Many people show up at work and move through their task list striving to complete all tasks and clock out. Have you considered what a task list looks like for those who work in a group home? It’s currently 9:43 am on a Tuesday morning. Children were awakened at 6 am to begin to compete for three bathrooms in a large home as the day begins. Georgia Power gives a “high five” as the power meter spins like a Ferris Wheel as hot water heaters, blow dryers, and flat irons spring into action to get the day started. Much like siblings in a home, articles of clothing are quietly shared among the girls praying the staff aren’t paying attention. Sharing clothes in a group home is a “no go” as staff have come to learn that it’s not worth the fight when the clothing is lost, damaged, or claimed by another.
Makeup is applied, backpacks are loaded, anyone taking morning medications is encouraged to get a bite to eat and “come take your meds!” Direct Care Workers give a quick inspection of who is wearing what and makes a mental note against the school dress code before sending some back to change pants or get rid of the cropped top. Shortly thereafter, room inspections are done quickly to gather contraband that will result in a citation for the home during a random inspection from the state.
Toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, and other low level crimes result in staff collecting the items and stashing them away, leaving only a warning behind as the girls hurriedly shout “come on” as the girls race down the driveway to get on the bus. In the aftermath, staff find evidence of ten females completing the beauty ritual as Clorox wipes remove foundation, mascara, lipstick and other beauty products that were applied to the walls in addition to the face upon departure. One youth leaves a reminder that “36 cupcakes are needed by 6th period thank you and please hurry” as staff complete the medication check, start laundry, pull food for the afternoon snack, begin meal prep for dinner, sign off on all behaviors from the day before and try to get out the door to wrap up the night shift.
If you’re exhausted reading this, trying completing 15 minute head checks overnight (aka climbing the stairs 32 times during one shift), cleaning the home, and pulling paperwork before the girls get up and we do it all over again. For staff, this means exceeding 10,000 steps on a Fitbit and thighs of steel. Happy Tuesday! When the girls you care for leave you a note and ask for cupcakes on the same day they are due it’s a victory! At the end of the day, what that really means is “this is my home.” I trust you enough to know “you got this!” And that is my sparkle of the day.