Please burst my bubble or Rain on my Parade… Whichever

louisville parents

My wife and are excited about some aspects of this job. I will list them and then you can feel free to point out the ones that seem too optimistic.

1) Now I am working 4 jobs and attending seminary. My wife takes care of our daughter and manages to put in 10-15hrs a week teaching kids remedial reading and math. We are looking forward to working together and having a single focus in our life and ministry.

2) My wife and I have always been frugal. We have never been in debt and have always saved a large portion of our income. We don’t know what we will be spending our paychecks on when our home, meals, insurance and gasoline are covered.

3) We are hoping to make a significant and noticeable difference in the lives of the children we care for. We’ve seen the website videos of kids and young adults saying how their lives have been totally changed by the work of the facility and the HPs.

4) Right now I work most every Saturday and Sunday. My wife and I have never had full days off and are really looking forward to connecting with each other during these days. One location offers two days off each week and another 1 day off per week and 1 weekend per month. Is this realistic? Will we really have these days off?

I’d really appreciate your perspective on these things. We want to go in with our eyes wide open.

It would also be really great to hear your worst misconceptions of the job.



You guys definitely are in better financial shape than most people going into the job.

As for the time off, I have been a soldier, a truck driver, worked in a factory and did a short stint as a youth pastor. In all of those jobs I worked a lot of overtime, but not near as much as I work now. The difference now though is my wife and I work as a team. We spend most of our time together, not separate. When our daughter arrives (1 month!!!) she will have mom and dad there, together, all the time.

There is down time. After getting the kids to school you can have some breathing room. A lot of facilities will try to say that will be part of your down time also- They are only half right. There are still Dr. Appointments, paperwork, staff meetings general house care stuff, shopping and food prep that needs to be done. Most people I see that stay content doing this job seem to be able to budget their time wisely. You can go back to sleep until noon when the kids are in school, but you will pay for it later when you are trying to throw dinner together at the last moment. Your week can seem impossible if you don’t schedule it.

One really cool aspect of this job I learned from a former supervisor. His son is a excellent wrestler, his dad is at almost every event. He helps train his son and is very involved in all of his children’s lives. Because of being a HP he has been able to be a dad who is there for his kids almost 24/7. When he is on duty, his time is split between his kids and the other kids, but the bottom line is he is there.

The respite time is a big factor. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Some people prefer working 30 days straight and only having a weekend off. I have learned that’s not for me. You have to find your comfort zone and find what works best for you, your family and the children your serving. If your losing your cool after three weeks of being on duty and start losing the professional, ministry focus- you may need to re figure your situation. We ain’t doing anyone any good if we are screaming fools. 

As for you actually getting a week end off you need to talk with them and find out exactly what they mean. A weekend off can mean you go off at 10pm on Friday when the respite shows up, and need to back on at 10pm on Sunday after respite has reconfigured your living room and changed all the house rules 

One day off can also mean your off after the kids go to school and back after they are in bed.

As for making a noticeable difference? The fruits of our labor may not be visible until they turn thirty. There are victories but I have gone to bed some nights wondering if I make a difference at all. You have to be content with the fact you are doing the best you can and know you are following Gods call. I think most of the burn out in this job is from poor management of ourselves and/ or the facility. I really don’t think it’s the kids that run most of us out. 



Actually here is a better example. Diary of a Houseparent

Very good example. Worth a read for everyone!!!



Oh, that’s just funny! Similar to our first cottage assignment, but still funny! 

For a little perspective, I’ve also been present when some of the kids accepted Christ as their savior. Way cool! There’s good and bad in everything. Finding a well-run campus with a good support structure is very important. Talk to the current HPs on staff. Visit the cottages. Visit the kids. -TexPop



I have basically raised my children in residential childcare. Being a houseparent at the facilities I have worked at has made it easy to spend time with them. Additionally they have always been good about letting us off for special activities. I rarely hear about houseparents that have a difficult find time with their children, the hardest thing is being able to balance the demands of your birth children with the demands of the home children. Some children have a difficult time sharing Mom and Dad.

I very much enjoy spending time with my wife, we have been married for over 18 years, but sometimes I just want to do something by myself or doing manly men things, and it seems hard to be able to do that, because I feel bad about leaving her with 9 children for more than an hour or two. My alone time is left to the couple of hours I spend at the office each day while the kids are in school.

