Placement Calls – Questions to Ask

Foster Care Placement Call Question List - Becoming a Foster Parent blog

I am currently brainstorming questions for when I receive my first placement calls. I would love input from people who have gone through the blur and excitement of the first calls.

My Home Study worker suggested I create a list of questions to keep with me for when I receive a call. I am drafting it right now and plan to have her review it at my final home study appointment coming up next week.

Have a look at the PDF (Foster Care Placement Call Questions (PDF)) and let me know your thoughts. Is there information missing or are there too many questions for the first call?

I should add these questions are for school aged children, age range of 4 to 7. I don’t have baby-related or teen-related questions.

Edited to add:  A Commenter gave some great question ideas which can also be found here: No Bohns About It

I am sure there are lots of lists similar to this one out there. If you would like me to add your list, please let me know and I will add it to this post 🙂 

 


 

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Home Study #2 – Personal Interview

Home Study 2 - Personal Interview (Becoming a Foster Parent Process) Mommameesh-wordpress-com

A few days ago I had my second Home Study appointment with my Home Study Worker. She came to my house for an interview with me. We did not go through my house like in the first visit, this was just to go over a list of questions. Some Home Study workers complete this at their office; however, my Worker prefers to come to the home for all of the appointments.

The time booked for this appointment is 2 hours, but we were done in just over an hour.

Discussion about Possible Placements

We went over the checklists and forms relating to the types of children I am willing to accept into my home. I talked with her about the age range to get her opinion on the range and she agreed I should stay with the 4-7 age range to keep my son older than the placements. She said some people do not stick to that, but she recommends it. I am also open to taking a sibling group, but it has to be one girl, one boy due to bedroom arrangements and they have to both fall in the 4-7 age range, so that could be tricky.

We also went over the types of behaviours I could/could not accept and why. Most of my “could not” accepts were based on known behaviours that could affect my own children. She was happy to see I had some “could not” accepts as she said some people say they will accept anything, but that usually isn’t truly the case. She let me know being open at this stage is good, but also being honest and sharing things you are hesitant about is what the workers like to hear.

Some of the items on the checklist included special/higher needs and whether I would be willing to accept. My response was not a yes, no or maybe, but more of an explanation. I am willing to take a wide variety of children, but I require:

  • information on the needs and history (as much as they know at the time)
  • further knowledge/education/training available for me, if needed
  • expected amount of appointments that could affect my work since I work full time outside of the home

For most of the items on the list I told her it would really depend on the case. I can’t say a Yes or No for a lot, because each case will be so different. If it is a medical need such as diabetes, I am open to that. If it is a child with FASD, I am also open to that as well, but require more training as I have no experience with it and need more information specific to the child (behaviours, etc.).

She let me know about some training that is available once I am approved, which is great! I intend to take a few courses through CAS about different behaviours and ways to work with children with different needs. Also, she let me know that any courses I have taken in the past three years that relate to parenting I can submit to my worker to put in my file. If I take courses approved (relevant to parenting) it will give me “credits.” Having more training will result in being a more specialized foster parent (higher number of credits), which also entitles me to a higher daily rate. So far I have taken two online courses through the Foster Parent Society of Ontario (Life Books and Safeguarding Your Family) and also attended Mindfulness seminars.

From that she asked if I would be willing to learn special skills such as ASL (sign language). This is something that is very interesting to me, I would love to learn a new language such as ASL, so I am going to look into it. My only concern is the time commitment to learn special skills such as ASL and the fact I am not in a city (so to attend classes, it takes more time to account for travel into the city and takes away time from the kids/requires babysitting arrangements).

Personal Interview

The main questions she asked in this appointment were about my relationships with my family and my ex-husband and about my past. I have a pretty boring, “normal” history and a close relationship with my parents so it went pretty quickly. I also had to list all of my jobs I’ve had since college. I basically just read her my LinkedIn profile since she needed the company name and time frame for each position I have held. She also asked if I had ever been fired from a job (I haven’t, and it seems kind of odd to ask, but I guess going into why a person may have been fired from a job could tell them more about a person).

Some of the personal questions she asked me were:

  • What is your relationship like with your parents now? How often do you see them?
  • What is your relationship like with your siblings now? How often do you see them?
  • What was your relationship with your parents growing up?
  • How did your parents discipline you as a child?
  • Did you suffer any abuse (physical, emotional)?
  • How is your relationship with your ex-husband now?
  • Why did you split from your husband?
  • How often do your children see their father?
  • Will their father be involved with the foster children at all?
  • Do you foresee any problems with the children not wanting to go see their father if the foster child stays with you while they go there?

That isn’t the complete list, but some other questions spawned off of the above questions. Those are the main ones I remember.

What Comes Next?

My next appointment is in about a week and a half. In that appointment we will be going over the items outstanding from the first Home Study SAFE Assessment (such as checking to be sure I mounted my TV on the wall, and that my water heater is turned down) and then doing an interview about my parenting style.

