New Mexico Boys Ranch Drama

http://news.msn.com/us/all-boys-from-nm-youth-camp-found-alert-canceled

Most people saw over the weekend the drama that played out in New Mexico with a Boys Ranch and the New Mexico Family Services Department.  Abuse charges were being investigated at the ranch, and then things got a little crazy, with boys disappearing, and amber alert issued, and boys being found with their parents, etc.

I like everyone else, other than those involved, really have no idea what really happened.  What I do know is that so far this is turning out to be a black eye for residential care facilities.  I read several of the articles associated with  this story and more importantly I read the user comments with each of the articles.  The perceptions of many are that all residential facilities are bad places and needed to go away.  Others thought that only unlicensed facilities are bad and that states that don’t license all their facilities are bad.  Surprisingly there were also commenters that felt all the children in these facilities are bad and should just be locked up in prison, because it isn’t worth the trouble to try and help them, many of which were former staff members of a residential facility.  There were a few comments that tried to defend what we try to do as residential care workers but they were often times attacked for doing so.

I suspect that as a result of this there will be a further push for more regulation and supervision by state agencies.  That there could be more lawsuits against states that are more lenient with their licensing regulations. What I hope is that this situation will lead to better care for the children that are placed in residential care facilities.

I have always believed that self regulation is better than outside regulation so I hope that those of us within the Residential Care community will do our part to provide the very best care we can, which I believe that the vast majority are trying to do.

Coming Changes!!!

Well, the day has arrived.  I am now ready to spend most of my day making The Houseparent Network better, more useful, and more visible so that facilities can find more qualified staff members and houseparents/residential staff can better prepare themselves for the life of a residential childcare worker.

Some of the things I will be working on:

  1. I am looking to change my logo and do a site redesign.  My last major overhaul was in 2010, and to be perfectly honest, a lot of people didn’t like the gold and blue.  I will be playing with some different designs.  I want the design to be simple, easy to use and easy to view on all devices.  I am also planning on redoing the logo to a variation of a previous design that will allow me to put it on t-shirts and other items I can give away.
  2. Daily Blog Posts.  Some of it will be original material (my own thoughts, experiences and opinions), the rest will be material that I have scoured the Internet to find and will link to.  I want to be one of the top sites for information relating to residential care.
  3. Updated Facility Directory.  Over the next few months I will be going through my facility directory and removing facilities that no longer exist and hopefully adding hundreds of newly listed ones that I find through social media sites and internet searches.
  4. Creating a new Houseparent Community.  I think it really sucks that I had to take the forum down, but the fact is that there are really bad people out there that spend all of their time trying to take advantage of other people. Rather than build their own quality sites, they try to hack and SPAM other people’s sites.  The malicious activity I had attacking the old forum ended up crashing it to the point of being unrecoverable.  Hopefully the new one will have better security tools for combating that.  I want to have a community where people can ask questions, share thoughts, stories, triumphs and failures, so that we can all have the information we need to better care for the children, mothers and adults that live in residential facilities.
  5. Expanding Job Listings to include International facilities.  I am going to create a special section so that facilities in all countries have a place to post job listings and find quality staff.  Hopefully I will someday have to breakdown the international section into different regions and even by country.
  6. Make job listings sortable and searchable.  As my programming skills improve I plan to write code to make the job listings sortable and searchable, to make it easier to find a position in specific regions, states, denominations or using other criteria.
  7. Expanding Book and Resources Store.  Rather than just being an associate of Amazon I am hoping to be able to make deals with various authors and publishers to offer books and resources at discounts, directly to The Houseparent Network users.
  8. Adding Featured Facilities.  I am hoping to find time to travel and visit facilities that I can feature on the site.  Include pictures of their facilities, interviews with their administration and staff as well of highlights of their programs.
  9. Plus More.  I am open to suggestions and ideas for making the site better.  If you have ideas for features or resources, please share them here or on the Facebook page.

A New Day Delayed!

Today was supposed to be the first official work day at my new full time job as webmaster of The Houseparent Network.  However, things don’t always work as you plan them.  Even after three months notice, my old employer has yet to find somebody to replace me so I gave them two more weeks.  I guess I will just have to wait a bit for my new day.

Even though I am a little nervous about losing the security of a full time paycheck, I am very excited about the opportunity to help others, and to grow this site into something great.  At least I hope.

As I wait until I have time to devote many hours to the site, be thinking about things you might want to see change or be added to the site.  What information are you looking for.  Do you come here strictly for the job listings or is there other areas you visit, and if so, how do you think I could make them better.  Feel free to post your ideas and suggestions in the comments, on the Forum or on The Houseparent Network facebook page

Some things I am looking forward to is having the time to read books again and sharing about those here.  Scouring the internet for articles useful to houseparents, republishing when I can and linking to them when I can’t.  Finding more facilities for my directory and making sure the ones already listed still exist.  Sharing some of the funny stories from my houseparenting days and even some from my IT days watching other houseparents.

