Saturday, October 25, 2014

Final Training: Invite Only

There is one training that you get invited to when you're near the end of the verification process, its by invite only and they give you a handbook + review all regulatory and compliance info.  I haven't been overwhelmed too much during this process.  Only random points here and there when they tell me something completely new and I then feel the need to go review and learn anything and everything I can on that topic.  Most training classes have been behavior type classes, therapeutic parenting, cultural trainings, medication trainings, CPR/First Aid training.  Most of that I've heard before and my degree if family studies/child development so it wasn't completely new info.  This last class was quite different. 

Some of the classes, the instructors say we'll give you all the details of this later in a handbook and that was this class.  Info overload.  I mainly got nervous because there are so many timelines.  And it can change based on each child. 

In general:
  • All kids have to be enrolled into school within the first 3 days of placement.  This doesn't sound too hard unless, like me, you've never enrolled a kid before... I plan to go talk to the school soon to get all the paperwork and review it before I get a placement. Also, if I get a child on Friday, they would have to be enrolled Monday so just the time crunch of that along with dealing with my work and the quick turnaround time for her to get into school.
  • Appointment with PCP within 30 days.  So hopefully the handful I've selected are taking new patients and they can get me in within 30 days. 
  • appointment with Dentist within 60 days.  Again, hopefully they can get us in but I would imagine most can work something out in that time.
  • Psych eval, just to gauge where the child is mentally and emotionally. This also plays into their level of care which determines quite a few things.
  • Family visits (parents + siblings) are usually weekly.
  • Sibling visits are monthly and the family visit above doesn't count.  Must be outside that time for siblings to meet and hangout.
  • Paperwork (mileage logs, parenting forms, child progress notes) have to be turned in by the 10th of each month.
  • Major events should be reported with 24 hours (ER visits, child gets sick/hurt, medical/dental appointments).
  • Any time we will not be staying at home overnight, case manager must know and approve
  • Any time we will be leaving the state, case manager, CPS worker, treatment team (all doctors seeing the child) must approve. 
  • Case managers will then be coming by once a month to check in and see how things are going. 
  • CPS will come by once a year, typically unannounced.

At this point, I'm trying not to get overwhelmed with all the dates/timelines and to take the to-do list day by day.  I plan to have a binder with all the info that each of these places would need so when the time comes, I've got it all together or at least know what each place will expect, but I only know what I've been told thus far.  I'm sure I'll have a new post down the road with stuff I wish I knew, but at this time, this is all I got.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Matching a Child with a Home

One of the questions I get a lot is, what kind of kid will I take?  It can be hard to figure out in a world full of children how to decide which child will fit well with which family.  Among other things, one of the things the agency uses is the below checklist.  It's called the Child Profile Checklist.  It's a 4 page document spanning different aspects of a child that you rank on ability to take in and handle certain things versus things you don't want to and/or need help with.  You rank everything on a scale of 1-4.  Then you go through each item which ranges from gender and number of kids all the way to behavior and characteristics of children.

Since I've got lots of questions, I decided this would be a good post.  I prayed over this list before I submitted it as some were easy choices however several were very difficult.  I struggled with thoughts of being in this as a ministry and wanting to help all kids and being wise in what I knew I could handle.

One thing to note, is that although this list is useful if CPS knows about an item on it and your willingness or lack there of for that item, there are a lot of kids that enter into foster care for the first time and until these things are noted in their chart, no one has record of them.  So some of the obvious like gender become apparent pretty quickly, the behavioral things can be quite a bit more tricky until they are discovered down the road.

Honestly, this list took me a while to go through, I read it over and over and tried to imagine each one of these things and how I could handle it.  What I would really struggle with and what I wouldn't.  Not only that but what do you do when you have a combination of all of these?  I think this is one of the points where the devil just got in my head and overwhelmed me.  After sleeping on it, I realized regardless of how bad of a parent I am, I'm here and I'm trying which is more than the bio parents (probably).  These kids are in foster care, something had to happen for them to get to this point, which means just by trying and doing what I can, I am giving them more than what they had. 
For those of you curious, I set my scope pretty narrow this first time... I'm open to 5-8 year old, girls only, all ethnicity's.  At this time I'm only willing to take 1 child, as I'm single and man to man defense seems like the best route this time around however, down the road I'd be open to more if they were a sibling group.  Being in that age range, I feel like some of the characteristics and behaviors aren't really going to be an issue (I hope) although I'm fully prepared for them to be.
Anyways, licensing wise, I'm willing to accept any kid under 8, after 8 I could do, I would just need a new home study as the requirements change (for example, alcohol has to be locked, not just out of reach).  For now, I want school age so they are in school while I work, but still young so hopefully little to no teenager attitude stuff.  Outside that, I'm licensed to take all behaviors except for medically fragile, there is a few extra classes you take for that and at this time, I know I don't have the bandwidth to take on those kiddos, but again, maybe one day.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Foster Prep: Meal Ideas

Growing up, mom had a list on the side of the fridge of some family favorite recipes to help make the decision of what was for dinner a little easier.  She used to let us pick anything as long as she didn't have to decide and now that I'm older I understand why.  There are so many options and at the same time no options.  Picking something that everyone will like isn't always an easy task so I did the same.  I made a list of some common things I like to eat and figured it would give us a starting point for when we needed help figuring out what was for supper.  Of course, I imagine this list changing quite a bit when a little one is judging them, however most of these are pretty basic and hopefully menu options that a little one could enjoy, I guess we'll see!

