This week we talked about “Planning for Change.” We focused on ways to provide a healing, nurturing home environment as well as questions to ask before accepting a placement and the process a placement comes into your home. Below are some of my notes from this session.
Characteristics of a Healing, Nurturing Home
In groups we brainstormed ideas and then discussed as a class. In our training binders there was also a list for reference. Some items included:
- Assigned chairs (kids pick which chair is theirs)
- Baking and Cooking together
- Discussions at a family dinner (at dining table)
- Prepare snacks together
- Door closed for privacy (unless child was abused in bathroom and does not feel comfortable with this, also depends on the age of the child if they require assistance)
- Only one person in the bathroom at once (again, unless the child requires help in the bathroom)
- Children assured no one enters the bathroom while they are in there unless they request help from a parent
- Child has own bed and told it is only for them; house rule that no one is allowed in your bed
- Family rule requires knocking before entering bedrooms
- Child has own space for clothing and personal items
- Child has a night light, if desired
- Family rule requires knocking before entering
- Parent’s room is not for playing in
- Parents to wear robes when outside the bedroom
Working as a Team to Prevent Abuse Allegations
An item that stemmed from the above conversation was also setting those boundaries and rules as a way to help prevent allegations against you as the Foster Parent. By being sure you are providing a safe, healing, nurturing home, the allegations are less likely to happen against you by the child.
One main point that was made was making sure communication is flowing constantly between you, your worker and the birth parents in the way that is agreed upon. Make sure you document things like the child falling down and hurting themselves so you can look back and see what happened if a claim came that you caused a bruise, cut, etc.
A Communication Book/Log is a great tool for this with birth family. Keep a communication book with things the child did and then it can be passed along to the birth family to read through and they can even write things back that they want you or the child(ren) to read.
WHY ARE FALSE ALLEGATIONS MADE?
- Misinterpreted actions
- Child’s repressed memories may surface
- Child or birth parent has a grudge
- Attention seeking behaviour
- Mental health
Preparing to Welcome a Child in Your Home
MAKING AN INFORMED DECISION
Ask questions! When a call comes in from your worker to talk about a potential placement, be sure to ask lots of questions. This was something the trainers wanted to be sure we thought about more. The emotions and excitement may be high when the call comes in, especially for the first call we receive.
Things to ask (although, some information about the child may not be available. There may actually be very little information available, but ask to be sure)
- Nature of known abuse
- When and where the abuse occurred
- Issues of neglect
- Prior placements (first placement?)
- Legal status
- School information including grades, attendance, plan
- Cultural information
- Visitation plans
- Favourite foods
- Activities / Sports involved in (or interested in)
- Need for clothing, specific items
- Daily routine
- Their general physical condition
- Specific health issues
- Medications (on or allergic to any)
- Recommendations at this time (as a result of initial assessments)
- Potential health problems (genetics, prenatal environment)
- Emotional health / overall functioning
- Mental health diagnoses, recommendations and medications
- Coping style
- Behavioural challenges/effective discipline strategies
- Therapy, counseling and/or other services in which they participate or may require
- Developmental advances or delays
- Sexual development (level and knowledge)
I am sure there are more questions that come to mind as you are thinking about it, those are just the items we brainstormed in class.
RESOURCE PLACEMENT PROCESS
- Planned placements
- advanced notice
- preplacement plan/meetings
- opportunity to gather information
- chance to carefully consider your decision
- Unplanned/Emergency Placements
- Often little notice, sometimes middle of the night
- Be prepared to ask critical questions, gather other information once placed
- Short term (typically 2 weeks until Plan made)
ADOPTION PLACEMENT PROCESS
- Carefully planned process
- Matching for permanency with your family (more specific matching)
- Upon completion of SAFE assessment (home studies) and must be recommended for approval by private adoption practitioner or approved by a child welfare agency to become “Ready for Placement”
For both Placement Processes there is no set timing for how long it takes. It depends on the type of child and history you have accepted for potential placements. The wider range of ethnic and health backgrounds typically results in more calls with potential placements. If you have a narrow list of children you are able to accept, it may take longer.
Although this session talked a lot about Adoption, I found it very useful and thought provoking. I plan to make a list of questions to have handy for when I get a call. I am sure once I get a call my mind will go blank, so if I keep a form handy then I won’t forget to ask important questions before accepting placements.
One of the questions I had for our trainers that they weren’t able to answer was about my bio children and their role in the placement process. They told me at the Panel Night (Session Nine) there are Foster Parents, children who have been in care and there may be children who were bio children of the Foster Parents as well so I can find out more about their views. What would they like to know before accepting a placement? What helps their transition to having a new child in the house? Those are some more questions I hope to learn about soon.
My last session is not until December 1, but I have now completed the book training for the course! The last night is a pot luck dinner with a Panel of parents and children to go over their experiences and answer our questions.