Sometimes it’s Best Just to Keep Your Mouth Shut

webmaster 

Thursday was our annual “Open House” at the facility I work at. It is the largest event of the year and takes a ton of work to get ready for. There are also things you have to do afterwards to get back to normal.

One job is to return the golf-carts, we use for transporting guests, back to the golf-cart shop. That was the job I wanted. I thought it to be more prestigious than the other jobs and more fun. I didn’t get that job. They called me to go and help return the dining hall to it’s usual condition; something I didn’t want to do.

However, I thought it best just to keep my mouth shut and do what I was asked to do. It took us a total of 36 minutes to set up. When we were done, we were free to do whatever. For me that was delivering angel tree gifts our church members had purchased so that some less fortunate children would have a better Christmas. My wife and I returned from that about the same time the golf-cart people finished their job. It took over two hours to return those carts.

It wasn’t hard to recognize which was the better job that morning and I was very glad I kept my mouth shut.


Housepop 

My reply has nothing to do with your original post but every time I look at this post heading it just reminds me of how often I need to do just that. Just keep my mouth shut, whether it is with staff that might get on my nerves or that over excited child that just wants to share a little to much joy or a girl that wants to express a feeling I don’t want to deal with at that very moment. Sometimes I just need to say to myself “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and do what you know God called you to do.” Be a dad, be a comfort, be caring, be a worker bee and just keep your mouth shut.


TexPop

I am frequently reminded that a closed mouth gathers no feet..
-TexPop

When You’re off…..

momofmany

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

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TexPop

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

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

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

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

-TexPop

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momofmany

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

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Launchpad

Awesome tip with the cottage handbook Texpop!

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

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

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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Seamus

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

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glidenhi

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

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

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

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

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JonNDeb

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

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missy

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

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Karing4Kids

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

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missy

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

Union ??????

Launchpad

Yeah Washington!!!! VIVA REVOLUCION!!!!

 I have had to remove the article that was posted here because it is copyrighted material and I don’t have a license from the AP to publish it on my site. Here is a link to the article on another website:

Foster parents in state are nation’s first to join union (http://www.seattlepi.com/local/270817_foster19.html)

I am sorry for any inconvenience but I have learned from what the big-name user content sites have gone through over Copyrighted material.

The Webmaster

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Launchpad

I think what really excited me about this article is the potential to have a lot of impact in the entire child care system when there is a bargaining chip. I am not a big fan of the modern union system (It killed my hometown) but in some cases it is a good thing.

We are in the mission field. But there are many HP’s that have found themselves in a position at a facility that abuses the HP. I know a couple that was told a year ago that if a child in their facility hits them or assaults another staff, the child will be given a 72 hour notice. The couple has had to endure punches and assaults almost weekly for a solid year. The admin has since changed their position and now states that they cannot discharge a child because they need the money the state pays for the child. But all new couples arriving at the facility are told any child that assaults them will be out of the program.

I’ve seen three single women promised the same position in a house just to keep them from leaving.

I have seen part time staff that never worked under 70 hours a week. How about couples that work a solid month straight, but are then consistently expected to still take care of facility business on respite time. (Training, paper work, fill-in, etc…).

Why do some of these facilities treat their employees this way. Easy- you let them. Most couples in this profession have no intention or delusions of becoming rich. Most are HP’s because of a calling to serve Christ. As such we become accustomed to going the extra mile, which is great until the facility begins to take advantage of it. Take a look back thru the history of the union and you will see some shocking similarities. People working hard for their families and giving it their all, just to be used and abused by the people they are employed by.

 I know many people that use this forum think that their is no way to change the current system. I believe that is very short sighted. This profession has changed by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years. Don’t believe me? Talk to an old timer that worked a home about corporal punishment. Look around your facility. All the HP’s that are dead weight and lack professionalism are on the way out. If your facility has even half a brain they are using resources like this network and filling empty slots with qualified people who are ministry minded. You think it’s just coincidence that many facilities that are treating employees as professionals and networking have more applicants than slots for HP’s? If your an administrator and your facility has constant turnover and never enough HP’s to go around, maybe you should re-think your entire program. You know what they say, “If you build it, they will come” (Great movie). 

