Dating in your home

dontlietokids.net 

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

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

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

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

I suggest the following.

1) Get to know the person your child likes.

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

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

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

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

At least think about it..


webmaster 

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

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


Launchpad 

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

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

What are the limits of personal display of affection?

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

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


dontlietokids.net 

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

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

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

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


Launchpad 

Thanks!

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

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


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

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

When You’re off…..

momofmany

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

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TexPop

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

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

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

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

-TexPop

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momofmany

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

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Launchpad

Awesome tip with the cottage handbook Texpop!

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

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

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

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

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

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webmaster

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

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

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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Seamus

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

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glidenhi

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

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

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

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

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JonNDeb

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

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missy

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

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Karing4Kids

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

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missy

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

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.

Suicide Watch

momofmany

Have you ever had a kid in your care on “Suicide watch”? What preventive measures do you take? Any idea on the best way to talk with them? Any help would be appreciated.

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webmaster

In all the facilities that we have worked at, we did not do “Suicide watches.” If they threatened suicide or we suspected it was a possibility, they would be taken to the emergency room and evaluated by a mental health professional. If needed they were admitted and watched by the hospital or mental health facility.

If they were just manipulating they came back and in most cases never tried that again.

I am thankful for having administrators that are aggressive in dealing with that.

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TexPop

I’d have to agree with WM on how we handle suspected suicide “attempters” at our facility too. I HAVE had times when I needed to keep a close watch on kids because of other behavior issues. In these cases, we’d do an intensive room sweep and then remove the bedroom door (they could change cothes in the bathroom).

What kind of measures are you having to take? Is this normal at your facility? Is there training provided?

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momofmany

I don’t think it happens too often, it is just one of those where the ER does not think they need further psych eval, however, the facility is more cautious. I have wonderful support. We keep them line of sight AT ALL TIMES. We often times get “Night Coverage” so that we do not have to be awake all night. I think my facility has some of the best training out there, and luckily our supervisors are available by hand held radio. I have dealt with a lot of abused kids, but it seems that three times in the last three months I have had one with suicidal ideation. Our bedrooms don’t have doors, so that is not an issue. Almost everything is taken away during these times and we do a lot of talking with the resident. It just breaks my heart that this is the thought of a teenager.

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Launchpad

The first facility we worked in was a much higher care facility. When/ if the kid made a suicide gesture or statement we would call the therapist or ambulance (Depending on how serious the attempt was). The therapist would make a decision on whether the kid needed to be placed back to the children’s psych ward (Where most came from to our facility).

IF the kid came back- Any objects that could cause harm where taken out, which meant more or less everything. Given enough time to think about it, you can kill yourself with pert near anything. Over night staff would keep watch on the kid.

I have never had to deal with a suicide attempt since I got married and my wife and I moved to another facility. Since then, suicide statements that kids have made would be reported, we would talk to the kid briefly but we also don’t make a big deal about it. Most of the time it is a negative attention seeking thing and the more emotional you get the more adventurous they get.

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.

Cottage Security

TexPop

Do any of you have security systems in your cottages? You know, door and window alarms, video cams, etc. I have a wireless bedroom door chime system that alerts me when one of the kids has opened their door at night. But I was thinking about a video camera at the front door to document the pick-up and drop-off conditions when the kids go on home visits. Sometimes things/kids are just left on the porch…sometimes the guardian arrives in a questionable condition….etc.

I don’t need additional security for the kids ’cause their all young and no problem, but I’ve worked in cottages where I was watching for runaways and additional security would have been helpful there.

Tell me what you’ve found useful.

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Launchpad

We are pretty lax on security here. I rigged up a baby monitor in the boys hallway to keep an ear open for anyone moving about. The best thing about it is the boys forget it is even there and can’t figure out how we know what they are talking about when they think they are out of ear shot.

The ranch in Georgia we just left had a sweet system. Each boy had a intercom in their room. There was two master control intercoms, one in the kitchen and one in the HP bedroom. There was also an intercom system for the garage, game room and front porch. They also had a alarm system for all the doors in the house, windows and I think there may have been a perimeter alarm. SWEET system. If I was open my own group home and have a bottomless budget I would copy their system.

In Maryland we rigged up a magnetic alarm system to all the boys doors. It cost about $50 a house to install. It also only took a kid 5 minutes to figure out how to get around the system. 

