The job title "houseparent" refers to a child care professional, typically one who lives in a facility responsible for the safety, education and well-being of the children also living there. The job title "houseparent" may include people working as a home parent, residential staff member, teaching parent or resident counsellor, according to the Houseparent Network, an online information resource for professionals in the field.
Houseparents have a wide-ranging list of job responsibilities. Houseparents may be required to meet with classroom teachers to discuss the children under their care, attend professional development meetings to further their understanding of the field and assist in daily operational duties to maintain and care for the residence home, according to Milton Hershey School, a residential and educational institution for children. This may include providing transportation to children or supervising the completion of chores, homework or other responsibilities.
Houseparents also act as a mentor or parent-like figure, including sometimes taking children on excursions or facilitating social interaction.
Houseparenting is not for everyone, although the job does have its benefits. Some residential facilities offer assistance in relocating to the institution, according to the Milton Hershey School. Benefits may also include housing, food, utility payment, health insurance, retirement packages and other offerings. Some facilities will also offer training and professional development courses as part of a houseparent's benefit package. Houseparents are frequently permitted access to the facility's amenities, which may include a swimming pool, gym or horseback riding grounds.
Houseparents may also enjoy the altruistic benefit of helping needy children become emotionally stabilised, educated and socialised in a healthy, happy residential home, according to The Houseparent Network.
Because houseparents work with children, they are required to pass extensive background checks, which may include a medical examination or police background check. Houseparents may need to demonstrate a proven track record in working with and assisting children, particularly at-risk children. Married individuals may need to demonstrate the stability and longevity of their relationship; in particular, the Milton Hershey School requires couples to have been married for three years.
Further, residential schools may restrict the number of children a couple may bring to live with them.
Houseparents may earn a wide-ranging salary, depending on the institution and the individual's experience level. Salaries may range from £520 per month to £3,250 per month for a couple.
Because residential facilities offer round-the-clock care for children, houseparents may work atypical schedules. Short-staffed facilities may provide as few as two days off each month, according to The Houseparents Network. Others may provide days off on a rotational schedule. For example, a houseparent may work for four days, and then have four days off. Some facilities offer a traditional five-day work schedule each week, with two days off.
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