If you wonder if your being taken advantage of look at the labor laws. If you are a single HP at a facility and not in a supervisory position they must pay you by the hour. There are no exceptions to that rule. If you’re a married couple they can work you as much as they want and you agree to on a agreed upon salary. That is why facilities love couples (Besides the family style atmosphere). Boys Town was instrumental in advocating the paid couple salary in the new labor laws. (Which I agree was necessary). Are you part time and consistently working more than 38 hours a week? Do some research and see what the Federal Government says about your pay and benefits. 

Point is, be professional. EXPECT to be treated as a professional. DO not allow yourself to be abused, God will open doors to other opportunities if you listen to him. Stay in some place that refuses to treat you with respect will affect how well you take care of the kids there.

If conditions in the system continue I believe there could be a real chance a HP union will form. Maybe sooner than you think. 

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webmaster

Honestly, I don’t see any chance of a national union for houseparents. There are already some private and state ran facilities with unions. But I don’t foresee a national one for the same reason I don’t see national standards. Childcare is regulated by each individual state. Additionally the states contract most of their care with individually owned facilities (whether for profit or not) My understanding of labor laws is each company would have to decide to form a union and cannot be mandated by the government.

On top of the whole individual facility thing, you have all the religious organizations that are exempt from most labor laws to begin with. There is no way there will ever be union in any large scale.

The biggest voice we have as far as change is our presence. If a facility is unable to keep good qualified staff, their only choice is to change or accept the hassles of continually recruiting and training new staff.

Personal Living Space and Inspections

momofmany

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

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rachel

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

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TexPop

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

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Launchpad

Oh heck no!

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

Other Houseparents

bakergirl

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

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

Anyway, is anyone else relief out there?

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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glidenhi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Launchpad

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

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

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

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

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

GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!

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bakergirl

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

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

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TexPop

Bakergirl,

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

I hate you all!!!! (Not Really) HP relationships.

Launchpad

I had a great time last night. Several of the guys here have a bible study/ prayer meeting every Monday night which is awesome. After the meeting I stayed up till 3 am with a fellow HP and talked. Part of our conversation led to places we worked and people we knew.

A common trend throughout the ranks is the lack of respect we really have for each other. How often do you hear a kind word about the respite couple or the relief? Most of what we say is how bad the house looks when we come back on duty and how many rules were changed while we were gone. It’s not often we hear about how awesome another couple is. What we hear, and talk about is the less desirable traits and habits a couple has.

Why do we do this? Is it jealousy, contempt, double standards or just plain and simple sin? I’m just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to judging those around me. I pray I’m finally aware of it and can make a change. I also pray I never take for granted AGAIN what most of us have given up to follow a calling.

I’m blessed that the couple we work with are close friends. Staying up till 3am shooting the breeze makes me realize how lucky I really am.

Does anyone else have personality issues at their facilities?

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glidenhi

I think most of the problems we have observed could have been resolved if all of the houseparents within a house worked as a team and worked together on a plan for each child. This should be facilitated and encouraged by the director. If the houseparents within the house don’t get along, the kids are the first to detect it, and it is bad for them. The worst thing is for there to be a turf battle going on, and for the kids to pay for their allegiance to one couple over the other. Any houseparent that discredits another to the kids is disrupting their own household and really discrediting themselves. Envy and strife is just what these kids need…after all they’ve been through. If relief houseparents are really not doing the job, they should be history. If they are having some successes that the regular houseparents aren’t, maybe someone should be asking some questions….not getting jealous.

