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).
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.