So tonight’s mandatory foster care meeting was kind of like going to school. You sit at a table with outlines and pamphlets and booklets, and you listen to well-intended but somewhat boring lectures about things you should and should not do, and things you can and cannot do.
The interesting part of it was that I never interact with other foster parents in person. I knew one foster mom there, because her kids and Moose had visits at the agency at the same time for a while, and because I saw her at court a few weeks ago. She will also be at court on the same day as me next time. Coincidentally, she and I were both picked out and praised for our excellent work with bio families, which promoted and led to earlier-than-usual reunifications. (YAY us! It did feel mighty good to be recognized for my hard work with Moose’s parents…)
The room was made up of all white couples, with two exceptions: a black woman, and a single woman (me). I was also the youngest person there, and the only one with visible tattoos (although not the only one with piercings, because the black foster mom had plenty). At least 75% of the foster parents were very overweight to obese. At least 25% of them looked to be over the age of 50, many of them fostering their own grandkids. So, there is the demographic breakdown of my county’s foster parent group for you.
Interestingly, since childcare was provided, most of the foster kids were there, too. The vast majority of them were white, and the rest light-skinned probably mixed-race. There were no dark-skinned black foster children. They ranged in age from 14 months to pre-teen, but the largest age group by far was ages 3 to 7. Just another interesting profile of my county’s foster care population.
Interesting Rules I Was Unaware Of
-Anyone who stays overnight at my house must first have a background check by the agency. There was not an un-shocked face in the room. I would take a gander that 99% of us had broken that rule! I thought the rule was that if they were staying more than 3 nights in a row… but I may have read that on a blog, or my state may have changed this recently.
-Anyone who stays more than 3 nights total in a month must not only be background-checked, but fingerprinted and vetted as if they were a member of the household.
-GALs (guardian ad litems, the lawyers who are supposed to represent the child at court) are always assigned to a foster child, and by law they should visit the child within one month of placement. Excuse me while I LAUGH. Moose’s GAL, if he had one, never spoke to me once. I admit that I had no idea he or she existed at all! So you’d better bet that I’m going to find this person and request that they get to know Jo Jo and her situation better.
-We are supposed to have a medical passport for each child in care, and we are also supposed to keep it updated. An example passport was passed around. I have no such paper, nor was I aware of it until now. Moose, considered “medically fragile” by the state, had no such passport (that I knew of). Nor did I receive one for Jo Jo.
-CPR re-certification might count for training hours! Each year foster parents in this state must complete 6 hours of additional training before their license can be renewed. Today’s meeting counted for 2 hours. I am required, as a nurse, to renew my BLS (basic life support, aka CPR) certification every two years, and I did it this year. Can this be counted?
-Foster children must have a special form filled out and signed by their parent in order to take psychotropic drugs, even if it was prescribed to them. It doesn’t matter who prescribed it, the parent must give their written consent. If the child has no parent available to consent, the supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor must personally consent and sign this paperwork. Apparently there is some crazy high statistic that goes as follows: foster care children are [blank times] as likely to be on psychotropic or behavior-altering medications than non-foster children. The state is cracking down! “We will remove your kids if you put them on these medications, even with a prescription, if you don’t have proper consent!!!!!!” That was our longest lecture.
-Do not cut kids’ hair without bio parent consent. Period. I knew that, but I wonder in Jo Jo’s case if I need permission from someone else? Not that I’m going to cut her hair anytime soon.
-Caseworkers will start doing unannounced, unplanned visits each quarter. For real this time. Yeah, sure. I’ll believe it when I see it!
That pretty much sums it up! I do just want to add that although some of it is ridiculous, I like everyone in the agency, and they do their very best to be reasonable and still follow the laws. They are all friendly, personable, and extremely timely and accessible. I really lucked out with them!