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Do you like that title?

Anyway. I hate to toot my own horn, but bio dad and bio mom are telling visitation workers and case workers etc. how much they like me. Isn't that nice? Is it strange that I want their approval, even though I don't necessarily agree with all or most of their major life decisions and their parenting styles?

Now it is my turn to gripe about the system.

So, in order for our friends and family to watch the boys for us, they have to pass a background check. Several friends and family members have completed the forms to have their background checks run so that they can help with the boys if/when we need it. We also have some friends that are currently getting licensed for foster care and were approved, but then they discovered that one of their background checks hadn't been run for a state they lived in, so then they were not approved...and then that one came back, so they are approved again, but I got a call today that the check has to be sent to our caseworker before they can watch our kids...are you tired of this yet? Because I am.

My husband and I have a date planned for tomorrow night (we're going to dinner and a concert). We have had this planned for a few weeks now. NONE of our friends or family have had their background checks approved, even though some were turned months ago. It would be best for everyone if someone could just come to the house for a few hours, and put the boys to sleep in their own beds and we would be back that evening and whoever came over could go home. Our Service Coordinator told us that background checks for two people finally came in, and that they were sent to the caseworker, and that the case worker had to approve the people based on their background checks.

Needless to say, we were excited about the prospect of having someone available to watch our kids! I don't think anyone understands the conundrum of being in a situation in which you know absolutely NO ONE that could watch your kids at the drop of a hat. You can't just call a baby sitter, you can't ask a friend to watch them, you can't ask a neighbor, you can't ask anyone at all. So you are left with the option of sending them to a total stranger for respite care, which has to be planned and discussed ahead of time...and that's your only choice.

So anyway, I called the case worker and left her a message about the background checks. I got a call back from the service coordinator that the caseworker said that since the people all had other states besides the one we live in (can you believe that NONE of our friends or family are originally from this state? They have lived all over the country in the past few years of their lives, and somehow we all moved to the same city and became friends) that they could not run background checks from other states.

Needless to say, I was/am livid. It is ridiculous. The kids' aunts and uncles and mom's boyfriend and all of that have to have background checks done, and they apparently passed them. And I get it that those people are family, but what about us? Why is it so difficult? Why can't everyone see the benefits of having the same people in their lives? Like, say, the people who come over to our house and hang out, the people we see at play groups, the people we see at church every Sunday? UGH. The kids live with US 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They see their mom 10 hours a week, but somehow the people that they see on visits can get background checks so easily. But heaven forbid I should be able to have someone that I can call when I need a break, or when I want to go to a court hearing, or when me and my husband want to go on a date. Or heaven forbid in an emergency situation!

Oh and to top it all off, when we were in the middle of discussing the problems with the background checks, the Service Coordinator said to me "Foster parents are so difficult to work with!" ...I'm sorry, what? Am I difficult because I care about my kids? Is that hard to understand? Am I difficult because I care about what goes on in their case, because I want to be prepared in case a certain somebody starts asking about going home? Am I difficult because I am concerned about C's tantrums, and D's grades? Am I difficult because I keep documentation of when people screw up? Because I request that the Foster Care Review Board review this case? What exactly is it that is difficult? From what I have been told, I am one of the more organized foster parents out there. I think it terrifies them to be held accountable.

Today I went to a Mothers Uplifting Mothers group. Let me tell you how difficult it has been to actually get there: First, I had to get on the waiting list for child care for the boys, because they didn't have enough workers. No big deal. Then all of a sudden the boys' dad gets out of jail and wants visits with them. Again, no big deal. Scheduling said visits WAS a big deal...at first they wanted them from 12:30-2:30 (hello, NAP TIME!), then they were going to be on Mondays and Thursdays from 10-12, then they had to be moved to Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-12. Tuesdays just happens to be when MUMS is from 9-11:30. But the visit doesn't start at 10. So I emailed the MUMS people and they said it was OK to just come late. The visit location is about 30 minutes away from our house so by my estimation the worker should be here at 9:30 since the visit starts at 10. Well today, 9:30 came and went. At 9:45 I got a call that the worker was going to be "a little bit late"...and she showed up at 9:55. Awesome. Apparently she got a ticket on the way to our house. Oh and also the dad apparently got kicked out of his residence so I had to provide him with a lunch and diapers so that he could have his visit today.

