Book Review – What Do You Do With A Child Like This?

Inside the Lives of Troubled Children

By: L. Tobin

Disclaimer: This book review is my opinion of the book. If you have a different opinion of the book that is What Do You Dogreat. 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. Otherwise feel free to share you reviews on the Forum. Thanks.

This book was not what I expected it to be.  I was expecting 200 pages of in depth resources for working with troubled youth.  What it turned out to be was about 60 pages of small tidbits of information spaced out over 200 pages.  The title page of the book describes it as “a notebook of thoughts, anecdotes and specialized techniques for teachers, counselors, psychologists, day care workers, and parents who find themselves in the adventure of working with children, especially troubled children.”  It lists teachers first for good cause I believe, because it is about 90% directed at teachers.  Houseparents can glean some useful information from it, but I am not sure it is worth the price of the book.

What I liked most about the book was the anecdotes told through the perspective of the children.  I think it did a very good job of expressing how children in that situation really feel.

If you can check the book out from the library or borrow it from somebody spend the two or three hours it takes to read it.  Otherwise I would spend my money on a book more relevant to houseparents.

The book is published by Whole Person Associates, Duluth, MN.  Copyright 1991, 1998.  It is available in  soft cover and is 204 pages long though it could have easily fit on less than 100 pages. 

Click Here for more information about this book at Amazon.com

Book Review -Family-Centered Services in Residential Treatment New Approaches for Group Care

By: John Y. Powell (Editor)

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. Otherwise feel free to share you reviews on the Forum. Thanks.

Family-Centered Services in Residential Treatment is a collection of articles, speeches, and interviews.  The editor uses these to present the concept , philosophy and need of family centered services from different perspectives to include clinicians, administrators, direct care staff, parents and children formerly in placement.

I very much enjoyed this book and the editor did a very good job further selling me on family centered services.  In my early years as a houseparent I was pretty hard core program/child centered.  The book is geared toward policy makers and as such would be of limited value to direct care staff looking for technique.  However, if you are looking for a good book to help you develop your childcare philosophy this could be it.

From a residential standpoint – with family centered services not only do you work with the child that is in out of home placement but you also work with the family to deal with the root issues that may have led to placement, to include: parenting skills, family therapy, employment assistance, etc.

The book is published by The Haworth Press, Inc, Binghamton, NY.  Copyright 2000.  It is available in both hard and soft cover and including the index is 147 pages long. 

Click here for more information about this book at Amazon.com

2016 Houseparent Salary Comparison

In doing the 2016 salary comparison, I went through my database of all job listings posted on The Houseparent Network in the last 12 months.  If a facility had more than one job listing during that time, I kept only the most recent.  I had 147 different facilities that have posted job listings in the past year (A decrease of 4 facilities over last year).  Of those, 71 facilities posted salaries (A decrease of 3 facilities), the rest posted things like competitive or negotiable, etc.  Stuff I couldn’t work with.

The good news is that Houseparent Salaries have increased again this year based on this survey.

Before I give my numbers here is my disclaimer:
Note: Let me start by saying that this is not a scientific sampling based on all the facilities in the country, but I think it is still a close representation of the average salaries throughout the country. All salaries listed are per individual.  If you are paid as a couple multiply these averages by two to compare it to your salary.  Also many facilities listed a range of salaries, so I also express my averages as a range.  I am also making the assumption that the salary listed by the facility is the cash salary and not total package. I also suspect that the true average is less than what these numbers indicate, because I suspect that many of the facilities that don’t post a salary are in the lower range. However, you can’t just make the assumption, that because they don’t list a salary, their salary is low.  When my wife and I considered coming back and accepted our current position, we talked to two other facilities that did NOT list salaries.  They were both in the $50,000 range for couples.  The position we accepted was actually lower than both those salaries, but was a better fit for our situation.

You also need to remember that when considering a position there are many more considerations than just salary.  You also have to consider benefits, schedule, living accommodations, and the difficulty of the children you are caring for.  If one facility pays a salary of $35,000 per year and also provides full family health insurance, you will be better off than a facility that pays $45,000 and only pays toward your individual insurance.  In our situation, we were paying over $10,000 a year for family health insurance prior to accepting our current position, we now pay less than a $1,000. That is an instant pay raise of over $9,000. A good retirement plan can also add several thousand dollars to a salary each year. Look at the whole package, not just the salary. That said, let’s get to the numbers.

The mean average salary for a houseparent is $24,619-25,775 per year, compared to $23,171-23,877 in 2015.  The Median average (half the salaries are less, half are more) salary for a houseparent is $24,500 per year, compared to $23,000-25,000 in 2015.  I did the mean average for the top and bottom 25% three different ways this year.  The first way was to average the high and low salary for each facility and then determine the top and bottom 25%.  Using that method, the mean average for the top 25% was $31,083-32,528. It was $18,924-19,336 for the bottom 25%.  Calculating the top and bottom 25% using the low single salary resulted in the average being $31,441-32,324 and $18,865-19,571. Calculating the top and bottom 25% using the high single salary resulted in the average being $30,472-$32,752 and $18,924-19,336. The mean average for the top 25% of salaries was $29,901-30,068 in 2015.  The mean average for the bottom 25% of salaries was $16,724-17,303 in 2015.  The Top salary is $40,000 which is essentially the same as 2015.  The bottom salary is $15,000-20,000 per year, which is $2250-$7500 more per year than in 2015, a considerable increase.

