Friday, March 28, 2014

Foster Care : OPTIONS!

One of the most surprising things I learned about foster care when we were considering it is how many options you have as a provider.  I feel like more people would be interested and willing to provide foster care if they were more informed about how much flexibility there is within the system.

As a foster family, you can choose what age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, behavioral and medical needs you feel comfortable taking into your home.  You can even go so far as to say you would only accept a child of a certain age, gender, etc.

My sweet 6 year old has been graciously sharing her room with the children that have been placed in our home.

There are different types of foster care, but in general there is short and (possibly) long term care.  A regular placement could be with you for days or years.  However, a short term placement is just that.  An emergency placement could come to your home as soon as they are taken into custody.  They would just stay with you until another place is located for them.  For our state this type of placement would last no more than 72 hours.  
Respite care is another form of short term foster care.  We have found respite care to be a really good fit for our family.  With respite, you are caring for a child who is already placed with another foster family.  That family may simply need a break for a day or so or just need to go out of town.  We have provided respite care for families who needed to travel out of town for the weekend and for children who were transitioning from one foster family to another.  
It is common for children to come to you with plastic bags.  Thanks to the help of our friends, we were able to provide suitcases to some children that we had for respite care.
You can take breaks.  We knew that we would be out of town for a while during December and January so we simply told our family worker that we did not want to receive calls during that time.  We have also had periods of time where we did not want to accept a regular placement but we were willing to provide respite care.  

You can say no!  Anytime you receive a call for a child that they are trying to place, you can say no.  You will not be frowned upon or "blacklisted" in any way.  They will definitely call again!  Although they need your help, the agency wants you to do what's best for your family.  Even if you take a placement and realize the child is not a good fit, you can ask for them to be moved.  For obvious reasons, this is not encouraged but it is possible.  We unfortunately did this with our very first placement.  It was so upsetting for me but I knew it was best for us.  It totally worked out for everyone though because she is now with an amazing family who I pray will be her forever family.     
The current "normal" in our house - two 2 year olds!
We haven't even been licensed for 1 year yet so I still consider myself to be very new to foster care.  This is just a little information that I hope may lead someone to want to learn a little more about providing a home for these children who so desperately need one.  If you aren't able to provide care, reach out to other foster families in your area or ask your local agency what you can do to support them.  

1 comment:

  1. This is all great information. We are young newlyweds, but have looked into respite care for down the road. Thanks for sharing!!