Revised Checklist – Home Study Review from Worker

Revised Home Study SAFE Assessment Inspection foster parenting adoption application

Today I received the list of items to review from my home study worker based on last week’s SAFE Assessment (home inspection).

The green highlighted sections are things from the checklist that were found to need fix ups or double checking. The purple wasn’t on the SAFE Assessment checklist, but are things I plan to complete before our March 2 appointment.

Home Study 2 checklist - from Home Study 1 list - foster adoption home inspection

Items to review (detail):

  • TV – I forgot about my TV in my last post! It is a flat panel TV and not mounted to the wall. It is against the wall, but needs to be anchored to something (either the wall of the furniture it is on)
  • Water Temperature – As mentioned in my last post my water was 2 degrees too hot when it was ran to its hottest temperature. I thought it  had been on the lowest setting, but it isn’t, so I have to find out how to lower it 
  • Door locks
    • my patio door handle doesn’t lock well right now, so I need to get a new lock or handle for it (my wonderful son decided to lock his sister out one day and broke part of the handle where it locks)
    • the garage and basement both need to be locked at all times since they are only used for storage
  • Blinds – the cords for the blinds were out of reach but I need to pull the cords down and make sure there aren’t loops. We didn’t pull them down at this appointment, she liked that they were out of reach, but I need to check the loop thing since it specifically says that on the list. Also, in the laundry room I had the cord wrapped in a cord holder along the side of the window, but an older child would be able to unwind it, so I have to move it higher.
  • Cleaning Supplies – the cleaning closet I had mentioned in my last post; the supplies are in a closet in my laundry room (on a shelf about the height of my shoulders) but they need to be moved higher to be sure an older child can’t reach them. I am just going to add a lock to the closet door so I can use the whole closet and not be limited in my space for supplies 
    • This item I think depends on the worker as well… I talked to people I had training with and some had the supplies at the same height as me and they were fine (or their worker didn’t even check if they were in a closet and not out in the open – as long as they weren’t under your sink)
  • She didn’t include the vitamins in her email of items, but I have to remember to lock the vitamins away as well in the medicine lock box (they were in the cupboard beside the lock box, inaccessible to children, just not locked up)
  • General organizing of my storage spaces is on my Spring to do list – I might also tackle more basement renos to make it more of a usable space.

Other items on the list – that either don’t apply or I can’t complete right now:

  • Trampoline netting once put back up – I can’t complete this until Spring when we get the trampoline back up. She just noted it to be sure I remember the netting is necessary (probably won’t be put back up until April due to snow)
  • If the gas fireplace in the basement gets used in the future the guard and screening requirements need to be checked. She didn’t look at it since it isn’t used, but noted it in case I finish the basement and start using it.

I am a  bit disappointed about the number of items that are listed, but at the same time, some things I could not have known she would wanted like locking the basement and garage doors at all times since they are only used for storage and the cleaning supplies I thought were at a good height. The vitamins were just an oversight on my part from that morning after giving my kids their vitamins (and she didn’t include that on the official list). The cords I hadn’t worried about since they were out of reach (and out of site).

So now I just have those items to look at and wait for our next interview on March 2 (which isn’t a Home Assessment or Inspection, it is just a personal interview session).

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Home Study #1 (Home SAFE Assessment)

Home Study 1  Foster Adoption Process Home inspection

On Friday I had my first Home Study appointment. This is the second time a worker has been in my home; the first was to meet me, give me an application package and provide information about PRIDE training way back in May.  There will be two more visits for me in this Assessment Phase.

The week of the Home Study there was a lot going on: the kids had a snow day, then my son had the flu for a few days, I had to go to the vet to pick up proof of vaccination certificates for both my pets and the police station to pick up the copy of my police check (both of which are in a neighbouring town) and finish my To Do list for the Home Study. Oh yes, and I had to plan my daughter’s 10th birthday party (which had only one child RSVP by the RSVP date, so I switched it to a sleepover only to have 2 more kids RSVP after the deadline).