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rachel

We have an alarm system that chimes anytime a door in the house opens. At night, we set the motion sensors. If a girl goes into the living room or kitchen, the alarm goes off. Girls are only able to be in their bedroom or go to the bathroom after the alarm has been set. This system prevents them from sneaking up on us in our bedroom, sneaking into the living room to watch tv, or sneaking into the kitchen for unapproved midnight snacks.

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webmaster

The cottage I work in now, used to have a security system. I was the one that installed it for previous houseparents at the direction of administration, however they didn’t want to deal with it so they quickly disabled it. Of course they also provided alcohol and drugs for the teens in the cottage, fortunately they are no longer houseparents, at least not here.

We used an alarm system in the B-mod program we worked at and it was a constant battle of cat and mouse to keep it working effectively. Children would use speaker magnets or any other magnet they could get a hold of to bypass a magnetic window sensor, scotch tape on a mechanical switch sensor, or simply placing a ball cap over the motion sensor just before bedtime. It is much easier trying to keep somebody out than trying to keep somebody in with an alarm system.

A baby monitor is probably one of the best devices I have ever used for gathering intelligence on the happenings of the house. Working with little kids I haven’t had need to use one in a while, but I have noticed they are getting smaller and therefore easier to hide.

You need to be very careful about using cameras, and always make sure you have permission from your administrator. We have been allowed to use them in public areas of the cottage to monitor messing around after lights out, and also in a child’s room while they are gone on visits to catch people stealing from them (The child did not have a roommate and all the other children were instructed not to go in). Never use them in an area where a child could be undressing, you just don’t want that liability.

Houseparent-to-Child Ratio

TexPop

I’ve been informed that Texas has just implemented a change in licensing standards that mandates we include our own personal children when calculating our ratios of House Parent to children. Our cottage currently houses 8 children from 5yrs- 18yrs. Each houseparent can supervise 8 kids in this range so this is fine. However, if you have a child under 5 present within your home then the HP with that child can only watch a total of 4 kids by themselves. This will present some situations we’ve not encountered before and will require some forethought as we work to comply with these new standards (my wife and I are expecting a baby in February).

What are the ratios in other states and how have y’all accommodated them? -TexPop

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webmaster

My wife and I worked in Texas 8 years ago, and at the facility we worked at we had to include our birth children in the ratio then.

There were many days we had to load up the entire cottage and go somewhere because we would have been out of ratio. If we were caught out of ratio, we could receive consequences up to being terminated.

We are currently in Mississippi and as a privately funded religious organization we are exempt from state licensing and most regulation, so I am not sure what the ratio is, however I could say that if you had to have a 1 to 4 ratio for children under five we would be out of ratio with both of us on duty. We currently have 10 children aged: 4,5,5,7,9,10,11,13(birth),16(birth) plus a 3 year old that is here most days. We raised his mother here at the home and care for him while she works.

The state is currently being sued by Children’s Rights so things could change drastically in the future.

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Launchpad

That’s a great question. My in-laws work at a facility in Macon, GA where they say the ratio is 1 to 10 for five year olds and up. That sounds absolutely insane to me.

In Maryland we had a 1 to 4 ratio. There were times (often) that you would have more children for short amount of time but they generally did a good job at keeping those ratios consistent.

The previous facility was a 1 to six ratio. Again that was the facility’s number not the state of GA which I believe was higher.

Makes you wonder how some of them old ladies used to run orphanages with 30 kids by themselves back in the day. 

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TexPop

………….Corporal punishment and permanent hair loss?  …..

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Launchpad

LOL!!!!! 

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gracecountry

My wife and I was House Parents for several yrs in Texas but now we are in Kansas working as Managers for a group home. we tried to get back into a home in la Porte Texas they seem like they was wanting to rehire us and return but the new laws stopped us . We have 4 children 5 ,7,8 and 13 this is really a serious thing since they have such a great HP shortage. I guess we will be staying in Kansas.

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Launchpad

God bless you. That’s a lot of kids. From what I have seen I think there is an unwritten rule that most facilities will shy away from couples with more than two bio’s.

It is a shame, especially when your heart wants to serve kids somewhere else.

State Gov’t Bureaucracies Better or Worse?

TexPop

I’ve been asking myself lately if there are some states where it is easier to run a Children’s Home than others due to the amount of state control and hoops to jump through. I’ve only workied in Texas where it used to be a lot easier to operate than it is today. About three years ago a new person took charge of our state’s licensing system and, since I’m told he came from the day-care industry, he decided to “beef up” our licensing requirements and restrictions. Our list of “Minimum Standards” more than doubled. Sometimes I think bureaucrats do this just to justify their existance.