Being frugal surely helps, You can save your money for a rainy day or to buy a house later on. If you are like most you will end up spending some of your money on your kids, the occasional pizza or sundae are hard to pass up.



My husband and I are making less money that we ever have. But, we have more money that we ever have – our spending has decreased significantly! (We also know that God has been blessing us!) Do keep in mind that you will spend some money while you are working – pizza nights, ice cream runs, birthday presents, etc. It’s easy to get carried away and spend lots of money on the kids (and be prepared that they will rarely appreciate it the way you expect them to), but just be careful to stay thrifty. The good news about spending on the kids – they love even the smallest things (dollar movie theatre, McDonalds 99 cent menu, a coke or candy bar, etc.)

My husband worked 3 jobs and I worked 2 before we came here. (Not quite as busy as you were!) While we are still putting in the same amount of hours (well more hours actually), it is very nice to just have one focus as you said.

Be sure and talk to the current houseparents at the facilities you are considering to find out if they really do get their days off. We discussed this issue very frankly with our director, and he let us know that time off is something he takes very seriously. We always get the days off that we are scheduled for.

As for making a “significant and noticeable change” in the kids – be careful about your expectations. You have to remember the number of years of poor lifestyle / bad parenting that have damaged these kids. It took time for them to form their bad habits, and it will take time to change those bad habits. I try to look at it from the perspective of planting a seed. We may never see it start to sprout, but it’s there in the soil. We as houseparents have to be sure that we aren’t looking at the kids behavior to see whether or not we are being effective. (Otherwise we would constantly be frustrated!!!) If we plant a strong seed, then we are being effective. I have to remind myself that I am not in this job to be made to feel like some hero that has just swooped in and changed the world for these kids. It’s not about whether or not I feel good and accomplished, it’s about planting a seed. I may not get many opportunities to be a gardener, but I am happy to just be a planter. (FYI- I am mostly preaching to myself right now!! )

This is a wonderful career field and I hope your family just loves it as much as we do!! Adorable family by the way!!!


louisville parents


Thanks for your post. That was very encouraging. All of you: launchpad, admin, texaspop etc have been very helpful these last couple days. My wife is changing her outlook on this line of work. Today she said that she is excited about this opportunity. This is a huge shift in her thinking.

About three weeks ago we received an application from a facility. I had it filled out two days later. My wife is still working on hers and many days she would get overwhelmed just answering the questions. I began reading her stories from out loud. They were funny, entertaining, and real. A couple days ago she began reading things from and this forum herself. Yesterday and today she made more progress on her application than she had in 3 weeks. Thanks to you all.

My wife Laura was very skeptical about the photos and videos on the facility websites and knew that it couldn’t be as good as it sounds. What she did find comforting were the real stories and frustrations that you all have written. Your stories have truth, humor, pain, life, love and joy. Thank you for sharing. We’re in!*

*At least we’re in for some interviews and campus visits.

Personal Living Space and Inspections


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?



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.



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…. 



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. 



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

Healthy Bank Account?


I’m not familiar with all the facilities out there but the one we are going to supplies room and board which means pretty much nearly all the income we will make can go towards paying off bills and then saving. I was wondering if this seems a little too farfetched or have many/any of you other houseparenters been able to grow a nest egg? I don’t want to know $  $ amounts, just whether it is feasible or not…thanks.



I am not rich by any means, in fact by worldly standards I am on the lower end of average, however we are more financially secure than at any time during our marriage. We work at a facility that is on the lower end of average as far as pay goes, but all our needs are met. We are building a retirement account, we have a small house we go to on relief that continues to build equity, and I have gained 60 pounds since we became houseparents, so I am surely not hungry.

We also have money left over that we are able to spend on the children in our care, other causes, and people that we can help directly, as well as buy a few neat electronic toys from time to time. It’s very feasible to build a nest egg and work on getting out of debt, but you still have to live within you means. I have known several houseparents that no matter where they work or how much money the make, they are still always broke.

Ten years ago we worked at a facility that paid $900 a month and we were able to pay our bills and feel secure.



Thanks. We have been living within our means for years now, we choked off the use of credit cards a long time ago and made a promise to pay them off and kiss them goodbye once and for all. We are hoping that we can speed this process by applying the extra money to them that won’t normally be spent on utilities and house payments, etc.

We want to be debt free so we have money to bless others with…just as you have said. Thanks for the input.

