When you feel like quitting!!! This is something nice to receive.

Here is a letter we received from a young lady we cared for in Wyoming. It was very nice to receive and I only wish I could have worked it out to attend her wedding.

Hi Mike & Marge,
How are thing with you guys? I wanted to send you an invitation, just thought of you. I also looked up Jim & Linda: they said they
’d be there till they heard it was in ***** – LOL. Tell the kids I said hello hope you are doing good.
I will be graduating from **** this spring with a BA in marketing. I’m also a step-mother to be. Just basically wanted to say thanks for everything you guys did for me. You are good at what you do and hope you help many more kids the way you did me.
Thanks for everything.

Hello experienced houseparents! More questions from a prospective….

Lyssiej

Hello!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

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

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

 

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webmaster

1. N/A – You have already read it.

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

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

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

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

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Launchpad

QUOTE

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

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

QUOTE

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

 

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

QUOTE

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

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

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

QUOTE

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

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

QUOTE

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

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

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

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

Sounds like ya got it! 

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Lyssiej

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

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

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

Thanks again, and keep the wisdom coming!

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rachel

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

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

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

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

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Housepop

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

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Lyssiej

That is so encouraging and inspiring!

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

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

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

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rachel

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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

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dmitchell_00

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

When to Quit?

webmaster

We post a lot about being called to be a houseparent, and I totally agree with that. I would like to change the discussion a little bit and try to get everyone’s opinion on something else.

How will we know when we are not called to do it anymore? It can’t be when things are difficult because we always say you have to persevere when things are difficult or look for another facility if it is too bad. It can’t be when all the kids are grown or completed the program, because there are always new kids.

It can’t be when you stop caring about kids, because if that happens you have bigger issues than whether or not to quit being a houseparent.

I am looking for serious answers. There are days I absolutely want to throw up my hands in defeat and say forget it. But, then I remember my advice to others that you have to persevere through the bad days to get to the not so bad days and the occasional good or great day.

What do you think??

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gracecountry62

Well I can honestly say we have been there at times wanting to give up. and well we did a few times but I realize it was done out of anger and it was always when I was not thinking clearly , especially when issues came up and boy Satan knows when to hit at the right time my wife and i regret listening to folks and making decisions out of an angry mind as well as when I am not having a clear mind during a crisis, but no more we are going on strong and when i feel the pressure I go off by myself and pray and just lock myself away. Then I return with a stronger look at whatever I may be doing at the present time. Then I can see clearly to do the right thing.

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Launchpad

I think it is one of those things that will be made clear to you if it is a God thing. If you’re really hard of hearing he may even slam the door on you to make it clear. 

I don’t know if it is even a question that can be answered unless you are at that point or beyond. It’s easy to get frustrated and begin to think God has called you elsewhere. I don’t think you can know until the time comes.

I think if this ministry became too much for my family I would move on. If I also found myself or my wife coming close to abusing a kid because of stress or burn out it may be time for a Bahamavention

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Housepop

I guess I kind of believe that just as I knew with total strong conviction that house parenting is what God wanted me to do. If it were HIS time for me to stop I would have that same conviction. In the first few years that my wife and I house parented I used to wonder how long I would do this but after 10 years and I am now age 53 I now assume that I will retire as a houseparent. My thoughts and dreams aren’t about what job I would do next but what I will do when I am retired and I really believe that the thought process that brought me there was from God and not me. Of course I still have one question about retiring. What does that word mean anyway. Do I just get tired again? I am so confused. 

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bakergirl

Housepop- “getting tired again” HA! Actually you couldn’t get tired “again” if its houseparenting. I’m always tired!!! I’ve noticed (and dh too) that I need far more sleep when on duty than off. Guess its a coping mechanism.

I also think that God will simply let you know when its time to go. We feel called to this as a career and it would take a lot for us to just quit. It would have to be a clear calling from God to another ministry.

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gracecountry62

We have talked to a lot of House Parents are really going through a tough time at this point. There seems to be a great attack on HP’s in the Ministry to children I have noticed through the head lines that there is a great increase in Abuse with children. Satan has made an attempt to attack HP’s in many areas especially in their Marriages, there has been a severe attack on us all. Do not give up we are going through some trying times right now but God is faithful to see all of us through these difficult times. Do not lose the vision and call God has put upon your hearts we are all the kids have and we are their refuge through God alone. God Speed to all of you.