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dontlietokids.net

Here’s what I’ve discovered. Relational staff seem very accepting of other styles, even very strict unrelational styles. Sure, they may not like a style that isn’t relational, and maybe they wish others were like them, but over all they are pretty accepting of all styles. Those who are not relational seldom accept those who are, they tend to gossip about them, put them down, and assume kids who behave well for them do so because of the “lack of structure”.

 

Many facilities don’t help this attitude because they so often teach “consistency=discipline” which isn’t true at all. Yes, our discipline should be consistent but so should our love for the kids as well and our desire to be there for them, listen to them, etc. but this is so, so, so seldom taught as being as important as discipline. Because of this the strict, very structured staff tend not to respect those who are not strict and very structured. The relational staff normally support everyone because, well, because they are RELATIONAL.

 

Until facilities begin to teach relationship building as strongly as they do discipline and structure the tension between the two different types of staff will never, ever go away. Sad, but true. Let’s look at one example.

How often have you heard in training of new staff

“Go in hard! It’s easier to back off then it is to get more strict!”

I have heard that 10 trillion times.

Ok, so how often have you heard this in training of new staff

“Try and build relationships with your kids, get to know them, understand them, find their issues and concerns out by talking with them.”

I’ve not heard that very often, especially when compared to the “go in hard” statement.

THERE IS YOUR PROBLEM.

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webmaster

We seem to have definite clicks on our campus and it usually divides up between old and new houseparents. I personally tend to be more of a loner, because I am not very comfortable in social situations. I tend to say stupid things that get me into trouble. Fortunately for me, kids are much more forgiving in that respect, that is probably why I relate better to them.

Most of our socialization takes place on the porch in the evening after supper while we watch our children play. During the summer we do it at least one a week, not as often in the winter.

I think houseparents can be some of the most judgmental people there are and make “Church Lady” seem mild, but I also think there are some houseparents that really should look for a different line of work and wish houseparenting was much more competitive to weed out those people. However, I am not sure that will ever happen because, most people don’t see being a houseparent as a profession and the financial rewards aren’t enough to draw many people.

Other Houseparents at your Facility

momofmany

Are the other houseparents at your facility friendly with one another or not? Ours are not. We went on a women’s retreat and everyone just sticks to themselves. I tried to be friendly, but always felt like the conversation was not returned. Is it this way at most facilities, or just mine?

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glidenhi

I’ve worked at three different campuses so far……have found friendships cordial, but not close.

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webmaster

We have been at our current facility for almost 8 years and although we are all pretty cordial, I am not sure how close our relationships are.

We definitely have clicks that are basically divided old houseparents – newer houseparents. I try to be friendly with all the houseparents, and try to help whoever or however I can, but I am not really close to anybody.

I am so busy with running my house, all my additional duties, plus my website – I don’t really have time for any type of a close friendship. I do good to have a few moments to spend with my wife.

Friendships require work and commitment, and I also don’t really have the spare emotions to put into it. I imagine there are other houseparents in the same boat.

On the other hand I am sure it would probably be nice to have a friend that can relate to the issues you face on a daily basis, because those friends that are not houseparents, if you have any, CAN’T.

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dontlietokids.net

I fear that there are so many answers to this issue that trying to speak to it is nearly impossible. At our last place of employment administration used staff against one another. It was sickening, but rather than supervise, they would listen to gossip and rumors. You almost had to tell on others to keep heat off of you.

Where I am not the administration is so, so much better and from what I can tell after a year and a half 99% of the staff are friendly and not out to stab one another in the back, mainly because they don’t have to.

However…

There is an uneasiness amongst childcare staff. Because all of us have our own “style” we are uneasy around each other because we don’t want to be challenged, more importantly we don’t want rumors to start about how we are too mean to our kids or too easy going, etc.

That’s why at sites like this one and mine we need to take EVERY opportunity presented to us to speak to one another without getting defensive or offended. We need to learn from one another in the name of the children we serve.

