Houseparents are the glue that holds the homes together. Each home has two sets of parents, all trained child care workers who undergo more than 400 hours of training in their first year.

Our houseparent staff comes from all over the country with the desire to make a difference in the life of Native American children. They are key to building healthy, supportive relationships with our students and helping them learn safe and healthy boundaries.

In the youngest homes, they build upon early social and life skills such as getting along with others, friendships, positive relationship building, manners, good hygiene, nutrition and completing age-appropriate chores. Students in fourth- through sixth-grade continue building relationship skills and focus on individuality and exploring personal interests. Older students work on social and emotional growth while developing independence.

Houseparents support the academic success of students through daily communication with teachers and attendance at school events. They become a significant bridge to parents and guardians and seek to build a healthy and supportive partnership with our families.

These fun-loving, flexible and hard-working staff members create opportunities for students to participate in community service. They work to make students feel extra special on their birthday and invite friends and family to celebrate the special day, which includes opening gifts and enjoying the student’s favorite meal.

Meet houseparents Rick and Karen and what a day in the life of being a houseparent looks like

They encourage students to take pride in their culture and find strength in spiritual tradition — Catholic, Christian, Lakota or other — an important task at every age.

They are core members of our students’ health care team. They monitor student health issues, are trained in medication administration and are the first line of communication with Health Center staff.

In partnership with parents and guardians, houseparents strive to provide a home-away-from-home for Native American children in first- through twelfth-grade. Some students may only be part of our nationally accredited program for a couple of years, while for others we work with their families to provide education and formation for their children for a number of years.

Living at St. Joseph’s Indian School is residential — not dormitory. Our 20 homes are overseen at all times by two specially trained houseparents. Home life means living and playing together as any family does. Students learn life skills including personal hygiene, communication, finance and teamwork. Culture and spirituality including Christian prayer and Lakota tradition are thy rhythm of daily life.