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RANCHERICK

Our first time around we lasted just over 6 months. It was due to a variety of factors, so we thought at the time, but in hindsight it was really only one particular thing that was the underlying factor that made everything else seem amplified and uncontrollable. So we left, took 3+ years off, and now we are returning. To the same place too. And it helps now knowing what God had brought us through, and what houseparenting is like, that we are looking forward to rejoining the ranks and being HP’s again…

 

We thought God was telling us to leave, but it was really our flesh. We have had more of a rollercoaster ride since exiting the HP’s position that when we were actually Houseparenting! We believe we stepped out of God’s will for our lives at that time… He has graciously allowed us to step back in so to speak, and we couldn’t be more excited!

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helpingtroubledkids

I am replying to this topic, since I believe my wife and I are on the verge of leaving our cottage. We haven’t even been here 2 yrs. and yet it seems as though we have lost what we set to accomplish. I have to admit we haven’t been putting God first. On our days off it seems we want to relax and rest. On the few Sundays we have off (one every 3 weeks) we don’t attend church like we use to since its a day we have off to rest.

We live in a cottage with teenage girls and its drama day in and day out. They love us to our face, hate us when our back is turned is the saying between my wife and I. We have 3 children of our own ranging from 10-5 yrs old. and we have to think of the best interest of them as well as ourselves. We are far from the rest of our family to come here to do this ministry. Often, the children say they miss their grandparents.

Maybe I am asking for prayer for us to make the right decision for ourselves and our family. I enjoy being able to see my children come off the bus and have some time with them as I never did before, but the politics and drama of HP life can really get to a person. Thank you for the stories and information on these forums.

God Bless all of you and the difficult ministry you do.

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TexPop

My wife has been in Ministry longer than I have and she’s said it’s time to leave when she begins to feel that her work has been completed. I’ve spent many years in the secular job market and almost always left one job for a better position elsewhere ($$). Houseparenting is one job where the entire family is affected by this decision – to a MUCH greater extent than any other I’ve experienced. So, short of a moral issue perpetrated by my employer, I’d want to spend many many hours in prayer before making such a decision. I can’t imagine leaving the kids we have now. Maybe when/if the time comes the Lord will make it obvious – ’cause I’m a pretty hard-headed doofus sometimes.

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webmaster

MomforLife – Just wanted to say thank you for your service. I have always believed that for most people houseparenting is just for a season. The length of the seasons vary greatly by individual, sounds like yours was five years. If we could get more people just to do it for a couple of years, it would go a long way to reducing the staffing crisis’ in most facilities. Again thanks, I am sure you will be blessed in whatever you do and feel free to come around the community from time to time.

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Launchpad

QUOTE (webmaster @ Aug 2 2008, 11:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If we could get more people just to do it for a couple of years, it would go a long way to reducing the staffing crisis’ in most facilities.

AMEN!!!

I would also like to add that I hope you stick around the board here. Your insight and experience can help many, many couples when they have no where else to turn. I also believe that once your a House Parent, your always a House Parent. God cuts most of us from a different cloth and gives most of us a heart for ministering to kids and families long after the paychecks stop coming, it’s just who we are.

Heck, look at Glidenhi- Long after him and his wife have retired from the business, he’s still ministering to kids. Granted he’s the oldest punk rock skater I know, but he can’t get away from the calling. He has helped me with advice on quite a few occasions. Kinda nice to have a few old hands around. 

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MomforLife

Our former HP friends are telling us to take 6 months or so off… but I think we would go crazy after 3-4 weeks. My husband is high energy and I like to feel needed. We are both project oriented. I are praying for very clear direction from God.

We have an interview this Tuesday (tomorrow, 8/5) with TexPop’s facility. It is 2-1/2 hours away from our moms, which is only 1/2 hour longer than our original desire, but 5 hours closer than we are now. It is a HP Relief situation in basic care, which is probably perfect for us after 5 years of HP in ‘high level’ care.

My 75 yr old Mom is so excited about us moving closer that she bought us airfare for the interview and shipped me 2 new outfits for “interview” clothing – she knows I live in jeans! This was a sacrifice for her as she lives on a limited, fixed income. I hate to tell her that the clothes are too large (not that I’m small, I’m just not as big as she thinks)!

