St Joseph Indian School – Chamberlain, South Dakota

Another stop on my Mother-in-law was in the hospital tour was St Joseph Indian School in Chamberlain, SD.  Actually it was kind of on accident that I ended up visiting there but I am really glad I did.  We were on our way home traveling East on I-90 and I saw signs for the Lakota Museum.  I thought my wife would enjoy the museum and we had been traveling for a while so we decided stop.  I knew that St Joseph was in Chamberlain but I didn’t know the Museum and School were one in the same until I got there.

The Museum was very nice, though I wish I could have taken pictures (photography is not allowed in the museum).  The displays are very informational and well prepared, and the admissions price can’t be beat because it is free.  The gift shop has some nice stuff, some of which we brought home with us.

We were in a hurry to get home so we couldn’t spend a lot of time visiting but I did take some time to take pictures of some of the facilities, which appear to be top notch.  You can find out more information about the school by checking out the job listings section of the website or visiting their website @

The School main building.

A statue outside the front gate

The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center

The St. Joseph Indian School Chapel

One of the Dormitories on Campus

The Freimann Health Care Center

Question #25 – 6/12/2010 – What Are The Requirements for Single Houseparents?

 I was just wondering if you knew how hard it is to become a houseparent? I know it would be pretty demanding to be one, but I was wondering what the requirements usually are, like how much experience you need. Would there be any chance of a single 21 year old getting a job or do most places want older people? And if you were single, would you have to do relief work, or could you actually be in charge (or partly in charge) of a cottage? Rebecca B.

Mike’s Response

The requirements to be a houseparent vary greatly by facility.   All that I know of require at least a High School Diploma or GED however, some facilities require a college degree. All require that you be at least 21 years old, many require that you be 23 or 25 because of insurance issues.  Most require that you be able to drive, so that you can take children to their appointments.  Some require that you pass extensive training before you start working others will turn you loose with no training.  It just depends on the facility and the State the facility is located in.

As a general rule, in most live in facilities, singles work as assistants and relief staff, however that is not always the case.  Some facilities will pair up singles into teams that serve as primary houseparents.  I know of a facility in Florida where most of the staff is single males.  Another option for singles is to work in facilities that do shift work.  All the staff work as one team and it doesn’t matter if you are single or not.

And yes being a houseparent is one of the most demanding jobs I have ever had, but it also has been one of the most rewarding.  I have had the opportunity to travel around the country and work in different facilities as I explored our country.  I have also made some outstanding friends with the various staff members I have worked with.  But most importantly, I was able to make a difference in the lives of many children, some that I continue a relationship with today, years after they or I have left the facility. 

If you really want to be a houseparent or residential childcare work, chances are pretty good that there is a facility out there that could use you.

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.

Question #24 – 6/12/2010 – What to do for Bedtime Problems!!!!

 My husband and I just became houseparents this past Sunday! All is going well, except for some issues with one 4 year old girl. She has been at this facility since she was 1. She is believed to have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and there is some sexual abuse in her past. The biggest problem we are having with her is bedtime. She goes into a total temper tantrum every night and naptime. She will tense up and we have to carry her to bed, kicking and screaming. Then there’s the hour long pattern of her getting out of bed and us repeating the whole thing over again. She is actually a very sweet girl the rest of the time. Any advice on how to handle this? I really want her to feel comfortable at night. We have a good bedtime routine of baths, Bible, songs, etc. But it’s still not working 🙁

Mike’s Response

It all boils down to two things:  Consistency and Time.  Let me answer your question with a story.

Several years ago we had a young lady that came to live with us.  She had just had her first birthday and was completely hand spoiled.  She never had a bed time and was just allowed to go to sleep when she chose.  Our fist night with her was horrible and after about two hours of screaming, my wife got her out of bed and spent the next two hours rocking her to sleep.  The next night was a repeat of the first. 

I convinced my wife that we needed to let her stay in bed until she finally went to sleep and get her in a routine of having a bedtime.  She wasn’t very good at listening to her cry and wasn’t looking forward to it at all.  Fortunately for us we were on relief when she arrived and came to stay with us in the relief apartment.  We had four days until we had to go back to the cottage so I had four days to work through this.  (Side note it didn’t happen in four days, but)  The next evening I sent my wife and birth children to the movie and stayed home with our young lady to put her to bed.

Before my wife left she gave her a bath, and got her ready for bed.  I then spent some time rocking and snuggling with her.  Then we went back to the room where her bed was set up.  I spent a few more minutes holding her and then laid her in bed.  She immediately started crying and throwing a fit.  It continued for over four hours.  I would come back and check on her and find her standing up in her crib screaming.  I would then lay her back down, say good night and walk back out of the room.  I tried not to go into the room too often, but if she saw me checking on her I didn’t want her to think I was going to get her up.  She finally went to sleep, but it turned out that the movie wasn’t near long enough, my wife still had to listen to her scream for an hour or so.

For the next few nights it was almost a repeat of the previous night.  When we went back to the cottage it would still go on for over two hours every night.  After a couple of weeks we had it down to about an hour and after about a month it was down to ten or fifteen minutes.  She was only with us for about 5 months, but even on the night before she left, we would go through our normal routine with bath, pajamas, snuggling and rocking, and finally our final snuggle in her room before I laid her down for bed.  In which case she would cry for two or three minutes and then go to sleep.

That whole time we, mostly me, remained patient and just remained consistent.  We did bed time the same every night and it eventually got easier.  Through the process that young lady stole my heart and I still find it hard to describe my love for her without chocking up, but getting her into a bedtime routine was extremely difficult and time consuming.

You just have to stay patient and consistent.

 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.

Home on the Range – Sentinel Butte, North Dakota

Traveling further east on Interstate 94 right after you cross the border into North Dakota you will find “Home on the Range”.  They have advertised positions in the past on The Houseparent Network, but hire most of their staff locally.  They are a shift work facility that does NOT have any live in positions that I know of.  It is a very nice place and they have a great program director.  You can visit their website at  My only recommendation is if you need gas buy it in Glendive, MT or Medora, ND it is at least 10 cents a gallon less than in Beach, ND the nearest town to HOTR.

A panoramic view of the ranch

This is the original building at Home on the Range

Their newest dorm is for Girls

One of the Boy's Dorms

Ranch and Maintenance Buildings

Message to Administrators or Houseparents

You may have noticed that I have started posting pictures and a small write up about facilities I come across in my travels.  There is no way I can find them all on my own, however I would be happy to post your pictures of your facility.  I can’t pay you any money for them, but I would be happy to give a link to your facility’s website when I post them.  Hope you will send me some.

Yellowstone Boys & Girls Ranch

Another facility we stopped by on our Mother-in-Law in the hospital tour was Yellowstone Boys & Girls Ranch in Billings, MT.  When we worked at the group home in Cody, WY we had several youth that came to our facility to transition home from YBGR.  They are a shift work facility and I don’t think they have any live in houseparents.  They have also never advertised openings here on The Houseparent Network but they do advertise openings on their website.  I wasn’t able to stay long and get many good pictures but they have some very good ones on their website: