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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My Journey to Become a Foster Parent – Training Session Nine: Panel Night

Adventures Are the Best Way to Learn_Foster Parenting Blog_Quote

I have now completed my training sessions in order to become a Foster Parent.

The quote above reflects my reaction from last night’s panel discussions with groups of people who have either been a Foster Parent, Adopted a child, or been the ones in the Foster Care system or been Adopted themselves. There are so many different scenarios and things people have gone through, this journey is not the same for any two people going through it. What I took from last night’s session is to look at every child differently and use your supports available (their worker, your assigned worker, groups at the Children’s Aid Society, further learning courses, etc.) and be open to a wide range of scenarios and people who will come in your life.

It was great to hear from the children who had been in Foster Care. I asked questions mainly about how it will affect my bio-children and how to make Foster children feel at home in the strange new place. The girls on the panel who answered my questions were now 20 and 21 years old and had been placed in a Foster home when they were 8 and 9 (sibling set). They mentioned it was great having another child in the house where they went because they felt more comfortable asking them for things or where things were. They also said having a pet in the home was great because they liked to talk to the dog rather than the parents at first, until they were able to trust the Foster parents.

There were some great items discussed and it was nice hearing from actual experiences rather than book learning.

With the completion of my training sessions I am now at the point of scheduling my Home Study assessments. Here they will go through my Home to be sure it is safe and can accommodate children I am inviting into my home and they will also go over in more detail with me the children I am able to accept into my home (limitations, preferences, etc.).

Right now I am debating on moving before starting the next phase. Currently my children and I are in the home that my ex-husband and I shared. I had planned on staying at this home since it is the only house the children have known, but I think I am in need of a fresh start…. so we may sell this home and move before starting the Home Study phase.

On to new adventures!

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My Journey to Become a Foster Parent: Training Session Eight (Planning for Change)

Becoming a Foster Parent - Training Session 8 - Planning for Change (foster adopt blog)

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:

KITCHEN

  • Assigned chairs (kids pick which chair is theirs)
  • Baking and Cooking together
  • Discussions at a family dinner (at dining table)
  • Prepare snacks together

BATHROOM

  • 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’S BEDROOM

  • 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

PARENT(S) BEDROOM

  • 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?)
  • Siblings?
  • 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.

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Becoming a Foster Parent – My Journey Timeline so far…

Steps to becoming a Foster Parent in Ontario Canada - mommameesh wordpress com

I wanted to provide a little summary of the steps I have completed to date in my journey to becoming a foster parent.

I have one last session left of my PRIDE training that is a pot luck dinner and Panel Night to meet Foster/Adoptive Parents and Children who have gone through the Foster system. I have completed all of the book training sessions now. You can see more about my training by clicking HERE. You can also review more about the Application Package that is mentioned in the picture above, HERE.

In addition to the above list, there will be more Home Assessments scheduled at a later time (I am told there are 3 or 4 visits). Once I have more information about the process after the first visit, I will post about it.

Once the Home Assessments are completed I will be ready to receive calls about prospective placements.

My first Home Assessment visit is not until January, as the time over Christmas will be busy for us and the next PA Day for my children is January 15.

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My Journey to Become a Foster Parent: Session Six (Continuing Family Relationships)

Becoming a Foster Parent - Training Session 6 - Continuing Family Relationships

I have now completed seven sessions. Sessions six and seven where done backwards just due to the flow of the course, so this is labelled as Session Six.

In this session we talked about Continuing Family Relationships. It focused on permanence and talked more about the adoption side of things. I am not in going into “Foster with a view to adopt” so some of the items discussed I didn’t take notes as they didn’t apply to me.

Since my wonderful, super cute puppy decided to use my training binder as a chew toy while I wasn’t home, I will include information I can still read in my notes that was not chewed up… should be fun asking for new sheets because my dog ate them. Apparently dogs do eat homework!

Items we discussed:

  • Importance of Permanent Connections
  • Understanding Culture
  • Key Child and Family Services Act Permanency Provisions
  • Legal Custody of Crown Wards
  • Key Components of Concurrent Planning
  • The two streams: Transitional Foster Home or Foster with a View to Adopt
  • Adoption is…
  • Openness in Adoption

We discussed a lot in this session and our trainers told us some of their stories (which I always enjoy!). One of the trainers is an adoptive father to two children, who both came through the foster-to-adopt route as babies and are half-siblings.

This session made me think about how I will help support permanence even though I am not a permanent parent for children coming into my home. I think it will be important for me to go over plans with my worker about this and will probably differ from child to child based on their Plan A and Plan B routes. For me, supporting the child and their family, including incorporating their culture into our home can help them feel connected to their family. I actually hope to care for children of other cultural backgrounds to teach my children about other cultures.

This week’s write up is a bit short… next session I will be sure to put my notes on a higher shelf to avoid another half eaten summary!