My worker explained it takes up to two months for some approvals because the Workers take notes during the appointments, usually by hand, then they have to rewrite them in electronic form for their supervisor and the applicants to review. The time it takes to enter all of her notes into the electronic document takes the most time. Now though, she is trying out using her laptop during the interviews to speed up the process. It makes complete sense to me, so I was on board. It was her first time trying out her new method and she was a bit worried it would make it more impersonal or distracting but I think it worked fine. Hopefully that means a faster approval once my last appointment is finished.

Next steps:

  • April 21, 2016 – Final Home Study Appointment
  • Home Study Worker writes up all information from all three visits
  • Copy of Home Study report is sent to me to review before being finalized
  • Once the report is finalized, her supervisor will do a final review
  • Final approval is received from her supervisor

Best case scenario: May approval
More realistic scenario: June approval since they are so busy with Home Studies right now


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Foster Placement Welcome Package

After my Home Study appointment yesterday (I’ll post about that soon…) I decided to go pick up more items for my Welcome Package. I plan to make a few of these packages so I always have one on hand to give to children entering my care. They are packages meant to be more of a welcome gift with fun items in side for them, rather than a necessity pack. The necessities (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) will be given as well, but they are just picked out of the stock cupboard rather than given as a gift.

My goal with these packages is to make the child feel welcome and give them items that are theirs. They will be coming in and having to share toys, craft supplies, etc., but these are items just for them.

Foster Placement Welcome Package_Becoming a Foster Parent Blog

Items

Note: my age range is ‘young school age’ (Kindergarten to Grade 2) 

  • Duffel Bag
  • Pencil Case
    • Markers
    • Pencil Crayons
    • Pencils with Matching Erasers
    • Pens
    • Glue stick
  • Colouring Books
    • Since I don’t know if I will receive a male or female I included both a “Frozen” themed book and a “Justice League” themed one as well (and really, I don’t like to limit boys to “boy things” and girls to “girl things” so I am going to include both for the children)
  • Sketch Book
  • Journal
    • This is a really cute dog themed book that has writing prompts and quotes in it. For example: “Things that make my tail wag”
  • Toys (these will change with each package, but here is what is in my first package)
    • A dinosaur egg that hatches when you soak it overnight in water
    • Angry Birds foam ball
    • Glow Sticks
    • Package of plastic Animal figures
  • Battery Operated Toothbrush – this is a “necessity” but a fun version. I also have plain old fashioned toothbrushes if they prefer in the stock closet, but we use electric toothbrushes, so I wanted to include these in the package. The two pack was cheaper, so that is the reason there are two.
  • Floss picks – again, fun floss, not the boring old normal floss
  • Snacks – we of course will have snacks on hand and will have a snack when the child(ren) first arrive, but these are items that they can put in their container in their room if they want. I have set a container under the bed so they can store things there (toys, snacks, whatever it may be – up to them). These are fun snacks to put in there for the first week in case they get hungry and don’t want to ask for a snack.
    • Dole Strawberry Fruit Snacks
    • Dole Orange Fruit Snacks
    • Box of Animal Crackers
    • Water Bottle (both of my kids keep a water bottle beside their bed at night, so I wanted to include one for the new placements)
  • I also plan to include a cuddly stuffed animal, but don’t have one picked out yet.

Foster Placement Welcome Package_Becoming a Foster Parent Blog_All Items included

I bought almost all of the items from Dollarama so most of the items were only $1-$3, including the duffel bag! The only items I didn’t buy at the dollar store were the toothbrushes and floss picks, which were bought from Walmart.

Total cost of this package was around $50 (Canadian).

Foster Placement Welcome Package_Becoming a Foster Parent Blog_Duffel Bag

Once a new placement comes in we will also “shop” for the necessities they need from the stock closet. I have some clothes on hand as well, but plan on shopping for the child once they are in my care and I know sizing. The clothes I have on hand are for the first few days in case they don’t come with much.  There is a clothing allowance with each placement, so I plan to use it for them so they have lots to take with them when they leave my care.

I will be posting more about my stock pile, I just have to organize it better first!

Do you give welcome packages? If so, what is in it?

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Becoming a Foster Parent – My Timeline

Becoming a Foster Parent - Timeline - Process - Application to Approval - Home Study Assessments

I thought I would share the timeline of my process so far. At the beginning, they said it could take anywhere from 9-12 months. Due to long waits between appointments it is looking more like 12-13 months from beginning to end to be officially approved as a Foster Parent. The image above as well as the points below lay out what has happened over the past year.


 

My Process to Date: May 2015 to April 2016

May 7, 2015  – First inquiry to CAS about becoming a foster parent and how to go through training

July 20, 2015 – CAS Worker visited my home to discuss becoming a foster parent, to give more information and a copy of the application package

On July 26th, they confirmed they received my application package and booked me in for PRIDE training. I was then in the waiting stage to start training (about 2 months away) and be assigned a Home Study Worker.

