We literally just got our foster care license last week after 6 months of paperwork, home study, classes, etc, The first call (which was 1 day after we were approved) was for respite care for 3 girls, aged 11 months, 2 years, and 3 years for Labor Day weekend. I said yes, thinking this would be a great way to get our feet wet with fostering. 4 day weekend.
We didn't plan on taking in 3 kids (we already have 3 bio kids 12, 13 and 15). Today I got a call from the kids' caseworker who asked me to consider them longer. He said the original foster family had just asked for removal. I am completely torn. We really expected 1, possible 2 kids. Not 3. I told the caseworker that I couldn't decide until we made it thru the weekend. He said he understood. Part of me wants to say no, other part yes.
I was leaning more towards a younger baby, but who knows when that might happen. I guess I'm already a little perplexed with the UNKNOWING of foster care. I really am not a fly by the seat of my pants gal, but I'm not a strict schedule planner either. I'm pretty much smack in the middle of that. But then my brain starts going... what if I take these siblings in and miss out a potential younger placement? What if I don't take them in and don't get another call for several months? (Although this seems unlikely because I've gotten 4 calls in 7 days. Does the guilt from saying no ever go away?)
The foster family we are doing respite for has had them for 2 months. They asked for respite for Labor Day to go on vacation that was planned prior to placement. Prior to that they were with Grandma for 2 years (removed due to a violation). Caseworker said that the family is overwhelmed with the girls, but that the girls are angels. I didn't think to ask him what the long term plan is.
I guess what I am rambling about is this: how do you commit to something without really knowing what you are getting into until it gets here? Do I hold out for a younger placement? I haven't used car seats in 9 years. I keep having horror flashes of taking 20 minutes getting into the van, as opposed to 5 seconds. LOL I am so excited, but freaked. I'm going to sleep on it. I hope I'm not coming off as a babbling idiot...
I guess it really depends on why you're fostering. If you're fostering just with the intent to adopt and you know you'd only ever adopt a child that came to you as an infant, then yeah--I guess I'd probably hold out for that. Granted, you could have a lot of infants placed with you that leave you (regardless of what they tell you when the child is placed).
If the foster family is overwhelmed with the girls then I would be nervous in your shoes, too. But the foster family could be overwhelmed for countless reasons (including "not what we thought it would be" in a way that totally works in your home) so while I'd be nervous, I wouldn't instantly assume it's a problem.
Ultimately, yes, you do get over the guilt of saying "No". I think it comes with time and experience--when you truly, fully realize that nobody is served well (not even those kids you declined) by taking in placements that are going to make for more chaos in your life than you and your family are able to handle... kwim? It really only takes one placement that you knew probably wasn't a good idea but you took anyway before you get that inkling. Not that you won't be concerned for what happened to them, but the guilt goes eventually.
And you will also learn with time what questions to ask so that you have a better idea of what you're getting into. This is your first placement. By my sixth placement, I had a list that I could rattle off of the things that were the most concerning or challenging for us. But for starters, with kids that young, you want to know if they're on special diets (infants on special formula), if they have any ongoing health issues that require specialist visits (since you'll need to juggle those), what their visitation schedule is (and who drives them to these in your state?), what meds are they on (if any), what therapists they see each week and/or month, and if they have any special needs (if the caseworker asks what you mean by that, go into specifics: physical challenges, behavior challenges, communication problems, etc.). These are all things you'll need to juggle and are very telling for how complicated life could get before you even think about living with the kids themselves as little people. Because those are all the things that will stress you out (potentially) to the point where dealing with the little people themselves are going to potentially break you.
So certainly ask all of those questions of this placement since they want you to take them. And of course, ask them what the case goal is. Most states do "concurrent planning" now, so there's the goal and then the "backup plan" (usually adoption by the current foster family). So be sure you know the PRIMARY goal because some workers (either intentionally to get kids placed in homes that would rather adopt than foster or honestly making their judgment call which really can be wrong) will tell you that "they're never going home". Find out the primary case goal.
Hoping this helps!!!
Heather - Wife , Mommy & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant
Let me guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices that fit your family...
Thanks! That makes me feel like I'm not completely nuts!
We are not looking at foster to adopt. Just strictly fostering. We love kids, and our biological kids keep getting older! I stay at home currently, and I wasn't able to do that when the kids were babies. I have lots of time on my hands, especially while they are in school. I'm very compassionate and feel the need to help out our community. LOL Does that sound like a Miss America speech? Not meaning to make it sound like that in the least bit.
I'm still waiting for the original foster family to call to give me the kids schedule, as far as naps, bedtime, etc. No meds, No medical problems. But the caseworker mentioned the baby was on Neosure. So that probably means the baby was preemie? Maybe not though. Also mom & dad are out of the picture. State won't let Grandma have them back because she let mom have unsupervised visits. Only relative is an aunt in Washington. We are in Oklahoma. I called back today, and the caseworker said the aunt was wanting to adopt, but that it could take up to 6 months. I'm still debating whether to keep the original respite for the weekend, or become their foster parents.
I'm so excited and totally nesting! I've cleaned more the past few days then ever before.
Personally, I think if you have serious reservations/ hesitate about saying "yes" to keeping them longer, then say "no." You will make everything easier for everyone by just being firm one way or the other.