Even with such a crazy week I was still excited for my Home Study. It was booked for Friday because that was a PA Day for my children. As part of this appointment the children were interviewed in private with the worker so it had to be booked for a PA Day. I had thought about rescheduling when my son got the flu, but luckily he was good by Friday so we went ahead with it, which was a relief! If we had to reschedule it would have been pushed back to the second week of March during their March Break!

What happened in my Home Study?

When my worker came in the children gave her a tour of the house. Once that was finished she asked if I wanted to start with the Home Inspection or the paperwork. I decided to get the Home Inspection over with since that was the most stressful.

We went room by room and she looked around and noted things as we went. In certain rooms I pointed out where things on the list were (for example, in the kitchen I showed her which cupboard the fire extinguisher was in), other than that she just looked around.

The Home Inspection (SAFE Assessment Checklist)

In the bedrooms she checked that the windows had screens and cords to the blinds were out of reach and did not have loops in them.  In my room I have a desktop computer (for lack of a better spot around the house for it) and I noted that my room is off limits for the kids, it is my space and is not played in. She noted the foster children would not be able to use the desktop in my computer since it needs to be in plain view, but I told her we have a laptop for use in the living room for the kids and the desktop is mainly for me, so that wasn’t an issue. Plus, with my room being off limits they wouldn’t be in there anyway.

In the main bathroom she looked then filled a cup with hot water and tested the temperature with a thermometer. I had turned the water heater down to what I thought was the lowest setting, but the water was 2 degrees too hot, so that is one item on my list to have fixed by the last meeting.

Our second bathroom isn’t used. It could be, but it is at the back of the house through the laundry room and is a tiny powder room, so we just don’t use it. She had a look at it quick and noted that we didn’t use it in her notes. That bathroom may be a future Pinterest project to get rid of the purple sink.. but for now… it stays unused.

In the kitchen she had a look around and then I showed her that the fire extinguisher was in one of the bottom cupboards. I wasn’t sure if she would check my fridge for anything, so I made sure to clean it, but she didn’t look in it. Medicines are also kept in my kitchen in a top cupboard inaccessible to the kids. I showed her my lock box for medications but I didn’t have the vitamins in the lock box at the time, so she noted that (oops!).

In my laundry room she had a look around and noted where my cleaning supplies were. They are in a closet in the laundry room. She would like to see the cleaning supplies in the closet moved up to a higher shelf to make them more inaccessible to school aged children. I may add a barrel bolt near the top of the closet to make it so kids can’t open it. It does not have to be locked and she said it was fine if I just move the cleaning supplies up a level, but the barrel bolt would help make the whole closet inaccessible to children so I can use all of the shelves in the closet. I don’t want to squish them all up high and then have trouble getting to them myself. Also, my Tide Pods were on a shelf above the washer, but weren’t inaccessible enough to older children, so I have moved them into the cleaning closet.

The garage is used as storage and is attached to the house so she had a quick look out there and wanted to know if there were any chemicals, pesticides, etc. stored in there. There isn’t. She looked at the lock on the door to see if I could lock it so the children could not go in there since it was just storage, but it locks from inside the house with a deadbolt (with a thumbturn, not a key) so she left it. There isn’t a man door in my garage going to outside, just the main big door, so I think that helped. She just mentioned to be sure for storage that nothing piles up that could fall over.

My basement is an unfinished mess and also used as storage. It was actually kind of embarrassing having her look around it since that was one item on my list that did not get done (the week of the appointment I had planned on organizing down there, but it didn’t happen).  I am planning at some point to make a bonus room down there for the kids and have started to move things down there, but right now I am far from finishing it!  She looked at my furnace room to be sure nothing was crowding the furnace and then looked in each room down there. Since it isn’t used and is off limits to the children right now she asked me to add a lock to the basement door to restrict access.

My backyard is pretty bare this time of year but we do use a trampoline in the summer and we have a storage shed. Once the trampoline is back up in the spring I just need to be sure it has the netting up (which we usually do since the dog likes to jump on it if the netting isn’t there). She noted what was stored in the shed and asked about chemicals and pesticides again and asked if it was lockable.

