Checked Out!

The other day we were discussing a child that lives with another set of houseparents.  She was acting out quite a bit. Then went home to visit her birth mom and came back even worse.

I was trying to come up with ideas to help them try and deal with her behavior.  Suggesting various consequences and things like behavioral charts.  My wife was listening to our conversation and said you know why she has gotten worse, she has checked out.

Apparently when she went home her mother told her, or she believes her mother told her, that she was going to pull her out at the end of the school year, because she felt she was getting into too much trouble.  We have several girls the same age in our cottage and that is what they were told by this other girl. 

It makes perfect sense and I have seen it several times in the past, I just wish I had realized it first; made me feel kind of dumb.  However, I am sitting here thinking of several children I have known in the past that have found out that they were being reunited with their birth family, that quit being cooperative with us, quit following house rules, and even tried to destroy any relationship we have build with them.

I am sure in her mind she is thinking that “if getting in some trouble will get mom thinking about letting me come home then if I really cause problems it will happen sooner!” (Note: We are a long term residential foster care facility; children are placed here because of a crisis in the family that prevents them from being able to be cared for, not because they have difficult behaviors that need to be dealt with or are delinquent.)

The sad thing is that it will probably work, and will reinforce in this child that bad behavior gets rewarded. 

Or the child didn’t hear what she thought she did, and coordination between the birth parent, administration, and the houseparents will help her understand that there are much better, more positive ways to try and get what she wants.

CDELA (Colorado Distance and Electronic Learning Academy)

I received information on the school the other day asking me to include a link to them on my website.  I have done that, even though only people that reside in Colorado can use this resource, mainly because I think the concept is awesome and I want to ask, “Why can’t every state have something like this?”

Seeing what I have seen in the years I have worked in residential childcare, and working with children that have struggled greatly in traditional school, I think if every state had a program like this it would be one of the top resources for residential childcare providers.  It would be the perfect resource for some of those kids that are doomed to be dropouts or are unable to attend traditional school.

Here is some of the information they sent me about the school:  We are a K-11 tuition-free, public charter school that services the entire state of Colorado.  We supply free computers and fax/scanner/copier units to our students. Our entire curriculum is online.  Students and parents can access the Learning Management System 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We also provide licensed teachers and academic advisers for grades 7-11 from 7:30am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.  After hours tutoring is provided for those students needing additional help.  We are an accredited institution; thus allowing students who wish to attend college the opportunity to do so.

Their website address is: http://www.cdela.com/ If you are in Colorado you might want to check them out.  According to their website there are also programs in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Just 47 more states to go.

I would be interested to hear what others think of this concept and if you know of anything like this in other states.

A funny Story

I have to share this story because I find it humorous and hopefully you will also. 

I was visiting with the maintenance person over by the main office today and asking him what he was up to.  He said he was working with one of our development people, creating props for pictures they were going to take this afternoon for some PR materials.  He was building one of those signs that have boards cut with points and names of places on them pointing in different directions on a pole.

The development person was going to write the places on the boards. She saw the boards and was trying to figure out how to write the names on them when she got quite perplexed and said, “you cut them all the same direction.”  He said, “No, if you want them to go the other direction, you flip them over and start writing from the pointy side.”  When she realized her blunder, she got real embarrassed and we all laughed, including her.

It was extra special for me, because I was having kind of a crappy morning and it brightened my day.

Secure Your Networks

Here is a funny story that has a point.

There once was an individual that worked at a children’s home.  (NO, its not me)  He decided we wanted to have a wireless network so he could work on his laptop anywhere in the house.  He bought a router, plugged it in, and got everything hooked up and working.  A knowledgeable person (Me), told him for months that he needed to secure his network to keep other people from using it, but of course he didn’t listen.

Anyway several people on campus and in the neighborhood have been using his Internet connection.  In fact about a week ago, one our college kids came back for the weekend and brought her notebook computer with her. She and several other girls proceeded to access the Internet and view large quantities of inappropriate material.  The housemom caught them and contacted administration.  Needless to say, that individual came and asked me how to secure their network today.

Moral of the story is, if your going to have a wireless network make sure it is secure.  Wireless devices are easy to get and can be used with any computer.  A smart kid can get hold of a USB network device and use it to connect virtually any computer to your insecure wireless network without your knowledge, even the old donated desktop unit they use to play games on.

Securing a wireless network is real easy and is explained in the manual or quick-start guide you get with the router.  Things to remember are:

  • Change the ssid.  Anybody that knows anything about wireless routers, knows that the default ssid is “default” 
  • Do not broadcast your ssid.  Unless you own a business that offers wireless access, there is no reason to broadcast your ssid.
  • Encrypt your signal.  The easiest way to keep somebody off your network is to require a key.  This will also provide some protection to the personal data on your machine.  There are so many insecure networks out there that a hacker will most likely leave your machine alone and move onto easier pickings if you require a key to log on.

Lets not make it easy for our kids to get in trouble – secure that network!