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My Journey to Become a Foster Parent: Training Session Seven (Discipline)

Becoming a Foster Parent -Training Session 7 - Discipline - mommameesh.wordpress.com

During this session we spoke about Discipline. It was full of great discussions and people shared some stories of their own, which is always beneficial. It was focused on creating a a process of discipline where you teach and promote positive behaviour. We covered a lot of items and received a lot of information, I will only post some of it here (or it would turn out to be an hour long read).

Discipline vs. Punishment

We discussed the difference between discipline (teaching the disciplined right from wrong and proper behaviour) and punishment (negative reaction). We also talked about the Goals of Effective Discipline.

Reasons Why Discipline and Punishment Are Not the Same

  • Discipline is something that parents instill in children or youth. Punishment is imposed on them.
  • Discipline can be used to prevent problems from happening. Punishment focuses on dealing with  problems after they occur.
  • Discipline offers structure and guidance. Punishment imposes sanctions and enforcement.

Those are just a few of the points covered in our information binder. There is much more discussed during the training.

Goals of Effective Discipline

  • Protecting and nurturing children and youth’s physical and psychological well-being
  • Advancing children and youth’s development
  • Meeting children and youth’s needs
  • Teaching ways to prevent and solve problems
  • Maintaining and building the parent/child relationship
  • Helping children and youth develop self-control and responsibility
  • Producing the desired behaviour

The above list was taken from my information binder. We discussed in more detail during the session.

Group Exercise – Spanking

We were put in groups and had to dispute the following items. Spanking is not a form of discipline and we spoke about why these statements are not true (and I will admit, I cringe at the thought of people actually saying these things).

  • “I was spanked and I turned out okay”
  • “Some children just ask for it”
  • “You said to treat all children equally, and I spank my children”
  • “I don’t want my children to become spoiled. An occasional spanking is good for them.”
  • “Spanking is all right if the parent remains calm and in control.”

During our presentations some people shared their stories of being spanked as children and how that made them feel and what the result was (distrust, anger, etc.).

Videos

PURPLE Crying

P – peak of crying

U – Unexpected (starts/stops for no reason)

R – Resists soothing

P – Pain-like face

L – long lasting

E – Evening crying (cluster crying, often in the evening)

Before this session I had never heard of “Purple Crying.”  After seeing the video, I realize I knew what it was, but I had never heard the term for it. It is the period of crying a baby goes though that can’t be soothed. Not all babies experience it, but some do more than others. It talks about real people and their experience with it and includes some unfortunate stories of babies being shaken and injured from the frustrated care giver. It goes on to talk about ways to cope with the crying and gaining control of your actions to prevent harm.

Clips for Discussion

We watched three other short video clips on Listening, Praise and Structure/Expectations and discussed what we saw.

Time – In 

We also discussed Time In vs Time Out. “Time In” is another term I hadn’t heard, but once explained realized I knew the concept, just didn’t realize it had a name. (I feel old – there are a lot of parenting terms that weren’t around when my children were born and they are only 7 and 9!)

Time In is basically a time out, but in the same proximity as you rather than being in a different room or separated from everything. We watched a video clip of a Time In and I honestly thought it was a Time Out until the trainers discussed it more. The mother had the child sit on a chair in the kitchen for 5 minutes while she did dishes. I didn’t realize a Time Out had to be in a different room, I thought the concept of sitting and not being involved in anything was a Time Out. I do not give Time Outs (or Time Ins) with my children in the way it was portrayed in this session, but understand everyone has different things that work for them. We have our own “calm down” routine that is used instead.

Discipline Considerations for Children and Youth Who Have Experienced Maltreatment, Adversity and/or Trauma

The last portion of our session was based on considerations and strategies for disciplining children that have come through CAS. There are different things to take into account due to their history. Some points I took down for this discussion:

  • Remember, children who have been abused or neglected will have different behaviours depending on their history
  • You can not expect them to attach or trust you right away
  • Have realistic expectations
  • It is not about you or your relationship with the child
  • Pay attention to communication
  • Listen and don’t minimalize
  • Be objective, warm, non-judgmental, concise and clear
  • Relieve the child’s anxiety
  • Be consistent.

Next week’s session is Session 6: Continuing Family Relationships (which, yes, is out of order, but on purpose).

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Quick Update (Social Media Detox)

Social Media Detox - Mommameesh.wordpress.com blog

I have yet to post about my training I had last week and this week, but it is going to take a bit longer. I am going through a bit of a Social Media Detox right now. I have been involved too much online and not enough off line! This week is beautiful weather in my area (feels like 26˚C out there right now!), so I am trying to limit my social media activity and focus on the real world.

Quick update

Every week I attend my classes my excitement for Fostering is renewed. For these last two sessions one of my trainers was actually my Home Study Worker! It was great meeting her and learning some of her experiences. Early next week I will post about what I learned as well as information about my homework assignments. In these two sessions we talked about Strengthening Family Relationships and Discipline.

More to come next week.

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