Have you ever been on a home visit?? I don’t care where you work – the ghetto, a farming community or a high income area -home visits can be scary. I typically go on a couple of home visits a month, with the main reasons being attendance and if there is an emergency and we have no working numbers. I had to go on a home visit this past Thursday and it was an experience – oh yeah, not fun. A mother called and said she couldn’t get her first grader to school and I could hear him crying in the background. Yup, it was one of those days.
The mother said she has tried everything and there was nothing she could do. She asked for my help, I asked where she lived and off I went. Many counselors that I talk to don’t do home visits, not because they don’t want to, their job just doesn’t require it. It’s funny how we all have the same job title but different communities do different things. Where is the consistency within our profession? (That’s for another day.)
Back to the home visit.
I rang the buzzer and walked up to the second floor. I entered the home with the home-school liaison – NEVER go alone. The student stared at me in amazement (that is always a priceless look) – it was the “she really showed up and is here!” look. These are the moments when counselors can truly make a difference, the mom was desperate for help and he was not going to come to the school. It is so important that we reach out to parents when things are tough. As counselors, we have to remember that the students come to “our house” everyday but we need to be available to go to their house to make a difference with the hard to reach families. I did not get the student to come to school with me but I did get his mom the outside agency help that was needed to hopefully get this family under control. Without the home visit I never would have understood the urgency.
What do I never leave without when going to a home visit?
- My Binder – this binder is soooo important. Working in an urban area where the crime is high and the poverty is everywhere you never know what you need. I compiled a list of resources on ONE sheet and then I just circle who they need to call. Most of my families need an outside agency referral, a food pantry and a domestic violence resource all in one. If you do not have a list compiled, take the time and get it done. It has made my life SO MUCH easier. **If they ask me to I can call WITH them. I do NOT call for them but I will help them through the call if they are nervous.
- My Phone – well that’s obvious- a School Counseling friend of mine went on a home visit where the mom was unconscious and the 3-year-old opened the door! That has never happened to me – thankfully!
- Another Person – another obvious. You NEVER want to be alone.
This is a photo of my binder. It is nothing special on the outside but on the inside I have everything I need – it is REALISTIC which is what I am all about. Check out my first periscope where I go into detail about what is in my binder and how you can organize your own.
Check out My Fav’s and you can purchase all the little things I have to organize my binder, including the business card protector. That is really important when I go on home visits or when a parent calls I can refer to my business card directory in my HELP binder and give a specialists name.