Accepting a Foster Care Placement
What does accepting a foster care placement mean? Accepting a placement from foster care means that you are going to accept a child into your home from the state's foster care system. This may be what you are dreaming about... your first placement. How will you know if the child is right for you?
It is the most exciting and the most nerve-wracking time to be a foster parent. I remember getting the calls and thinking... YES YES YES! I will take them. AND for other calls, I'd think, "No way. I'm tired. I'm done". Or I'd think this isn't the right age or sex for us. Why do they call me and put me in this situation where I have to think, "What if...."?
Then I'd always respond to the worker with, "I have to call my husband and see what he thinks." I'd call him and we'd discuss all the possibilities and options.
Mostly we said "yes" when they called. We were full most of the time, so we did not actually get many calls. The calls we did get our placed children would stay with us for two years, so that meant our house was full.
How did I know what to ask when a Child Protective Service (CPS) worker would call? I had a list. I found an online list from some website that I read. Then, I printed out ten copies and put them in my home management binder. [Yes, I'm a nerd like that - to even have such a binder would make my 20-something self totally embarrassed.]
So I'd get a call...
They would ask if I had a room at my house. Wait, do you mean they don't know? Yes. They'd ask if we were willing to take a child. I'd go through my handy-dandy list and gather the information. Then I would call Sam. He'd say "yes" no matter what the situation was. We never got called for anything really horrible. Ours were mostly young children who stayed for the long-term.
Interested in the process? Find out about the entire process for kids to go into foster care with another recent blog post here: https://impressingminds.com/how-do-kids-go-into-foster-care/
You need a list.
You will need a list to determine, in a level-headed manner, if you should take a placement. The worst thing is to take the placement too quickly and then find out the child will not be a great fit in your home. The child has behaviors that are not conducive to being around younger children. The child is actually a young adult who is failing school. There are endless scenarios that are possible.
Honestly, the worker will not have all the information anyway, but you should know what to ask. I've put all the questions in a one-page, front and back pdf file for you. No strings attached. Just print. Print a few copies for the calls that will come later. Print ten copies for the next placements. Share this with other potential foster families.
If the worker doesn't know some information, he/she can get you that information as soon as possible. You can say you'll take the child depending on the answers to the questions. And then let them dig for more information.
If you take a child that doesn't work out, it is detrimental to the child. No child wants to be taken from their home and then placed with you only to be removed again. It is important to ensure the information is conducive to working with.
For example, if you are willing to take a toddler that has been in five different homes, that may be wonderful. But you need to be prepared for things. A working mother may not be able to handle that same toddler, because the more moves the child has the more trauma he or she is likely to express in a variety of ways.
It is best to know beforehand. Know what you are getting yourself in to. Know the information and make an informed decision. If it is a newborn placement, some of these questions would not apply to your situation; however, the list would be a great starter to formulate an understanding of the child's future - foster care versus biological family.
Here is the list.
No strings attached. Just, please, share this post with others! Let them get their list from me too.
We also did foster care respite quite a bit. That was interesting because usually I'd speak with the other foster family and get the information from them. I may already know the child and have the information simply because I know the foster parent. Sometimes I'd get a call from a CPS worker and go through the list. The only thing different would be I'd know EXACTLY when they were coming and leaving. I'd know exactly where to meet the foster parents for drop off/pick up. Often the CPS worker would leave it up to me to make arrangements.
If you have experience with taking a placement, how did it go? How did you vet placements for your home? Was there a checklist that you used? After the child came, were you happy that you had the information that you had. What was the most difficult information to obtain? And, has anyone had a trial or overnight placement that did not work out?
Tell me about your experiences in the comment section. Let's be a resource for foster families.