- Deciding Your Fostering Demographic
- County or Agency? How should we get licensed? Can we change?
- Increasing Success Through Referral Mastery
- What’s a Home Study?
- Pre Placement Visit Tips & Questionnaire
- Considering Foster Care – A question of faith with a societal answer
- Security, Stealing, Guns, Drugs and Other Fun Stuff…… Home Security Tips
Deciding Your Fostering Demographic-
How should we decide which age range of children to foster?
Getting kids placed in your home sounds simple and straight forward, yet has proven to be one of the more difficult tasks of foster parenting. The art of learning how to navigate through ‘Referrals’ for new placements is a tricky, patience testing experience! Most family’s that decide to be foster parents usually have an ‘ideal’ range of demographic of children they are interested in fostering. Some foster parents have more specific criteria and others have very vague and broad expectations. For most new foster parents there is a naivety in how one should or shouldn’t get new placements. Some will think its ok to get an emergency placement at midnight with no information, while others carefully select from reports and pre placement visits before deciding on who is a great fit for their family.
For us the group we have done for the last 5 years is far and removed from the original ‘intended’ demographic. There is no perfect system or ideal when it comes to placements but hopefully we can help clarify a predicative process. Kids can look great on paper but not fit in real life, or just the opposite- horrible on paper and amazing in your family. To me there is little worse than having to give notice on a child because they don’t work in your family dynamic, when some simple things could have been done up front to prevent a failed placement based on technicalities.
We started off thinking we wanted girl’s age range of 9-12 years old. At the time we had a 5 year old girl and infant boy of our own and the possibility of adopting a young girl sounded great. We were not interested in boys due to the possibility of our daughter being molested by them as we learned is a possibility. (Link to Safety Plans/Home). As new foster parents we didn’t really understand the process and were just excited to get our first new kids! Well what do you know, our first referral was for two boys age 10 and 12. Well that age range was on target but way off for gender. We jumped at the chance in our excitement and luckily that placement was good. A slight issue arose in that I realized little kids bicker too much! My 5 year old daughter also perceived them as kids invading her home to argue with and surely not listen to. Lucky for us this was only a temporary placement and we were able to see them return to a healthy reunification with their dad.
We then received two more boys same age oh but they were a mess! They were really raised questionably- no horribly, no question and had a lot of severe issues. They not only fought like kids do but they fought dirty and really had some criminal tendencies and I couldn’t trust them long enough to turn my back. At the 3 month marker I was exhausted and praying everyday I would get a break. Well just when I was at my wits ends and HAD to put my notice in for them to be removed from our home, they got a great reunification opportunity with a healthy older brother. But man was I saved by the bell because it was rough. After that I just thought “Man what are we doing?!” it was so discouraging because as new foster parents you think that you are going to reach out to these ‘poor’ kids and they are just gonna love you and be so thankful that you’re giving them a great home, but this was not at all how it went. It was as if we were the enemy and constantly having to stand guard over our home to keep it safe.
Just before those boys were returned to family we had received an emergency placement for a teen girl. JUST FOR A WEEKEND!!! Yeah right…more like 30 days. We were never going to consider having teen girls- talk about the worst demographic ever right!? Well now here going on five years we have only done teen girls and have no plans to go back to another demographic! The reason is, that weekend was so eye opening. This girl went to work, did her own laundry, calmly watched movies with us and helped with the dishes! Holy moly I thought why am I doing little kids again?!! As a young 25 year old foster mom I could relate to their interests and the latest things going on in a teens life, not to mention my own testimony of a tumultuous teen history myself. The other thing was our little girl looked at this teen more as an adult and did not harass and pick fights with her. The teen girls also have never looked at me as a ‘mom’ off the bat trying to take their real mom’s place, the way the little kids seemed to. Rather these teens saw me as an older sister/mentor type foster parent. With time and my time tested commitment and boundaries, most kids have opted on their own to start calling me ‘mom’ and introducing me as such, despite having their own biological moms.
It was the last thing I had ever thought would happen but it did and we are thankful. I also realized that teens heading towards emancipation are about a 2 year commitment where had those other little boys had to stay with us it would have been more of an 8-10 year commitment if we were to really provide a stable long lasting home, adoption or not. While teen girls may not be your target demographic and the last thing on your mind, that’s ok. My point is not to say that everyone should host teen girls but rather to open up foster parents options to alternate demographics in children. I have met foster parents who thought toddlers and infants were the way to go and after spending months on end with no sleep, decided to go for school age children. It may be the most shocking revelation you have and to be open to other questionable groups could improve your home’s peace and success.
Review the below for consideration
(These are not ‘technical’ terms necessarily and counties/agencies
could use different terms to describe such categories)
General Age Groups:
Infants (under 1)
Elementary Age (6-10)
Middle School (11-14)
Other Situational Factors are:
(Normal IQ/low- medium issues/ Close to/on track developmentally)
Teen Mom+ Baby
(Considered two foster kids w/ special room requirements)
(Feeding tubes/wheel chairs/ serious diagnosis/high meds & appts)
Developmentally Disabled (Sometimes called Chirp)
(Retardation, Down Syndrome, Autistic, Severely delayed, IQ below 70etc)
High Criminal Risk
(Sex offenders, Dept of Youth Corrections, Probation, Courts)
(see Department of Youth Correction Placements post for interesting and surprising information!)
High level Mental Illness
(Serious Schizophrenia, bi polar manic depressive)
Time Frame Considerations:
Foster to Adopt
(Starts off w/ foster care w/ intention of moving to adoption)
Temporary/Emergency & Respite Placements
(Last minute calls for short term placement/babysitting- for ex: Runaway -for the weekend until placement is found, child is waiting on approved aunt from out of town to fly in to pick up, foster family is out of town and needs babysitting for foster child)
First Time Removal Placements
(Children just removed from bio home, could be temporary to long term foster care)
Long Term Foster Care/ Emancipation
These kids will most likely remain in the system as attempts at reunification’s, parents completing treatment plan’s, other family options etc have been exhausted with no success. Eligibility for adoption can be an option otherwise they will remain in long term foster care and emancipate out of the system.
See ‘Increasing Your Success Through Referral Mastery‘ in this series
Review these tips to help move from deciding on a demographic to reviewing and accepting the best fitting placements for your family and your long term success!!