Waiting on Approval (Still)

Waiting on Approvals - Foster Care - Becoming a Foster Parent - MommaMeesh Blog

I am still in the waiting process. It has been almost two months, which was the estimated time line for my approval, however I have not even received my Home Study report to review yet.

I touched base quick with my Home Study worker last week and she hadn’t got to my report yet due to a backlog of people ahead of me. She is swamped with Home Studies, which is great, but also frustrating.

I am hoping within the next week or so I will receive my report to review. It then goes back and gets approval from her supervisor.

The next waiting game will be when I am assigned a Worker. After my official approval they have 7 days to assign a worker to me. From there, she has 30 days to come meet me. I am really hoping that is a large time frame and it is actually much sooner… but the way things are going, I am expecting it to be the full estimated time.

My hope is still to receive a placement in August, however, each day I don’t receive my report, I am losing hope for that.

I will update as soon as I get approval ūüôā

 

Final Home Study Complete!

Home Study Phase Complete - Safety Check and Interviews to become a foster parent - MommaMeesh WordPress Blog

I am now complete the application process to become a foster parent! I have completed all of the paperwork, background check, medical check, home safety checks and personal interviews! Now, I wait… up to two months to be officially approved.

Final Home Study Appointment

My final home study appointment was the easiest one, by far! It was not what I expected. My home study worker had mentioned the last appointment would be a personal interview about my parenting and then the final walk through of the house.

The personal interview about my parenting was a lot easier and more vague than I thought it would be. I had thought about different questions she might ask, about scenarios that may come up and how I would handle them, but we didn’t touch on any of that. It was more about what I enjoyed about parenting, what I found the most stressful about parenting, what we do for fun and also touched on how it will work with the kids going to their Dad’s every other weekend while the foster child stays with me (will they be okay with that, what if they want to stay and not go with their Dad, etc.). We also talked more about potential placements and what my feelings were on certain placements and their past. For example, we talked more about FASD and how I am willing to accept children with FASD but would like to sign up for additional training as I don’t have any experience with it. Also, with sexually abused children, we talked about what the “line” was for me since I have two bio children and they will share a bedroom with them. We also talked more about training and gaining “credits.” Whenever I talk courses that relate to parenting I can submit proof of the course taken to my worker to put in my file. I can receive credits for the courses. More credits means I am more specialized and therefore will receive a higher per diem rate.

The final walk through of the house was exactly as expected, we just went over the outstanding items from the first walk through; my TV had to be mounted on the wall, a lock added to the basement door, etc.

The final appointment lasted only about an hour. Half an hour for the personal interview and general discussion, then about half an hour (maybe a bit less) for the final walk through.

Next Step

Waiting… again. Due to the workload right now and the number of home studies on the go, my worker confirmed it would be around¬†two months to receive my final approval.

Once I am officially approved a worker will be assigned to me within 7 days of the approval. Then, the worker has to meet with me within 30 days of being assigned to go over everything. From there, I can receive calls about placements from my worker.

  • Official Approval: estimated at 2 months (brings me to the end of June)
  • Worker Assigned, Meeting set up with new worker: Within 1 month of being assigned… Could be Late July or the first week of August before I meet my worker.

Based on the information given, it looks like I won’t be receiving calls for potential placements until August.

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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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Good News and Bad News

I’ll start with the bad news, since that is the reason for this post… my second Home Study appointment that was scheduled for today has been postponed until April 7.

We had a bit of a snow storm come in the area last night with freezing rain, then snow, which made for a messy morning. My Home Study worker called and said she would have to reschedule our appointment until April 7 (her next available opening). I am about 45 minutes from the city where she is coming from, so I understand she didn’t want to drive out here today.

I will admit, I was very upset (and angry and disappointed and every other emotion), but I am trying to look at the good news and positive side to it… I will have more time to prep my house and get things finished. And, I can post more about my prep here! I have been slacking on the posting since I was trying to get things set up for today’s appointment and be extra ready to try and get things moved along quicker.

I am working on my patience, and the funny thing is, this morning I put on my “Love is Patient” quote necklace… guess I am being tested on my patience!

More posts coming soon!

 

 

Quick Update

I still have a few more weeks before my next appointment with my Home Study worker, so I am trying to patiently wait and also complete the items on the list I previously posted. Those items don’t have to be complete until my third visit, but I plan to get them complete for the next one to be sure I am on track.

Last weekend the group that I had PRIDE training with met up for supper at a restaurant in the city. I wasn’t able to go, but I got an update from one of the girls I have kept in contact with. There are a few couples in that group that are complete with their Home Study and interviews and are waiting for the official approval! That is very exciting! They have been advised this could take 2 months though. So, more waiting ahead!

My worker had let me know that the waiting period to be approved differs based on the agency’s current need. If they need more foster parents for school aged, you will be approved quicker than those looking to adopt an infant for example. My worker also let me know that based on the fact I am looking to foster school aged, I should be approved in a shorter amount of time than some of the others who are looking to adopt. There is a long waiting list for adopting, it is fostering that they need at this time.

Once I complete my next interview at the Home Study appointment #2 (March 2, 2016), I will post all about it. Until then, I may post about some of the little things I am doing to prepare including making packages for the children who will be placed with me. I also did a short course about Lifebooks and will share that information as well.


 

 

 

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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