Generally when people find out that I work in Foster Care I get one of two responses or a combination of the two:
- Oh my! That must be really hard work!
- Oh my! That must be really rewarding work!
Truth be told, those who understand that foster care is both hard work and rewarding should receive a gold star. Working in foster care is certainly hard work, but the rewards definitely outweigh the hardships.
Everyday that I am working I am making a positive difference in the lives of children. Being a positive role in a child’s life is the highest and best achievement anyone can have. My heart is at this very moment all aflutter with the knowledge that I (along with many, many others) are trying our best to ensure that the children under our care are – oh, my gosh. To explain what we do in detail is difficult. How about I describe my day?
I arrived to my office around 815am. I went upstairs and had three emails waiting for me. Two were unimportant and one was very important. Because of the nature of foster care, I work with a huge team of people. I work with lawyers, state workers, other foster care agencies, birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, siblings, doctors, teachers, therapists, CASA workers, and others. The email of upmost importance in my inbox this morning was from an adoptive parent through a different agency. I had to call their worker last night due to some unkind things said by these parents about a sibling of the children they recently adopted. This adoptive mom had told his current foster parents how bad of a child he was and how he was the reason that he wasn’t with his siblings. As soon as I found out, I called Harry (not his real name) to let him know so that he could run interference. Harry immediately emailed the adoptive parents and simply said (paraphrased), “I understand how giving negative information regarding this child would be easy, however you need to keep your narrative regarding this child positive so that a family can love and cherish this child for who he is now and not for his history.” The adoptive mom’s response was (paraphrased), “I will keep that in mind. I just thought they should know what happened because they are so out of the loop.” Anyway, I am thankful for Harry and his diplomacy in addressing this matter with his family. I felt relieved that the family got the message and am hopeful they will not speak of their positive experiences with him and will perhaps try to avoid negative talk.
My next task was calling a state worker in a county that is 5 hours or so away. This case needs transferred to the adoption unit and I have been given nearly no information about the case. I certainly am out-of-the-loop with this case. Being that these kids’ case originated so far from where they are placed, communication has been lacking. So, I called the worker and she assured me that she would email or call me when the staffing meeting has been scheduled. These kids have been in care since March (?). They have had a hell of a life and I can’t wait for the adoption hearing!
Tomorrow I am teaching PRIDE (Parents’ Resource for Information, Development, and Education) which is designed to be a 9-week, 27-hour class. I’m teaching the first four sessions TOMORROW! I gathered the materials from the main office (2 hour drive from my office) yesterday. Today I realized that whoever copied the book did so incorrectly and that I needed to recopy everything. (Sidenote: I’m so thankful for my intern!) I still have one more section to copy and hole punch and put in binders tomorrow morning. This class is required for people to become foster/adoptive parents. PRIDE is designed to give people an understanding of foster care and adoption and help them make an informed decision as to whether or not they should provide foster care, adoption, both, or neither.
We ran out of paper. Wal-Mart run! While I was picking up the PRIDE materials yesterday I asked about getting a bookshelf for the office. That request was approved. While at Wal-Mart my intern and I picked up a box of paper, a bookshelf, Great Value goldfish, Great Value cookies, coffee creamer, styrofoam cups, and 1″ binders. We then high-tailed our happy selves back to the office to start copying. My intern left at 2pm. I needed to leave no later than 315pm.
While she was copying, I was writing progress notes for the kids I saw yesterday. After that was completed, I took over the copying since my intern left. At 325pm I asked another co-worker (not a foster care worker) to just put the papers that were still coming out of the machine on my desk and I’d handle them in the morning.
I jumped in an agency vehicle and rushed to a home visit. My two kids in that home are doing wonderfully. They have a very messed up history, but all things considered, they’re doing well. The boy didn’t sleep last night. He has major anxiety. When I asked him why he didn’t sleep he said he needed to lock the front door. I asked, “And that took all night long?” He then added that he needed to clean up a mess the dog made. I again asked, “And that took the rest of the night?” “Yep,” he said. God love him. The little girl chattered on and on about Veggie Tales and bubbles and her cat costume. 🙂 My heart smiles when I think of these two precious children.
We have a meeting coming up. I’m recommending that the birth parents’ improvement period be terminted because they are not complying with the terms of the plan.
On my way home I arranged a visit between a boy and a prospective adoptive home. And I called a foster parent to let her know that she and her husband were approved to take the kids on a skiing trip.
I love my job (most days). I have the opportunity to ensure that my kids are getting everything they need, when they need it. I get to make children’s lives happy, safe, and healthy. Nothing is greater than this.
Welcome to social work.