Monday, October 21, 2013

Q & A

Here's an (almost) copy of the email that I sent to family and friends a while back. 

-          What types of kids are in foster care?

Kids come into foster care when it is determined that it is not safe for their parents to continue having them in their custody.  Once a child is in foster care, they will get a case plan to determine what the long-range plan is for that child.  Options are: return to parent, relative gaining custody, permanent foster care, independent living (for older children who are close to aging out of the system and likely will not be adopted before they are 18 yrs old), or adoption.  My understanding is that the majority of the time, the long-range goal (at least at first) is return to parent.  In order for the child to return to the parent, he/she must fix whatever it is that caused them to be taken in the first place (i.e. stop using drugs, repair unsanitary/unsafe condition of the home, get rid of abusive boyfriend, etc).  Sometimes, this will not happen and the long-range plan is changed to adoption. 

-          How long do kids stay in foster care?

I think this varies greatly. Sometimes they are in care for a week or so until suitable relatives can be located/checked out to place them with.  Sometimes they are in care for many years.  And sometimes in between.  

-          Are you trying to foster a particular child?

No, I will just be fostering in general.  I will not know what child is coming until I get the phone call.  People typically get called when DSS needs a place for a child “right now” (“today” or “tomorrow”). 

-          Can you say what age/sex child you want?

Yes.  You can specify what age and sex child you will take.  I am looking to foster a child under 5 yrs old, either boy or girl (maybe two children in the future depending on how things go with one).  That is not written in stone yet as I am not licensed.  I think the license is based on what your home (physically and family) is capable of handling. 

-          What do you need from us?

Mostly your support.  :)   I have most things that I need at this point but if anyone local has clothes they would like to donate for boy or girl, newborn to 5T/6T (except I am good with Boys Winter 3T and Girls Winter 4T), I would be appreciative of those.  My understanding is that many times the child shows up with just the clothes on their back and nothing else.  I also gather that when/if the child goes back to their parents or relative, many foster parents send them with a supply of clothes, etc.  I do have a basic supply of various size clothes (1 or 2 outfits for each size) but it would be nice to not have to buy a wardrobe when a child gets here. 


Thanks for following along with me! 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

I'm Going to Be a (Temporary) Mom!

I am in the middle of the process to become a foster parent.  I’ve completed about half of the things on the checklist so far.  Here’s the short* version of the timeline so far: (I’ll do a separate post with the details for anyone who is interested)

July 5 – Initial Inquiry Call – I made the initial call to DSS, then Heartfelt Calling (the Foster Parent Association in SC, and apparently who handles all the initial requests for foster car info).  She said that the process usually takes about 120 days, and that they would mail the packet to me on Monday. 

July 12 – Initial Packet Received – I received the packet with the foster care application.  It was a brief two-page application.  Also in the packet were a welcome letter, a list of fire regulations for the home, a 10-minute DVD about foster care, and a brochure outlining the basic requirements.  Part of the application was a list of references.  I spent time in the next week telling close family and the people on my reference list so I can send in the application.

July 18 – Sent off Application – Application went in the mail after I finally got clearance from all my potential references to put their names down as actual references. 

July 30 – I got a voice mail from Berkeley County DSS, but didn’t get the message until after-hours.

July 31 – Initial visit from Berkeley County DSS Scheduled for Aug 16 – I got in touch with the licensing worker, M, and set up a meeting for Aug 16 at my house.  She also told me I would need to attend two all-day training classes on two Saturdays in September. 

Aug 16 – Initial visit from DSS cancelled/rescheduled – I had been cleaning the house for the past several days since M was coming.  At 3:00, 30 minutes before she was supposed to show up, she called to say she had been stuck in court all day and would have to reschedule.  I need to do as many things as possible on Fridays (my day off), so we rescheduled for Aug 30.   She also said she would email the information to get fingerprinted so I can get that done in time to be cleared for the training in September. 

Aug 20 – I hadn’t gotten the email yet so I called M to let her know, and she sent it to me that day.

Aug 26 – Fingerprinting appointment – This took all of about 10 minutes.

Aug 30 – Initial visit from Berkeley County DSS – My licensing worker, M, came over to the house to go over the foster care licensing process.  I signed a consent form for a SLED check, and M asks to see the room the child will be in.  At that point, it was just “yard sale central.”  She also gave me info on registering for the pre-service training classes.

Sept 1 – Registered for Pre-service Training classes in October – I sent an email to register for the training on the two Saturdays I had marked off on the calendar, but got a response email several days later saying that the September class was full and I would have to take the classes in October. 

Sept 6 – Visited Day Cares – I went to look at some local day cares.  I had looked up all the possible local day cares that accept ABC vouchers (the program that covers day care for low income and foster children).  There were a variety of places – some I would not want to put my child in, others that seemed great. 

Sept 13 – More visits to day cares!

Sept 26 – I got the furniture in the kid’s room.  Twin bed/boxsprings (new - that I paid $25 on Groupon for) and dresser.  As I was putting sheets on the bed, I realized that I didn’t take ANY pictures of the transition of that room from Guest room with Queen bed, to “yard sale central”, to kid’s room that’s not quite decorated yet. 

Oct 1 – There is a second packet of information (including medical clearance form and autobiography questions) so I emailed M to ask for it. 

Oct 3 – Second Application Packet Received

Oct 5 and 19 – Two all-day pre-service training classes

Oct 6 – Home Repairs – I had someone come over and do some home repairs that I’ve needed done for a while, and some to prepare for foster parenting.  The child safety locks got installed, and the fire extinguisher got mounted on the wall. 

Oct 7 – Medical Appt set for Nov 8 – I called to set up an appointment for a physical, and the first Friday they had available was November 8th.

Oct 12 – Yard Sale – I had a big yard sale to get rid of as much stuff as possible to make room for kids’ stuff!  I also got a letter in the mail that day from DHEC to call and set up an appointment for my inspection.

Oct 15 – Fire Inspection – I had to have a fire extinguisher mounted on the wall in the kitchen; a fire escape plan posted on the kids’ bedroom; functioning smoke detectors in all bedrooms, outside of bedrooms, and on first floor (and I realized that I will have to replace all the upstairs smoke detectors before next year’s inspection because they are only good for ten years); proper venting for the dryer.  She was here all of about 15 minutes. 

Oct 17 – DHEC Inspection Set for Nov 1st.
[*I realized after I wrote all this up that I called it the "short" version of the timeline!  It IS the much shorter version than the journal I've been keeping, but didn't turn out so short!]

Checklist of Things Still Needed Before I Can Be Licensed:

-          Complete the thick packet of paperwork and send in to DSS.  Includes 3 forms for references to fill out.

-          Nov 1 – DHEC Inspection

-          Nov 8 – Medical Physical

-          DSS Home Study – Not scheduled yet, I think that will be scheduled after everything is submitted.