All in all I think it went pretty well. She is sending me the list of items to be reviewed at the last Home Study appointment. From what I remember it is just the vitamins being locked away, a lock for my basement door, the water temperature and my cleaning supply closet.

Interviews with my Children

I wish I had more information to share about this, but really all I can say is that the kids took turns and had a private conversation with the worker. They went into their bedroom and I stayed in the kitchen. So unfortunately, I didn’t overhear any thing. From what the kids talked about after, I know she asked why they wanted to foster and what age/sex of the child they were hoping for. I know my daughter showed pictures of her father, but I am not sure if she asked the children anything about their father or that was just my daughter being super chatty (probably just being super chatty and showing the worker everything in her room).

The Paperwork

Once the home inspection and interviews with the children were complete we sat down to go over the paperwork side of things.

  • She went over the check list and reviewed it quick again to be sure we covered everything it had listed
  • I had to show two pieces of ID, one with a photo. She noted down the numbers. I also gave her a photocopy of them for my file.
  • I handed in my Police check (Vulnerable Sector check) and my Medical Report. I also handed in the receipts. CAS will cover the cost of the Police check ($25 for me) and anything above $25 for the medical report. My medical report cost $40, so I will be reimbursed $15 for it
  • I gave her copies of proof of vaccinations from the vet to show both my dog and my cat were fully vaccinated. Even though my cat is strictly an indoor cat, this was still necessary
  • I had to hand in my home work from my PRIDE training. We had homework sheets from each session to complete
  • I have to give the name(s) of who I would have as a babysitter when needed for the foster children. The person (or people) I pick will need to get a Police Check done and my worker will speak with them. I am going to have my Mom and Dad apply for this since they live next door and my children go there before/after school right now.

My worker also asked me why I wanted to foster and if I had any exposure to foster care before this. Other than that it was pretty much just going over the documents to be sure I had everything.

What comes next?

Now I wait until March 2 for my Home Study #2. Due to the waiting list of people and my home study worker going on vacation for two weeks the next available appointment was March 2. It gives me lots of time to finish up things on the list and also get some other items on my own to do list done, it just sucks having to wait that long!

The next appointment is to go over employment history, family history and to learn more about me as a person. She will also go over the Policies and have me sign saying we reviewed them. This was supposed to be part of Home Study #1 but they just added a policy about safe sleeping, so we are doing it all at once so I can review the new policy that was added. (I am sure there is more, but that was the quick summary given to me by my worker). We will also touch a bit on my ex-husband and the divorce as well as his access and involvement with the children – this will also be covered in part in Home Study #3.

The third and final appointment will be about a week after the second and will be to go over my parenting style, ways of disciplining and also go over the items from the first home study to be sure everything is complete.

Some workers have the second and third assessments at the Agency, but my worker likes to have them in our homes for all of them. Also, I think because I am an hour away from the Agency and she does a lot of the out of town applicants, it is easier to complete all of the assessments in the home.

Once the third home study is completed she submits everything to her supervisor and that is who will officially approve me to become a foster parent!

I am hoping by the end of March I am approved, but I am not sure what the timeline is from the last appointment on. My worker says it depends on what the needs are at the time. For example, if they need more adoptive families then I would be pushed back since I am only fostering (not with view-to-adopt). Also, it could be based on the ages of children they are looking for homes for. She feels I won’t have to wait too long since I am looking for school aged children and have the potential to take a sibling group (if they are male/female siblings).

One thing I learned that I hadn’t known: they only place school aged children with full time working parents. It make sense to me and my age range is school aged, but no one had ever mentioned that before.

Also, I learned that my Mom could be approved as a babysitter for the children and receive $5/hour for one child or $7/hour for two children if she looks after them before and after school (my children currently go to her house before/after school).


 

I think that is about all for the first appointment. It was a full two hours long and wasn’t too bad.

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What a Week!

Tomorrow is my Home Study (Safe Assessment) and I have so much to do!  Our house was hit with the flu this week, just to make things interesting! It was already stressful with numerous appointments (some of which had to be cancelled due to the flu) and Birthday party planning on top of the home study prep, so it has turned out to be a very long week for me!