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Launchpad

Currently we are in a really good place. We all seem to just “click” at the moment. I think it has a lot to do with the dynamics of the people and a whole lot on the leadership of a facility. Employee moral (in my opinion) is the reason for turnover. Happy employees will go the extra mile. Just common sense. I do go out of my way to build a relationship professionally with the people I work with because I need them and the service they perform. It is a bit selfish, but in the process I end up with some good friends. We get together occasionally and BBQ, last night a couple of the houses just decided to have a bonfire. It was a good time with the house parents and kids. We didn’t need any specific reason or dictate from admin to get together. We just do it because we really enjoy each other’s company.

My last place the house parents were friendly, but there was always a little tension between someone. Always a soap opera going on. It was also a major reason I left. My wife and I set out to specifically find a place that was more family oriented and where the staff could at the very least, be friends. We turned down an offer from a great facility, paying higher wages than here, where we have friends at, entirely based on how well ALL the staff work together as a family. I’m glad we did. Life is way to short for us to waste it in a place where everything but the kids and ministry comes first. Especially when there are so many HP positions out there.

Something that might help; Find a morning when most HP’s can get together and have coffee, start a women’s or men’s prayer meeting once a week. Have a group BBQ for absolutely no good reason and bond over greasy food that is gonna send you to Jesus a little sooner than you expect. Go way out of your way to make friends with the one staff member that seems to the most un-pleasant. If you don’t make friends with them, at least you’ll annoy them a bit and give ’em something to gossip about.

This is an emotionally and physically draining job. I can’t imagine doing it without the fellowship of my sisters and brothers in Christ to help me stay on track. 

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webmaster

Well I am back from the Fishing Trip and I am glad to report that the kids had a GREAT time!! I had a pretty good time with only a few issues, however the biggest thing I brought back from the weekend is an insight I discovered about houseparents, at least the houseparents that were there this weekend.

There were over 30 houseparents from all over the south at this event this weekend and it should have been a great opportunity to meet other houseparents and visit with other people you can relate too. However, it wasn’t. Most everybody stuck to themselves and didn’t seem real interested in meeting anyone one else. Many seemed very stand-offish.

I tried to visit with a few people, and did visit in length with one couple that knew of me through my website, but for the most part it seemed like people were not real interested in meeting other people. I understand that we had children that needed to be supervised and I had a couple boys that were a real challenge, but I guess I just had hoped that we would all want to network more than we did.

I think this is a real issue for houseparents and is something I have resolved to work on. I probably would have been much more forward, but my wife reminded me before I left that I was representing our facility not The Houseparent Network this weekend, so I needed to keep my promoting to a minimum and I did. I didn’t even mention the website unless they brought it up.

The couple I did visit with confirmed one thing I thought about participation on this and other websites. They said they had time to read stuff from time to time but didn’t really feel that they had time to post or interact in-depth – they were just too busy.

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Launchpad

I see the whole issue as professional development. I can find more relaxing things to do rather than read, network or listen to podcasts about my profession.

I think it is the same in any job. In the Army, people get off work and have down time. The ones that did a little time management, studied a little and strived to be all they could be, progressed. The ones that didn’t? They just did the job.

I don’t see anything wrong with those that see this as just a “Job”. However, I do not identify with that crowd and they tend have the life span of a fruit fly in the HP world.

We can and will change how we network. My wife and I have no problem, and we are planning, with contacting and going to see other house parents at other facilities on our off time when finances will allow. The only purpose we have is to meet others in this field, learn and make some good friends. This is a culture unto itself. We do what no others want to. This is a very unique ministry and we are few. No one else, except other HP’s can even begin to know what this life, or the challenges it presents are like.

As a Christian community we should be open, especially with other HP’s. I don’t know what the deal is, but I plan on knocking on a few doors. (No I’m not looking for a Job, I love kicking it Southern style here)

Maybe I am a fanatic. In the long run it really doesn’t matter what the ones that “Just Do It” think. I’m more concerned with those of us that do care about this ministry and doing it well with the time the Lord has given us to run the race.