Staff Quarters


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!



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???


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!



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.



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


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 



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.



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.


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.



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.

Debt a Hindrance in Getting Hired?

The places we have interviewed at have a section to sign that says they are running criminal background and credit checks. I am worried about the credit check keeping us from getting the job. We had great credit last year when we bought our house but we do have a lot of debt. We’ve never missed a payment. Is it debt that they are looking for or bad history of not paying? We have about 40K in student loans, less than 2K on a car (the other is paid off, which I hope will help our credit), and roughly 8K on credit cards, plus our house mortgage. Has anyone had experience with this? Has anyone had debt and gotten hired?

I have definitely been hired with some huge debt. I personally have not had debt be a factor in any interviews except in the military with a security clearance. I have heard a lot of places are now checking and in some professions it actually can be a deciding factor when choosing between otherwise qualified candidates.

I would be honest with any debt issues if it comes up, I’ve made some horrible financial decisions in the past. I would hope I could present, and the employer could see, the potential for a great house parent- not necessarily as the accountant. 

We had one place ask us about debt but he gave a good explanation. We all know that houseparenting isn’t exactly a top-dollar job. He said that he’s found if potential houseparents have too much debt they are more likely to leave when the going gets tough. You can imagine something thinking, “Boy, this job is a lot harder than I imagined plus I get paid peanuts and can’t get my debt paid down….” The explanation made sense to me.
My place of employment uses this and it has been a deciding factor on more than one occasion, but I think it’s a bad idea to use credit checks for employment purposes. My wife and I had terrible credit for years because we were young and stupid (we were married at 19) and we’re still rebuilding it!
Our place of employment listened to us and understood, but sadly I don’t think everyone does this. Here, the people who interview change from time to time and while I am not sure of this, I suspect the newest person thinks those with poor credit are an instant no.

I know many people who struggle to pay their bills who would be WONDERFUL house parents. Working where I do would actually help them with their struggles! To disqualify them for struggling is wrong imo.

I think it’s acceptable to look at someone’s credit and to bring it up with potential employees, but you can’t use it as a determining factor. Insurance companies do this now too and I think it should be against the law. Some of my friends have had terrible employment issues (hard to find work) and got behind on their bills, but they are GOOD drivers.

The entire “credit check” usage has gotten way out of hand. Do you know every time someone checks your credit it hurts your rating? I went to six car dealers on week and the last one I went to showed me how poor my rating looked because the 5 before him ran a credit check on me! If your rating can be damaged that easily something’s wrong with the system.

Rarely have I heard of a facility that will deny employment based on debt, It is much more common for potential houseparents to disqualify themselves based on their dept situation.

I have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and can honestly say that I wouldn’t be able to work for a facility similar to the first one I worked for, because I wouldn’t make enough money. My teenage children would break me.

I do agree with what the administrator told “Sunshine” If you are carrying a lot of debt and struggling just to get by, you will be much more likely to quit and do something else when it gets difficult. You sacrifice so much of yourself to be a houseparent emotionally and physically that unless you are content financially and spiritually you will bail.

Vacation Time…


Some of the houseparents at our facility were asked to back a request for more vacation time with some research. Would any of you be willing to post or email your company vacation benefits. We will also have to have the name of your facility for our proposal. So far I have only gotten the info. from Boystown. Thanks for any help.


I work for Grace Children’s Home in Henderson, Nebraska. We work 6 days on, 3 days off. The vacation policy is 2 weeks (10 days) a year up to 2 years of employment. After 2 years, we get 3 weeks (15 days) a year. Hope that’s helpful.

Milton Hershey School (approximates)
12 days on, two days off (100% responsible for coverage if relief not found even if you are scheduled off)
6 weeks off Summer
*1 week Thanksgiving
*2 weeks Christmas
*1 week Easter
5 flex days
Short term disability for sick leave
Long term disability over 3 months
3 Personal days
Family leave for births deaths, severe illness
100% adoption coverage

*must work at least one of the holidays for 1/2 of the break period

Holidays and flex days are bid by seniority

10 month contract

Palmer Home for Children.

Vacation: 10 Days 1-3 Years, 15 days 4-9 years, 20 days 10 or more years.

9 Holidays and personal days each calendar year

12 sick days a year, 4 of which can be used for family sick leave. However, unless you have a real emergency their is nobody to cover your cottage, so sick days are pointless.