I have a long list of items I want to finish before tomorrow as well as start to pick up some items for my daughter’s birthday party (which is on Saturday). I haven’t even been able to sneak to the city to buy her birthday presents yet (or decide what to get her)!

Monday I will be sure to post the recap of my home study… until then, wish me luck!


 

Car Seat Training Session

Car Seat Training - Becoming a Foster or Adoptive Parent - Application Process

Car Seat training was the last training session I had to complete in my journey to become a foster parent. It is not part of the PRIDE training I had to complete but a separate 2.5hr course taken at the Agency.

In this course we learned about the different stages and then installed different seats with the trainers. It was great to go over and learn the changes that have happened since my children were in car seats (I only have one in a booster seat now). I really think this should be a course that all parents have to take before using a car seat! So many people use them incorrectly!

We watched 5 videos in this session, but they were a bit dated and the trainers advised us of changes since the videos were made.

Here are some links to websites they told us about to gather more information (note: these are Canadian):

Infant and Toddler Safety

Buckle up Baby

Safe Kids Canada

Also recommended was to watch crash test dummy videos on YouTube relating to car seats.

Some items in the training that stuck out for me:

  • Rear facing seats should be used to two years old now, not one
    • I knew it was always recommended for as long as possible and I remember having my daughter rear facing until she was about 18-20 months due to her being small (preemie, took her some time to catch up), but now they are starting to put it in pamphlets and some manufacturers are stating 2 years. This is a change that is currently in process.
    • Also, the child should be able to walk unassisted before moving to front facing, that is also something I had never heard before
  • The old practice was to use your body weight and kneel in the car seat to get it as tight as possible. That can cause stress on the car seat and weaken the frame, so now you should only use your hand to push on the seat when tightening the belt. I did it back when they told you to kneel in the seats, so that was good to know about that change.
  • Booster seats are recommended to 11-12 years old now. 8 years old is the minimum, but it is recommended to keep them in a booster much longer.
    • My daughter is turning 10 this week and has been out of a booster since she was almost 9. Now I am rethinking that based on the information received. Pelvic bone development is one reason they recommend the extended use.
  • Foster parents are provided a car seat through the Agency, but if you are a View-to-Adopt family, you provide one.

There was lots of great info, if you have never taken a course about car seats but have children who use them, I highly recommend you find a local course. It has great info!

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Home Study Prep: Document Review

Home Study Prep - Reviewing Policies and Procedures (Foster and Adoption Application Process) Mommameesh wordpress

Prior to my first Home Study Assessment visit I must read through the 11 Safety Policies and Procedure documents sent over by my Home Study worker. I mentioned them briefly in my post about the “Information Gathering Stage”, but will go in more depth about what they include in this post.

All information is taken from the Information sheets received from CAS as listed below (reference of sheet number is in brackets):

11 Safety Policies and Procedures

  1. Acceptable and Unacceptable Disciplinary Practices (2-170)
  2. Bathtub Safety (4-222)
  3. Child Restraint Car Seats (2-60)
  4. Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Need (4-110)
  5. Effective Communication and Transfer of Medical Medication Information (4-132)
  6. Safe Administration, Storage and Disposal of Medications (4-131)
  7. Second Hand Smoke Policy (2-50)
  8. Serious Occurrences (4-350)
  9. Use of Motorized Vehicles (4-290)
  10. Use of Physical Restraints (2-180)
  11. Water Safety (4-230)

 

Acceptable and Unacceptable Disciplinary Practices 

This document talks about the different kinds of acceptable and unacceptable disciplinary actions by the Foster Parent(s). For me, it seems like common sense for the “Unacceptable” list, but it is great to go over to be sure I am on the same page as the Children’s Aid Society.