I now have the information posted in the members only section and it include additional information from the comparison, such as sorted by state, benefits listed in the job listing, as well as all the raw data, minus the facility name.

Book Review – The Residential Youth Care Worker in Action

A Collaborative, Competency-Based Approach

By: Bob Bertolino, PhD & Kevin Thompson, MEd

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 believe the main point of this book is to get Residential Youth Care Workers (RYCW) to move from the traditional “Deficit-based” (What is wrong with the child) approach when dealing with the youth in their care to a more “Collaborative, Competency-based” (What is right with the child) approach to help the child change their behavior.  It has some very good information and techniques that we can use to help the children in our care.  For me it was somewhat of an affirmation of what we are already doing.  If you find yourself often dealing with children from a negative perspective, you may find this book very helpful. 

Topics covered include: The Many Faces of Residential Youth Care Workers, From Impossibility to Possibility, Creating a Respectful Context and Climate for Change, Altering Problematic Patterns of Viewing, Managing Crisis with an Eye on Possibilities, etc.

My biggest issue with the book is the use of the acronym “RYCW” which stands for Residential Youth Care Worker.  In the first chapter I counted 50 times where the acronym was used.  Acronyms are good for writers but can be very burdensome on readers, especially when they cannot be sounded into a word as in this case.  By the third chapter every time I saw RYCW I would mentally translate it to houseparent.  This seemed to make it flow much better as I read.  You could use houseparent, counselor, youth worker, or what ever fits in your case.  As I was writing this I realized you could probably pronounce the acronym “Rick” because of the first three letters “RYC” and just make the “W” silent.  Wouldn’t it be funny if that stuck.  I’d have to change the name of the website to “The Rick Network”.

The only other issue I have is that it was clearly written by a PhD.  To me the writing style at times was very textbooky (if textbooky can be a word), although I guess that is what it is: a textbook to teach a Collaborative, Competency-based Approach.  There were times I had to force myself to pick up the book and read it.

Would I recommend the book? Yes, though it would not be at the top of my read list.  Read the book if:

  1. You are a new worker, or thinking of entering the field.  This would be a good resource to get you started in a more positive way of thinking.  However, I think you should read No Such Thing as a Bad Kid by Charlie Applestein First
  2. You are finding yourself often looking at situations from a negative perspective.  This book might help you gain some techniques that will help you focus on the positive.
  3. You are an experienced worker and have read the other material that is available.  In that case read this; you will surely glean some useful information that will help you help the youth you work with.

2015 Houseparent Salary Comparison

In doing the 2015 salary comparison, I went through my database of all job listings posted on The Houseparent Network in the last 12 months.  If a facility had more than one job listing during that time, I kept only the most recent.  I had 151 different facilities that have posted job listings in the past year (An increase of 23 facilities over last year).  Of those, 74 facilities posted salaries (An increase of 11 facilities), the rest posted things like competitive or negotiable, etc.  Stuff I couldn’t work with.

The good news is that Houseparent Salaries have increased over 2014 salaries based on this survey.

Before I give my numbers here is my disclaimer:
Note: Let me start by saying that this is not a scientific sampling based on all the facilities in the country, but I think it is still a close representation of the average salaries throughout the country. All salaries listed are per individual.  If you are paid as a couple multiply these averages by two to compare it to your salary.  Also many facilities listed a range of salaries, so I also express my averages as a range.  I am also making the assumption that the salary listed by the facility is the cash salary and not total package.

The mean average (pure average) salary for a houseparent is $23,171-23,877 per year, compared to $22,099-23,130 in 2014  The Median average (half the salaries are less, half are more) salary for a houseparent is $23,000-25,000 per year, compared to $21,000-23,000 in 2014.  The mean average for the top 25% of salaries is $29,901-30,068 compared to $29,131-29,898 in 2014.  The mean average for the bottom 25% of salaries is $16,724-17,303 compared to $14,903-16,637 in 2007.  The Top salary is $37,500-40,000 which is exactly the same as 2014.  The bottom salary is $12,500 per year, which is $1250 more per year than in 2014.

I now have the information posted in the members only section and it include additional information from the comparison, such as sorted by state, benefits listed in the job listing, as well as all the raw data, minus the facility name.

Foster care: US moves to phase out group care for foster kids

Here is an article by the Associated Press posted on The Christian Science Monitor that talks about how different organizations and government officials are trying to reduce the number of FOSTER children in residential care.  It gives some pretty good insights as to the current trends in residential care.  It also helps explain why many houseparents today say the children are so much more difficult than they used to be.  If states are working hard to reduce the number of children in residential care, it would only make sense that the children that are left would be more difficult.

