Pre and Time of Placement Foster Care Placement Questionnaire
We've taken the time to draw upon our experiences to develop a tool that will help you ask some of the most important questions you need to know when you get a call from a social worker or placement coordinator asking you and your family to take a child into your home. But, before we get to that, let's talk about the way it's been working... We've all been there...
New Foster Parents and Care Providers have gone through so much effort and energy to get through the licensing or certification process. You've sat in classes, listen to others, committed yourself and your family to this life-changing decision and the time has finally come to take a child into your home. By this time you've also most likely developed an image in your mind's eye of what type of child you want and what they're going to be like. By this time you KNOW you can help them, no matter how difficult the issue.
Experienced Foster Parents and Care Providers aren't much different. We've done this a while, we all have some very firm OPINIONS on the "type" of kids we like to help, and THINK we know what we are good at by this point.
The problem with all of us is that, all too often, we make the decision to take a child into our home based on a rocky and emotional decision making process. Here's three very common and very typical approaches to that flawed process:
- A Good Sales Job done by the Social Worker or Placement Team Member on why you are, "the only home available" to help this child. This approach, while most likely true, works on most of us because you'd be hard pressed to find a foster parent or care provider that doesn't have a big heart.
- A Well Told, Sad Story. If you've been a foster parent or care provider for any amount of time you know that the children we support have had it rough to say the least. They have seen thing, been places, and faced challenges most of us could never imagine. They've kicked a drug habit by the age of 6 months, they've done whatever needed to eat, and they have sought comfort and support from people we would most likely never even talk to on the street. How can you NOT have sympathy when you hear what happened from the Social Worker or Placement Team Member.
- It's What We Do! We've already had the discussions with our spouses, our families, and our friends. We've had kids in our home, we know what we are doing and we think, "I've done this before, sure I can take the child".
We're making life-changing choices based on emotions and not enough facts! Now you might be saying, well isn't that good, isn't that we are supposed to do? Bring some emotion and love into the life of child that has most likely never experienced either in a healthy manner?
The problem with making a decision based to too many emotion and not enough facts is that a lot of times it doesn't work out and you do know that until it's too late. Most of the time, the worst thing that can happen to negatively affect the ability for a child to heal is to have to have a change in placement. Think about it, they just got in the house, they had to get to know you and your family, they had to begin to trust you and your family, they had to start to feel comfortable and at least like a member of the family and not just a temporary house guest. Never forget - in the world of Foster Care and Social Services - One and Done. One Child, One Placement, no more.
OK, so what's an alternative approach?
If we step back and assess what we've been doing and how we've been doing it and ask ourselves, "How could I do this differently?" the answer will come to you pretty quickly. Empower this decision making process with as much fact as possible, as early as possible! In a perfect world, the social worker would call you up, tell you every detail about the case, give you a 30 day trial period with the kids that begins with a quick meeting, maybe a day or even a weekend visit and then everyone sits down and jointly agrees (without argument or tears) if this will "work" or "not work". Well - that isn't the real world.
You need to be prepared to get as much information (fact) as you can in the short time that you have social worker or placement team member on the phone with you. You need to then be able to make a decision based on that information you acquired pretty quickly (normally right on the phone or at least within a few hours). So how do you do this...
Be Prepared with a Pre-Placement or Time of Placement Questionnaire
You heard me right, if you just took the time to think of all the questions you have, write them down, tape them on the wall beside the phone, so that when you get the call from the social worker you can run down the list. Hmm - only if!
Well the good news is that we've done this for you! We've taken the time to create a pre-placement questionnaire tool to help you get the right information you need by gathering questions to help you make a well-informed, fact based decision to answer the very difficult question if you should take a child for placement in your home. These questions have been created and collected as a means to help you gather as much information as possible before agreeing to take placement of a child into your home. You make the decision in the end, we just help you gather the right facts.
A lot of the times, especially when a child is first retained or if it is an after-hours emergency placement, the social worker or placement team member might not know all of the answers... if this happens, it's OK! Just leave those answers blank. No matter what you find out, the more you know when you are trying to decided to take placement the more informed of a decision you can make and to better decide if the child will be a good fit for your family and your parenting abilities.
So why is your tool any better or different than my written questions taped on the wall?
The easy answer is "convenience".
Our online tool IS FREE and works on any laptop, tablet, or phone (or any other device) that has an internet connection. You simply ask the questions we've collected to the social worker or placement coordinator, type in the answers or notes you gather from each response and then hit "submit" when you're done.
We take that information, time stamp it, and then send it to your email address. This allows you to read your notes later, share them with your spouse or family, and even send them back to the social worker or placement coordinator as a record of your discussion.
This simple task can really make a difference in the long run and possibly help you make a much more informed decision about changing the life of a child.