29 days on and 6 days off schedule, that is a killer.

You know Plumcrazy, we are union at MHS. We use collective barganing. If you can even informally organize, it helps to sing the same or a similar song as a worker group.

40-54 Hour Work Week. 2 days off a week

Overtime over 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day (time and a half)

Double Time over 48 hours a week double time after 10 hours a day

21 Personal days a year years 1-3 (Sick or Vacation time)

All Federal or State Mandated Holidays off or Double Time if worked. 2 Optional Days chosen based on Personal Beliefs.

Pretty Common in the Thousands of Group Homes throughout California.

What seems to vary is how long you have to be employed for the benefits to kick in. 30 days to 6 months seems common

Milton Hershey School (approximates)

12 days on, two days off (100% responsible for coverage if relief not found even if you are scheduled off)
6 weeks off Summer
*1 week Thanksgiving
*2 weeks Christmas
*1.5 week Easter
10 flex days
Short term disability for sick leave
Long term disability over 3 months
5 Personal days (2 can be taken with spouse)
Family leave for births deaths, severe illness
100% adoption coverage

*must work at least one of the holidays for 1/2 of the break period if under 10 year employee, and for pay

holidays and flex days are bid by seniority


Week on week off.
12 sick days a yr. but is really 24 because week on week off.
Makes my job seem real easy seeing everyone’s schedule.
We have 3 emergency days a yr. for deaths.
Once you’ve worked here for over 5 yrs. you start to accumulate vacation days.

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


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 !!!


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.


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.

Asking for raise

My wife and I are Houseparents for a wonderful Christian Maternity Home and are asking our Director and Board for a salary increase, we would like some help in knowing what is reasonable. Thank You , in advance for your help.

The Child Welfare League of America has a book on Salary ranges for the social work field. I don’t know if direct care positions are covered or not but it is worth looking at.
Another helpful tool is the poll on this website. It tells you what others are making and what kind of insurance they are getting. Of course it is not scientific but it is still helpful.

Otherwise I would assume you ask for what you need to pay your bills, take care of yourselves and family and put enough aside for retirement. Good luck.


Thank You for the help, I will check out the sources you mentioned. No, we’re definitely NOT in this for the money; we left everything and everybody to follow GOD’S calling on our lives. Our executive director simply asked if I could give her some idea of what other organizations are offering. Thank You and GOD bless.

newbees, insight


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!


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.


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

Decision of a lifetime., Becoming houseparents for the first time


I am 48 and my husband is 53. He has a job as an assistant manager of a grocery store. He also drives a school bus so that we can have insurance. He is also a pastor of a small church and has been so since 1988. I stay at home and am slightly disabled with a nerve disease called Neuropathy. Some days are bad, some are so so and some are THANK YOU, JESUS! We have a daughter who has just graduated from college and one entering her second year of college.

Basically, we are in a rut at present and we like it. But my husband is working so hard and we have about 2 hours a day to spend together, and that’s if he doesn’t fall asleep. At our church, we have spent many years dealing with children and the color and scratches they add to our world. I have also been a Girl Scout leader and homeschooled for 7 years. In other words, we are very use to children and teenagers and feel we are very capable at working with them.

We have been offered a job as houseparents at a youth ranch. This is a ranch where the children cannot live at home for some reason, often no fault of their own. Each cottage can have 10 children, and that includes the houseparents children. It is a brand-new ranch so the kinks aren’t worked out; it will take about a year. The pay is equal to what my husband makes at his assistant manager’s job. As for insurance, which we must have, after 3 months you pay 1/2 of the premiums. After you’ve been there a year, you pay only 10% of the premium…AWESOME. They also have a retirement plan that will match at least up to 5% of your yearly income. My husband would have to keep driving the school bus until our other insurance kicks in. He says he might as well drive it for another year. I don’t know if I could handle the cottage while the kids get ready for school and the 2 hours they come home in the afternoon. That’s scary.

Also, you only get paid once a month. We’re use to getting paid every Saturday. It is on a 265-acre ranch with a pond/lake, horse arena, woodworking shop, automotive shop, gym w/cafeteria, a huge guest lodge and we would be living in a 3-bedroom apartment which is attached to the cottage, which is really not a cottage it is at least 2500 square foot house, complete with a huge pantry and a kitchen that all women would die for. At present we would be responsible for taking the kids to their appointments and basically anywhere they had to go until the ranch can hire people to do that job. We are expected to prepare at least one meal a day for the kids. And they have to attend at least one church service a week. My husband will continue to pastor, so they will probably be attending more than once a week.

