What Every Houseparent Needs to Know! or I Wish Somebody Would Have Told Me – Part Three

I have finally finished another edition and I will probably receive grief from somebody over this, the same as I did with parts ONE and TWO, but you can’t please everybody.  (Side note: So that you understand the difference in my writing styles, know that Parts I & II were written over 4 years ago.)

5. There is NO childcare Industry.  You may find on my site where I have sometime in the past referred to the Residential Childcare Industry.  I have since come to learn that there is no industry.  In the United States residential childcare along with social services in general is a function of the government.  The government regulates it, licenses facilities, and in the majority of cases provides the funding.  Furthermore, it is not a function of the national government but of each individual state’s government.

Each state regulates its own social services to include residential and foster care.  Further, their regulations will reflect their local culture, philosophy, and traditions.  I have worked in three different states, and although there are many similarities there are also many differences. I see advantages and disadvantages to all the different regulations.  For example, I think less regulation allows for closer, more personal relationships with the children, where more regulation may provide more safeguards for both the children and staff.

Is one state’s system better than another?  I don’t know that’s not my specialty.  I do know that national change is a very slow and tedious process that has been taking place since before the turn of the century, the 20th century.  Is it right for people in one state to try to force another state to do it the way they do or vise versa?  Probably not.  Can somebody, bring reform through out the entire country?  Maybe if they are willing to wait for their grandchildren or great-grandchildren to finish it.  Even with federal mandates, change is slow!!!!  And it still has to be done one state at a time.

6. No facility is Perfect.   I have talked with hundreds of residential childcare workers from facilities all over the country and many could have said the following statement.  “The two best facilities in the country are the one I used to work at and the one I am getting ready to move to.”  Facilities are very different, and opinions about those facilities will vary greatly.  If you were to poll the staff at any facility about a ¼ of them might say that it is the best program in the country, another ¼ might say it is the worst and they can’t wait to find a new position and the rest would be somewhere in the middle.

  I have in the past at a facility talked with two different houseparents and gotten two totally different impressions from the conversations.  One hated the place; the other thought things were almost perfect.  It’s like the blind men and the elephant, we all have a different perspective.  There are exceptions, and if a facility is breaking the law or state regulations something should be done.  And if you think you have betters ways of doing things, share them, especially if you have the experience to back it up. 

  But, you may have to realize that the problem may not so much be how bad the facility is in your opinion but that you might need an attitude adjustment or that you don’t fit the program or facility, which leads me to my next point.

7. There is no perfect fit all program for all children.   I will admit that there are probably programs/facilities that are horrible and should be closed the same as I know there are some excellent programs.  However, there is no one program for all kids.  If there was, that facility would have zero dismissals and a 100% success rate.  Some kids will do great in less structured programs, while others will need the security of a more structured program to work through certain issues.  Some may need several different programs to work on several different issues.  There is room for diversity. 

  I have seen children make profound lasting change in programs I didn’t agree with or like, even though others did.  Just because you don’t like the program, doesn’t mean it is wrong.  If you are in a program that you can’t support, find one you can.  Kids can spot fakes.  As far as the program goes, if it is so bad that it can’t keep staff and the kids are always blowing out, it will either change or close.

I would like to end with this story:
When I was fairly new and much more idealistic (expecting perfection) than I am now I was complaining to one of the more senior houseparents about how screwed up our facility was.  He listened to my complaints and how I was planning to go look for a new position.  He agreed with me that there were problems but added that if all the good staff just got frustrated and left, who would be left to help change anything.  I took that to heart and several years later, there were still some problems, but I was part of a group of people that was able to help make things better.  The facility I work at now is not perfect, and there are probably some people that think it sucks and can’t wait to find another position, but I’m not sure I would be a houseparent any place else.  Besides if I wasn’t caring for these kids who would?

Click here to go to the Main Site and Read Part One