Friday, February 18, 2011

Foster Care Friday: Questions

Questions to ask when getting a call about a foster placement.

I'm one of those people that when called about a foster kid I get all excited and all questions leave my mind. My main question is always Age? Sex? Status of the case?

When we got Emma we knew, her name (kind of, no one knew how to pronounce it), her birthday/ age, the fact that her mom was in jail (didn't know how long for), she was on soy milk (didn't know why and I don't think there was a real reason why) and they were looking for kinship, but nothing was working out.

I got to thinking about questions you should ask and the info I've had before receiving (or just after their arrival) with all 4 kids after reading (this) post. In this post this foster mom said that a caseworker told her "Sometimes we have to paint lipstick on a pig to get it placed."
Really? I'm SOOOO glad that our DCFS doesn't work like that! As far as I've been told and I have dealt with they are open and honest with you so you don't get in over your head and the kid doesn't get bounced from home to home to home! In fact, I was warned, like a LOT, about Isaac. I had 2 different workers and his current foster mom call me and talk to me about him to make sure I was okay with all his issues! With Ben, I think they over exaggerated his health problems! My girls have both been perfect healthy and perfect little angels. Well, I guess Madison had a few (minor) issues with food and separation anxiety.

So, here are the questions to ask and then I added more info about each of our kids...

1. The child’s full name, age, and birth date.

Ben: I got his first name (after we agreed to his placement), but still the same day we got the call, we got his full name once we got him and his "Home to Home" binder. I got his age when I first got the call and his birth date later that day.

Isaac and Madison: I got their first names and ages (although they were a few months off on Madi's age) when I got called and got their birthdays and full names the next day when they got to my house.

Emma: I once again got her name and age when called and got her birthday when she arrived. I got her full name a day or two later.

2. Why the child is in foster care and what is the legal status of the case?

Ben: Getting Ben's call was a blur, we had been approved for 15 minutes and I was so excited that it was just a blur. They told me a lot about him and his case within a few days of the call before we got him. I did know why he was taken sometime within a few days. His sibling's foster parents always knew everything going on, and I was sometimes told what was going on.

Isaac and Madison: I don't think I was EVER told why they were removed. I know I found out, but I don't think it was from a caseworker. Sad, I know. Our caseworker kept us out of the loop on both Ben and I & M's cases. I never knew what was going on in their case. Their sibling's foster parents always told us.

Emma: I knew that her mom was in jail, I didn't find out why she was removed until a few weeks later. And the case was so new that they told me as such as they knew about the legal status.

3. Are kinship options being pursued?

Ben: When I picked him up (we were called on a Monday and picked him up around the same time on Thursday) that kinship was being pursued.

Isaac and Madison: I wasn't told anything right away, but I was told that a family member was pursuing it, then they didn't think they would. Then when we gave our 10 days notice another family member pursued and got them.

Emma: I was told when she arrived and a few days later that they were looking for kinship, but so far had not found any and obviously, never did.

4. The child’s medical history including immunizations, special medical problems, medication, etc. When will a medical card be received?

Ben: I was told everything when I got his call. I got his medical card when I got him.

Isaac and Madison: I was told everything the day I was called and got their cards with them.

Emma: I was told she was current on immunizations, but she was actually missing 1 set, but was only 2 weeks later on them. No know problems. Our CPS worker was great, she didn't come with it so when I asked him for one he brought one over a few hours later along with her WIC form!

5. Last school attended and grade the child is in.

Isaac was our only school aged kid. We really lucked out and got him before school started so I had plenty of time to enroll him and such.

6. Does the child have any special needs such as clothing, food, or supervision? Are there any behavioral problems? What type of extent of abuse has occurred?

Ben, Madison and Emma: No problems

Isaac: They told me about his behavioral problems. Some of them were just between him and his foster brother so I never saw them. He was always good are playing ya. He was great for the first 2 weeks, didn't have any problems and then he started showing his true colors.

7. The caseworker’s name and phone number

Ben: I got it that day.

Madison and Isaac: She was the one who called us and she was one of Ben's (he had 2, no idea why.) so we already had it.

Emma: The CPS worker gave us his card when he dropped her off and we got our caseworkers name once we got her and got her # shortly there after.

8. Who should the foster parent call if the caseworker cannot be reached?

I never got info like that. But I had our main office #, so I just called there if I needed to. We also got lots of #'s for people like supervisors and such at our training meetings.

