Yesterday I talked about how life as a foster parent is pretty the same as life as any other parent. You are parenting the child, and therefore the day-to-day grind usually looks about the same as the daily grind with biological children.
HOWEVER, now that I’ve established that…I would like to add that there are a lot of extras that must be put onto the calendar when you have a foster child in your home. It does not matter the age of the foster child. Each foster placement is, of course, different…but to some extent these things will be on the calendar for every placement. If you take in multiple placements (who aren’t siblings), then you will have these extra’s for each placement.
Every week, most children in foster care have visitation with their biological parents. Little Miss had visitation twice a week, some children have it more frequently than that, and some have visitation less frequently. There are rare cases where there is no visitation at all.
Visitation usually happens at the agency, although sometimes there is a “third party” location that it happens at. It’s sometimes supervised, sometimes not…depending on the case. Sometimes you stay, sometimes you are not allowed to stay. Sometimes it’s 2 hours, sometimes it’s 24 hours. It really just depends on the case.
A lot of children in foster care find themselves in therapy for one reason or another. It might be physical therapy, speech therapy or counseling. It might be all three and more. These are usually weekly appointments, if not more frequently.
In our case, Little Miss also had kin who were able to have visitation with her. Since they lived out of state, they would come once a month and have her for a whole weekend. Again, this is a case-by-base basis.
Meetings with the caseworker happen in the foster home once a month. The caseworker observes how the child is interacting in the home, asks lots of questions and does any paperwork that needs to be done.
The court appointed special advocate is a volunteer from the community who meets with the various parties involved in the case once a month. This person’s job is to hear from all parties and then carry his or her opinion into court. They meet with the child/foster parents in the foster home once a month as well.
Every month, foster parents have to turn in required paperwork. For us, that meant a two page “worksheet” with updates on development, visitation and just general things of note during the past month. We also had to turn in mileage sheets and financial tracking for reimbursement. The paperwork has a tendency to slide to the back burner and be overlooked, and then feel really overwhelming, but I found if I was able to work on it at lest once a week it helped me to stay on top of it all.
There is a second caseworker involved in every case, and that is the caseworker assigned to us foster parents. This caseworker meets with us in our home once every other month. This is person responsible for checking the safety of our home, and how things are going on our end.
All foster children under the age of five automatically qualify for WIC, and the appointments are about once every three months. If you have never been to a WIC appointment, it’s very similar to an appointment with a pediatrician. You wait forever, then go over paperwork, then wait forever again, then the child gets weighed and measured, then you wait forever again, and then you meet with a nutritionist, who walks you through a healthy and balanced diet age-appropriate diet for your child.
Of course, this is an appointment that would come for any child, whether biological or foster, so I don’t know if it totally counts, but the foster children in your home also have to be taken to the pediatrician. Of course, it depends on the state, the county and the case…but often the foster parents are allowed to choose the pediatrician as long as they accept the insurance that the state provides for the child.
Case Review Meeting
Every three months, there is a big meeting for a case review. All the adults involved in the case are there including caseworkers, biological parents, foster parents and several other important people from the agency. Everyone goes over the goals for the case and how the parents are doing, as well as how the child is doing. It’s a really important meeting and one that always made me nervous and sweaty!!!
The day to day life is pretty “normal” as foster parents. There are tons of different things added to the schedule, but I would hands-down say that the hardest thing about having foster children in your home is the emotions of it all. The children come into the home with emotions and hurt feelings and often don’t know how to have imaginative play or eat their dinners. There are a lot of “tendencies” that foster children have, such as an inability to process emotions in a healthy way.
But beyond all that, it’s hard because it’s a total roller coaster. One day the child will be up for adoption, and the next a family member shows up out of the blue. One day the biological Mom will be all set for reunification, and the very next day she has quite literally dropped off the face of the earth. One day your caseworker tells you that you are best foster parents she has seen, and the next day you get a call from the agency telling you that you are in trouble for something or other. It’s a WILD RIDE! And imagine how it feels to an 8 year old or a 12 year old. Basically, as foster parents…YOU have to be the stability in their life, because no one else is able to be.
If you have any questions at all about foster care or adoption from foster care as I go through this series, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can leave a comment or send an email. At the end of the series, I will have a Q&A day and will be answering any questions I receive throughout the month.
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