Leaving

taffym21

Can you tell me how you decided to leave certain positions? I’m going through my 3rd year as a relief houseparent (we are set up more as teams where primary’s work 5 days in the cottage and I work 2.5 days in 2 different cottages) and I am having a hard time lately. It would be scary as well as sad for me to leave. I’m scared of leaving paid housing and awesome benefits and pretty good pay. It would be sad leaving most of my kids. So… tell me stories of how you left and how you got through it! Hope you are doing well


 webmaster

My personal feelings about leaving is this:

Houseparenting in general: I think it is time to leave houseparenting when 1. You can make a permanent difference to a child, and doing so would make it impossible to continue as a houseparent. If you can make a permanent difference for that one child, I think you should. 2. If you are being a houseparent for any reason other than wanting to make a difference in the lives of the children you are caring for. Houseparenting is not a transitional job, a retirement program, disability program, etc.

One facility for another: This is generally a personal decision but I think if you can do substantially better for yourself (higher pay, better training, education reimbursement, health insurance, etc) while still making a difference, it would be ok to go for it. If a facility is ran in such a way that children are abused or neglected, and there is no hope for remedy, then leave quickly. If working at a facility goes against your personal moral or religious beliefs, go.

When considering whether or not to go:
1. Always keep in mind that there is NO perfect facility, and being a houseparent is going to be frustrating no matter where you do it. My advice is always find a place that has the most things you like and can live with and the least amount you can’t. Keep in mind that every-body’s perspective is different. One person’s nightmare is another person’s fantasy.

2. The grass may be greener on the other side, but it just might be Astroturf (an 80’s term for artificial grass)

3. We had a term in the military that I found also applies to being a houseparent. The two best bases (or in our case facilities) is the one you used to be stationed at and the one you have orders to.

4. At some point you are going to leave kids you care about. Whether you are at a facility for one year or 30 years, there are going to be kids you care about that you are going to leave. We just left houseparenting to adopt one of our kids and while we are making a difference for that child, there are two others that we had cared for almost 5 years that we had to leave. It hurts, but life goes on. It has to.

Sabbaticals ???

webmaster

My wife and I have been houseparents for 12 years and were foster parents for 2 years before that. In that time we have cared for hundreds of children and hopefully made a difference for some. We have virtually raised our birth children in care and now that they are older we were thinking it would be nice to spend some time with just them, before they are gone living their own lives.

We are seriously considering taking a sabbatical for a few years, moving back home to our small town in Montana and finding jobs that don’t involve caring for other people’s children. I would still run the site, but from a different perspective and with a few extra hours, may even be able to do some things with it, I haven’t had time to do lately.

I would like to hear from others that left for a while (a few years) and how it worked for them. Also how it was different when you came back.

Right now we feel so tired and frustrated that we feel totally ineffective.   

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Called2workwith youth

My personal experience…

We took a couple of years off, tired, tired of the regulations and administration, etc. (We wanted a break and weren’t sure we wanted to do this anymore). We struggled mightily in terms of finances, and I believe this is because God called us to this and we had stepped out of His will. We took a break without His consent. He did not let us starve or be homeless, but we struggled until we submitted to His will.

Again, that was my personal situation.

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webmaster

 

We know we want to do it again this would only be a break. We have been very faithful for over 12 years and only have a few years left with our birth children before they are fully grown. It seems like many things are starting to align to confirm for me that God is probably ok with it. I also know that almost everyone I have known in full time occupational ministry have periods of refreshment and renewal. Missionaries usually do it every few years, rarely do they go 12 straight in the field.

Also financially, things would be pretty good. I would have one less house payment. I am already making a payment on the other one we would be living in and have been the whole time we have been houseparents. The house we would be selling is in a market that we would make enough profit from to pay off all our bills plus some. We also have a pretty good emergency fund in our retirement account if we really needed it. On top of all that, I have this website which will never make me rich, but would help with finances. As far as employment I have skills in many different areas that are pretty marketable and since I have lost all my weight I wouldn’t have to worry about limitations because of obesity.

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MomforLife

I have never taken a sabbatical, although I did leave one position and take another one closer to home to watch over two recently widowed Moms. I’m not sure if I followed God, or my own needs, when we moved…as things were very rocky for several months; however, I can still see God’s hand in our lives and I think that God is using our position and experiences to grow us during this time. When my husband and I entered the HP world, we had raised our children – all were in college. We took in a few children during our kid’s middle school / high school years, but all were friends of our boys that needed a place to stay and someone to care. Our children invited these add-ins to our family and loved them along side us. I can say that God blesses our families thru helping others, but I am glad that I have continually fought for alone time with my children even through my houseparenting years and their early adult years. I never wanted my kids to think that they took 2nd place. I understand your need to spend time with your family, and I agree that sabbaticals are often times to rest and recharge. If God says it’s time to rest and enjoy your family, then he will also guide you into whatever future service he deems best for you. God Bless.

