A Family Teacher’s perspective: Meet Jenny and Genevieve

family teacher

What’s it like to share your home with GoodLife residents? Family Teachers Jenny Voth and Genevieve Getz share their experience and how the model has enriched their family life. The Family Teaching Home is one of GoodLife’s residential programs, and the model supports individuals with a wide range of needs varying from significant needs to those who require fewer supports. Family teachers and their families live on one side of a duplex and residents occupy the adjoining living space. Family Teachers provide care, work with the natural families of the individuals they serve, directly supervise other caregivers who provide individualized support, and manage the home. 

Jenny, how do you contribute to GoodLife’s population as a Family Teacher? 
My husband, three kids (15, 13, 8), and I share a  home with four GoodLife adult residents. We care for them in 12-hour shifts four days a week. We’ve been living and working in a Family Teaching Home for almost eight years, so living with residents is all my youngest son knows! Family Teachers like myself manage the care of each resident, typically 2-4, within the home. Our primary job is to create the best family atmosphere we can. We eat meals together, cook and clean together, shop and experience community activities together–all of the components that make up family life. By incorporating residents into our daily life, they experience as much independence as possible backed by the ongoing innovation, support, and wisdom of GoodLife and its partners.

What a meaningful experience for your kids. Genevieve, what is a typical day like? 
It’s truly like any other home environment–no two days are the same! The day starts with me waking up in my bed to a house of sleepy people looking for breakfast. Our daily schedule is filled with activities each resident enjoys, both indoor and outdoor. The Family Teaching Model builds in a weekly minimum of 25 hours in the community, so we take trips to the grocery store, movie theater, park, or other places around town. My kids are 12 and 8, and they love to help me come up with new and innovative ways to entertain, educate, and integrate our residents. 

Jenny, what do you like best about your job? 
I love the freedom the Family Teaching Model gives both the residents and my family. GoodLife trusts us to run our home well, yet they provide all of the support, respite, and accountability we need to be successful. I love that my family is by my side every day while I work. It’s incredible to watch my children as teachers. My kids are the first ones to look at a situation with a resident and say, “Oh, they can do this!” They feel empowered alongside me to provide the best care possible. It’s pretty special that my job isn’t this compartmentalized part of my life that my family isn’t a part of.  We are in it together. 

What about you, Genevieve? 
I love getting to work with my husband every day! I also enjoy giving individuals with I/DD the opportunity to learn in a loving and personal way. I’ll echo what Jenny said about her kids as teachers–children think differently than adults. Where an adult may question the limits of someone with I/DD, my kids see them as fully capable. They help me every day to look at a situation with new eyes and innovation, which is invaluable for self-worth, confidence and independence. I love that we get to learn, teach, grow, and love together as a family. 

What is an example of how GoodLife is doing things differently? 
(Jenny) Unlike traditional group homes, GoodLife’s Family Teaching Homes truly foster independence. For example, the program encourages that we have a “third place” for our residents–a place in the community unassociated with GoodLife where staff or other patrons recognize them, know their name, and provide regular opportunities for social interaction. While this idea may seem simple, to me it shows that helping individuals with I/DD feel like they are a part of their community is a priority. It’s inspiring. 

Genevieve, what would you say to someone that is thinking about becoming a Family Teacher? 
What are you waiting for?! It’s the best decision I made. I began my career with GoodLife as a Direct Support Provider (DSP). A colleague suggested I would be a good fit to be a Family Teacher, and while the idea was intimidating, I had so much support from my supervisors. It was an easy transition, and has created a meaningful and unique life for my family. 

Jenny, any additional thoughts? 
I’ll add to what Genevieve shared. If you’ve ever wanted to work together as a family, this is the way to do it! It helps if you know your family works well together, because you will really need to rely on one another–plus you are with each other a lot for both professional and personal life. It’s a great way to raise a family. You get to extend your family in an enriching and meaningful way, and contribute to improving life for those in your community. 

Ready to join GoodLife’s team? Apply today! 

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