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webmaster

I know what you mean. I can honestly tell you that I have considered just bagging it all and doing something else. There is always HVAC or Mechanics I can fall back on as well as working with these computers full time, even though I hate them most of the time.

Other times I want to just take care of the kids I have, and not worry about anybody or anything else.

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.

Single Houseparents

momofmany

Are all the houseparents at your facility couples or do you have any singles? Our facility is trying singles. Most are young and inexperienced. They have a helper AKA babysitter/assistant when they are on duty? Anybody seen this? Any thoughts????

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Launchpad

I started out as a single HP. But it was a facility where the kids were much higher maintenance and most were stepping down from the psych ward. The facility really did not understand what they needed to do to bring in couples. Soon after my wife and I married we moved to a facility that was looking for couples.

IMO- The biggest issues I have seen with facilities hiring singles is they try to match a man and a woman in order to model a family style setting. Problem is the kids know they are not married and it seems more like a play act you put on for the kids, not to mention all the drama associated with the boy- girl thing, but the facilities that are struggling with finding couples almost have to hire singles to keep running the facility.

There are some awesome single HP’s out there. I know of many actually. The biggest problem is when a facility just runs an add in the local paper to fill the vacancy instead of using tools like this web site to find HP’s, single or married. Professional HP’s will come from all over the country to fill positions you have open IF you are interested in being a serious, professional ministry and not some hack outfit that only warehouses the kids. Since our facility has almost exclusively advertised and hired off the Houseparent Network site, there have been nothing but professional, ministry minded couples and singles hired here. The turnover rate is also ridiculously low since they have incorporated the network (13%).

We have single HP’s here, but they usually pair them up with the same gender (So as to avoid any soap opera stuff) and generally with the older teens. Every one of the singles here are extremely dedicated to what they do, which is a first for me. Couples are always more preferable to a facility, financially and in modeling family style living. But it just is not possible to fill all positions with qualified couples. There are more slots available then there are couples, especially for larger facilities.

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webmaster

We use singles as relief staff at my current facility. The lady that relieves in my cottage has been here for over 33 years.

 

The downside to singles is that they can only really keep the seams from bursting the week they are there. I always feel for them at those times my wife is gone and I have to run the cottage by myself. We try to make things easier on them by not scheduling appointments for the week they are on duty and trying to have everything in the cottage organized and scheduling sponsor and family visits during our relief so they have fewer kids to care for.

The upside for us is that we have a very low turnover in our relief staff. Being in a different place all the time and living out of your car just seems to be easier for a single person than for a couple and especially for a family. Our relief staff ladies have been here for 33 and 10 years. Our vacation relief staff couple, changes about every year.

At a former facility we had singles that they paired up in teams to be houseparents. Sometimes they paired them as male/female couples other times they were same sex teams. IMO it worked best when they paired same sex in teams in the same sex home. It was all about B-mod so there wasn’t any family modeling issues to deal with.

My biggest grief with singles at that facility was that they got paid more than married couples. The administration said that both the husband and wife could combine their income to pay their bills and singles couldn’t. This part blew my mind, they had no problem paying a brand new pair of singles a higher combined salary than their most experienced couple. If a single is doing the job of a couple they should be paid more, if they are being teamed up and doing the same job as a married couple, the team should be paid the same.

I foresee as a future trend the more therapeutic facilities continually moving to singles and shift work; however I see the residential foster care home model expanding which will use couples. I see more homes that will hire couples and provide them with a home, vehicle, groceries, and other things yet they will operate as an independent foster home with support of counselors, tutors, etc.

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!

