To say I run my mouth on here a lot would be an understatement. I guess that’s why when I’m taking a leave of absence from the blog or the forum area I start getting emails and phone calls asking if I’ve finally snapped. I use to be flattered, but I think a few of the guys out there have some kind of bet going as to how long it will be until I totally lose it and end up in the county lock down for smashing an Apple computer in the kids elementary school (Someone needs to save this generation from Apples plan of world domination).
Anyway, I’m here. Actually I’m always here. I just tend to have a rather complicated life and seem to run in a hundred different directions everyday. For those of you that have kept up with the forum area on the Network you know my wife and I are in the process of trying to adopt a child. I can’t think of a single reason why this is a practical thing to do, because it’s not. We are in effect committing “Facility Career Suicide” by choosing to go this route. All of our friends and family believe we have lost our minds. Most of them thought we were insane in the first place for choosing the career path we have by becoming House Parents. So we really are not breaking any new ground in the “They are outta their freaking minds” category. Totally a God thing folks, sometimes you just have to trust him in what he is calling you to do and go with the flow.
So here we are, going with the flow. Late nights worrying about where to go and what to do. Worrying about leaving one of the best child care facilities on the East coast and venturing back out into the great unknown. I look around my three bedroom house with a fire place and solid wood floors and sigh as my wife tells me it will be alright….
And then my Blackberry goes nuts. A couple I sort of helped get a lead on a facility in Kansas called and was able to give me some great leads, a guy in Michigan hooked us up with a great lead on a opening in his facility. A couple we met at a conference gave us several amazing leads in North Carolina. It was like the flood gates were opened on us. The one really weird call was from England. I had to politely tell the recruiter there is nothing that irritates me more than children with English accents. He politely called me a few names in the Kings English and ended our communication. I learned my sarcasm really doesn’t translate well on international dialogue.
I really was blown away at how far the Houseparent Network has come. For a long time there were only a few of us sharing information on different facilities and programs. It seemed most people stuck around the forum just long enough to find a job as a HP somewhere and then disappear, only to come back later looking for another residential childcare job. Without being experts, we became the so called “Experts” by just sharing what we knew. I’m still amazed when people actually ask me for advice, like I actually know what I’m doing. Scary world.
To be fair, I know what I’ve heard. I take the gossip, rumors, local legends and geographic locations of facilities, mix it all together and regurgitate it back to anyone asking. Somewhere in all that mess may be something of use to someone. It is the very foundation of what the Houseparent Network is about, information. Want a job? look at the job board. Want a job where you will be happy and fit in at? Talk to people here and ask questions. Even once you have found that “Dream” facility where you swear you will die at and be buried in the front yard of the cottage, stay connected. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Staying connected with a community of fellow residential childcare providers is not only smart when it comes down to finding a decent facility, but it helps you to improve as a professional and to help you, as well as others be more effective with the kids as knowledge is shared.
I will admit that the Network has a long way to go. There is much more information out there that needs to be shared and the level of professionalism industry wide still needs some work. But it’s coming, especially with the new crowd of House Parents as they enter the ranks and stick around. The “Thirty-something crowd” is more likely to look to the internet to connect with others, they are also more likely to take advantage of all this newfangled technology that scares all the old timers out there. Times are changing, for the better.
My advice, get connected. Talk, share information. Make it a point to learn about other facilities and programs. Learn a few names and use the Network to make friends around the country. Show up for the next blasted Houseparent retreat. Get a membership in the Members only area to take full advantage of what the site has to offer (And so Mike will give me a kickback). Also if you get a call from an English dude don’t mention my name if you want the job.
I hope you all get a chance to experience what I have in the last few weeks when it comes to searching for a new home and having a little help from your friends. -Launch