Being a cottage parent may very well be the hardest and the most fun job at Crossnore. Cottage Parents make up a larger percentage of our staff than any other position. These professional parents work 7 days in a row, living in the cottage, and then enjoy 7 days off, living in their own homes. Cottage parents range in age and life experience, but bring many skills to our residential campuses that help provide a sanctuary of hope and healing for all children who reside at Crossnore.
Cottage Parent Life in Avery
Steve and Connie Tharp have been foster parents for many years. Initially, Steve and Connie were foster parents in their own home for 10 years. For the last five years, Steve and Connie have worked as Cottage Parents in various settings. They work hard and serve as Cottage Parents on the Avery Residential campus.
Steve and Connie shared their typical daily schedule with us. A week day during the school year usually looks something like this:
7:00am – wake up and wake the children up
7:15am – pick up breakfast from the dining hall and bring it home
7:40am – walk the children to Williams Academy, the school on campus
7:45am – school begins
7:50am – come home and get the baby and toddlers ready for daycare and take them to daycare
3:00pm – pick up the kids from school; come home and do homework for 1 hour
4:30pm – pick up the younger children from daycare
5:00pm – one Cottage Parent fixes dinner while the other plays outside with the children
6:00-6:30pm – eat dinner together
6:30pm – clean up from dinner and do chores
7:00- 7:30pm – play outside
7:30pm – bath and shower time
8:00pm – little kids bed time
8:30pm – elementary kids bed time
9:00pm – middle school bed time
9:30pm – high school bed time
Usually at least several days during the week, Steve and Connie may check children out of school for appointments or meetings. The weekend schedule is a bit more relaxed and typically everyone enjoys sleeping in on Saturday mornings. On Sunday mornings, the cottage watches church together online.
Steve and Connie have served and loved many children over the years. Connie believes that the hardest part is sometimes not hearing from the children again after they leave. She often wonders how many of the children that she once cared for are doing now.
Steve and Connie have 6 biological children who are now adults. On their off-weeks, Steve and Connie often travel back to Kansas City, MO, where they reside, or travel to visit their children and grandchildren who are spread out across the United States.
Cottage Parent Life in Winston-Salem
Chris Powlen is a Cottage Parent on the Winston-Salem campus. He works in a cottage with teenage girls, which keeps him on his toes. He shared that their schedule on a week day during the school year usually looks something like this:
6:30am- wake up the middle school girls
7:00am- wake up the high school girls
7:15am- take the middle school students to school
8:00am- take the high school girls to school (note: on the Winston-Salem campus, students attend local public schools)
2:45pm- pick up middle school girl from school
3:40pm- pick up high school girls from school
4:00pm-everyone arrives back to the cottage; in the afternoons, students may have a therapy appointment on campus with their therapist
6:30pm- family style in the cottage with no phones allowed at the table
8:30pm- take night time medications and start winding down
9:30pm- bed time
While the day to day schedules are quite similar among different cottages and even different campuses, there does remain some flexibility for what works best for each home, which allows the cottages to feel more like a family than a group home.
On the weekends, Chris tries to do fun things with the students. They often go shopping or go to a local park. They also watch church online on Sunday mornings and Chris leads a Bible Study in the cottage on Monday nights.
When Chris is off, he enjoys resting and spending time with coworkers and friends in Winston-Salem. Chris shared that as a Cottage Parent, you learn a lot about yourself, but that he 100% enjoys the job.
Gratitude for All Cottage Parents
We are so grateful for all of our Cottage Parents who serve and love children and families so faithfully. Maybe there will be a season in your life when working as a Cottage Parent might be the right fit for you too? Loving and caring for children can be hard work, but not surprisingly, it can be deeply rewarding as well. Thank you Cottage Parents for all you do!