Synthetic Drugs (Plant Food and Incense)

As our society becomes more and more technologically advanced, so does the war on drugs. It seems like we have synthetic versions of everything these days including drugs, so I definitely think it is something we should be knowledgeable about.  I highly recommend you spend an evening surfing the Internet and see what is out there, you will be amazed at what you discover, for instance.

“Molly’s Plant Food”  really isn’t plant food, and even it it could be used as a plant food, not many people would pay $20-$50 to fertilize one plant.  It really is a chemical that causes a high similar to ECSTASY.  Not only is it available online, but it can also be found in smoke shops, gas stations, and convenience stores.  I have also heard of this being marketed as bath salts.

There is also synthetic or herbal marijuana type products that are usually marketed as incense.  They go by names such as: Spice, K2, K3, K4, K(whatever), Mystic Monkey, Krypt2nite, etc.  A lot of these have been sprayed with a chemical (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-250, JWH-200)  that produces a cannabis type high.  Many states and communities have made these chemicals illegal and there is rumor that the federal government is planning to take action, but as of today they are legal in many places.

Being knowledgeable about the drug culture and what people are using to alter their states of mind will help you be a better houseparent.  At our first facility (14 years ago) we had a young lady that always walked around with an infants pacifier tied to a string around her neck.  Everybody thought she was just immature and used the pacifier to comfort her.  My wife and I spent a lot of time watching programs on drug use and crime, and while watching one of those programs, learned that people that used Ecstasy sucked on pacifiers to prevent them from grinding their teeth when they were high.  Apparently that is a side effect of the drug.  Needless to say, once we mentioned that to our administrator, the pacifier quickly became contraband.

Suggested search terms for doing your research:  Molly’s Plant Food, Spice, Legal High, Herbal Marijuana.  I could provide links to sites with more information, but I don’t want to promote most of them.

Book Review – Orphans of the Living

Stories of America’s Children in Foster Care

By: Jennifer Toth

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.

I am still trying to figure out what the point of the book is.  I am not sure if the author is trying to point out the flaws of the Foster Care System in the US, to point out the struggles that children in the Foster Care System face, or to simply document the lives of the 5 children and families she profiled in her book.

If she was trying to point out the flaws, she forgot one very important element: practical suggestions on how things can be done better.  If she was trying to point out the struggles that children in the Foster Care System face, I think she failed because from my experience with the system many of the cases she profiled would be considered extreme and not representative of the majority of cases.

If she was only trying to tell the story of these 5 kids, she didn’t do such a bad job.

Application to residential childcare workers and those that are part of the system

The best use a residential childcare worker could make of this book is to get an idea how the children we work with can develop some of the beliefs that they do, and how those can hinder their ability to assimilate into the main stream society.  For example, how a child feels that being placed in foster care destroyed any chance at a future, while years of poverty, neglect and abuse is OK. 

The book does a pretty good job of documenting how being placed in the foster care system becomes generational and repeats itself with each new generation.

I think where the book fails greatly is in implying that the whole system is bad based upon those truly bad facilities and workers that can be found within the system.  I think it works to hard to highlight and focus the reader on the flaws of the system while although documenting the influence of the child’s family, largely ignoring their influence. 

The author spends nearly 1/3 of the book chronicling the life of a girl that is born a crack baby, spends her early years abused and neglected by her mother and drug abusing boyfriends, never knowing her father, living with family members while her mother was in and out of jail and treatment programs.   A foster family that was hand picked by her grandmother after she became terminally ill,  because they were family friends, where the dad later sexually abused her when she was 14 and he was nearly 70, whom she bore 5 children and married all before her 18th birthday.  Yet the author writes, “She is a product of the foster care system, a child who through resilience, courage, and ingenuity ‘escaped from it…….”  At the end of her section she was still married to her foster dad, while living with another man, without so much as a GED, and all 5 of her children were living in the foster care system.  Where is the escape?

She occasionally highlights, though I don’t think nearly enough,  the positive things that people within the system do to help the children they care for, like supporting and keeping a child in their program even when they should have been expelled.  Like going out of their way, and even on their own time and with their own resources helping a child in the foster care system.

A byproduct of the book, would be that it is presented in such a way that would favor residential care over the traditional foster family for caring for abused and neglected children. Just my opinion!

The reality is that the Foster Care System is made up of people.  As with all people there are good ones, bad ones, and indifferent ones, you don’t really need this book to tell you that. 

The book is published by Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.  Copyright 1997.  It comes in soft cover and is 314 pages long.  I paid $13 plus shipping for my copy at

Been Around 10 Years!!!!!

It was 10 years ago today that I launched The Houseparent Network.

I am so thankful to be able to celebrate this, especially when you consider all the websites that have come and gone over the last ten years, and the fact that I had NO idea what I was doing when I started it.  At the time I was a fairly new houseparent that new Nothing about websites but realized there was a need for houseparents to have a place to find resources or be able to network with other houseparents.  We are such a unique group that I thought there should be a place for others that share the struggles, concerns and rewards of being a houseparent/residential childcare worker to be able share those experiences.   

I started work on The Houseparent Network the previous September when I bought the domain name and some cheap website editing software at Walmart.  At the time it seem fashionable to name your website “whatever dot com” and my plan was to just have “” but somebody had already registered that domain.  I was extremely disappointed and pondered things for a few days, then I realized what a blessing that was.  My vision was a place where houseparents and other residential childcare staff could share resources and network, so I registered the domain and decided there was NO better name than “The Houseparent Network” which fit perfectly with .net domain. 

The look sure has changed.  Here is what it looked like back then:

 Looking at that first page, I realize I didn’t fulfill every vision I had for the network and probably never will, but I am still thankful for all the good that I have been able to do through my site.  I hope that in this next decade, the network will continue to grow into a bigger and better resource for houseparents as well as the facilities we work at.

I would like to thank everyone that has helped to make it a success over the last 10 years:  The millions of visitors that have viewed the site, the facilities that have posted your job listings, all of you that have shared on the various forums we have had, Launchpad for all the work you did on the blog (I still love reading your entries), my wife and family for putting up with me during the early days when I spent every free moment I had working on the website, the authors of HTML and Websites for Dummies which helped me when I knew nothing, and everyone that sent me ideas, encouragements, and even complaints because you helped make the site better.