From A Rookie: What Would You Do?

roadie865
We are in our very first turn serving as relief. Five days after coming in, we discovered that one girl, MR 19 yr-old, has had ringworm for 3 weeks already. She left her medicine at home 2 weeks ago on a visit. When she told the houseparents, they said, “Well, what are you going to do about that?”, and they have not purchased more for her yet (they’ve been “treating” it with toothpaste). All this time, she’s been helping set the table, using the phone, computer – and working at a retirement home, serving meals to the residents there. We spoke with the Exec. Director, but nothing more has been done or said.


webmaster
I would first discuss it with the houseparents and see what they say. Stories are often times very different between what they say and what the residents say. Get their side and see if y’all (The staff at your facility) can somehow get the medicine from home or get a replacement from the Dr. It needs to be treated although it is not overly contagious.

It’s always best to first work with the other houseparents before taking other steps. A lot of issue can be resolved there.

Hope this helps.


eagleeyes
Getting the houseparents side before passing judgment will go along way in keeping everyone happy. The youth may very well be telling the truth, yet working together as a team for a solution is the best way to go. Once the supervisor gets involved feelings can get hurt and a bad spirit can come between houseparents.

From experience, we have always had the best results with issues when we and relief houseparents can work things out ourselves, we approach it as we are always learning and we can learn something from every situation we are in or have gotten ourselves in.

coworkers…uggg

conniejean
I have a serious co-worker problem. We recently started working with a new case-manager for our girls and she really has it in for me. I don’t believe I have done anything to deserve her bad treatment. She looks for any little thing (and I do mean any) to tell our supervisor about me. For example, we have a cafeteria here and so the only meals we cook are breakfast and we do Sunday night supper in house. I cook and usually have 2 girls help so I can teach them something about cooking. We do not have a set time for this supper, just when I get ready and its convenient. So one night the girls were asking when supper was and the next day I get a call from our supervisor asking me about the girls not knowing when supper was!! And it has gotten a lot worse since then. I have tried talking to her and it hasn’t made a bit of difference. I have worked here for 10 years and my reputation as a housemom is solid, but I was recently told by another co-worker that she is telling the supervisor everything and my supervisor is developing a bad opinion of me. I am at my wits end!! I am seriously depressed about this and I have no idea where to go from here. Nothing I say to her is going to change this. I have to work with her every day. She is frequently over to the cottage and I know she’s not going to change. I can’t trust her so I say nothing to her and I’m afraid it will affect the girls. It has added a lot of stress to my already stressful life. I am ready to call it quits.  Please , Help!!! 


Launchpad
I have always believed the reason turnover is so high in any youth ministry, whether it is at a church or group home is because of adults and coworkers. Every adult has their own interpretation of what a parent should be and how a house should run. When you have people that are passionate about the ministry they do and strong opinions of how it should be done, tempers will flare. Having a standard program across campus that is fair and consistent will help keep most tempers from running hot.

And then there is the flip side. There truly are some insane individuals that make a living out of being incompetent child care providers. Actually every occupation has its bad apples. The only way to survive the incompetent fools that haunt the ranks is to marginalize those individuals as much as possible and go about your ministry.

QUOTE
I have a serious co-worker problem. We recently started working with a new case-manager for our girls and she really has it in for me. I don’t believe I have done anything to deserve her bad treatment. She looks for any little thing (and I do mean any) to tell our supervisor about me. For example, we have a cafeteria here and so the only meals we cook are breakfast and we do Sunday night supper in house. I cook and usually have 2 girls help so I can teach them something about cooking. We do not have a set time for this supper, just when I get ready and its convenient. So one night the girls were asking when supper was and the next day I get a call from our supervisor asking me about the girls not knowing when supper was!!

Without knowing more about the specifics, there are three ways to go on this:
(1) This case manger is a witch.

(2) You may have a problem accepting professional feedback.

(3) It may be an issue of both 1 and 2.

To give you a real life example-
When we worked in Georgia I loved working outside doing yard work and cutting wood. I was very dedicated to the ranch and wanted to help any way that I could. However- I would finish up with working on whatever project I was doing, throw the gas can in the garage and go pick the boys up from school.