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/2014/0517/Foster-care-US-moves-to-phase-out-group-care-for-foster-kids

Book Review – The Gus Chronicles 1

 The Gus Chronicles 1
Reflections from an Abused Kid

By: Charles D. Appelstein, M.S.W. (and Gus E. Studelmeyer)

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. Otherwise feel free to share you reviews on the Forum. Thanks.

The Gus Chronicles 1 is an updated and revised version of The Gus Chronicles (originally published in 1994).  Doing something over will almost always result in something better, and it is certainly true in this case.  I enjoyed this book much more than I did the original.

I think Charlie (The Author) does a great job of helping a person get a perspective of how children in care, and their parents feel about those of us that work in residential care, he also does a pretty good job of highlighting some of the prejudices that we may have toward the children and birth parents that we need to be aware of and deal with.

I very much like how he changed his presentation of the need for Family Centered Services in residential care.  He does a very good job at presenting his case, and I fully agree that we need to find a way to work with the whole family.  If we don’t, we are, for the most part, wasting our time with the kids.

The Gus Chronicles 1 is a fictional story about a kid, Gus E. Studelmeyer that is living in a residential treatment center (RTC). The author uses a fictional person to address realistic situations in an RTC, and for the most part does a very good job.

The main character “Gus” is the narrator of the book and tells his story as a resident in an RTC. He also interviews and talks with other characters to get their perspective. Topics covered in the book include: Residential Treatment: A Child’s Perspective, Restraints, Foster Care, Bedtime and happenings during the night(sexual acting out, bed wetting, etc.), families perspective of residential care, activities, self-esteem, etc. The book is easy reading and presents information with little of the psychological speak. It does a good job of using terminology and phrases common to residential childcare, which will help a new person to residential care, better understand what those around him/her are saying.

This book would be excellent reading for somebody thinking about getting into residential care. It will give you a good idea of some of the situations and behaviors you will have to face, keeping in mind that the frequency and severity of the situations presented in the book would be much less for the majority of workers in residential foster care and community group home facilities. This book would be good reading for those already in child care, and might give you some ideas on how to better handle situations you deal with in your facility.

WARNING: This book contains profanity!!. Because the author is trying to paint a realistic picture of life in an RTC for the youth, he uses some of the same language the youth in RTC’s actually use. Although one of our goals is to help youth express themselves properly, with some it is a long hard road; you are going to hear some bad words working with troubled youth. This book will give you a chance to test your feelings about that.

I still somewhat struggle with using Gus and his 163 IQ to present the technical aspects, and would have preferred a second character, like a super computer, being a huge fan of the movie and book, Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, to present those aspects of the book. On the other hand it is strictly a personal preference and not enough of a distraction to prevent a you from getting very valuable information to help you be better providers.

I highly recommend the book and encourage all residential care workers and those thinking about becoming residential care workers to read it.

Click here to read my original review of “The Gus Chronicles”

The Gus Chronicles II is a sequel to the original Gus Chronicles. It was published in 2002 and was my favorite of the Gus Chronicle books. Now it is neck and neck with The Gus Chronicles 1. Click here to read the review The Gus Chronicles II.

You can buy the book from Amazon.com The Gus Chronicles I: Reflections from an Abused Kid
Click here to see other books in my bookstore

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Finding contraband (Stuff they shouldn’t have)

Back in the day you had to learn of new hiding places from other staff members that stumbled on to them, or from your snitch.  Now days, we have this wonder thing called YouTube where kids will tell you the new places where they hide things.  I have posted a few here for your information.  Later on I plan to make a few videos of some places where you might find some hidden items.  Warning.  Some of these videos have language that you may find inappropriate, however if you have worked in residential care for more than a day or two, its probably nothing you haven’t already heard.

The Houseparent Life

Here are some videos I found on YouTube made by residents.  I am posting them for your entertainment. The residents get great joy out of messing with houseparents.  If it were not for the fact that I understand the rules at most facilities, I would NOT be very surprised to find hundreds or thousands of these videos on YouTube, however most group care residents do have cell phones and youtube accounts to post their pranks so they go undocumented.

Even when they are not messing with the houseparents, they still could be.

Slogan Change

For the last 13+ years the slogan for The Houseparent Network has been, “The one stop resource for houseparents and other residential childcare workers”. Today that changed. We are now “The one stop resource for houseparents and other residential care workers”. A subtle change, but a big change. After posting a job listing for a maternity home today I realized that it was time for a change. I have known for a while that there are houseparents and residential care workers that work with pregnant women, disabled adults and youth, young adults in Independent living facilities, etc.

You look at the website and many of the facilities that have job listings are for facilities other than residential childcare. It was time I recognize that. Welcome to The Houseparent Network, The one stop resource for houseparents and other residential CARE workers.