I also wonder what it’s like working with your State’s Child Protective System. What I observe here is a lot of good intent – but not much common sense. We as House parents and therefore primary care-givers have very little input on the disposition of a CPS child in our care.

What are your opinions of your States’ services?

-TexPop

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webmaster

There are definitely states where there is less regulation. I have worked in three different states: Wyoming (twice), Texas, and Mississippi. Of the states I have worked at:

Mississippi (1999-present) is by far the least regulated, in fact there have only been licensing requirements for about 7 years. However things are becoming more strict since they settled the lawsuit with children’s rights and I expect that trend to continue.

Wyoming the first time is next (1997-1999). We were licensed and regulated but things weren’t real strict.

Texas (1999) We quickly noticed how much more strict Texas was than Wyoming. Among other things, child supervision and child/staff ratios were strict and strictly enforces.

Wyoming the second time (Nov 2000-Mar 2001) In the time we were gone regulations had changes drastically. We were required to have 24 hour awake staff, logs with entries every 15 minutes, much more strict facilities regs, etc.

Unfortunately people that have done very bad jobs at caring for children have resulted in the vast majority of the regs we live with today. I think it sucks that we have as many regs as we do, but if people in the past would have done better jobs we wouldn’t have as many. On the same note, the better the job we do today, the less additional regs we will have to deal with in the future.

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TexPop

Wow! 24 hr staff for “basic care”??

I understand, but tend to disagree. If there are no problems in the future because we are doing a better job – most regulating agencies will simply figure it’s because their rules are so beneficial. Reducing regulation is VERY rare. -TexPop

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webmaster

I never said reduce current regulation. The better job we do today will reduce the amount of additional regulation we have to face in the future.

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MomforLife

I finally got to read the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas just before I left the state! When I read the Texas standards, it appeared to be very similar.

Seriously, I believe the major difference in the amount of harrassment appears to be in the types of placement. My current facility in Texas has a lot of state placed children, parental rights terminated. When your facility is a ‘private placement’ the state is usually too busy to bother, unless a compliant is made. The facility I came from in Arkansas was 100% private placement…the courts sent us children, but the parents still retained legal custody. We rarely had a visit from any state official. Since coming to Texas, it feels like everyone is expecting the worst…fearful of mis-stepping…worried about being censored by the State. It puts an unnecessary burden on people trying to devote their time and energies to the children in need.

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Craig Bridges

I just do not want to post on this subject. It is going to get worse in the future for facilities that take state placements. Sadly, many Christian homes have the answer to many of these kid’s problems but have to spend too much time worrying about state regs & red tape & money instead of focusing on programs that

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TexPop

Craig – I agree with you, but why don’t you want to post on this? I thought some might be hesitant to post because they didn’t know who might be lurking.  Are these your thoughts?

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Craig Bridges

No, no. I just didn’t want to get on my soap box as this subject is a huge frustration to me. There are so many kids out there not getting served all because of lack of $ and state regs that become the focus rather than kids. Government just does not have the answer to the problem and the system is broken, even in crisis in my opinion. I am not worried about posting for others to see and think that it is a very worthy subject.

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TexPop

Good. I know we spend lots of time, $$ and effort to satisfy state licensing regs – rather than opening up more beds and ministering to kids. It’s the shotgun approach to management via the state. I mean, if a facility is endangering kids, close them down. Don’t regulate the rest of us to death. Craig, I can’t even imagine the frustration you as an administrator must feel when you are asked to conform to a rule that was put into place because of someone else’s substandard faciltiy. Thanks for responding.

-TexPop

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Launchpad

At this moment I truly believe I am at ground zero when it comes to state regulations and red tape. I have never seen the amount of policies and procedures that a facility has to comply with to be licensed as here in DC. To be fair, I also may have been shielded from dealing with the state because I worked for some administrators that did their job and dealt with the paperwork and red tape, while I was allowed to take care of the kids.

90% of my time is spent doing paperwork and reporting to the powers that be in the District Of Columbia. In case you’re wondering what I have been doing with the other 10% of my time it has been divided between actual childcare and sleeping (about 5 hours if I’m lucky).

I have seen firsthand the differences in state placements. In Georgia and South Carolina I may have seen someone from the state doing an inspection or file audit once every few months. Here we have audits on a bi- weekly basis and walk through inspections at random times every week.

Oversight is a good thing and it keeps an honest facility honest. To much oversight has the the potential to rip the guts out of a facility and create a climate of fear and dread. The turnover at our site in DC is all about the paperwork, redundant regulations and reporting procedures. The kids are the easiest (and most enjoyable part) of our work here.