Unacceptable:

  • Deliberately harsh or degrading responses (resulting in humiliation or undermining)
  • Taking away basic needs of the child (food, shelter, clothing, etc.)
  • Extensive and prolonged withholding of emotional response or stimulation (after the undesirable behaviour has stopped)
  • Locking the child in a room
  • Threats
  • Spanking/physical punishment
  • Punching, shaking or shoving

Acceptable

  • Positive reinforcement and praise, use of rewards
  • Modelling
  • Routines and limits
  • Clear expectations and follow-through
  • Prompting
  • Brief, gentle behaviour teaching
  • Redirecting/distraction
  • Verbal disapproval
  • Withholding or granting privileges
  • Grounding
  • Time Outs
  • Logical consequences
  • Chores, Assignments, Restitution
  • Negotiating, problem solving, choices
  • Ignoring undesirable behaviour (if behaviours are not harmful to the child or others)

Bathtub Safety

This document is short and reminds foster parents to be present with infants and young children in the bath as children can drown in water that is only 1 inch deep. The use of infant bath seats and rings are prohibited for foster children and children placed on adoption probation.

Child Restraint Systems Policy and Car Seats

This document covers the legal requirements for car seats, as well as additional information specific to CAS Policy. As part of the CAS policy, I am required to take a Car Seat Training course which goes over this information (I will be attending this coming Saturday and will post more about it once complete).

Additional requirements, not regarding the child seat requirements:

  • Where there are side airbags in the vehicle, children should be seated in the middle of the rear seat. Where this is not possible, ensure that toys, blankets, etc. are removed from the area between a child and an air bag
  • Children should not lean against the door at any time
  • All vehicles that are equipped with child safety locks much have such mechanisms activated
  • Where the foster parent is the only other occupant, the child much be in a seat not immediately behind the driver

Foster Home Car Seats – A car seat appropriate for the child’s age, weight and height will be assigned to the foster home at the time of placement.

Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Needs 

We talked a lot about culture in our training and this document goes over the Policy regarding these needs. It goes over the importance of maintaining connection with the child’s community/cultural beliefs.  Seeking conversions or criticizing other faith groups by foster parents is prohibited.  The First Nation communities and organizations work closely with CAS as well, which was discussed during training.

Effective Communication and Transfer of Medical and Medication Information

This document, although only 4 pages, is pretty detailed. I won’t list all of the details here, but it includes Policies and Procedures for these areas:

  • Child Admission
  • Obtaining and Communicating Medication Information
  • Transfer of Medication for Short-Term Absences
  • Self-Administration of Medication
  • Medical Emergencies during Transport
  • Emergency Admission to Hospital
  • Transfer of Medication and Medical Records (discharges from care, placed with adoptive parents, etc.)

Safe Administration, Storage and Disposal of Medication

This is a separate document from the one above and is longer (7 pages). This along with the document described above are reviewed by the foster parents and Resource Worker annually.

Like the document above, I won’t go into detail as there is a lot of information and specific policies regarding safety and monitoring. It also briefly goes over about when a child refuses medication Here are some points from it:

  • Foster parents are expected to accompany a child to all scheduled medical appointments
  • The child’s worker is expected to attend admission medicals and should attend medication reviews, annual and discharge medicals.
  • Parents are encourages to attend medical appointments at the Clinic particularly medication reviews and discharge medicals, where appropriate.
  • It includes emergency numbers to have on hand (poison control, local pharmacy, Telehealth Ontario) which I have made sure to include on my Emergency Contact List in my Home Binder
  • The policy/procedure for medication incidents (missed dosage, wrong dosage, etc.) is explained as well as for psychotropic medication.

Second Hand Smoke Policy

All foster homes must be smoke free (smoking not permitted in the house whatsoever) or non-smoking homes (no one in the house smokes and smoking is not permitted in the house). Smoking is not permitted in the presence of a child when outside of the home either (cars, attending community events).

Serious Occurrences

This is another very detailed document. Since it is specific to the Policy of the CAS agency I am working with, I won’t go into detail here. Some of the items it covers are:

  • Examples of serious occurrences (fire, police, ambulance, child’s absence, or an event likely to result in significant public or media attention, to name a few)
  • Timelines for reporting and who to report to
  • Allegations of abuse, neglect against a foster parent
  • Investigation outcomes

Use of Motorized Vehicles

This documents is in regards to the use of vehicles other than automobiles such as trail bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, farm vehicles, riding lawn mowers, go-carts, etc. Being in a rural area, this is something that would potentially come up for our family.