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JonNDeb

We are coming in off a year-long break from houseparenting, which we did to enjoy time with our now toddler-age daughter (and it was time to leave the home we were at due to a corrupt director and lack of funding to keep our cottage open).

We have truly missed it.

We did not adjust well to NOT working with each other every day.

We have struggled financially.

Emily misses having a houseful of kids to interact with.

Needless to say, we are currently interviewing at two homes, and praying God will open doors there (one we will interview at tomorrow in North Carolina, so pray for us!).

Anyway, we hope to continue to be posting on her regularly again soon!

–Debbie (and Jonathan)

Turn Over

ThomFam

I am wondering as to why the heavy turnover. It sounds as though the typical person starting out as a house parent is out of the field in less than a year. I am sure things like lack of training and facilities not taking care of their people. I am sure people go into the field with rose colored glasses on as well. Here is my question, aside from what I mentioned, why is there such high turnover? I am concerned for myself and my family. If we were to accept a position at the facility I am interested in we have to move half way across the country to a state I have never lived in. I am willing to do this, but it would not be good to find my family “Stuck” in a faraway place. Any help you can provide in enlightening me as to the high turnover I would appreciate it.

Also ideas for me to prepare myself and my family for the long haul would be great.

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Housepop

The answers to your question vary greatly. But not enough people truly research what it is they are getting into. These aren’t regular kids. They are kids that have been damaged by adults that don’t know how to parent or who selfishly think that their needs come before the child’s, or adults who are involved in drugs and alcohol. you have kids that have been preyed on by sexual deviants. These are often kids that have been thrown away and really just want to be loved but don’t know how to love back. They have food issues from not having enough food in the house when they were hungry and the list goes on and on. Many different issues and many different kids. And then there are the gang kids that found family and don’t want to give it up or change because it is way too hard to do things any differently. These are often kids that are so used to pain (emotional and physical) that it becomes comfortable and not to feel it hurts worse. This is just a small list of some of the things you will see and experience and many adults that want to change a life and love a kid don’t take in to account that it is not an easy job. NOW having said that even with the insanity of the kids you have staff and faculties that are just as confused as how to help them and try so many different methods and have so many different theories that it certainly adds to the challenging job we do. But if you are truly called by God to do this job none of the craziness truly matters because if you walk with him you will make it past the national average and truly love what you do. There are many people who visit this board that can share stores that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. But it truly is one of the greatest jobs you can ever do, the difference is that you can’t do it alone and I don’t mean your spouse of other staff which are important but you have to have a very good relationship with God the father and lean on him each and every day.

I hope I haven’t rambled to much or babbled on incoherently but truly pray about this endeavor before you take it on. My wife and I have been house parents for almost 12 years in 3 different facilities and yes it is truly one of the hardest things you will ever do but without a doubt one with the greatest rewards. I can’t wait for that day in heaven when I hear a small voice say thank you because if not for you I wouldn’t be here. Then every sleepless night and being called names that most people have never heard will be so worth it.

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ThomFam

Thanks for your heart felt reply. I have been praying God would remind me the work is His, it is mine to simply obey. I can see this line of work being frustrating to those who are performance oriented. My guess is you often do not see the results you would like to. I hope that I can still show them love, kindness, and grace in spite of what they have done or how they act. It is what Jesus has done for me, I hope to pass it on to these kids.

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webmaster

I agree with Housepop, most people don’t fully consider what they are getting in to, or do it for the wrong reason. I can honestly tell you that after 12 plus years as a houseparent, there is only one good reason to be a houseparent – to help kids. There may be different reasons for wanting to help kids, called by God, service to community, etc, but unless you want to help and do what is best for the children you serve, you will come up with countless reasons to quit.

I also think people lack persistence. This job is VERY, VERY hard and stressful. You have to deal with situations, people and cultures you are not used to dealing with and you have to learn new skills. Being a newbie makes it that much harder, but once you get experience and learn how to react to situations, learn how to work with social workers, judges, psychiatrists, therapists, etc., learn how to work with parents and families that think it is ok to lie, cheat, steal, use drugs, etc., learn how to make a decent meal out of your limited grocery resources, learn how to get to all the different places you have to go, things get easier!! You have to be persistent to work through the tough times at first, to get to the not as tough times later.