Someday, I’ll open my own outlaw facility in the wilds of Alaska and thumb my nose at the man. Until then I’ll be asking every state employee if they would like some cream in their coffee or a foot massage…… 

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TexPop

Launch,

Since DC is not actually a state – how does it work? Is it run by some federal department? 

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Launchpad

Dc actually operates like a pseudo state. It’s a city, but the social services branches and every other government function you would find in a state government are here. We just do not have representation in the House or Senate, which is how DC was able to get around the Second Amendment for so many years (Sorry, that’s a rant for another forum).

Living in a group home with every inspector and Social Worker in the District being less than 4 miles away definitely has its drawbacks.

There is a bright side to all of this though. Our house is so sterile that I can eat off the floor without hesitation and I have more inside knowledge on the social service system than I ever cared to know.

Newbies w/ young kids searching for advice looking into becoming HPs (with two young kids)

HPwannabe

My wife and I have been married for just shy of three years and we have two children: a 2 1/2 year old son, and a 1 year old daughter. We have been pouring through many of the postings aimed at newbies and the sharing of fears and trials faced by many. We are curious to know how many HPs started off with children under 5 years old or have since becoming an HP have had children.

After contacting the first home to schedule a trip to check out the facilities I was told that my wife and we should wait several years before thinking about becoming HPs. My wife and I don’t think that we are signing up for extended summer camp or anything like that but we would like to hear from those who have been there and are there whether we are this first administrator’s advice was her opinion or a shared opinion by many HPs.

We have both served with children in various roles for a most of our adult life and although we are only 30 years old, we feel that we can be useful and teachable to children if God allows us to do this. We want to be diligent and truly seek God’s will and to also be willing to listen to advice of those who are willing to share it.

Please let us know what ya’ll think about starting off as HPs with young biological children.

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Seamus

I am not sure what kind of home you are looking to get into, but I would think that if you really feel that this is what you want to be doing, then a basic care facility would probably be fine for you.

In the way of age my wife and I had only been married 3 years and were only 23 years old when we began houseparenting. There are several others on this forum that were the same age when they began, so I don’t believe that you have to be “older” to make a great houseparent. Having kids does make things tougher.

This job is certainly one that requires 100% commitment. If you aren’t sure that this is what you want to do or you don’t feel that God has called you down this path, then DON’T do it. It will be far worse for your family and the kids at the home if you are just testing the waters to see what it is like. However, just the fact that you are asking these questions and inquiring on a forum, seems to imply that you are serious.

I would continue looking at other places. At least some of them will allow you to come to the facility and take a tour and see how things are done.

Good Luck!

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Launchpad

I agree with all Seamus had to say. Many of the HP’s at our facility started their career here having one or two toddlers.

My wife and I had our daughter here. Besides her puking all over the place every couple of hours, it has been pretty smooth.

Seamus is right about a basic care facility. Definitely do your homework- talk with others on the board about potential facilities, stay far, far away from any facility that has a restraint policy (Not good for your family to be involved in that environment, IMO), and talk to other HP’s at the facilities you are talking with.

I hate to push anything that looks like we are trying to hustle you, but the members only services on the main board is very cool. You get email alerts from facilities that are looking, your resume posted online for facilities to view (We hired one couple off of there), and listings of all known facilities in the US. Just cause they don’t post on the job listings site doesn’t mean they are not looking.

Keep in mind some facilities, especially those starting at higher than average pay scale, will want some experience and stability in your marriage before considering you. Then again there is always exceptions (Your 30 years old, married for three years, independently wealthy, etc..) I also believe that if God wants it to be, it will be and there is nothing that will stand in the way of that.

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Craig Bridges

Great questions with great input back. Different facilities have different views on bio children. I raised my kids in this ministry and overall it has been very positive. Some issues I would consider:

1) Make sure you understand the word SUPERVISION. This is the key in my opinion.

2) What are the issues of the kids you will be working with and how well does the facility follow their guidelines in this area.

3) You ability to be impartial and fair. The “ranch kids” and “my kids” mentality doesn’t seem to work well. These kids need to know they belong and your kids need to be secure, can be tricky sometimes.

4) Considering #3, How well you can work through the resentment both your kids and the placed kids will have toward each other (sure to happen). This can be a great opportunity to teach and make break throughs with both Bio and placed kids. In my opinion this can be a strength of having bio kids in a program. Making sure you have the same or close to the same standards will be helpful.