The boys would sneak out to the garage and huff gas because I almost always forgot I did not lock up the cans. After being told by my supervisor in very clear language during a visit one day that I needed to get my act together and start being more attentive in my actions, I became very upset. After all, I was doing a great service to the ranch by doing extra things around the place (So I thought). The truth is, he was right- I was wrong, and not thinking like a professional HP that can accept the fact I was wrong and needed to tighten up my game. Looking back on it now, I should have at the very least been written up if not fired for the repeated incidents. Thankfully I just got a butt chewing from him and my wife walked around for the next month calling me an idiot every time I even looked at a lawn mower.

Having a flexible schedule in no way compares to my negligence as a HP, but the case manager may be trying to give you feed back in being more consistent with your schedule. OR; If there is no set time for dinner in your house, the rest of your facility is running on that same principle and your case manager is only getting on your butt, it is possible she may belong to the incompetent fools group mentioned above.

QUOTE
I have tried talking to her and it hasn’t made a bit of difference. I have worked here for 10 years and my reputation as a housemom is solid, but I was recently told by another co-worker that she is telling the supervisor everything and my supervisor is developing a bad opinion of me.

After ten years of ministry in a field where people start thinking of a career change after the first six months is amazing. You are truly a rare gem and called to serve. Sit down with the supervisor and have an open and honest discussion about how you feel and what your side of the story is. If they are not willing to have a serious sit down and talk with you about issues that are clearly hindering you from enjoying life, you are at the wrong facility. Get out and get out now. With ten years worth of HP experience and using your network, you will find a place that will value and cherish you.

As for the co-worker- You have more to fear from her than you probably do the case manager. If this co-worker works the admin side of the house is telling you any business or conversations of that nature going on in the office they are at the very least unprofessional. If it’s another HP that is telling you this, ask yourself where they are getting the info? What possible reason would they have to tell you your supervisor has a bad opinion of you? 

We all know HP’s that struggle in some areas. But of what use is it to walk up to them and say, “Hey Marsha, everyone’s talking about how much you suck”. This is just not cool or acceptable on any level of professional or personal development. Be very careful with that individual or any others that keep the rumor mills working overtime.

QUOTE
 Nothing I say to her is going to change this. I have to work with her every day. She is frequently over to the cottage and I know she not going to change. I can’t trust her so I say nothing to her and I’m afraid it will affect the girls.

One of the great things about being professional is that you don’t have to be nice, just- professional. If what this case manager is doing is adversely affecting the girls, you have a responsibility to let this case manager know in a tactful way that she is off her rocker. If the problem persists you go to the next one in the chain of command. Keep in mind you will also receive feedback from most if not all individuals you talk with. How you react and how well you control your emotions and respond with professional courtesy will reflect greatly on which side of the argument they lean towards. If the case manager is a loon, give it time, she will eventually do herself in. As long as you are in control of your speech, and body language, most people will listen; and at least be able to identify in part with your cause.

If after all that and no one seems to care or show any interest in resolving the issue, is it really some place you want to be? I view my time on earth as short and the mission God has given all of us as very large. I don’t have time to be wasting on petty games that some people in this field play. Our mission is as real as it gets and we are the front line troops. I have ran across some horrible therapists, case workers, supervisors and psychologists. But most I have worked with have been the greatest human beings I have ever met. The reason most people I work with are a joy is because I refuse to deal with anything less. If the facility I work at now becomes a cesspool of futility and poor leadership, I’m out of here and going to a place the Lord has made ready for being serious about taking care of kids. I won’t even lose sleep over it. 

QUOTE
It has added a lot of stress to my already stressful life. I am ready to call it quits.  Please , Help!!!

I know how to solve this one!!!

Get yourself a motorcycle and ride on over to South Carolina. We will all go out for Mexican and get tattoos. At the very least you will be a lot more intimidating to your case manager. Kinda unlikely she will mess with you if she thinks you belong to some kinda House Parent motorcycle gang. 