You can be performance oriented and do this because I am very much so, you just have to be very careful to use the right scale for measuring. You have to say things like, “Johnny only stole 25 things today, last week he was stealing 30 a day – that’s progress.” “Suzie is now passing two classes, last year she failed them all.” “Johnny is now just calling me an a$$hole, last week he called me a F–king a$$hole.” However, I think most people are unable to do that, and quit because they don’t see enough progress and to be perfectly honest, there are many days I want to also.

I on the other hand don’t believe that being a houseparent is meant to be a lifelong career for most, and I mean MOST people. I honestly don’t see me doing it another 12 plus years. I just wish more people would commit to doing it for a season, whether it be 2 year, 5 years or 10 years. Look at it as a mission. How many missionaries do you know that go on a mission for a lifetime? Most do it for a season and then do something else to recuperate for their next mission. I think houseparenting should be looked at the same way.

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Launchpad

I agree 100% with all the above. This is truly a love/ hate situation and you have no chance of making it long unless you either walk with Christ or are clinically insane.

I love what I do very much; I’ve also never done as much cussing, spitting and loathing about any other occupation as I have about Houseparenting. Emotions get very raw when you start pulling 16 hour days, the kids hate you, admin is crawling down your back about a missing receipt and although you are with your wife 24 hours a day, you haven’t had a conversation that didn’t revolve around a kid in three weeks.

It’s definitely a lifestyle, and I can’t think of any other way I’d rather serve Christ than what I’m doing now. You’ll know after a year if it’s your calling, which is why most couples move on after a year.

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MomforLife

Be prepared to learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to. Being a houseparent exposes all your weaknesses, but your strengths as well. In my opinion you cannot do this ‘job’ without the understanding that only God is in control and only God can provide the strength and resources needed to stay focused, sane and find peace during the mayhem.

Be wise from the beginning to recognize your own needs, if your health deteriorates (and many do because of stress and diet) then you will find it hard to continue in this ministry. I am in the later category now. We moved to a new facility in September and the stress of the move and learning to be a ‘relief’ houseparent has been detrimental to my health.

Being a relief houseparent is more difficult that I imagined. If you don’t have a great relationship with your houseparents, it’s a very stressful arrangement. You expect the kids to test and try your knowledge, but you don’t expect to be in an adversarial relationship with the adults…it undermines your effectiveness with the kids, adds stress you don’t need and makes your relationship with management stressful as well. I’ve been to the ‘quitting’ stage at least 3 times in 4 months due the lack of a good relationship with a set of houseparents. As a full-time houseparent in a former facility with horrible management…I only got to this stage once year!!! An old boss of mine that I deeply respected once said “if you give a man a responsibility, you must also give him the authority to make it work.” This is so true … regular and relief houseparents must have a mutual goal of supporting one another so that they can provide the best care for their kids. Good, kind, supportive communication is imperative to providing long-term consistently healthy environments for our kids.

I don’t mean to sound negative. I cannot imagine my life without this work. I believe it is the most important ministry … if our children have no hope, our world, our future has no hope. Every time I think about quitting, I ask myself “and do what with my life?”… my answer is always the same…this is what I am meant to do.

I do ask for prayers for my health. Recent tests have revealed liver problems that now require more tests. I hate tests. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.

What to search for?

emyboy

Ok, question number 2. As we search for a position, what am I looking for in an organization? What kind of questions do I ask? Also, how do you as houseparents not come to the place of burnout? I am making a huge move with my family to another state possibly, and I do not want to get burned out of this job. Just searching for some Godly Wisdom on this area

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marjie

I have never replied before, I am the webmasters wife, but we have been houseparents for almost 10 years and as for your question about burning out. There is no easy answer because I believe this is a calling from God and when things get hard, and they will, he will give you the strength. My best advice is to pray a lot and have other people also pray. This is a life altering move and there are a lot of tough days but if this is what God has asked you to do you will lead you path and he will always make that clear to you even on the days when it looks dark. God has always blessed us, protected our birth children and given us children that we would not be the same people without. We work in a facility that is 1000’s of miles away from our extended family and yet he has sent us wonderful Godly people to fill that void. I guess what I am trying to say is give this to God and he will not let you down. 

