Personal Living Space and Inspections

momofmany

Is your personal living space inspected regularly for hygiene, safety and maintenance by the administration? If so, what’s your opinion and how is it done? If not, do you feel it is an invasion of your privacy?

——————————————————————————–

rachel

When you say personal living space, I guess you are talking about the houseparents bedroom/area? Our bunkhouse is inspected about twice a month, but our personal bedroom has never been inspected. No one at our facility enters our bedroom without being invited. (That is not because we demand it; the staff just goes out of its way to thoughtful.) We are very appreciative of the respect that is shown for us and our personal space. If the administrator did want to inspect our bedroom/bathroom I guess that would be okay with us. But, we definitely appreciate their respect for our privacy considering the fact that this is a profession with very little privacy as it is.

——————————————————————————–

TexPop

Our personal quarters are inspected quarterly with the rest of the cottage for “maintenance” purposes. However, given the lack of response to the maintenance items noted, I really think it’s mostly nosey administrators – yes, I feel an invasion of my privacy. I’m not sure exactly what they’re inspecting for….maybe making sure we’re clean enough, or not painting the walls purple…. 

——————————————————————————–

Launchpad

Oh heck no!

Maintenance issues are one thing, but the quarters are personal living space IMO. To have someone that is rooting around my meager possessions for an “Inspection” is an insult. Especially at places that require thirty days on duty and pay about 10 grand a year. The quarters should be part of the benefits package.

The Boys Ranch I was with were awesome. They respected the privacy of their house parents. It is hard for me to even imagine a facility that would purposely invade HP’s quarters.

If I was at a facility like that I would have to rebel. Besides the purple walls I would hang chains from the ceiling and hang pictures of Barney Fife upside down just to make em’ wonder. 

——————————————————————————–

webmaster

We share our quarters on campus with relief staff, we keep it open and tidy at all times. We live in a fishbowl already, doesn’t matter if they see our laundry. We go to the house we own when we are on relief and that is only subject to our inspection. Our birth children however believe we are somewhat intrusive because we inspect their rooms and nag them about cleaning them up.

He have only ever worked at one facility for 5 months that had private quarters, but we were still subject to inspection by administration, because some of the people that were hired prior to us were real slobs. In the 10 years plus that I have been a houseparent I have seen some pretty nasty quarters when former houseparents leave. I can certainly see the view from an administration standpoint.

If we could get rid of all the people in houseparenting that are not professional I am sure the rest of us would be more trusted and respected. However, I am not sure that will ever happen

Just thought I would add, the rooms of the children in our cottage are subject to visitation by strangers at virtually any time. We have visitors and guests very often that want to see their rooms. It seems only fair that we set the example for the children and make our rooms available also. Just my Opinion and it is not shared by many of the other houseparents on campus

Staff Quarters

taffym21

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

——————————————————————————–

Called2workwith youth

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

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

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

Oh, and welcome to the board!

——————————————————————————–

webmaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep house or sell once houseparenting???

bakergirl

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

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

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

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

Any response is appreciated. Thanks guys!

——————————————————————————–

Launchpad

Wow- Hard one.

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

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

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

——————————————————————————–

webmaster

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

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

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

Renters insurance and first interview overview

bakergirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had to add this, it cracked me up 

Thanks everyone, esp momofmany and 

——————————————————————————–

TexPop

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

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

——————————————————————————–

webmaster

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

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

——————————————————————————–

dontlietokids.net

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

——————————————————————————–

momofmany

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

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

Good Luck, and God Bless.

Campus Security

TexPop
I’ve become very concerned about our campus’ security plan and have broached the subject with our executive director. He doesn’t seem too concerned about it and seems to believe he can call all of the necessary people in an emergency and all will be well.

I keep thinking of all the emotionally unstable people we come into contact with each day/week/year and wonder how long it will be until one of them decides to bring a firearm on campus and start going crazy. I am also wary of ex-spouses, etc. that may be looking for kids and female partners within our campus shelter. There is no good way of performing a “lock-down” on our 100+ acre campus.

I’m looking for ideas. What kinds of security steps have you seen in places you’ve worked? Were they effective? Expensive?


Launchpad
I have had those same concerns in the past. Our last facility I kept a 45 in my quarters loaded with one in the chamber. I had a internal lock on it so only I could use it. I know this statement will freak some people out here, but I truly believe VA Tech would not have had the body count it did if some of the Teachers and staff would have been packing.

Here they do not allow firearms on campus. I keep a tire “Thumper” in our quarters and I also always carry a knife that I can operate quickly. I keep the 45 in my off duty quarters fully loaded and ready to go.

