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Old 05-04-2011, 07:10 PM   #1
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Single foster parent with a young child?

I've always thought about being a foster parent and was thinking about starting up the process this summer. But my supervisor (who is a social worker..as am I) told me to think about my daughter first before deciding. If I were to do it I would definitely restrict the age of the child to that of my daughters or younger (she's 2) and wouldn't take any children with behavioral problems or anything that could cause harm to my daughter. I would not feel comfortable with an older child in the home and having my daughter especially if there are behavioral/emotional issues. But is it a good idea to do being a single parent and having a young child? I want to do it so that I can help children out but not if it will cause issues in my home. I don't know much about fostering so please help me out mamas!

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Old 05-04-2011, 07:43 PM   #2
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

Geez, I'm just full of advice today, Anna . Actually, I don't know if you should or not; that's for you to decide. We found out Freya was pregnant, um, the same week as our FC homestudy. Luckily, we're certified via the DSS where I work, & they like professionals who want to be foster parents, not "professional foster parents", so the only response I got from our homefinder was , "Please, please, PLEASE tell me this was planned." Um, yup, we wanted to certify & DP wanted bio, so here we are.

We're super selective about placements we accept & actually haven't taken any since we had an older teen while Freya was pg...not for lack of wanting, but there's been a significant decline in the # of kids in care for our county...and most of them have significant behavioral issues, and almost all of them are older (like, 15+) & I'm leery of it. Add in that now Freya is going back to school (again) & I'm going to be scrambling to take care of the one I have, let alone to provide supervision to teens. I might consider short-term respites, but that's about it. I don't know where you are, but here there was no cost for the classes...you could attend & see what you think; or you can attend & decide to limit your certification (technically we're certified for up to 2 kids of the same sex from the ages of B-13, but the county doesn't really care much about that...we just say no to anything we don't think is good for us), or certify for respite-only, or something like that.

For example, I think the "tug at your heartstrings" things that have gotten to me have been with the older, voluntary FC kids (age 18-21)
*Not many of them are able to go to college, but if they are, the state/county helps w/ expenses...but that's their placement, so they generally have nowhere to go over school breaks & for holidays--How sad that they have no home for the holidays when they've overcome so much!
*NY just passed a law that kids who choose to leave FC at 18, when they are legally able to, can choose to return to care until age 21; not many homes want those kids placed, either.

The training can help you decide if it's really for you...and it can help you find your niche GL!

As for yourself, I think you said you have a lot going on right now, right? You're finishing school, moving into the professional arena, you have your 2 y.o., & you have some personal stuff you're sorting through. I say, if you're called to it, it's a good choice for you...but think about whether now is the right time; you can wait 6 mos or a year or 10 years & the county will still be happy to have you. I think your concerns about age/behavior show that you have put some thought into it.
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Old 05-04-2011, 11:38 PM   #3
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

Carrie..is there anything you don't know? Your so awesome..just so you know! I do have a lot going on right now. Besides what you already know I am waiting to see if I was accepted to start my MSW this summer I am soooooo in over my head but I love it! I was thinking about waiting until I got settled later this summer before really looking into it. I wouldn't necessarily mind taking an older child as long as there weren't any behavioral problems and I got a good vibe from the child. It is a lot to think about and I guess my lack of knowledge about the subject scares me but thats what the classes are for right? To broaden the topic I'd LOVE to adopt but I don't have the income or stability right now. I'd prefer to wait to adopt a child into a 2 parent household but time is ticking and not sure if that will happen anytime soon. Ok rambling..thanks again Carrie
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Old 05-05-2011, 12:51 AM   #4
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

I don't know what you are considering behavioral problems. Just for the fact a child is removed from their home, that is going to cause an emotional trauma and kids can't really verbally express their feelings so they act them out with their behaviors. Any child over 1-8 months has going to bonded with their previous caretaker and going to have an adjustment and many of the kids in foster care are going to have a pre-disposition/genetic background due to the parents with mental health or substance abuse issues which can cause other issues too. Plus, between school, your child, are you able to handle the visitation, medical appts, etc.? It may be better to wait till you are more settled with school, your career, etc. Also, it is very hard to be a "social worker" and foster parent and it often can be a conflict of interest so that is something you need to consider. Here for a long time social workers were not allowed to foster as there were issues in the past. (I know they have changed it as they tried to recruit us but we would have had to give up our private homestudy and there ware other issues as to why I'd never do it).
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Old 05-05-2011, 04:28 AM   #5
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

