Not too many children have a say as to what their parents profession is going to be, and although we consider it a ministry it is most certainly a profession.

I have seen many new houseparents start with children of various ages and there is no hard and fast rule. I have seen kids that grow up to go to college and are very successful and kids that have ran away with home children and end up in jail. For the vast majority it doesn’t really matter because for most people being a houseparent isn’t a career, but turns out to be a transitional position. Even those that don’t intend it to be.

For me I’m OK with that, if more people would commit to be a houseparent for just a year of two, there would be less facilities desperate for staff and it would be easier to get rid of staff that shouldn’t be houseparents.

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dmitchell_00

Our little guy will be close to three by the time we are ready to embark upon this journey so he wouldn’t be old enough to really understand the houseparenting concept but he will go from being an only child to having lots of children around. I think if God places this desire in your hear then your kids will be ok. But like you said a child’s personality plays into it as well. Thanks for sharing a little of your history with us.

Names How Are You Addressed

foshgirl

How do your kids address you? If you’ve been called different things at various facilities, what has seemed to be most comfortable for the kids and to you? ie. by first name, Mr/Mrs. So-and-so, etc. I think it must be a fine line between comfort and familiarity and respect. Any insight on this would be appreciated. Also, did you choose, or did your facility inform you?

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Launchpad

All the facilities we have been at have left it open for us. We prefer Mr. or Mrs. And first name.

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momofmany

Ours calls us Mr. and Mrs. with first name attached. It is/was our choice. With our biological children still home, I did not think it was fair to them (this is our first job as houseparents) to let others call us mom or dad. This may change over time.

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foshgirl

Wow…I had completely forgotten that was the new trend (“new” according to my parents) in the States. Which is weird because the kids at my old Child Care facility called me that.

The only thing I had been able to come up with was from my childhood in South Africa. There you call everyone “Auntie so-and-so” or “Uncle so-and-so”. Although the shortened it with my mom and just called her Auntie B. Pretty much anyone who is not like a teacher, or stranger, or not actually related to you. Like, at church I called everyone more than 10 years older than me Auntie and Uncle. Even my parents would call the people older than them Auntie and Uncle. It was just polite.

I’ve stopped since living in the states, but people I met in the USA during visits in my childhood are still Uncle and Auntie to me. You can usually tell when in my life I met a person based on that. Sometimes I find myself at a loss about common practices because my own childhood doesn’t apply.

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webmaster

We have worked in a long term residential foster care home for the last 8 years. We have been in our current cottage for 5 years this month, minus a 9 month sabbatical. Some of the children in our cottage have been with us since before they were 2 years old; don’t even remember their birth parents. Additionally, they will probably be with us until they graduate from school. We are the only parents they know, and those children call us mom and dad.

We have a girl that we claim as a daughter that we raised since she was fourteen. She calls us Mr. Mike or Ms Marje. When she refers to us to other she says, “This is my mom and Dad”

We have some children that are more comfortable calling us Mr. Mike or Ms Marje and we are OK with that.

At the home we worked at in Wyoming the just called us by our first names. Things are much less formal in the western culture and it is totally acceptable to address adults by their first name. Additionally, the children we worked with there were in placement short term. The longest we had in placement when we were there was 22 months. We were encouraged not to allow any of the children address us as mom and dad.

At the home we worked at in Texas the children were not allowed to call us Mom or Dad. They all called us Mr. Mike or Ms Marje.

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Launchpad

I use to correct kids that tried going the “Mom and Dad” route. My supervisor helped me see the other side of the issue. I use to believe that a kid would have serious transitional issues if they moved and saw me as Dad.

Now I see a kid that does that needs to call someone Dad. I really respect any HP that will allow them to do that. My supervisor helped me to see that a kid will have transitional issues no matter what they call you. It’s the relationship itself that is important. (Thanks Craig!)

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TexPop

At our facility here in Texas our “titles” are “Mom” and “Pop” followed by last names for specificity if there is more than one of us present. I’ve had kids tell me that they are a little uncomfortable with the Mom title at first, but none have ever seemed to have a problem with “Pop”. In fact, sometimes they will slip and call me Dad….I love it when that happens. 

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rachel

I love that mom and pop followed by your name idea – very cute! We go by Mr. Billy and Ms. Rachel (chosen by facility). Some kids choose to call us mom and dad, and that’s fine with us!

