Question #23 – 5/29/2010 – Convincing the Family?

 My husband and I are looking in to becoming houseparents in south Texas. My husband has been a school teacher in Texas for 25 years. He was also a youth minister part time. We have 2 grown sons and a 12 year old son that I am homeschooling now. My parents are so against us pursuing this because they are afraid something will happen real bad to our son. I understand there concerns, but I want to at least go to the home and check it out. Any advice on things to look for in the home to make my parents feel better. My son is my number 1 concern, but i see it as more of a positive thing than a danger. Thank you for anything you can say to help us.

Thanks,
godlives38

Mike’s Response

Convincing the family can sometimes be difficult.  When we became houseparents we had friends that thought we were joining some kind of cult. 

We have been houseparents for 14 years so my children have grown up in residential care and for the most part it has been a positive experience for them.  My daughter has caught the bug and wants to go a step further and work in children’s homes in Mexico.

Before giving you some advice about convincing the family let me share some advice about the facility you should look at if you are going into this with children.  You want to find a facility this is strictly a residential foster care or basic care facility.  I would avoid any type of therapeutic facility.  The behaviors that have to be dealt with in those facilities are just too much to expose your children to.  We worked our first to years in a group home that had mostly juvenile delinquents, and although we learned a ton about being a houseparent, we also exposed our kids to some pretty bad stuff.  The day the young lady that was coming down off of a meth high threatened to slash my children’s throats with her broken mirror was the day I realized it was time to do something different.

We have spent the last 12 years (11 at one place) working in homes that were basically residential foster care. Our children have never been assaulted or abused, though it’s not all roses either.  They will be living with children that have street experience and have some behaviors that they otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to, at least  in the home, if they were not living with them.  Our son learned to smoke, and took on some of the behaviors of the less compliant children in the home like: drinking, sneaking out, and skipping school.

I’m probably not helping your case much so far, but on a more positive note.  We have built relationships with two children we have cared for that will continue for the rest of our lives, they now consider us their parents and our children their siblings.  Our children were to able to experience recreational activities that we never could have provided for them if we were not houseparents:  Camps, amusement parks, fishing trips, etc.  We as parents were able to spend more time with our children.  Though they had to share us with 8-10 other kids, we were there for all their school stuff and they never had to come home to an empty house because their parents were at work somewhere.

There is a whole category in the “forum archive” devoted to staff/birth children that will give you a lot more information and should be helpful.  http://houseparent.net/NewForumArchive/?cat=6  Many of the posts deal directly with this subject.

If anybody has any other ideas or you would like to add something, just register and add your comments.
If you would like to ask your own question CLICK HERE to go the submission form.

St Labre Indian Catholic School

I am currently in Billings, Montana because my Mother-in-Law is in the hospital with some severe health issues.  My wife and I drove up from Mississippi over the weekend and we passed several facilities.  We will pass most of them on the way back and I will take pictures and post them later, but I won’t be passing St. Labre on the way home so I stopped and shot a few pics to post.  I really wish I would have had time to stop and visit.  They have posted job listings in the past and I would have really enjoyed meeting the people behind the e-mail addresses, but I just didn’t have time.  It looks like a really nice facility!  You can visit their website @ www.stlabre.org

Some Pretty Good Reads

It seems that it is very easy to find articles about how bad residential care can be. It is kind of refreshing to find something that actually reinforces the good that we try to do. Here are a couple of articles that are published on other websites that I think anyone dealing with policy concerning residential care should read, because the studies show that it is actually a pretty good option for many children.


The Best Thing About Orphanages

was published in “The Wall Street Journal” on January 14th, 2010.  It discusses the positives of residential/orphanage care.


 Study Suggests Orphanages Are Not So Bad

was published in “The New York Times” on December 17th, 2009.  It discusses a study of orphanages that show children raised in residential care do as well and sometimes better than children raised in family/foster care. 

I truly hope those that are in charge of making policy will eventually understand that for some children, residential care is not only a good option but the best option.

Find us on Facebook

I have started an official Houseparent Network fan-page on Facebook.  If you have the ability and it’s not blocked by your facility.  I invite you to come over and join.  It is an excellent place to interact with other houseparents and residential childcare workers.  Write on the wall, post pictures, links to resources, or take part in one of the discussions.

I hope you will join us!!!

“Ask Mike” Column

I have brought back the ability to ask NEW questions for the “Ask Mike” column.  If you have a question and can’t find the answer elsewhere on the site feel free to submit your question to me.

Who is Mike you might ask.  I am the webmaster and creator of  The Houseparent Network.  I have over 15 years experience raising other people’s children, 13 of those years as a houseparent.  I research and follow trends in foster and residential care, and have worked in behavioral modification and residential foster care facilities in three different states.

I don’t have all the answers but I am pretty good at finding them, so feel free to ask. 

CLICK HERE to go the “Ask Mike” Submission Form.

  and you may be able to find additional information and others to help you with your question.