That’s just for starters.

James Harris Books Available

Being stuck at home recovering from my second total hip replacement I have finally got time to work making available the books I purchased from Author James R. Harris last year.  These are some of the best books written relating to residential childcare work and I believe are must reads for all residential childcare workers.  Jim used to offer Houseparent Network users a great deal to buy these books directly from him, but he has been so busy lately that he hasn’t been able to do it.  I was able to track him down last fall and was able to purchase several copies from the publisher through him which will allow me to sell them for less that it would cost to buy directly from the publisher.  I have decided to sell them through amazon.com to avoid the hassles I would have to go through in my state to become a book relailer.  This means that I will not make any profit, and when you consider my time to package and ship them will probably lose money.  The books that I have available are:

Evolving Residential Work with Children and Familie: Click Here for more information My selling price is $21 plus 3.99 shipping which is $12 less than the Amazon.com price and $3 less than the publisher’s price.  You can read my review of this book by clicking here.

Promoting Healthy Childhood Development Today: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers , Click Here for more information My selling price for this book is $14 plus 3.99 shipping which is more than $40 less than anybody else on Amazon and $3 less than the publisher price.  You can read my review of this book by clicking here.

Respecting Residential Work with Children [Hardcover]:  This book is no longer in print and is only available in the secondary market. I have three new copies that I am selling at a price much lower than anybody else for a new copy of the book, $40 plus $3.99 shipping and handling.  However, if you are just looking for a copy to read and don’t want a new one, I highly recommend that you purchase one of the used copies that are available through Amazon.com.  Click Here for more information  To read my review of this book, click here.

Houseparent TV Show

I got a call yesterday from a TV producer. He was looking for ideas and resources for a possible TV series. That got me to thinking that I should ask all the houseparents out there what their ideas are. If you were going to start a TV show about houseparents, being a houseparent, or anything related to houseparents, what would you call your show and what would it be about.

I am looking for serious ideas, but I also enjoy humor, so feel free to post your funny idea for a show also.  You never know it just might become a reality.

I started a thread over on the forum (Click Here to go there), post your ideas and comments there.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Beginning tomorrow the website will be running on autopilot for at least a week.  I will be going into the hospital at 5:30 AM for total hip replacement surgery in my left leg.  I have never been a big fan of being normal and when it comes to joint damage I have continued that trend.  I am told that it is not normal for a 47 year old to have Osteo Arthritis so bad to need a replacement.

I gained 50 pounds my first two years as a houseparent and I wonder how much packing around that extra weight for all those years had to do with the rapid decline of my joints. (I will probably need surgery in my right hip within the next 5 years).  Having done this for all these years I have seen over and over people that become houseparents and pack on the pounds in very short order.  We really need to find ways to eat and live healthier.  It is my vow that starting today, I am going to eat healthier and when I am able to walk again without pain I am going to put on some serious miles and see how quickly if can wear out walking shoes.

I hope others will join me and if you have ideas for exercise and eating healthy please start a discussion on the forum.  I will let you all know how I do.

You Are Not in Control

I am probably going to offend somebody with this post but it is something that really needs to be said.  Whether you are a houseparent in a huge organization or a one home community group home you are not the boss of your cottage, home, cabin or whatever you call it.  I have been doing the houseparenting thing for more than 15 years now and I have heard more than a few times the following statement, “If administration (or whoever) would leave us alone and let us run things the way we want, out kids would be better off.”

I can honestly tell you that in everyone one of those cases the houseparents that said it were either strongly encouraged to resign at some point or were fired.  In many cases, they will resign before they are fired and bounce from facility to facility trying to find the control they will never have.

Houseparents need to understand that they are a member of a team, a link in a chain, or whatever metaphor you want to use, that have to work with many other people to provide the best possible care for the children they are responsible for.  For starters, there is always going to be an administrator or social worker that is going to have a huge say in how your home is run.  You are going to have relief staff that you have to learn to work with.  You are also probably going to have birth parents that you for sure are going to have to learn to work with, and who may even have a say in the way you care for their child.  There may also be judges, attorneys, probation officers, school administrators, etc that you may have to work with.

Here is the meat.  If you are one of those people that think you need to have ultimate authority, your best bet is to find another line of work.  You probably aren’t going to find a facility that will give you the authority you are looking for and if you do it will probably be such a crappy one that you won’t want to stay there for very long anyway.