You might wonder why we’re having trouble making up our minds. Well, I’m just wondering what folks think about us being so use to not doing a whole lot and being in a rut. How hard would it be to take on this job being a mother and father to up to 10 boys or 10 girls? Remember, our days consist of watching Bonanza while we eat our lunch and then going back to work, then coming home and watching a little more t.v. and then going to bed. Although, we have raised 2 daughters, could we wonderful parents to the kids at the ranch? We’ve talked in length to the houseparents that are presently living in one of the cottages and they had a lot of valuable stories to tell us. But it seems from where we stand, that these houseparenting jobs require a great deal physically and mentally and emotionally. Please, I need any feedback. My husband is 53. It’s not that easy for a 53 year old man to find work, if we were unable to be houseparents. WE have to make up our minds in about another week.


Because of your stated condition I think you should spend some time visiting and talking with other women that already are house parents. Have you disclosed that to the administration?

No matter what is said about support the only one you can ever truly count on is your husband and vice versa.

You will be up before the crack of dawn and the stress and pressure of your days can be unrelenting as you deal with the needs of children with issues you have not comprehended.

I would be surprised if there is the time in the schedule to allow your husband to still drive the school bus.

It takes 2 people working together in unison to get a house off to school in the morning and to be there for them when they return.

It is far less about being a mother and father than most think. Especially with the youth coming into placement these days.


It sounds like a great place to be. While I think your desire is great, I am not sure if your husband would be able to do the other jobs. I know that here, there is a staff/child ratio that is 6 kids to one staff member and you would not be keeping that.

What you could do is look into other children’s homes that have less kids. There are a lot of jobs available on the jobs board so take a look to see what is out there.

One thing to consider is whether you would be working with girls or boys. Since I work with boys, my husband is the primary caretaker of them. I just can’t go in their room whenever etc. Same goes for the girls cottages – the women are the primary then. I try never to be one on one with any boy and I know all of the husbands are NEVER alone with the girls. Just too much could happen or be said. Our Children’s Home offers assistants to come help so if you were able to have help in the morning and afternoon that would be great. Only thing is, sometimes assistants could be more of a bother than a help.

Just some food for thought!


Wow, it sounds like a pretty good deal, if you can handle it. My Husband and I have talked about going into this type of a situation after our own children are grown. I work currently at a home for girls, I work 3.5 days on and 3.5 days off. I know while I am at work it is great during the school year but harder during the summer. We have 3 staff on at all times and a group worker during the summer and on weekends. This can be the best job in the world and it can be one of the most challenging. My concern would be what would happen if you discover after 3-4 months it isn’t for you and need to go back to your other life style. Is there any way you could start as relief parents? go in for a weekend to give other parents a break? Just a thought…


The situation could possibly work. However I strongly doubt it could be done in addition to two other jobs. If insurance is an issue, there are many places that start with insurance on your first day of employment. If you have only looked at one program, it might not hurt to look at some other programs so that you have something to compare it to.

Medical Insurance


Soooooooo, I’m wondering…..

If we get injured on the job, the company pays for the doctor/hospital visits, correct? We don’t pay out of our pockets if we are injured on the job, correct?

If that is the case, then what is the policy when we are exposed to (from the clients) and become infected with diseases, invasive or not? Say, for instance…RINGWORM! Say that a houseparent contacted ringworm from a client several months ago and is still battling outbreaks….some of which now appear on the face. Some of them SCAR. Is this considered a on the job “injury?”

What is your organization’s policy?


It is true that if you are injured on the job, it should be covered by Worker’s Compensation. Sicknesses are not usually covered- I’m not sure how Ringworm would be classified.

A few years ago when I was playing football with the kids, I injured my back and it was covered by Worker’s Compensation.

But last year at another organization, several of the girls in our home had the flu and the doctor prescribed all of the girls Tamiflu to help prevent the others from getting it (all the girls were covered by Medicaid). The admin wanted my husband and I to get the medication too so that we wouldn’t get sick- but it would be $60 per person for the prescription. So we didn’t do it- and praise the Lord didn’t get sick.