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rachel

I am not a houseparent yet (my husband and I start on January 2), so I don’t really have an expert opinion. But I do know that these questions you are struggling with were on the forefront of our minds as well. We have been especially worried about the burnout issue. We are giving up careers, and we don’t want to just be houseparents for one year and then start new careers all over again. Our pastor said something during his sermon recently that really helped us feel confident to take this plunge…

God will never ask you to do something that does not require you to have full faith in Him.

That fact really resonated with us. Houseparenting takes a lot of faith, and it does not really make sense to the natural mind. Working 24 hours a day, with someone else’s kids, for very little pay – those aren’t qualities that we would normally look for in a job. But, throughout the Bible, God is constantly asking people to have faith and follow His direction in situations that make no sense to the natural mind. And in all of those Bible stories that we know so well (Noah and the Ark for just one example), God provides above and beyond the human expectation.

There is a reason that God wants us in houseparenting, and what God ordains, He sustains.

I hope that some of this helps. It’s all stuff that we already know, but sometimes it just helps to hear it again before taking such a huge leap of faith. I know it has helped us! God bless you!

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emyboy

Thank you all for your responses. I am taking one step at a time. We believe with all of our hearts that God is calling us to be Houseparents. It is a big leap of faith, and I am glad there is this forum to help us in our decision process. The Lord brings into our lives forerunners that can help us in our ministry. To show us what to do and not to do. This is all new to us, so we will take any advice we can get. Thanks again.

Also please pray for God’s direction as we are fasting and praying for these next 3 days for this decision.

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bakergirl

Hey there! DH and I just secured our job so I remember these questions keenly. Here is what spoke to us about organizations (the one we almost got hired at and then found out later they had a bad rep for houseparents, and the one we accepted the job at)

In interview:

Do they want you to communicate with other houseparents? I’m talking more than meeting for lunch, are you allowed to hang out with a family and do activities (go to church, eat dinner) If you are allowed limited contact or no contact with houseparents- that’s a big red flag! Facilities that take care of their houseparents will be eager for you to see how happy their staff is! And don’t be afraid to ask either, a facility may not offer but once you ask to spend a day with them, will allow it.

Do they admit their problems? Do they let you know up front that some kids might be violent? (our facility admitted it could be a problem and provides non-violent restraint training but it has only had a few instances) Or do they deny it will ever be a problem and look at you like you are crazy? Denying problems that you know have to be an issue with troubled kids is a big red flag.

Do they let you check out the grounds and homes? We received a tour but were not allowed into the homes at one place and found out later that probably meant BIG red flag. Our current facility let us spend the night in a home.

Do they let you share your faith? One place that called themselves Christian would not allow hps to talk about God, just take the kids to the church on campus. I would have had a real problem with that since faith is the only way dh and I can handle this job.

Lastly, do you feel a connection with the people at the facility? DH and I didn’t know that would happen since we didn’t feel it the first place we interviewed at. Once we found the place God led us to, there was a huge difference, a feeling of rightness. A LOT of prayer went into our search and decision.

It sounds like you guys are approaching this exactly the way it should be- as a ministry.

Oops- forgot the burnout question. Our current facility (the main campus) has several hps that have been there 18 years. That spoke volumes to us. Then, the branch-off campus where we will be working has had the same hps, same director for five years and that’s as long as it has been running. You could see that the hps and the director liked and cared about each other (the hps were in on the interview). I think finding out the average time of turnover helps. The national average is 6 months. The place that had a bad rep w/hps had a 3 year rate so sometimes the statistics can lie.

Good luck and prayers!

Between a rock and a hard spot

eagleeyes
I’m hoping for some advice and Godly wisdom to help us handle a situation we are facing. I know many times houseparents do not talk because we do not want to focus on the negative. I believe in being positive, yet when you are between a rock and a hard spot I believe that houseparents can help each other with tough issues we face.

We are relief houseparents for a couple that are in trouble, If it were not for God, prayer and good people encouraging us, we would have resigned. We know kids will pit adults against each other and houseparents against houseparents that is why we wait to have evidence or proof before acting.

We were informed that the houseparents were arguing in front of the kids and the husband has been yelling at his wife about how to discipline youth while all the youth listening . Then, the husband yelled at his wife in front of us one day, this made us very uncomfortable. Later the husband came to me and said they were having problems and apologized to us and it would not happen again. He still continues to yell at his wife and they yell back and forth at each other. It has come out in staff meetings that this husband calls his wife the B word on a regular basis and was spoken to about his actions.

