Saturday, June 5, 2010

Foster Care and Confidentiality

I've been taking the foster care training classes that all new foster parents (in the state of Utah) have to take, because I need my training hours for the year. Every year I need 12 training hours and hubby, because he is the "secondary care giver" only needs 4. Our last class was on Confidentiality and Policies.

This has been a tough issue with people we know while we've done foster care. For some reason people just expect us to be able to tell them every little detail about our kids and their family and their case. They don't like "it's confidential" as an answer! Well, if you are doing foster care or know of someone doing foster care you better get used to it. When we got our current foster daughter Emma, "J", my sister-in-law said on Facebook "Yeah that is so great!!! DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS!!!!" and how would you respond to such request "can't share details, sorry!" My mom once asked me, "Do you call her J/Jay because that's all you ever write on your blog?" No I do NOT call her J, I use her real name, but I can NOT write her name on my blog/ Facebook!

Obviously with their name you can't really keep it a secret from everyone. Friends and family will know you have a foster kid and will need to know what to call this child. First name only is okay. Although I stick to my own person, safety rule of not posting it on Facebook or my blog. Once children have left my home I have used their first names

Names and Public: I live in a small town and have foster kids from this same small town makes me a little nervous. You never know who knows who or who just might be your foster kid's relative. My husband and I have a system we stick to that we love! We come up with a code name for our little ones. I say little ones because it will not work on children who are old enough to talk and say, "that's not my name." This all started after a scary experience with our first foster son, Ben. We were at Wal-Mart and our cashier was an older woman, she asked his name and we told her Landon. "My grandson's name is Ben! I've never met him. He's about that same age. What's his middle name?" Ummm, our response, "Oh really? What's your grandson's middle name?" It was not the same Ben, but it made us realize we needed to be careful. Both of our little girls have/had unusual names. My hubby and I always talk about if we end up adopting each foster kid would we leave their name or change it? 2 out of the 4 we decided we would change if it went to adoption and then decided on what that name would be. That new name has become their code name. Trust me, in a small town you feel a lot more comfortable when a stranger ask what your kids name is and you can smile and say Madison or Emma, instead of gritting your teeth and saying ..... and hoping it isn't their mom's aunt you are talking to!

Pictures: Back 3 1/2 years ago when I was taking the training classes for the first time our trainer said you can NOT post public pictures of foster kids. Another one that makes sense for their and your own safety. I don't know if this has changed because I have seen foster parents post pictures of foster kids on their blog. I however, do not and will not. I don't need DCFS finding any reason to take Emma out of my home! I do on occasion post pictures like this-

There are times when I will take pictures of Emma and think, this is the most beautiful picture of her, I want to share it, But I can't. Oh well, life goes on. Better safe then sorry!

1 comment:

QuackenBaby said...

Confidentiality is a big deal. When we were in training, our SW told us one of the best ways to handle it. When someone asks for details on the child's life, you simple respond "I am sorry I can't share more with you, but this child's life is his/her own story to tell". If they keep on prying, she said just tell them you have to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect these kids, and sharing information isn't worth loosing the gift of caring for this child.

As for pictures online, I agree in some places they say no social networking, but it is ok to post on blogs as long as you control the individuals viewing the blog (through privacy settings and such). None-the-less, I will not be posting head shots of our FC. I have told my parents and siblings that we will e-mail only, and they already know, they are NOT allowed to post the pictures.

Good post!