Life Before, During And After Foster Care


I was a foster kid and now a kinship parent. My life before, during, & after foster care taught me a lot. Here's insight into the lives of the foster kids and foster parents of foster care.

What Is A Foster Care Group Home?


When in foster care there are many types of foster homes that you can be in. During my journey through foster care I experienced 2 types. First my brothers and I went to an emergency placement outside of town. After about a week of emergency placement we were then moved to a group home until I aged out and my brothers stayed a couple years longer until my brothers were adopted.

 First I Before we had gone into foster care I had heard people talk about foster care and group homes. My parents had used the bad stereotypes of foster homes to further control us during abuse. They would tell me about how foster parents didn't care about their kids. They would tell me stories about how foster parents would beat and neglect their children. They said I would be attacked by other kids that lived there. My parents used these ideas to keep us quiet and to make us believe that whatever we had suffered by their hands was a cake walk compared to what would happen if we went to a foster home. The idea of a group home made me think of the movie Little Orphan Annie. I had this idea of a group home being a place with a bunch of kids fending for themselves, more or less I though of it as a prison.

So what is a foster care group home like? 

 As with anything no one place is the same as another. There are levels of facilities in foster care. A child with more problems or that acts out more will be placed in a facility or group home that is a little more restricting. My brothers and I were placed at a rural group home called Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home. At the time Coyote Hill was made up of 3 group homes. Each house would have a married couple as "house parents" (Coyote Hill is Christian based and it was mandatory that the house parents were married) and were parent figures to up to 8 kids. There would also be "relief parents" that aided the home parents both during the week and also while our home parents were away such as on vacation. Each week our foster parents would get what was called a date night, a 24 hour time period where the relief parents would come in and take over responsibilities to give the home parents a break. The home parents a part of the house that was separate that was their apartment. It was a private area that they could sleep and live and the kids weren't allowed to go. It was a full apartment with a couple bedrooms, living area, and kitchen/dining room area.
Click image to enlarge home layout
 In the homes there could be up to 4 girls and 4 boys in each. The boys’ hallway had 2 rooms and girls in the opposite hallway had 2 rooms. Girls and boys had separate bathrooms in their hall. You were able to get up and go to the restroom at night but could not home out of the hallway. There were motion sensor alarms to alert the parents when you crossed a certain point. There were also alarms on the outside door and windows. This was needed to prevent kids from running away or trying to meet up with the opposite sex. There were a lot of rules in place for several reasons. There are several rules and guidelines’ being a foster kid but, it was also a group home of kids of different genders and ages, and also a Christian home. There were no touching by different genders, no going into the other genders hallway, and several other rules to prevent co mingling. There were also rules about what type of music, movies and games played since the home is Christian based. Not much secular music was allowed and had to be previewed by the home parents, movies had to have a good child rating and not be negative or suggest non Christian actions. We would switch different chores each week and be responsible for doing our laundry and keeping up our rooms.

 We had a lot that we were able to do in our free time. Obviously with good behavior and building trust with your home parents your were able to do more. There was a basketball hoop and play area at every home. We would play with the kids from out home or if we could ask we also were able to go visit other homes or see if one of the other kids could come hang out at our home. We spent a good amount of time doing activities with one of the other families or just having a meal together. There were ponds where we could go fish or a beach in the summer that we could swim at. Sometimes our house parents would take us on trips, at my home we went to Branson to the theme parks a couple times and we also would go camping. Volunteer groups would also come out to our homes quite often to just spend time helping out, playing, or helping us fix/clean things up. I think living in a group home allowed us to do more activities and interact with outside groups wanting to volunteer as compared to living  in a "normal" family foster setting.

 As I said earlier my brothers and I got lucky with this placement. I think living in a group home allowed us to do more activities and interact with outside groups wanting to volunteer as compared to living in a home were we were the only foster kids. It also help me see that I'm not the only one that has been a victim of abuse but also I was able to realize that there are kids out there (unfortunately) that have had it worse then me.Even though there were a lot of rules we were with people that not only wanted to take care of us but it was with Christian values. Coyote Hill itself did a good job of screening their workers and giving the kids the best possible care and counseling. The would drive us to our appointments and we had weekly counseling sessions on top of being able to talk with our foster parents. We interacted with the other homes and would get together and do things with the other kids. I owe a lot to my house parents guiding me at a tough time, teaching me to try to see things positively  and always being there for me. Even though it was a group home we were still part of a unit and had somewhat of a family feeling. For more information on Coyote Hill visit there website at www.coyotehill.org.

Have you had any experience with group homes?

2 comments:

  1. Here, a group home can often be just a regular foster home with more kids (temporarily or regularly). Twice we've been bumped up to a group home status because of the number of children we had. Group homes here can have 12; but we'd never be able to take so many. Our agency makes sure everyone has the training necessary if the situation works out that they need to be able to take a sibling group, another child, whatever the case may be. Sometimes, the only difference from a typical foster home and a group home is one child.

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  2. Thank you for the hard work and effort putting on the website. Your blog is great with more informative and useful ideas...

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