Great questions to ask before my first foster care placement
What questions to ask during your first placement phone call
You've completed the home study process and are ready to receive your first placement. So what questions should you ask during your first potential placement phone call?
First, take a deep breath. Take a moment to reflect upon the process you've been through thus far to be able to receive this call finally. Know that we have faith in you and that you're prepared to foster a child. You will never receive a call from your child placing agency to be a foster parent for a child if your case manager does not feel you have the skills to work with the child.
You need to slow down and be in the moment rather than forecasting what life may be like after a child enters your home. Second, it's okay to say no. Part of this process is being realistic about what you and your family are capable of doing.
From the perspective of the Regional Admission at Extra Special Parents (ESP), a Licensed Child Placing Agency (CPA), you need to know the elements that go into the call before we even reach out to you.
After receiving the child's initial information from the referring worker, we meet and discuss our available families to consider household space and family makeup. We also consider conversations you have had with your Family Advocate, Trainers, and Family Services Specialist regarding what "type" of the child you would like to serve; this will include age, gender, child IEP needs, sibling group, and daycare needs, and many more areas to make sure your parenting plan will work this child for any visitation schedule that may be court ordered.
As you have learned, some families' strengths are working with the medically fragile child, while some are interested in teens, etc. We work very hard to ensure that a child's first placement in foster care is their last, so when we call you, we have confidence that your home could be the right placement for this child.
When we call you, we will first tell you everything we know about the child. (What is bringing them into care or why they need placement, necessary demographic information, what behaviors they may display, what their strengths are).
Transparency is essential as we root for your and the child's success. That said, sometimes we don't have all the information and can't always anticipate your needs. We welcome questions and will try our best to get them answered.
We may not have all the answers, but it never hurts to ask.
General Placement questions for foster care and adoption placement:
- What are their strengths? Interests? What are they good at? What do they like?
- Do they/will they have a visitation plan in place?
- Do they have siblings?
- What is their permanency goal?
- Do they have any services in place?
- If so, where?
- If not, what services might they need?
- Which public school with they be attending?
- Do they have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?
- How long has the child been in care?
- How many placements have they had?
- Things you may need to know to prepare your home:
- Do they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions?
- What are the custody and visitation needs of biological parents?
- Will they be coming with anything? Or will you need to be ready for a quick trip after they get there?
General Questions about the goodness of fit:
- How are they around animals?
- How well do they interact with younger kids? Older kids? Same-age peers?
- Are they religious?
- If yes, what's their religion?
- If not, and you are, do you have a plan if they do not wish to attend your services?
- Things for you to consider before your first call:
- Do you need a plan for after-school care?
- Do you need a plan for the summer and the school year?
- What happens if the child can't be at school?
- Any transition services planned for older youth
- Will you be able to provide school transportation until a best interest determination meeting is held?
We rarely know when we will get a phone call that can change our lives, and it's challenging to be 100% prepared for those life-changing moments. When we do call you, it's because we have faith that a specific child would be able to thrive in your home.
Take another deep breath and prepare for your foster care journey!
You should not feel any pressure and always have the right to say "NO" to a placement.