It Sucks to be Sick!!


I just got my annual leave and vacation statement and it appears that I have over 80 days of accrued sick leave.  The problem with sick leave for a houseparent is that it is virtually useless.  After 12 years I have used sick leave exactly 4 times, once for my emergency appendectomy, and three times for family sick leave that my wife and I took together for various things like surgery for our son, and when her mother was in the hospital.

Last week I had hernia surgery, and with the exception of the 7 hours I was in the hospital, missed zero work time.  I was home at 5:00 that evening making pizza for supper and did my school run the next morning.  There were things I couldn’t do and in those cases my wife picked up the slack for me.  Yesterday and today, my wife has been sick with some sort of bug that gives her the chills, makes her vomit, and generally feel like crap, yet she remained at work, did what she could and I just picked up the slack.

The problem with being a houseparent and getting sick, is the hassle it would be to try and take sick leave. 

In our situation, if one of us wanted to take sick leave we would have to pack a suitcase and leave the cottage, and if we tried to stay, the kids would just bug us anyway.  We don’t have private quarters attached to the cottage that we could just go to.  In fact, my wife and I are better off than most of the other houseparents here, because we have our house that is set up for “US” all of the time.  We don’t have to try and get space in the relief apartment, which means packing groceries, hauling linens, making beds, etc.

However, even if we had private quarters attached to the cottage we could just go to, it’s not like they are going to send a replacement to cover for the sick houseparent.  It would just mean that the well houseparent would have to do everything by themselves.  You might be able to get help with taking a child to an appointment during normal business hours, but other than that you would be on your own.  That’s just how it is.  Every houseparent I have ever talked with has said the same thing.

The best thing a houseparent can do is not get sick.  Do what you can to be healthy.  Wash your hands, eat right, exercise.  Find ways to reduce stress.  Take your days off  (when you can get them), but keep saving up those sick days, they come in really handy for major things like heart attacks, strokes, mental breakdowns, etc. – those are about the only things you can really use them for.

Book Review – Raising Other People’s Kids

A Guide for Houseparents, Foster Parents, and Direct Care Staff

By: M. C. Camerer, Ed.D. & Emerson Capps, Ed.D.

Disclaimer: This book review is my opinion of the book. If you have a different opinion of the book that is great. I know I have loved several movies and books that other reviewers have not liked and disliked movies and books that receive great reviews. I think we all have. If you would like to submit your own review, I may consider posting it. Thanks.

This is one of the few modern books written specifically for houseparents and other residential care staff.  Many of the illustrations in the book are from the authors experience as a houseparent with the remainder from her experience as a teacher/Professor.  That is one of the highlights of the book.

To me the best part of the book was the second to last chapter titled “Advice from Houseparents”  This chapter was a collection of quotations from houseparents around the country on various topics related to being a houseparent and residential care provider.  Most of it is the very same information you can get here but it is condensed.

For me the down side of the book was the page after page of child development theory from researchers such as Erik Erikson (the Son-in-Law of Sigmund Freud), Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, etc. along with explanations for terms like: perceptual centration, egocentrism, Schemata, Assimilation, accommodation, etc.  I am probably going to have to read it one or two more times to truly grasp the Child Psychology 101 concepts.

I realize that information is important but I much prefer the way other authors (Applestein & Harris) are able to describe in a more practical way.

In spite of that I recommend it to all Houseparents and Residential Childcare Providers.  There is some valuable information to be gleaned from it. has a detailed description as well as several pages from the book to include the Table of Contents, Introduction and most of chapter 2 that you can preview.

The book is published by Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, IL.  Copyright 1995.  It is only  available in soft cover and is 175 pages long. 

Click here for more information about this book at

Well – I survived!! & A New Way to Search

Instead of spending the day doing my normal houseparent things, I was able to lay around in bed all day.  Of course up until noon I was waiting to go back to surgery and from then on, I was either under anesthesia or recovering from an “Indirect inguinal hernia repair”  Got out just in time to cook pizza for everybody back at the cottage for supper. I had help from my assistant cook, our 12 year old, and was a little stiff but we got it done.  Tomorrow I will be back to doing my school runs, but I plan to take it pretty easy for a week or so.  It would have been nice to take a couple days to recover, but we are pretty short in the staff category at the moment, with cutbacks and everything.  I didn’t want to move out to the house, because it would have been pretty hard picking up things to move back after surgery. Plus we need to save my wife’s family sick days to use next month when we have to travel back to Montana for her mom’s surgery.

It’s kind of nice that we have a position in which we can do something like this, and I look forward to the next month to use it as an excuse to get out of work details.  Enough about that.

Google Search

I wanted to let everyone know about a new feature on The Houseparent Network.  I have struggled for years trying to work with various search programs to allow people to search the site.  I’ve had varying degrees of success.  The best I had until now was with my old hosting package, but it is gone now and has been for a few years now.  Because I have not been able to find something workable and the site is getting so large ,as far as number of pages, I have decided to partner with Google to provide search for the Network.  The partnership entails me giving them money each year and they will provide search results for my visitors.

It works really well and provides results of the main site, as well as the community and blog.  I have search boxes on the home page and all the main pages and hope to have them on all pages very soon.  Feel free to check it out and I hope everyone finds it useful.

I’m hurting now, so I think I am going to take a pain pill and go to bed.  Have a great day.

Big City Living

Time to break the silence of my self imposed exile into the nether-world of Yankee city living. The move from South Carolina was traumatic to say the least. I go from being happy that I have unlimited access to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts to outright depression when I think of the friends I left behind.

My wife and I have also been able to see a glimpse of what God has in store for us. Shortly after arriving here my two sons from a previous marriage came to live with us and we moved into a house that was a little on the wild side. After a few weeks of cleaning house, searches, police reports and a nasty rash (long story) we are at the point where things are running fairly smooth.

Paperwork and government bureaucracy are insane, but that’s just the nature of Washington, DC. It’s never personal, just a lot of people with a lot of education and over-time enforcing redundant policies and regulations while trying to make a living.

Before coming here we were warned that the kids would be the most trying part of our job here. Honestly they have turned out to be the best. Our work with the boys here has been extremely rewarding, working with them is without a doubt the highlight of my day.

Then there is the down side. Paper work is insane. I have given serious thought to sending an email to Al Gore, Captain Planet or any tree hugging hippie that would listen to me complain about the 10 acres of trees we kill every day by filling duplicate copies of original copies. I spend more on printer ink in a week than what a family of four spends on groceries in a month.

I have learned that the office copier only works while you swear at it and the fax machine has developed some sort of Reactive Attachment Disorder. My 2 gig flash drive hangs from my neck like some kind of yuppie dog tag. I have nightmares about Excel documents refusing to open and cell phones that have no signal. Oh how I miss the south. 

On the bright side I have met some of the hardest working Social Workers and therapists I have ever ran across. For example, when was the last time you saw someone from the state after 5pm? It’s not uncommon to see ours at 6 or 7pm visiting with a kid. I truly admire people like that.

Finally, if by chance something did happen to me in the city, just remember I went out doing what I love and was called to do. Unless of course you found me dead at my desk with a self inflicted stapler wound to the head…..

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