TexPop
conniejean – The first thing that popped into my head when I read your post was Matthew 5:44 where Jesus said: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Launchpad has provided a well thought-out response that deals with most of the person to person dynamics. But I wanted to be sure and include a scriptural consideration also. This one may be the most difficult of them all.

Launchpad – can’t we think of something tougher-sounding than the “House Parent motorcycle gang”? I just can’t see that in a tatoo!! 


Launchpad
LOL. 

How about DPU (Dysfunctional Parental Units).

We could have a picture of a kid with a bloody nose and black eye for our colors. That will have to scare somebody! (Like my boss).


conniejean
Thank you so much for the feed back…I really appreciate the support. And the thing about the motorcycle and tattoo cracked me up…I LOL’d. I also needed the reminder to love her. I have spent time in prayer asking God to help me have a sweet spirit about this. I don’t want to become bitter and hateful because of this. I have always been one to try my hardest to accept feedback from others. We don’t have to have a set time for Sunday suppers so it was ok that the girls didn’t know exactly when it would be. I guess I just wish that she had come to me first, ya know? Just pray that I do what God would have me do in this situation. And I would love to come eat Mexican food and get a big tattoo LOL. We have a great little Mexican place here and its the best place in town to eat. Every time we go we see people from here eating there! Well anyway, thanks again!!

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.

If you build it, They will come

CaringCouple

We found our first position though a site advertised in a Social Worker publication. We later came across this site and found that they advertise her as well.
Our 2nd position was found because of an ad they had posted here. We had also subscribed to Mike’s list at the time and accomplished 7 interviews before making a decision. All but one with companies on Mike’s list or ads here.

Our current position is one for which we were actively recruited. By going to trainings outside the agency we met others doing what we do and began to “network”. Someone found out about us from one of their employees and we were contacted and ended up finding a program a bit better than the one we left.

As with ANY job, with House Parenting, the time and money you invest in additional training, seminars, etc makes you a more marketable commodity. You teach it to the kids so practice some of it and invest in your future as well.

Don’t sit around whining or waiting for someone else to do it for you.

A LOT of agencies will hire any warm set of bodies that can pass a background check. Some tend to prefer those who know NOTHING that they can control and manipulate easier.

But with any of the more structured and financially successful agencies (usually exhibited by growth) they are a bit more selective and your educational background will find you the better paid positions.

There are many inexpensive seminars. I paid $25 for a 4 hour course Tuesday in Behavior Management and $20 for a 4 hour course today in “Safely Driving a Passenger Van” (Insurance companies want to see this kind of stuff).

Many churches and Civic Organizations offer free training and parenting classes as well. They can all be used to build your resume.

An excellent source of training is Foster Parenting Classes. I’ve found 3 agencies that will let us sit in on classes because we are “thinking” of becoming Foster Parents”. When your kids leave you that is where they sometimes go so it’s nice knowing how they are prepared.

Yes it takes time.

Yes it takes a small investment sometimes on your part

But it also pays off financially if that is important to you.
If you are young or have 0 experience it can mean the difference between a minimum wage or voluntary “missionary” position vs a $12.50 an hour Child Care Worker position or even a $60K plus overhead and full benefits kind of job.

It also pays off in areas where you can do the most good sometimes. We work with VERY difficult kids. Kids that would have been institutionalized a few years ago and are so in other states. The training has certainly helped us feel more comfortable in assisting them with their needs and helping them solve their problems.


Katryn

Great Advice, thank you.

I think people get into houseparenting and end up in what we call “an Island named student home”

We find it difficult to even get together with fellow houseparents here, let alone others from different facilities.

But, this is a definite must, not just to keep your training up, and yourself more marketable…but to keep yourself sane.

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

2houseparents112

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


4thekids

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


CaringCouple

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

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

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