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Housepop

Our present facility prefers that my wife and I are called Mom and Pop and if in a group of other houseparents our last name is added. We work with middle school age girls and it is harder for them to get used to calling my wife mom then calling me pop but they get used to in no time. At our previous home it was Mr. and Ms and then our first names which for me was harder to get used to. The first children’s home we worked in was less formal and our first names were used. For me I guess I like Pop the best but we do teach the girls the we have first names and my wife and I don’t address each other as mom and pop. It is easier for them to see us as real people if they understand we have real names too. The only thing I don’t like about being called pop is when administrative staff call me pop instead of by my name as if I have no identity beyond my job title.

Do you let kids drive your car?

webmaster
This question is mostly directed toward those that work in long term facilities. The facility that I work at can be the home of children from the time they are young until they finish college. The policy is that they can get their learner’s permit when the reach 15 and they can renew it until they are 18. As long as they don’t have a driver’s license they can drive one of the designated training cars with an adult. Once they get their license they are no longer allowed to drive because our facility’s insurance won’t cover them. Once they turn 18 and can purchase their own insurance, we (the facility) will help them get a car.

However, many of the kids get their license at 16 because some go home on visits and family members let them drive or they have sponsors that let them drive. I know some houseparents that will let the children drive their personal vehicles. This is something that I have never done, 1) because I am somewhat of a stickler for following policy and 2) I am terrified of my insurance company.

My vehicles are not insured to use for work and I think that allowing a home child to drive it while I am on duty would constitute using it for work. Frankly, I don’t make near enough money to take on that liability. I was wondering what others thought. Have you ever allowed a child in your care to drive your personal vehicle. Either way, why?


Launchpad
The older teen cottages here are allowed to drive a HP’s car if the HP is with them and they have shown enough responsibility to drive and meet all the local licensing laws.

I have let some of the boys I have worked with at other facilities drive my vehicle, but only on the ranch in an open field with nothing to hit but cow patties. Even then I was real nervous.

I agree with you on not making enough to assume the liability. One bad accident and my family don’t eat, and we like to eat.

Consequence for Cell Phone

sonshine_mom
Hi everyone! Was just wondering what a good consequence would be for an 18-year-old who snuck in a cell phone (cell phones are not allowed at our cottage). The biggest issue we have is that he lied to us about having one. I made him do a few extra chores but as far as a consequence for the lying, I feel there needs to be something more. What is you guys’s take on this?


Seamus
Well, our level system is based kind of on a “trust” idea. The more we feel that we can trust you – the more privileges and freedoms you will have. Bringing in a cell phone and then lying to me about it is not showing me that I can trust you. It would be a pretty serious issue in my house. I know that in many homes this might not be that big of deal or that uncommon, but based on my boys and my home it would be. I would probably check their bag everyday when they got home before they went to their room. They would be restricted in the privileges they have at the house because in my mind I cannot trust this kid to do the things that they are supposed to. Until they can prove to me that they are not going to lie and they have rebuilt that trust – I’m pulling in the reigns.


sonshine_mom
Same here—same here! Our system is based on trust, too. We don’t have a point system or anything like that. We try to model a home as close as we can. This boy in particular hates to write and I was reading the book, “Boundaries with Kids” by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend (good Christian book, by the way), and I was reading the chapter on internalizing. My husband and I decided to come up with a good consequence that fit the crime but couldn’t think of any until I had read that chapter. This young man does not internalize mistakes he makes. So, we decided to have him write us a letter (he hates writing, by the way–only loves computer work). So, it had to be written out. We posed three questions to him that needed to be answered by the end of the weekend. These are the three questions and feel free to use them for other things if anyone wants to. I feel this makes kids think internally instead of just externally all of the time:

  1. What did it mean to you to lie to us; did it benefit you in any way?
  2. How do you think it made us feel that you lied?
  3. How does this behavior hurt you?

And you know, he came up with some pretty good answers that also revealed a lot about himself to us through this. He was using the cell phone to call his mom because it’s long distance for all of these kids to call their moms, so we can’t have them call their parents, but their parents are more than welcome to call anytime here they want to talk to their kids. They are also encouraged to write letters. I feel bad about the rule of not being able to call their parents if it’s long distance, but then again, I get upset that the parents don’t call their kids on a regular basis, too. It’s very frustrating.