Baked Potato Bar
Baked Potato Soup
Bow Tie pasta with Chicken
Breakfast for Dinner (Cinnamon Rolls or Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon/Sausage)
Burrito Bowls
Chicken & Tomato Basil Soup
Chicken Crescent Rolls
Chicken Fingers
Chicken in Bread Crumbs
Chicken Salad
Green Pepper Steak
Grilled Salmon
Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
Hawaiian Chicken
Hawaiian Ham Roll Sliders
King Ranch Chicken
Mac and Cheese
Pizza (make your own or take-out)
Poppy Seed Chicken
Pot Roast
Pulled Pork Sandwiches (optional: BBQ)
Quiche (Ham/Cheese; Spinach/Mushroom)
Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp Scampi
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Soy Sauce Salmon
Taco Pockets
Taco Soup
Do you have any family favorites your kids like?  I'd love to have them to add to this list! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Pros and Cons List

I made a Pros/Cons list back in March when this became a real prospect and I just visually needed to see everything laid out.  I have several journal entries similar to this so this is a combo of those.  As this is an ever evolving list some of these are no longer fears but I wanted to share the main things that I have thought and prayed through.

  1. I love children and the opportunity to ministry to these kids would be huge, because they need Jesus more than most kids their age.
  2. Time - I have all the time in the world.  The biggest thing that takes up time for me is work, outside work, I don't have a lot of commitments.  I go to church, hangout with friends, but I have so much time right now that I could devote to a child in a unique way that I won't later down the road.
  3. Support System - Since I grew up in Dallas and a lot of my friends/family live nearby, I have a wider range of support than most.  This blessing has propelled me into this decision because most of the people that support me love Jesus and understand my desire for this.  They have offered time, money, babysitting and respite breaks.  If I were in a city outside Dallas, it would be harder because I am single and don't have someone to share the responsibility day to day.  Their support means the world and I truly don't think I'd be doing this without them.
  4. I have a steady salary.  I don't make a ton, but I'm single.  Researching some of the demographics of people in Dallas there are so many people that are the sole provider for their household and make a lot less than I do and are supporting more people. 
  1. I'm single... I have no prospects.  This has by far been the single greatest thing causing me hesitation... I'll do an entire post on this later to explain further, but no constant in-home support does give me quite a bit of anxiety.
  2. I've never raised kids.  I don't have kids and never have so although I have an idea of what I think it's like, I probably have no idea and have so much to learn.  Being a single mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, I think. Things that most parents already know, I have no clue of.  In addition to that, most of the kids need extra attention due to their background, so on top of never having done this before, the added stuff that comes with children in foster care.
  3. Financially being the sole provider.  Word on the street is that kids cost a lot of money.  I have a salary and I've been saving for this, but I just have no earthly idea what's about to happen to my bank account.
  4. Fear of the unknown.  Kind of going along with the point above, I don't know what I don't know.  So filling out paperwork and going to trainings I was hoping would help me ask better questions, giving me insight along the way if this was something I should do or not. 
  5. No more being selfish.  I've been on my own and been able to do things I want to do when I want to do them and however I see fit for a while now.  No more impromptu trips, no more just going out at 9 for a movie, little things like that.  Putting that to death is going to be no small task.  I understand this, but I think once the little one arrives, I will feel this in a very real and new way than I do now. 
  6. I'm scared I wont be able to juggle it all.  People do this all the time, and I'm prepared to make adjustments but like I said, for a while now it's been just me. 
  7. The CPS world/Paperwork/Legal requirements.  Even after the initial paperwork there is still A LOT of paperwork as she lives with me... another post on that later, but because this was one of my journal entries, I wanted to put it in here. I decided people do this and I can to, one step at a time.  I'm a planner so its nearly impossible for me not to look both short term and long term so I just had to give it to the lord and get organized :)
  8. What if we don't get along?  What if she hates me?  What if I'm a terrible foster mom? 
  9. Your Foster Child's background.  I've heard lots of stories and I do know its going to take more work than when it's your child.  Unlike a biological child, these kids come to you with a history I will most likely know nothing of.  CPS might not know it either because they only know what they get told.  The behavior issues that are potentially to come and the reactions to certain things are hard enough to handle but especially when you don't understand why or know what causes this child to react that way. 
In light of all these, I have a few things to say... Satan is real and he will put thoughts into your head, and he might even be right, but the Lord better.  Nothing that happens in the future will be a surprise to the Lord, but it will have already gone through his hands.  I know these fears won't just go away, but I know the Lord is a gracious and  gentle teacher.  He knows what I can handle I think that he knows my heart better than any other.  I think by entering into the fray of this broken world and not just sitting back waiting for others to do something that the Lord will honor that and help us overcome whatever trials we will inevitably face.  I know that I will certainly have a million lessons to learn and they might nearly break me, but I also know that Lord wouldn't place this dream on my heart then leave me stranded. 

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