We have seen the house go from clean and neat to dirty and unkept, chores not getting done, then it seems we get nabbed by our supervisor and ask to get the house in order, this just t weeks the kids to no end. It has become a standard practice when we see him coming we just grab the buckets and brooms and go to it.

My idea of a fun first day is not cleaning up a house that I did not get the privileged to help mess up, nor have our group hate us for wanting to not live in a slum house.

As relief houseparents our stay is short, and we move on to other houses, which seem to be running smoother, cleaner, and more enjoyable kids.

My wife says when school starts things will be better between them, I say if this was happening before, it is not going to get better, only worse. I believe what God say “He that finds a wife finds a good thing”. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

Thanks for listening!!


webmaster
This is an area where administration really needs to take action and deal with what is going on in the cottage. I would make an appointment to discuss it with your supervisor. Encourage them to spend time in the cottage, visit with the children, etc. Even if their (the children) are different, interviewing enough of them will get the facts out. They are usually very willing to discuss things about what the staff are doing.

If admin doesn’t do anything there is not a lot more that you can do. You can either stick it out, expecting that changes will be made in the future, which very well may happen. Once things start going bad, they usually escalate to the point that either the staff leaves or admin finally lets them go. Or you can start looking for something different. Maybe take a house that becomes available at your current facility as regular houseparents, or start sending out resumes.

I know that the absolute most difficult part of being a houseparent is working with other adults, and dealing with the differences in personalities, beliefs, communication styles, perspectives, short comings, etc. Sometimes it takes a lot of tolerance on a daily basis just to stay at it. I truly hope things work out for you.

newbees, insight

new2youth

July 11, 2005 my wife & I report to a facility for 2 weeks of training. After training, we report to another location 45 miles away. It seems there is a high turnover rate there. We will be living in a 4500sf home with 6 to 8 children. The facility is rather remote, 45 min. to 1 hr. from civilization.
We met only a trainer/interviewer, director & administrator. No parents or children. We toured one home while no one was there.
Without sugar coating, would someone give us some insight as to what to really expect. We are self employed & will be giving up our business to do what we believe is our calling. We are going into this with a long term commitment & just need a little reassurance from someone not affiliated with the facility.
We will be 17 on, 4 off. Benefits after 90 days and a salary of $3000/mo. after probation. Just need that extra nudge if you know what I mean
Thanks for any input!


gracecountry62

Welcome aboard.

Child care will either break you or make you but please don’t let this bring fear but just a willingness to be teachible in entering a new world as this. Very rewarding indeed surrendering all to become House Parents to those children less fortunate than us or our children. When My wife and I began over 10 yrs back as Child care workers in Ministry we was analyzing everything and had soooo many questions starting out .
Most are indeed called in this type of lifestyle and will meet many challenges along the way but also they will accomplish a great deal too. You will have some very stressful days I can assure of you that and you will ask yourself what have I gotten myself into but then after a long relaxing time away in a cool tub of refreshing water or a time away in your little private get away area to listen to either music or just read a book you will find a time of refreshing moments that will enable you to get the Armour back on and hit the front lines Hey but there are also many great times of joyous events also and you will have a blast working with the children within a few months or more you will notice a bond between you and your kids that are in your care. You will learn what makes them tick and what sets them off you will become their punching bag mentally that is because these kids are most of the time being removed from their homes and parents and that is a great trauma in their lives so you will experience much anger and resentment from them but do not take it personally because they are actually either angry at their parents or case workers for the move or just plain angry at life at the moment.

You will be fine you will do a great job .there is a great shortage in house parents
and so you are a blessing from God to enter the world of House parenting you will need to get familiar with other house parents that has been doing it for a while they will be of much encouragement and support and hopefully you will have the support of the staff there in the Administration offices, you will learn this during your initial training and as time goes on.
We will be praying for the both of you as you start on your journey with the rest of us. Once again it is a pleasure to see yall become House Parents may God always give you wisdom in the tough times and compassion toward those in your care.


CaringCouple

IMO High Turnover usually = Poor Training or a Lack of Support.