September 23, 2015 – Home Study worker assigned (once PRIDE training starts they assign a home study worker to go through the rest of the approval process with you)

September 29, 2015 – December 1, 2015 – PRIDE TRAINING – 9 Sessions (3 hours per session for a total of 27 Hours training). I attended Tuesday evening sessions. They also had a Saturday option which you could take for 4 Saturdays in a row in November, then the final session was with the Tuesday night group on December 1. Since I would rather give up a Tuesday night then four full day Saturdays, I went with the Tuesday night group. The end date of both groups was the same.

October 19, 2015 – INFORMATION GATHERING STAGE – I received an email stating I had entered the next phase. I was sent policies to review, I had to submit my police and medical checks, complete a Resource Family Profile and was also sent a question sheet to complete after Training. Online training for AODA was required at this time as well (Accessibility for Ontarian’s with Disabilities Act – it is a requirement in Ontario to complete this training)

November 3, 2015 – Confirmation from CAS that my AODA training was complete and Car Seat training session is booked. I had to attend a mandatory car seat training session which I completed in January.

January 4, 2016 – ASSESSMENT PHASE (PRIDE Training is complete!). First Home Study Appointment Confirmed

January 15, 2016 – Home Study Assessment #1 Completed

January 19, 2016 – Received a report about my first Home Study Assessment and follow up items from the SAFE Checklist that we had gone over.

March 2, 2016 – Home Study Assessment#2  Rescheduled for April 7, due to weather and bad road conditions

April 7, 2016 – Home Study Assessment #2

April 21, 2016 – Home Study Assessment #3 (FINAL Appointment!)

Once my final appointment is complete I enter the “waiting for official approval” stage. I have been told this could take from a week or two up to two months, depending on what CAS needs and what children I have filled out as willing to accept.

Estimated Date to be an Approved Foster Parent: May/June 2016


 

I am going to be honest: I am frustrated, it has been a lot of waiting. My Home Study worker said her and the other Home Study workers are swamped with assessments, which is great since they say there is a need for more foster parents, but also frustrating because they are in need of foster parents and I am here waiting.


What did your timeline look like? Or are you just starting yours? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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Fostering with Biological Children

Fostering with Biological Children - How Can I be Better Prepared - Foster Parenting Blog - MommaMeesh

I have had a while to think about what is coming in the near future. As I stated in my last post, I have been going through the official process of becoming a Foster Parent since last May (almost 11 months now).  The longer I wait for the next step, the more scenarios I think of and the more questions I have; especially when it comes to my two bio children and the impact on them.

Initially, I was set at the age range of 4-7. It is a small range, but I need a school aged child since I work full time outside the home and I had wanted a child younger than my youngest to keep the birth order (my youngest is 7, turning 8 in July; my oldest just turned 10).

However, the more I think about it, is it really that important to keep the birth order and only take in children younger than my youngest? Some say yes, it is very important, while others have said they did not limit the ages to keep the birth order and have not had any issues. Also, some say older children may have the maturity/development of a younger child, so age really isn’t as important as other factors.  How do I prepare my children and how do I decide the best age range to accept?

In my training and when I asked about this on our last night of training at the Panel Night (we had foster families and children who had gone through the system talk and answer questions) the answer was always the same, “it depends on the family and the children.” It seems like a lot of questions that you have before fostering can only be answered by experiencing the scenarios. Some families have done well with kids of all ages, others say they need to stick to younger children because of their bio children.

I think training should touch more on having bio children already in the home who have to welcome new children and the impact to them. I feel unprepared. At my next Home Study Assessment appointment (coming up in a few days) I plan on discussing this more with my worker and finding out if there are resources available such as additional training that covers bio siblings or groups I can join. Once I am a foster parent there are resources available, including a foster parent mentor, but until then do I just try to make the best decisions without the resources?

One of my thoughts is that I may try respite care at first with a wider range of children and see how my own children react to different age groups. However, I am not sure if this would give a good idea as it is just respite and they would know it was only for a few days.

Some things I am wondering about are:
(feel free to comment if you have experience with this! Keep in mind I am only fostering at this point, not fostering with a view to adopt)

  • How much say should my bio children have when it comes to placements?
    • Right now they are excited and want children their age to play with, but I think having children the same age might cause more conflict (and competition between siblings)
    • If I receive a call about a potential placement, should I include my children in the decision to accept or not or just fill them in with information once I accept a placement? (I have a feeling this could cause issues if I give them too much control, but want to include them to some extent)
  • Should we keep the birth order and limit our openness to only younger children?
    • If I do not keep the birth order and accept older children, how do I mitigate any issues this may cause?
  • Are there support groups or mentors I can contact who have bio children who can discuss their experiences?
  • If my child, or both children, do not enjoy fostering do I give it up, or is there a transition phase expected?
    • I am worried about my son deciding he doesn’t like it, or causing stress to him. He is a very sensitive child and I worry about his reaction to some aspects of fostering.
    • Are there additional resources for bio children to help them become prepared for welcoming foster children?
  • I am thinking of opening up to sibling groups – how will this affect my bio sibling group?

Basically I want to know: How can I better prepare myself and my children to accept foster children?

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