I know it sounds rough, but being a good shepherd means being prepared to put a cap in a wolf that is trying to harm a lamb. I have never had a situation as a civilian where I was put in a situation to even pull out a weapon on someone else, but I am more than happy to do so if anyone came looking to mess with the kids or my family.

I do think 99% of the time you can take common sense precautions to keep the boogey man at bay.

  1. Always carry a cell. Even if you have no service in some areas if you dial 911 you can be routed thru another cell tower. Always grant permission for others to see your GPS location on your cell. So if something does happen or the call is dropped the good guys can find you.
  2. Pepper spray works awesome. MUCH more effective than CS or mace.
  3. Light up the perimeter of your house.
  4. Lock down the house before going to sleep.
  5. At the first sign of “Feeling” like something may not be right put yourself on guard. If the doorbell is ringing at 3 am, I don’t answer it unless I got my shoes on, skivvies pulled up and my tire thumper in hand. Whoever is there had better be real certain they need to be there at that moment. 
  6. Emergency numbers always at hand- programmed into the cell.
  7. I keep a big Mag light close by the door in my quarters. If power goes out or if I need to run out in the middle of the night, it’s an easy grab.
  8. Question anyone you even suspect has no business being on campus. Kids, adults- it’s all the same. If they aint local they need to be escorted by staff or under supervision of someone while on campus.
  9. Keep all underbrush and bushes trimmed around the house so you can see through them if need be.
  10. Keep all vehicles locked with windows up.
  11. Put together an emergency house plan and practice it. If the kids hear a code word they know to run to their rooms and lock the doors or keep them closed.
  12. Get a house alarm system. (I guess if your facility is to poor to afford it you could try the cans on a string across the door way trick).
  13. 11. Lift weights and watch at least one season of the Sopranos.

TexPop
Any kind of campus-wide alert system you know of?


Launchpad
Here we have speakers mounted in all of the cottages connected to an internal phone system. The primary purpose is for tornado and weather warnings but anything else happening can be easily transmitted over the system. The director can give warnings all over campus at the same time. Similar to a school PA system.

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

2houseparents112

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


4thekids

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


CaringCouple

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

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

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

Questions to Ask Facility

Philippians 4v4

Greetings all. We are prayerfully considering becoming houseparents. We are considering basic care (dorm parents at boarding school, etc.) and maternity care. We have been married for almost 8 years and have 3 young children (5, 3 and 8 months). From your experience, what are the questions you would ask the home/facility.

Thank you for your input. It is greatly appreciated.


Gracecountry62

First of all i salute you for stepping out as to becoming House parents with 3 children of your own. We have 4 and it has been very beneficial and rewarding for our own Children to share in the Ministry that the Lord has bestowed upon us.

First of all i would ask if the facility welcomes a couple with 3 children it will save you a lot of time and expense before pursuing your adventure in the direction of certain Facilities. There are a great deal of those who will not allow but only 2 or less but there are some that will welcome you with 3 or even 4 children of your own. I would ask them how large is the House parents living quarters we have found that there are those places that has 3 to 4 bedrooms and will go out of their way in helping you out by being flexable in your schedule especially when there is training to be done they either have that many children of their own or there are house parents who has 3 or more children and the leadership knows what it takes for those house parents to be able to care for their children as well as those children given to them to look after.

And there are those who will flat out tell you it cannot be done with 3 or more children but we know different for we have attempted and with Christ’s help have accomplished such tasks. DO NOT DISAPOINTED when you hear such foolishness they apparently have never seen or had anyone with that many children do child care. It is also very beneficial if they allow you to stay in your own apartment when you have time off so that you will not have to drag your family to a staff house , this helps a great deal. God does and is calling even ones with large families in the Ministry of Child care .

We will keep you in our prayers as you allow God to lead you to that perfect place to meet the needs of you and your family.


webmaster

My biggest suggestion is to spend as much time at the facility as you can during the interview, 2 or 3 days if possible. An hour or two at a facility will not give your a very good feel for the workings of the facility and you won’t get a very good idea of what houseparenting is all about. Also visit with as many different staff members as you are allowed to. Ask them about the good and bad parts of their position, what they enjoy and what frustrates them.

Remember that even in Basic Care (boarding school, maternity home, residential care home) there is a great deal of therapy that takes place. Just the situations that lead up to being in a facility, will bring with it baggage that will lead to behaviors that need to be dealt with. It is not like raising your own children and requires training that hopefully the facility will provide.

I agree with Gracecountry about accommodations, the more space that you have and the less moving that you have to do the better. I have two children in our first home we had 110 square feet for all of us and had to move every other week. Very difficult. We now have three bedrooms and move once a month. The moving is still difficult.