pcjs-you took the words out of my mouth...I went to bed, then got up thinking about the one placement we turned down b/c I just couldn't make the time commitment. Visits w/ mom once a week, visits w/ dad once a week, therapy once a week, group once a week...all of the appts 30-45 min from the house; I just couldn't do it. And I HATE when they want the foster parents to provide the supervision for visitation...it happens fairly frequently, but I think it's a conflict of interest. And really defining what you need by behavioral will help you out. If you don't want any mental health/emotional concerns, you may have some difficulty finding placements...but by "behavioral" I mean we won't take any kids w/ histories of: juvenile sex offenses, addiction problems, cruelty to animals (we have a bunch), violence toward kids (DD is only 14 mos), or severe property damage.

Your county probably publishes some kind of stats about the # of kids in placement & maybe age ranges. Check it out to see if your expectations are realistic. If we were only willing to take kids younger than DD, we'd probably never have another placement...we barely ever get contacted about a kid under 13.

& You'll have to do field placements for your MSW; think about whether what you want is to foster parent or generally to help kids. There are plenty of placements you could look at to be exposed to different kinds of work w/ kids. DSS casework & school social work are the two that immediately come to mind, but there's work w/ MH consumers & developmental disabilities, BBBS/Boys & Girls club-type settings, etc.
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:01 PM   #6
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

I do have too much on my plate..just thinking about it. I did just get a job at the MH facility here working with their summer program..kids 6-14. It will be interesting and fun..my first SW job
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:23 PM   #7
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

You will have to do an internship of 16 hours a week on top of your normal courseload year one and 24 hours a week year two of your MSW program. So, if you are working part-time and have your own child, that is something to think about too. The internships are an accreditation requirement so there is no getting out of them.

I don't have an issue and always appreciated foster parents providing the supervision IF the parents and foster parents were both appropriate (I had one situation where I was far more comfortable with the parent than foster parent and it was a fight to get them out of that home but I did it but the foster parent was lying to me about the exchanges claiming stuff about the mom I KNEW was not true) and it is done at a reasonable time so once a month I can stop by and just observe for a few minutes the interactions/bonding and support either/both parties if needed. In some ways its better for the kids, especially if you get a great foster parent with really good parenting skills who is less threatening than a worker/agency and can do some parenting with that parent via modeling. It just completely depends on the situation.
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:44 AM   #8
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

Do you share my brain? All my MSW friends were able to count their human services jobs as fieldwork hours toward the degree, as long as the job was willing to let the university do any site supervision stuff that was needed.

I don't think you're necessarily wrong about the supervision issue...here I've felt unsupported by the department, though, & consider the unavailability of department staff to do supervision as one symptom of that, though. Oh, and the part where we were providing supervision for a kid who had perped a younger sib & were supposed to be watching for grooming behavior. Do DP & I know what that means? Yes, but is that a fair expectation of the foster parents they have in general? No. It was just too much responsibility for a FP to have. If it was just straight, Does the parent interact w/ the child, does the parent appropriately discipline the child, stuff like that, I would feel comfortable w/ that.

I told you about the last placement we were approached w/ --that multigenerational mess w/ the infant & the teen mom...they wanted us to supervise the kid's visits w/ her infant (fine) & the kid's visits w/ her parents (fine) at the same time (= professional family dynamic assessment & not fine for the foster parent to be evaluating). I long for the day when DP is done school & we can look at relocating out of the region & transferring our certification to a better county...
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:18 AM   #9
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Re: Single foster parent with a young child?

Maybe the rules have changed as I've had my MSW a while BUT we were not allowed to use jobs as our field placements at all and if anything, you could do it at your employer in a different department/different supervisor but it had to be different hours and you'd have to work it out. There is a national accreditation board and if you don't do it properly it can come back and haunt you. I'm not sure how they got away with it in less the rules have changed but it seems to me they've gotten more strict than less strict as I went advanced standing with my BASW and my masters was 2 semesters/9 months and from what I understand I was one of the few/last graduating classes and now its 3 semesters. But, I haven't kept up with it so my opinions may not be accurate.

Here the only time foster parents supervised visits was when things were 99% fine and we had no concerns. Otherwise they would transport, when they can and a social worker or aide supervised (but again, I've been gone a while) and it depends on a worker. No way would I agree in a situation you described for such a casual visitation - that should be with a therapist too.
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