5) How are bio kids viewed by the facility and admin? Are they included in activities, holidays etc.? It can be hard to manage your own if they feel left out.

6) Use your respite/time off wisely with your kids

7) Understand and discuss the sacrifices your family will make.

8) Once in the ministry keep yourselves and your kids focused on all the positives this ministry has to offer rather than the sacrifices. I have been blessed as a house parent to experience many things in my children’s growing up that I would have missed in my old 9-5.

9) Actually #1 “WHERE GOD GIVES A VISION HE GIVES A PROVISION” Once God has confirmed in your hearts the call trust that He has it worked out.

This is the greatest ministry in the world in my opinion and these kids need passionate, loving, and called messengers of God in their lives!

It’s Christmas Time Again! Hold on for the ride!

TexPop

Well,

It’s that time again. I thought I’d get a jump on things and pulled everything from the attic last Sunday. I’m still going through it – what is today??!? Tuesday afternoon a group of volunteers is coming to hang lights on the eaves so I had to get them ready anyway. The campus administrator announced a prohibition on getting up on the roof this year. Yea!! Christmas decor can get a little competitive between cottages and that should help keep things from getting too crazy.

I was going through strands of lights wishing I’d bought that light fixer do-hicky that someone mentioned last year on the forum. Oh well, I just tossed out 3 strands. Gotta go to Walmart tomorrow before the group shows up!

Merry Christmas! (I wanted to be the 1st to say it this year)

-TexPop 

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webmaster

Our outside decorations are mandated by administration. A single strand of large white lights along the eves, a green wreath with ribbon that coordinates with the house on the door and matching green garland above the door. We are allowed to put out other decorations after open house, but most don’t put much out, because the kids will mess with them. I have a blow-up Jimmie Johnson Holiday car and my blow-up “Thanksgiving Scarecrow choking Santa Claus” protest decoration.

Inside the house we are pretty elaborate. We have a formal tree in our main living room, decorated as mandated by administration. But we also have a tree in our family room that the children decorate. I will set up the tree and put on the lights, then the kids get to place all the remaining decorations. We leave it exactly how they decorate it, which means the decorations aren’t always spread evenly throughout the tree.

Our main theme in the house is “The Nativity” My wife has about twenty sets in various sizes that we put out. It takes almost a week to decorate, but I can have everything packed up and put away in less than a day on December 26th. Our Christmas preparations start in August and our first party is the weekend of Thanksgiving. We are usually ready for it to be over, by the 26th. 

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dontlietokids.net

Wait…administration “mandates” how your tree is to be decorated?!?!?

wow…

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webmaster

Yes administration mandates how our outside decorations and how our formal tree is decorated, however we are free to decorate everything else to our own liking as long as it is tasteful. It is not a big issue for us and they have very good reason.

We are totally dependent on private donations for our funding and raise probably 40-50 percent of our annual budget during November and December. We do things to present ourselves in the best possible light, including how we decorate for Christmas. Kind of like the whole dressing up for Church principle. Though I think the Griswold style of decorating is pretty cool, not everybody else does. However, not all staff members realize that or even care, so administration has to mandate it.

Reality is – If more people would think of the greater good of everybody (the kids, program, facility) instead of their own personal desires, we wouldn’t need so many rules. And that can be applied to every program in the country, and I think life in general.

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Launchpad

We just opened the cottage this year, so our decorations are slim pickings this season. I would like to get to the point next year that we can put lights up around the house, especially since we have one of the oldest cottages on campus.

Volunteers would be nice. Oh well, there’s always next year. Maybe…

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Housepop

My wife and I start decorating the cottage on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I do the outside and she does the inside. I string lights around the roof of the cottage and a a few hanging stars and then I put out gingerbread pople with each of the girls names on them. I start about mid morning and am done by early afternoon. My wife loves decorating and along with a 9 foot artificial tree that the girls decorate she usually has it complete by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. She then starts baking candy and cookies that the girls decorate and eat until Christmas is over. We also let each girl decorate their own stocking and they get pretty artsy and creative and it is always fun to see how they turn out. We enjoy Christmas and try to makes as many memories for them to treasure and keep for years to come. We also have a fire place so when we have our Christmas party I light the fire place and I read the Christmas story from Luke and then we open presents. Of course in order to light the fire place sometimes I have to turn the air conditioning up since it doesn’t get real cold here in South Florida. It is such and awesome time of year I love it more than the kids do probably.

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!!

Campus Security

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.