The Foster Care Interview Process
Nervous yet? Well, don't worry, you will be when the interview is scheduled. Why would they need to interview you anyway? Do you have kids? They are growing up well and adjusted to their schools and don't have any long-term problems? Right. So there is nothing wrong with your parenting style. There's no reason they should have to interview you and come into your home...
What is the purpose of the foster care interview process? What is the goal of coming into the home and meeting with you on multiple occasions?
As a part of the home study, you will undergo a series of interviews, probably three. You can find more about the process from here https://impressingminds.com/foster-care-home-study-process/
The purpose is to find out about you, your personality, your past, and your stability. The goal is to get to know you and then report on how well you and your family will welcome a traumatized child into the mix of your home.
The foster care interview process is multi-faceted so that you will be seen on multiple days in a variety of situations and under various circumstances. There will be different goals for each visit with the social worker.
Foster Care Interview
This is not an interview for a job. The foster care interview process is an interview to see your strengths and weaknesses as a household. This interview is about how you are going to respond to hypothetical questions that you may have never thought of. Believe me, they want to accept you. There are not enough foster parents in the foster care system. They want the foster care interview process to go well and get you ready for your first placement. This takes time.
When we had our interviews, we sat at our dining room table. I had dinner cooking and invited our social worker over about an hour after I got home - long enough for me to clean the house, start dinner and get ready to act like a normal family. Yeah, I think everyone feels like they need to have the house spotless, the dinner cooking, and waiting on the hubby. We do this to appear to be a "put-together" mom who can bring home the bacon, fry it up and seamlessly add a few kids to the mix.
The foster care interview process is not like a job interview.
You are not scrutinized about your skills as a parent or spouse; however, you are made aware of the issues that may become a problem. You are asked to evaluate yourself as much as the social worker is evaluating you. In fact, he or she can't seriously assess your family if you do not truly assess yourself, answer accurately, and seek assistance for areas where there may be deficiencies.
For example, who watches your children when you are at work? That same person may not be allowed to watch a foster child. How will you handle that? Another example is, what if you get very ill or there's a death in the extended family? What is the plan for the foster child? Respite? Do you already know respite foster families? Do your neighbors help you occasionally? What if you only had to rely on other approved foster families?
You see the interview is also to find out how you will react to situations.
Therefore, you will be asked about your upbringing and talk through it with the worker. You will discuss the stability of your marriage. Because, honestly, why would they give a traumatized child to a foster family and then have the child see the foster family argue and fight? This would bring up past memories. This may trigger the child. They do not want this for a child in foster care.
The social worker will interview your family for your childhood background.
What were your parents like?
Describe the discipline measures use?
What discipline do you incorporate with your own children?
What areas do you feel inadequate to discipline (truancy, runaways, cursing, hitting, etc.)?
Since spanking is not allowed, what other methods or systems will you incorporate?
What was a bad memory from your childhood?
What was a good memory?
Who do you have in your corner currently? Do your parents help you drop off the kids at school or pick them up? Knowing you have a good support system will be beneficial for the social worker. It is difficult to rear children and having friends and family that are supportive of your decision to foster or adopt is very important. The worker wants to get a sense of your level of confidence in the ability to do it all and your ability to call for help when necessary. Grandparents are a blessing when they can assist in caring for the new children!
The social workers must decide if you are emotionally stable, so how do you handle being upset? How can you tell when someone else is upset and what do you do about that? Emotional stability is very important because you need to be stable emotionally for the child who has had trauma in their life. They need to know you will be available when they are having a breakdown, having bad thoughts, or missing their family. They don't need to watch an adult having a breakdown. Another area of emotional stability is empathy...
You need to have empathy for the foster child, the foster family, and the social workers.
They are human. too. The policies may seem unfair. How will you emotionally handle these feelings when things are not going right, for the child, in your opinion. Will you blast the foster care system on social media? Will you suddenly get mad and send the child back? How do you handle conflict? Are you able to talk through problems with someone? Do you have a support system that can handle not knowing the details because of the confidentiality of the foster child? What if your friends or family are supportive until they meet the child. If the child is unruly, will this deter their support? Will they give you good advice or advice that is good for the child's situation?
As far as emotional stability, I recommend a foster care support group. You will want to get some new friends after diving into the world of foster care. The ones who have gone through the process, have kids in their home, and have similar experiences will, most likely, be your new BFFs when it comes to emotional stability. It will be like you have two sets of friends. Ones that support the foster care side of you and ones that are your friends but do not have the same passion for rescuing a child from bad circumstances.
Parenting Skills in the Foster Care Interview
Social Services needs to be sure that you are a safe person with whom to leave a child. How do you handle a crying child throwing a tantrum? A colic baby? A withdrawing newborn? How will you treat a child that is new in your home? Will you treat that child differently than your own? Can you fully integrate that child with a seat at the table, with a warm bath, and a bedtime story? Will that child have the same opportunities as your child like sports, dance, piano, etc? These children have often suffered neglect, so they do not want to feel left out at a new home. The social workers need to know that you will be fair.
Parenting means giving these children a normal home life while they are in your care and you should comfort and adore them. Parenting also means you hug and kiss them goodnight if they want you to. It can also mean saying "No" to things that may be harmful. For example, the child wants dessert but had a bad day at school. You can say "no" and let the other children, who were good at school, have dessert. If this was the expectation, then follow it. Do not pity the child. You treat the child like your own with a special understanding of their circumstances. The social worker needs to know that this will occur.
Questions and Answers
The interview process is mainly a question and answer process. Most questions are open-ended. These questions make you talk. These questions may make you uncomfortable. I'm preparing a video for the questions that will be asked and why they are asked.
Want more information on the interview process? I did an entire video on the question types and a few tips to get you through. Check this out here: https://youtu.be/J-XihGcNQPQ
Join me on my overall YouTube journey as well. I post different details from the blog. Find out more here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqconwH-mBjCCE52Fp-oPYA/discussion?view_as=subscriber