Saturday, October 12, 2013

Respite Care: Day 1

I'm going to start using fake names on this blog. The first fake name you get is of the super cool and really nice social worker who worked out this respite care gig. The name of said person will now be John Smith on this blog.

John Smith comes to the door to make sure its the correct house and then brings kids inside, I say hi and confirm names. He gives me their foster mom's cell phone and leaves. Cue two girls and me staring at each other.

Side note: the girls names on this blog shall now be Elsa (age 11) and Anna (age 10). And yes, all of the names I choose will be Disney names, so their names are taken in honor of the up coming movie Frozen. I'm a total Disney nerd. Sue me.

The girls made it very easy for me. Elsa is quieter and more watchful, Anna is outgoing, talkative and curious. They picked out a room to stay in and then I gave them a quick tour. I found out they both had medications they have to take which made me a bit wary since I wasn't told about this and they pound into you during training that you have to get permission to use anything (tylenol, peptobismol, etc.) so that threw me for a loop.

Then I had to ask them what they could eat after learning they are supposed to eat gluten free. And I'm a vegetarian. Basically most of what I had to offer wasn't going to fly. So we packed up and headed to the grocery store to get food. They were very good but incredibly talkative and in the space of 45 minutes I learned the names of crushes, friends, insights about their school, what they love to do and a bunch of other random stuff.

At one point Anna out of no where says "There is this boy that lives by me and I have a crush on him"

Not quite sure how to respond I asked why she had a crush on him and to that she said because he was cute. Then I said "Cute is good but is he kind? Because cuteness won't matter when they open their mouth"

To this both girls cracked up with laughter and we changed the subject. Ahhhhhh the importance of things when you're a tween. Its a good age to be.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Least of These

I follow the Fostering Hope Project blog. I don't think there is single entry that doesn't remind me of why I chose to be on this journey. But this one especially spoke to my heart. I can't even say how much I am praying that my church will catch the heart for foster kids in the years to come and be a light in kids live and the community through supporting this ministry.

Read the original post here and check out the other ones also!

The handwritten sign was taped to the wall.
Voices echoed from the conference room, then laughter and crying.  Curious, I peered through the glass door, wondering what occasion had displaced my schedule.  The big conference table that normally occupied the center of the room had been scooted over against the wall.  A few kids were sitting by it, coloring.  Others were running around the room, kicking a ball.  A couple were sitting on the floor, crying giant crocodile tears.  I stepped closer.  Air mattresses and cots lined the wall.  What in the world was going on?  This looked more like a slumber party than a board room.  Or perhaps a shelter, like the kind you see on TV when there has been a hurricane. 
A shelter.  For kids who have no where else to stay.  For kids in foster care.  “There are no open foster homes, and all the actual shelter buildings are full.  This is the shelter overflow,” I was told.  My mind jumped to another story of a child with nowhere to stay.
“She gave birth to her first child, a son.  She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”  Luke 2:7 (NLT) 
At least in that story there was a mom and a dad.  In this one, there were only children, supervised in a conference room turned bedroom by a few case workers turned caregivers.  I wondered who these kids had the potential to be.  Teachers?  Athletes?  Doctors?  Maybe, but the reality is that they have no resources.  No source of comfort or encouragement.  A better chance of being a prostitute or a prisoner than anything else.  At least prostitutes and prisoners have a bed. 
I wonder why, in a country of thousands of churches, of millions of homes with a spare bedroom and an extra car seat, why foster kids sleep on an air mattress in a county office.  Why people who label themselves as Christians don’t see the face of Christ himself  in the laughter and the tears of these children.  Who will YOU see?  And what will YOU do about it? 
“For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.”  Matthew 25:35 (NLT)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but can I get your fingerprints and a background check run?

Y'all are welcome for putting this in your head ;)

One of the things most people bemoan about working in any capacity with the government is the paperwork required and the red tape to get through. Foster parenting has been no different but the thing is-  I LOVE ALL THIS PAPERWORK! It seems crazy but every step that is taken to preserve the security and safety of children in foster care is A-ok in my book.

Case in point- my parents have to get finger printed and background checked on the off chance they may need/want to have my foster kids with them for a few hours. Luckily for me, I have rock star parents and they jumped on board with having to go through this.

Here are the rules for arranging childcare options:

1. Anyone who has supervision of the children more than three times in total needs to be finger printed and a background check on file. The exception is if they are watching them at my house.

2. Your daycare will not have to jump through any hoops. If you choose an in-home daycare then yes, they will need to be vetted but a traditional daycare is fine.

3. If you want to hire a babysitter, they need to be over 18 and see rule #1

So there will be no calling up a friend for help picking up the kids from school for me in case of a crisis. Or someone from church arranging a play date at their house. And sleep overs as a rule are forbidden. Those are the downsides to the requirements. Which is why its good to get your people in line that are able/willing to go through this process before you get your kids.

Side note: the problem with getting someone fingerprinted is that (in my location at least) there are only specific days during the month when it is offered and it isn't guaranteed that its close by. So if you are asking someone who has a full time job to do this, you could potentially be asking them to take time off of work and use up gas to travel to the location. Its because of this reason that I'm only asking my parents to do this.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First placement

Respite care provides parents and other caregivers with short-term child care services that offer temporary relief, improve family stability, and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. Respite can be planned or offered during emergencies or times of crisis. Respite may be available to foster, kinship, and adoptive families, as well as birth families in need of support. [Definition of Respite care]
And its not what I expected! I got a call asking if I could do respite care for 2 (or just 1 if that was all I could mange) girls, ages 11 and 10 for later on this month.

Of course I said bring it on, one of my goals is to meet other foster parents and build connections so this not only gives me a chance to have an "easy" start to foster parenting but also start putting some links in my communication chain ;)

So expect updates of how that goes. This might delay me being able to accept an actual placement but I'm not worried. I know that down the road I will need respite care myself so I want to pay it forward while I have the time, space and opportunity.

I would encourage any family that can't foster to still go through the process and become certified homes that can offer respite care. Foster parents need a break for various reasons and because you have to have approval first by a judge, then the birth parents and then your case worker before you can take foster kids on a trip or out of state- it becomes a necessary evil that your kids can't join you for every trip.

Also of note- the RD who was trying to arrange the respite care asked me if I had gone to the event "last night" and when I said I hadn't heard anything was going on, he sheepishly told me that there was a foster parent appreciation night. I laughed and said it didn't matter to me since I was only approved a few weeks ago. But then he told me there was an association meeting coming up I could attend- so moral of this story is to ASK your contact person for any dates or resources that involve foster parent meetings. They may not think to offer a new person the inside scoop.