9. What is the name and phone number of the Health Care Team nurse assigned to the case?

I got his name and # with Ben and I'm pretty sure we had the same person with all 4 kids. I heard from him a lot on Emma's case, which I LOVED. He would go over her developmental surveys and ask if there were problems of questions.

10. What is expected regarding visits with the family?

I don't remember being told exactly what the visits would be when I first got the kids, but to me it wasn't a huge deal. With one call though that is why I said no! There was 2 little girls and I would be expected to drive them to and from visits with their mom who lived 1 1/2 hours away, twice a week! 6 hours a week traveling for visits (with 2 little ones), No! Ben, we had visits 45 minutes away a few times but then switched to where we lived, but it wasn't that bad. Isaac and Madison, we had visits with their siblings 1 1/2 hours away once a month, but my in-laws lived there so it was actually nice

11. Is this a basic or specialized placement? Is there an initial clothing allowance?

Ben's was specialized, never told why. From what I was told, the shelter or some worker spent his allowance at DI (on nasty un-usable clothes)!

Isaac and Madison: Basic placement. I got them from previous foster homes so their previous foster parents had spent their, but sent them with the clothes.

Emma: Also basic placement. I got her clothing allowance and LOVED it! I love baby shopping especially when I know I'll get reimbursed for it!

12. Does the child present a threat to other children, animals, or self?

When Brad and I were brand new foster parents we had to fill out a form checking what behavioral problems we were willing to deal with. At first our only "No" was threat to animals (our dog). Now that we've had a few kids our "maybe" and "no"'s have changed!

Isaac was our only one who they told us could be a threat to other kids, although we never saw that!

13. What is the child’s previous placement history?

Ben and Emma, it was their first time taken and first home.

Madison came from another foster home and I never got any info from them because of a family emergency (which is why she and Isaac were coming to me)

Isaac: I got lots of into from his current foster mom before we got him. But I never heard anything about the first time he was in care.

14. Are there any cultural or religious practices of which we need to be aware?

All of our kids were 5 and under and Caucasian, plus we live in Utah and all their birth mom's were LDS but inactive, so no problems.

15. Does the child have siblings, relatives, or previous caregivers who may wish to visit the child?

Ben, Isaac and Madison: We had visits with their siblings. We did have one visit with Isaac's previous foster mom and her other foster kids.

Emma: I'm open to visits with her siblings, but their adoptive parents don't want to at this point.

16. Does the child have possessions from home that may be important such as scrapbook, pictures of family members, or favorite toys?

Ben: We got all his clothes, his "favorite" blanket, which he didn't care about and a few toys.

Madison: I got all her clothes from her previous home, but nothing of importance, a stuffed animal and a blanket, but nothing special to her.

Same with Emma, clothes, a blanket, her bouncy seat, but then again she was only 4 months old.

Isaac: Also came with all his clothes, after a visit with him birth mom she told me that he still had a pair of shoes and his favorite stuffed toy at his previous foster mom's house. He never said anything to me about it, but I did get them from her.

17. Do you know of any special routines that will help the child feel more comfortable?

Ben: His birth mom wrote a (nasty) letter to all the foster parents of her kids about their routines. He didn't really have one though.

Madison and Isaac: I didn't know much about Madison's. Isaac, his foster mom just told me his bedtime routine and certain TV shows he liked.

Emma: also didn't have one. Samantha never said anything to me about one so we just made our own.

18. Is there any other family information that would be helpful?

Nothing with any of my kids

19. Has the child been involved in counseling or special education? What additional services would this child need?

Ben and Emma, nothing

Isaac: I was told he was in counseling, which we continued.

Madison: I was told she needed speech therapy, which I agreed with and it never happened. Now that I'm more experience, I will not just let something like that go and not get addressed.

20. When will the Child and Family Team Meeting take place at which the Child and Family Plan will be established?

21. Are there any other Child and Family Team Meetings scheduled?

Ben, Isaac and Madison: Ha ha ha, nice wish! I always heard about them AFTER they happened!

Emma: Because of my previous 3 I didn't even ask, didn't even expect to be informed of one. But, I was actually really involved! Our DCFS office called me to inform me of a team meeting and I always knew exactly what was going on in the case. It was wonderful!

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