Otherwise, congrats on getting licensed and getting a placement so quickly :)
When the case goal changes to termination/adoption, you'll find family coming out of the woodwork sometimes. Family that truly had no idea about the situation (I realize that's hard to imagine, but when you hear the stories--it becomes crystal clear how it can happen honestly).
But sometimes it really is just heading toward adoption and you need to really ask yourself: WOULD you adopt three small children? It really helps if you and your family have a very clear idea of what would work for you and why. Those ideas will likely change with each placement, but if you're feeling reservations about three small children already I would also hesitate about signing on long-term with them.
As you noted, you've had plenty of placement calls. There are clearly plenty of kids in need... kwim?
If you do not want to adopt, I wouldn't take on this placement. Right now there is an aunt, but that could change in an instant. These kids sound like they are definitely headed for adoption. I bet there is a foster family open to adoption that would be a great plan B(aunt is plan A) for these girls and create one less move for them. Like Heather said, it could also go the other way w/ a line of relatives showing up out of the blue.
Enjoy your respite and I'm positive they will call you with a child(ren) better suited to your vision, especially if you are getting that many calls already.
Mommy to DD(15), DD(13), DD(9), DS(4), DS(3), DD(1), and foster mommy to DD
EEK! They are here. The foster family (who we don't know) that we are doing respite for pretty much bailed on us. The dad dropped the 3 girls off and said that they were not going to be able to pick them up until Tuesday afternoon. The original plan was until Monday afternoon. He said that they had to work on Tuesday so there was no way to get them until Tuesday afternoon. Then he went on to say that they were done, and they wanted their case closed. He said that if we weren't keeping them long term that we would have to call the kids caseworker to come get them to take them to the shelter and that they were told we were the only house in our county that had open beds. This was a bit overwhelming, like what the !@#$% Pretty much felt like they abandomed the kids here for respite and took off! Not to mention, it's a holiday! I talked to the kids' caseworker today. He begged me to give him 2 weeks to find another home so the girls wouldn't be headed to a shelter. I agreed to the 2 weeks. After that, we are sticking to 1 or 2. The caseworker was a little perplexed with the previous family... why they would just drop em and run! As I had said, the original plan was them to pick them up Monday. Then, if we were to keep them, we would make plans to get them a couple days later. So much for that plan! Meanwhile, we realized we are way over our heads! Our 3 children were close in age, like these. But they didn't come all at once. It's difficult dealing with 3 different baby/toddlers all at once.
The family we are doing respite for gave us no instructions as far as what the baby's feeding schedule was like or bedtime routines/times. They gave us 2 bottles and 1 sippy cup. 1 can of formula. 2 pairs of shoes 1 Walmart sac of clothes total for all 3 girls (none of which matched, some don't even fit) no toys. no toothbrushes, combs, etc I expected a little more, considering they were coming from a foster family.
You might tell your worker to reach out to the next county over. Our current foster son was in an orphanage for 6 months before it occurred to his worker to seek a placement in a county with more foster families.
I'm sure you'll do just fine for a couple of weeks, but these kids deserve to be in potential adoptive placements if there are any to be had. They are so little.
Wow, that is a CRAZY update. I'm so sorry the previous foster family did that, good thing they are closing their license because its 100 percent NOT acceptable.
I would make a list of what they brought you and tell the worker you need her to either get the rest of the kids stuff from the FF, or you need some money to cover what you will need to go out and purchase for them. I dont know how it works where you are, but here foster children get a twice/yr clothing stipend (not much, but around 110/2xyr i think...teens get more) in addition to the foster care stipend. Plus, when children first enter care or if they come with nothing the foster parent can get an "initial clothing allowance" of something like a hundred dollars. The previous ff DID get money to purchase items for those children, and those items BELONG to the children....so if the worker doesnt want the hassle of pursuing that with a family that apparently is leaving the fostering "business" then she needs to rustle you up some money or donations for those kids. Thats terrible.
The only advice i really have for you is just try to come up with a pretty firm schedule and try to stick to it. That may give you some sense of control to save your sanity. ;)
Dittoing what's been said. In my former state there was the initial "kids came into care" check and then you had to budget with what they gave you monthly--no seasonal extra funds (but a portion of your monthly stipend was clearly marked for clothing--about $60/kid). Definitely talk to the worker about what the kids did NOT come with. :(
You also might ask your worker if there's a foster parent association in your county. They are very likely to have a program that provides duffle bags of clothes, and if you are able to get in touch with their leader and explain your situation, you could likely get those even thought this is not the kids' first time in care. Those experienced foster mamas will understand that not all foster families pass the things along that they are supposed to.
Another option - consignment sales. If you contact the organizers of your local consignment sales and explain your plight, they are very likely to provide you with a massive pile of excellent used clothing in the correct sizes that was bound for Goodwill at the end of the sale.
(But if you can get these children moved to a potential adoptive placement, it's likely that they won't even care about the clothes. They'll have been anticipating outlays of that nature, and will want their kids to be wearing clothes they've picked out anyhow. I have never been comfortable using the clothes that my foster sons came with, so I've donated them and supplied my own. The exception was the child who went home to his mom - she sent him into foster care with a large supply of clean, well-fitting, appropriate clothing. It was a good indicator of how she treated her children, and I was not surprised when she was reunified with them in short order.)