So I don’t know about the ringworm- but these are just my thoughts


You really need to contact the person that administers your workers Comp Policy. The admin at your facility should have that information.

I would imagine that policies on illnesses would be so varied from facility to facility that it would be of little help in your situation.

I can tell you that at the facility I work at and all previous facilities I have worked at, illnesses were my responsibility regardless of how I contracted it. I am thankful that the facility I currently work at provides medical insurance that covers most of our expenses and also a medical savings plan that allows us to pay non-covered expenses with pre-tax dollars.

You will also find that at most facilities personal property is also at risk. I have had several things damaged or stolen in the 9+ years I have been a houseparent and in most cases there was no restitution.

I also found out recently that some facilities are exempt from unemployment insurance. I know of an organization that recently closed a facility and because they were a religious non-profit organization they were not required to pay into the unemployment fund. Their laid off workers had no coverage and were on their own. That is something people should know when they accept a position. You don’t expect the facility you are working for to close, but it can happen. The first facility I ever worked for in about one year went from being in the best financial situation it has ever been to closed because of funding.


My place of employment covers EVERYTHING and not one dime ever comes out of your pay check.

2 Homes? Do You Keep Your House?


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


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


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!


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!

Houseparent Expenses


Since housing, utilities & food are taken care of for houseparents, what is left to use the income on? I know there are things like personal hygiene, clothes, personal vehicle/gas expenses, etc. But, we have to take care of those now with the major expenses on the income we get now from my husband’s job (which seems to be about the same as allot of houseparenting positions). Are there any other expenses (major or minor)??? I want a good life for the house children, but I want to make sure my birth children have a good life also.


Well, you ask a good question and make me feel a little guilty for spending the kind of money that I do. My wife and I own a 2005 Chrysler Crossfire and a 1997 Chevy Blazer. Payments on those are very high (especially the Crossfire). Other places we spend money is on food. Yes, we can eat here but I am a very picky eater and my wife uses the Atkins diet so we end up buying our own groceries most of the time. (But we do eat with the kids!) I am talking about lunch (when kids are in school) or other times when the kids aren’t here, etc.

I also pay for high speed internet on my computer. I have to use satellite because the house we are in won’t carry the cable connection. It’s sickeningly expensive and I may drop it. I also have Direct TV hooked up in my apartment. We have a nice plasma TV and I want a high def signal with as many channels as I can get (especially sports).

When we are off duty we like to try and go OUT. Since we are so often shut up in this house or on this campus we have a strong desire to go somewhere and do something entertaining so we tend to spend a nice amount of cash on entertainment. This also happens on our vacations, we like to take NICE ones.

But, if you are disciplined, don’t need a new car, don’t need to buy your own food (especially this one!!!), and don’t need other “nice” things, you can save a TON of money, especially where I work. As for the kids in the house, we get a budget (on a credit/debit card) to take care of them with. I do spend small amounts of my personal money on them from time to time but it’s nothing much and certainly not enough to worry about.


My race is on rain delay so I will take time to answer this question now instead of later.

Besides our house that we keep, most of our other income goes to our children. School, clothing, orthodontic work, camp, birthdays, Christmas, etc. My 6th grade daughter wants to go to Norway as an exchange student when she is a Jr, so we are now saving for that.

We travel on vacation once a year, I have an old Pick-up and small fishing boat, a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, a retirement account and a savings account. Compared to most of society we live a somewhat modest lifestyle

We do spend a good amount on the children in our cottage. I have a payroll deduction that goes into a special fund for cottage activities. I also spend close to $200 a month for cottage stuff like Lunchables for field trips, Gatorade for field days and sports events, as well as special groceries that we are unable to get from the food service people. We have some kids that really enjoy steak and shrimp; I can’t afford to take them out and the kitchen won’t provide it, so I buy the groceries and cook it at the cottage occasionally.

I will also spring for pizza every now and then and have been known to purchase a DVD or two a month for our cottage movie library.

The savings in being able to eat at the home, use their hot water and electricity, burn their gasoline, and washing with their shampoo, soap, laundry detergent and toothpaste makes a huge difference in what we are able to spend our salary on or not spend on and save. I don’t mind using the cheap stuff, but others do and will by their own stuff.

I have also known many houseparents that don’t pay anything out of their pockets for cottage expenses, which is their choice as well as houseparents that spend a bunch more than we do, you just have to make your choice.