Make sure your 2 weeks of training count and are not just 2 weeks of paperwork procedures. You need a firm grasp of a Crisis Intervention system as well as a solid understanding of whatever behavior modification system is in place in order to feel a sense of confidence from day to day in yourself.

Being 45 miles away from “civilization” could also mean being an hour or more away from therapists and support staff to assist in interventions.

Make the most of your training and ask EVERYTHING that comes to mind.

Most organizations tend to have you shadow another set of house parents for at least a couple of days before injecting you into a home.

The “remoteness” of the placement could be a big factor in the turnover rate.

Expect as well as insist on support and let the Agency know up front of your misgivings and don’t get “trapped”

The hardest and probably most important lesson to learn is to “Care for the Caregiver”.

Meaning your own physical and mental health are tantamount to your potential for success.

Stop in here a lot with questions.

We’ll try to help

Length of Stay…

momof10

How long have you worked at your current job as a houseparent?

We just visited a facility and the most senior set of houseparents have only been there for 2 years which I found to be very telling of the organization. How long has the most senior set of houseparents been in your facility?

We have 14 sets of houseparents right now and 3-4 have been there for over 6 years, 5 for 5 and I think 3 or more for over 3 years. I credit it to the 7 days on/7 days off schedule.


nmmommy

Our first official day of work at this home is tomorrow. There are 4 other sets of houseparents besides us. One has been here 5 years. The others have been here between 6 months to about 2 years. There was a change in administration a few years ago and there were some major changes made. We plan to be here at least 2 years.

Now, at the other home we were at, we only stayed 6 months. We were lied to about many things there and I had a health issue come up and was not able to deal with the health issue and work at that place too.


webmaster

We have been at our current position for almost 7 years. There is a relief staff lady that has been here 35 years. Two sets of houseparents that have been here 13 years. Two sets that have been here 4 years. And two that have been here two years. One of the 4 years sets is looking at returning to full time pastoring, however they have no definite date as to when they would be leaving. I attribute the longevity to the very family like environment and type of childcare here.

Our first position we worked at for almost 2 years. It was a B-mod program in Wyoming. The average stay for houseparents there was about 6 months. The old timers were there for almost 5 years.

Our second position we lasted 5 months. They fired the Executive Director 4 days before we arrived and the new one and I didn’t get along so well. The home had for cottages and 5 sets of houseparents. The home became fully staffed when we arrived, but two other sets of houseparents resigned on the same day that we did (including the senior houseparents). It was almost 4 years before that home became fully staffed again, long after they fired the director that ran all of us off.


Lady Incredible

We have currently been at our facility for 8 years and we’ve seen too many couples come and go in that time to count.


sandylegsntoes

The senior houseparents have been here 13 months. The program started as an experimental one.

The other houseparents have been here for about 10 months.

We had been here for 3 months.

The boss that hired me quit three weeks after we arrived…may have been due to growing weary of the destruction of hurricanes.


notopher

There is a correlation between Length of stay and the way the agency runs everything. Where I work now we have rc’s that have been here for 13+ years. I have been here 3 years. We had in the last year some that retired that have been here as many as 15-20 years. Some that were in cottages for 10+ years have been moved to supervisory roles. Our place always looks to promote from within first then hire in second. Remember the avg length of stay in this industry is about 8 months.


sandylegsntoes

The longer I am on the job, it is clear that it would not be the kids that cause me to leave, it would be the houseparents.


Mortar

We have been here for almost two years and we are among the senior house parents. Average here is about 6 months. I think for this particular facility it is a combination of factors. The admin is great to work with and supportive but they almost exclusively hire singles and work the houses in shift work. Most staff commute 50 to 60 miles a day due to the location of the facility. Most of the people I have seen come and go though shared one thing in common, they had unrealistic expectations. Quite a few were college age and just thinking they could chill, shoot some hoops and all would be well. Others were only here until they could find another job paying more with less hours. The ones that have stuck around the longest are the ones that built relationships not only with the kids, but with the other houseparents and staff. If it feels like home people are gonna be reluctant or at least think twice before heading for greener pastures.

If I could change something here that would cut the turn over by at least 50% it would be this facilities screening and hiring. We would stay if they could only be more accommodating to married couples. My fiancé and I love the people, pay and kids. Just the daily 50 mile drive once I move out as a single house parent and get married, work a 16 hour shift and drive another 50 is a little past my comfort level. I still don’t know why they refuse to hire couples to live in.

It sounds like everyplace is different.


putkidsfirst

14 years