There are a number of conditions that must be met before a child in care can operate any off road vehicles. Some examples of the conditions this document describes are (not all are listed here):

  • safety requirements are met (permits, registration, insurance, helmet and other safety equipment)
  • the child must have resided with the foster home for a period of time in order for the foster parents to be familiar with the child’s personality
  • age, development level and maturity must be taken into consideration
  • child must receive individual instruction from the foster parents on operation of the vehicle
  • foster parents must exercise sufficient supervision (and setting parameters regarding where the vehicle may be driven).

Use of Physical Restraints Policy

Physical restraints are only to be used as a response to immediate safety concerns and not as a “therapeutic holding.” They are never to be used as punishment or to secure behavioural compliance. Also, restraints will only be used after less intrusive behavioural interventions have been considered and seemed to be an inappropriate response to the circumstances.

In order for foster parents to be authorized to employ physical restraints they must successfully complete a two day training program and be recertified annually (Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) training).

This document goes into more detail regarding permitted and prohibited physical restraint techniques (taught in the CPI training program), debriefing with the child and foster parents, and more information on the reporting requirements.

Water Safety

The child’s worker will collect information regarding the child’s background, fears, experiences and swimming abilities to discess with the foster parents. The consent of the parents is not needed for the foster family to involve the children in water activities. The worker is expected to advise the parents that their child will be participating in water activities while residing at the foster home.

Other items covered in this document:

  • Determining if the child in care is a “swimmer” or “non-swimmer”
  • Water safety at guarded beaches in general
  • Water safety at beaches for non-swimmers
  • Water safety at beaches for swimmers
  • Pool Requirements (this is local information)
  • Water safety at pools for non-swimmers
  • Water safety at pools for swimmers
  • Water safety at foster home pools
  • Other situations (water parks, teen outings to the beach)
  • Swimming pool fencing requirements
  • Use of watercraft
  • Children in care as watercraft passengers
  • Children in care as passengers on commercial watercraft (ferry)

 

That is all of the documentation I received to review. All of this will be discussed at my first home visit.

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Home Study – Full Home Safety Checklist

Home Study Preparation Home Safety Checklist - becoming a foster adoptive parent

I have revamped my checklist to go through over the next week while I get my home ready for the first assessment. This checklist is for the first Home Study Assessment.  It has all of the items that are on the list given to me in my application package as well as some added items on the bottom that I plan to do before the Home Study (the original document received from CAS can be found at this link.

The PDF of the document I created can be found here:  Home Study Checklist

Here is a preview of the above link:Home safety checklist to prep for first home study - foster adoption process (mommameesh wordpress com)

Home Study Checklist

Over the next week as I prepare for my visit I will post more information about the items I have to complete as part of the Home Study Assessment. I have the checklist to review as well as a group of documents regarding Policies and Procedures which are reviewed at the assessment visit. We also go over all of my homework items from my nine training sessions. You can read more about my training sessions here.

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My First Home Study is Booked!

Home Study Assessment Phase - Foster Care - Adoption Application Process MommaMeesh WordPress

I have my first home study booked for January 15! It is only ten days away and I feel like I have SO MUCH to get done in that time!

Over the next week I will post about my Home Study Prep. I will be using the Home Safety Checklist I received with my application package to help prepare me. You can find a copy of my entire application package, including the Home Safety Checklist, HERE. There will be 3 or 4 Home Study Assessments before I am officially approved as a Foster Parent and I will walk you through each one I complete.

I had previously posted a Prep List that I had made, but I have since made it more complete and have included all items from the Home Safety Checklist, even if they are already done or not applicable so you can see everything required. I will be posting the full list later this week.

I had been thinking of holding off on the Home Study Assessments since I wasn’t sure if we would be moving this year or not (the joys of finalizing a divorce). Right now, there isn’t a plan to put the house up for sale (or at least not in the immediate future), so I am moving ahead with the home studies. If we end up putting the house up for sale later in the year, I will have to go through new home studies for the new house, but until then, I will just worry on getting this house ready!

For any of you who have gone through the Home Studies, do you have tips for things that you did or didn’t do for your assessments?

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