Monday, October 5, 2009

Getting the Call

I usually hear about a possible new foster child through a division of social services in my county called Emergency Shelter Care. They have my profile describing my home, the number of kids I can take, my preferred ages, and the like. If they think I can handle the kid or kids, then they call and tell me about them.

Now the Emergency Shelter Care staff have not actually had contact with these kids. Rather they have just been given information from a field worker. (Sometimes, if a child has been in the system before, they can also look up prior records.) What this means is that, most of the time, the information they have for me when they call is meager and sometimes wrong.

I have also noticed that if my preferred age range is 5 through 10, for some reason I get calls asking me to take kids that are 4 years old, or 11 years old. It’s like they are trying to push my envelope. This probably isn’t really the case, but it seems that way sometimes.

After extracting everything I can think of from the Emergency Shelter Care worker, I have to make a “yes or no” decision right away. Sometimes I can push them off for a few minutes while I contact my support group, such as a school or after care program to check on space or behavior limitations, but they can’t wait long. They usually have to find a home for this child the very same day. If I accept, then a social worker usually delivers the child that very evening.

Turning down a child is very hard for me. Sometimes, though, I hear things that trigger alarm bells. For example, if the child has had to move from several different homes. Another concern is if the child has a history of assaulting other kids. Not only is this of concern for the current kids in my home, but for future placements as well. As hard as it is, I believe it is better to accept only those kids that I feel will do well and live in harmony in my home.