Cigarettes Need some suggestions

Launchpad
Here’s the deal. I have a kid who has been out foxing me on hiding contraband. He smokes and dips when he gets the chance (mostly at school, I think), and is very, very good at hiding his habit. Most of the time he gets caught at school smoking. Other times we catch other kids and their response is usually they get their stash from him.

I am certain he has a stash very close to the house. His room belongings and person are searched daily at varying times. My wife and I have discussed several Black ops type of scenarios to find his little treasure trove. We know he is smoking at school and at certain times when he manages to disappear for a few minutes around the house, usually while me and my wife are dealing with another kid. He is constantly on restriction and has no access to his allowance, yet he seems to be getting supplied from somewhere at school.

The main thing perplexing me is we never smell smoke on him. Not on his fingers or clothes. Being a former chain smoker in my mis-spent youth I have found this a very difficult thing to accomplish smoking without the smell of cigarettes on your clothing. This kid is good.

What is he using to cover the smell? Any idea how I can put a crimp in his black market activities. He obviously has no desire to change. I do hope to find a way he will not drag some of the other boys down his road. Any suggestions?


webmaster
Favorite outdoor hiding places I have seen are:

  • Inside the van
  • In the mail box
  • Under a board or cinder block in the yard
  • In the eaves of an outbuilding

Favorite on person hiding places I have seen is:

  • In their socks
  • Hollowed out soles in shoes(under the insoles)
  • In their underwear
  • Pens with insides removed

The sneakiest kids I have known always hide their stash in public places, sometimes right under your nose. Check in the crevices deep inside the couch or a chair. In seldom used cabinets or end tables. We had a boy that hid his cigarettes in a little curio cabinet we had on the wall by the front door. He hid them there for over a year before we discovered them.

If he doesn’t have smoke on his fingers, he is using some sort of holder like a clip or tubing. It is probably hidden with his stash.

It sounds like individual consequences are NOT a big deal with him, so you may try group consequences. Even those that aren’t smoking with him, probably know where his stash is. Some group consequence like cancelling fun activities out of a lack of trust for the group, might encourage others to at least, in confidence, give up his stash and there will be a few less cigarettes in the world.

Always check with your administration before using group consequences and if they don’t produce results fairly quickly stop using them. You don’t want to create a situation that could result in the boy being abused by the other boys.

You also may have to accept that he may never change. He will either get good enough at hiding or abstaining to complete the program, will blow out of the placement, or forever live with the consequences of smoking and getting caught.

Just try to always be fair and to build a relationship with him, it may have a bigger effect than anything else. 


Launchpad
Thank you! I never even considered some of those hiding places (Pen, shoes). My wife and I did a search and came up with nothing. We then decided to go with the group consequence. We sat the boys down and explained if one of them was caught or suspected of smoking or any other tobacco use, all of them would earn a workday for every incident.

Twenty minutes later I had three lighters, 4 cigarettes and an empty can of snuff. Every kid except for the one I have been dealing with gave up all locations of known or suspected hiding places and are watching the other boy like a hawk. Of course the other boy is spitting mad. Nothing beats peer encouragement.

Awesome suggestions! It has already made a difference in the house over the last few days.

Thanks again!

Borrowing

TexPop
My wife and I are trying to get a better control on the kids borrowing stuff from each other. We’re talking toys and electronics mostly as we have young boys in the cottage. We generally don’t have a problem with borrowing if they’ve received permission from the owner – we have been also been requiring that they get our permission. The problem is that we don’t want to have to give our permission for every little matchbox car they happen to swap for an hour – they’re not going to remember to do it anyway.

Any ideas?


Launchpad
We have had the boys do contracts in the past. Lately we have had a no trading, borrowing, lending policy in place. Mainly because we were being overwhelmed with all the contracts and back room deals the kids were making. It was like watching stockbrokers work the boards on Wall Street. 


webmaster
We also have young children (ages 4-11), our policy is that borrowing is not allowed period!!! If they are playing together they can share toys and stuff, but the child that owns the toys must be present when they (the toys) are being played with. And because all our children know that borrowing is not allowed, the child playing with the other persons toys will receive the consequences, and if we know that the other child loaned it willingly we will take it up for a period of time.

We have never allowed sharing clothes regardless of the age; it just caused too many hassles.

We have found that loaning and borrowing is just too hard to police. If a child has something that belongs to somebody else it is impossible to tell who is telling the truth when one says, “he loaned it to me” and the other say, “I did not, he took it” 


TexPop
Thanks WM, I think we’ll be trying your method. -TexPop