I have been in childcare for almost 8 years; my children were fairly young when I started (5 & 2). In our case this is true; It is a whole lot easier doing childcare when your children are young. As they get older and they wish to become more involved with school and church activities it becomes more difficult for them. Trying to balance time between your birth children and home children becomes more difficult.

Also the number of children you are required to care for makes a big difference in your ability to do it with birth children. Two people can effectively care for only so many people and state regulations many times only allow you to care for so many children. A home that has 6 kids in the cottage and you have 3 of your own you have 9 kids, very manageable. A home that has 10 or 12 kids in the cottage and you have 3 of your own you have 13 or 15 kids, not so manageable. Each situation is different. In a boarding school situation you will be responsible for more children than you will in a maternity home situation.

One thing I have learned since I started in childcare is that each and every facility is different and it is very hard to make generalized statements about childcare and the situations you will face. You need to look at each facility you consider and if possible look at several facilities before you accept a position. Especially never having been houseparents. By looking at several facilities you will be able to compare situations and find the one that has the positives and negatives that fit you best, for their will surely be positives AND negatives with each situation. Be Blessed and I pray that God will lead you in this search, and you will sense His direction.


Gracecountry62
Yes so true as the Webmaster has mention, it is very important to visit a facility and stay there for a few days. This will let you have a great opportunity to get to know the folks as well as the facilities opportunities.

Please take your time and allow God to lead you to the right place for this is a position that will be asking for a long term commitment.

God speed to you and yours


Grace and Peace
I would definitely stay as long as they would let you. And ask the kids that are there how they like it. And I know they don’t want to be there, so they might not say anything positive.

Ask the Administrators, how long they have been doing this and their experience.

We had the bookkeeper take over, and it was horrible for us. He would band-aid problems, didn’t take the State requests/requirements seriously.

Pray about it and then pray some more.
We had a teen boy in with other teen boys and it was O.K. he became a mentor. And was able to reach them in a way we couldn’t. He could go worship in Church and it meant something else for the others to see. Some facilities require one to push ‘religion’ down the kids throats, and I believe to life it in front of them.

One staff had CD’s that weren’t allowed for the boys and he’d tell them ‘NO, you can’t listen to that.’ But it was O.K. for him to listen to them.

I will remember you in prayer.

2 Homes? Do You Keep Your House?

caring4kids

Have any of you houseparents kept your home? Is it possible to pay your bills at home & at your home/job?


webmaster

My wife and I have a home. The facility that we work at does not provide a private apartment for houseparents. When they go on relief they have to pack up and move to the relief apartments.

We found that we didn’t enjoy living out of suit cases and plastic tubs all the time so we purchased a small fixer upper. It serves several purposes:
When we go on relief we only have to pack our daily wear clothing.
It provides therapy for me to work on when we are on relief.
It provides a sanctuary for us and our birth children away from the home and the daily hustle and bustle of the home.
It provided a home for one of the girls that grew up at the home we work at that aged out (She is getting her own apartment next month)
It at times seems like a burden:
Like when I have to find an afternoon sometime during my 29 day shift to get out and mow the lawn.
When something major breaks and I have to come up with the money to fix it (Like the $1800 I had to come up with last spring when my drain field clogged)
When I write my mortgage and tax check every month for a house I spend 6 days out of every 5 weeks in.
The good thing is that it is a very good investment and has appreciated almost 50% in the two years we have had it because of the work we have done. And when we retire we will have our own place, something very few long term houseparents have at the end of their service.

As far as whether somebody else can afford to do it; I think it depends on the facility you work at and the housing market in which you live. It’s pretty easy for me in rural Mississippi, but if I lived in San Diego, where my dad is, I don’t think I could afford a box under the overpass. Also the last facility we worked at we never could afforded it, we just didn’t make enough


caring4kids

We would like to keep our home in Ohio because our daughter will need somewhere to stay while she finishes college. She can’t afford rent on a part-time fast food income. We would also like to come back “home” on our time off to be closer to family. I always like to have backup plan–with 2 children at home, you just have to have one!


momof10

We have a home that we own and go to during our off time. We have a week on/week off schedule so it really works for us. Sometimes though it is aggravating since we go out of town so much so we don’t really get to have “home” time often.

As Michael stated, it is great to have an investment. Our home has appreciated 100% (Florida) since when we bought it in 2002.

We set our water heater on vacation mode, up the air conditioning so it won’t run the whole time we are gone. Our utilities are not that bad considering what they used to be when we both worked “normal” 9-5 jobs.

Hope you figure things out!