So today by the time I actually made it to MUMs I was nearly in tears. It is just SO FRUSTRATING that I can not rely on this system or the people working to support me. I push HARD for these kids and I try to do what is best for them and be their advocate but I can not rely on hardly anyone in the system to help me. Two out of the three visitation workers are consistently late, the case worker doesn't call me back, and apparently I frustrate the Service Coordinator (which I could NOT care less about, I am not going to be any less annoying!).

So at MUMs (which was awesome, by the way!) the group I am in has two other ladies about my age also with young kids. They were commiserating the cost of getting a baby sitter, and it just struck me how very, very different being a foster parent is compared to being a biological parent. Heck, there were times I would've paid $20 an hour to have someone watch the kids, like so I could go to their court hearing. But that is not even an option for me. One of the children is getting circumcised in 2 weeks, which a decision I don't like, but I have to take care of him while he is getting over it. There is a chance these kids will go back to their mom eventually and I may never see or hear from them again. The little ones will probably not even remember me, and that is very sad.

I had other things to discuss but I think I will wait until next time. I think I have said enough.

ETA: This is getting just so...ironic. Or something. So because none of our friends could come to our house and watch the kids for all of the above mentioned date (which is tonight, the 6th), the boys were going to go to respite care and spend the night at someone's house. They were going to get dropped off after their visit with their mom, which gets over at 5:15. Well I just got a call that the mom cancelled the visit because she is IN LABOR right now. Which is obviously a legitimate reason to cancel a visit, but now we cannot go out to dinner because the people doing respite care work and can not take the boys until 5:30. AAAAHHHHH!

Comments

  1. Wow that really gets up my nose about the Service Coordinator. I'm thinking I might give him a call tomorrow and try to understand what exactly he meant by that, because first of all even if he feels that way it's inappropriate for him to say that and second of all, FOSTER parents are difficult to deal with? Not the transportation workers who are always late? Not the bio parents who randomly don't show up for visits? Not case workers who have a three month-long brain lapse in getting background checks done so that the FOSTER parents can have a little freaking break? Those people aren't difficult to work with, but the FOSTER parents are?! Sorry buddy, that's not gonna fly here. You either need to clarify what you meant or ask that this case be reassigned to a different service coordinator.

    -Brian

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  2. I second brian's motion to Call the Service Coordinator. Better yet, I propose a motion to draft one very well written letter including all these points and sending it to the Service Coordinator's supervisor, as well as to the Governer - or somebody who is VERY high up in the system, somebody who might claim that things are "improving". Just a thought.

    This is ridiculous. I would think there might come a time when I (personally) would begin to circumvent the system to protect my sanity. I cannot even keep track of how many "workers" and "providers" and "assistants" stand between you and these kids. In my uneducated opinion it truly keeps you from being the best "parents" you can be.

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  3. It just makes me very sad that doing something truly good has to have so many obstacles. Who are these case workers and service co-ordinators? Who pays them? Who supervises them? I'd be talking to someone higher up. Or probably be writing a letter to someone higher up and cc'ing the governor on it. I'm very sorry for both of you and for the boys...

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  4. nice to meet ya :)

    all I can say is WOW.

    To add insult to injury I have to mention that we don't have to do any of that. According to our agency (who we just went over ALL this with yesterday because we JUST renewed our license) we have to have babysitters that are over 18 or if our kids are 11 yr old or older the baby sitter has to be 21 yrs old. that is it. no background check, no CPR class as I have heard other people's babysitters have had to go to...they only have age requirements.

    I wish I lived closer (i actually don't know where you live) so that I could help though because I SO know what you mean. I think it is awesome you don't WANT to just drop them off at any old foster home (isn't THAT sad coming from a foster mom?!?!) and even though you are/were going to, at this point I would too.

    Secondly, I cannot believe all the visits you are describing, that is a nightmare!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I look forward to poking around your blog and I will shoot you an email once I get the new one up and going.

    take care, I hope something works out! if it doesn't but them to bed early and watch a movie and just deal with them in the morning :)

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