I thought it might be prudent to post about where we are in this process of becoming foster parents. We have already registered our interest with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), had a social worker out to our condo to do a physical standards check (make sure we had working smoke detectors and adequate space for a child), submitted to background checks, completed a very thorough application (I think it was 18 pages), submitted personal, professional, and medical references, and finished the required 30 hours of MAPP training. What we are waiting on now is the home study to be completed and submitted by our family resource social worker. She is coming out to the house on Monday to interview us and begin the home study process.
It has been interesting and enlightening to observe and work with “the system” so far. I’m sure I’ll have other words for them in the future, good and bad, but for now I’m sticking with interesting. Our initial phone calls were not returned back in the fall of 2012. In fact, it took multiple calls to the family resource supervisor to find out if they received our registration of interest, find out when classes would be, and get our social work to contact us. She cited difficulty calling us because our cell phone numbers are both long distance, and has subsequently been fairly good with contact via e-mail. As for the MAPP classes … there are too many “interesting” stories to share here. A brief recap though:
- The group of prospective foster parents who turned out for the initial informational meeting was “very large” according to their standards. I think we had about 35 at that meeting, and we started classes with around 30 people. The classes are geared toward, and usually taught to, audiences of ~12 people. Needless to say, our group was pretty large. They also expected the number of people to drop off significantly, which really didn’t happen. I think we lost maybe 3 people total?
- Because of the size of our group, the social workers running the training decided to divide us into 2 groups. The group that E and I ended up in (English speaking group) was quite homogenous and left us feeling a bit on the outside. We were the only couple in our group, the only gay people, and the only white people. None of those things are bad per se, but we had been expecting to find someone in the room with whom we could immediately relate (lez be honest, we were hoping we’d find another gay couple in our class) and we weren’t able to do so. Everyone in our group was kind and seemed to really care about parenting kids in foster care. Many of them were related to each other. A few people in our class had provided care in the past – either as a kinship placement (they took care of a family member) or a typical foster care provider who had let their license expire at some point.
- The classes covered a variety of topics, all specific to the issues children in foster care face and how we can best care for them. The topics included:
- Working with DCF, foster care vs. adoption, importance of permanency
- Impact of fostering and adopting, understanding loss
- Behavior, loss, and attachment
- Family communication, cultural competence, domestic violence
- Trauma, sexual abuse
- Substance abuse, behavior management, discipline
- Helping with transition, adolescent development
- Mental and physical health
- Legal aspects
- We also had a class (certainly the most informative of the training overall) that consisted of a panel of speakers who were open to questions. The panel included a DCF lawyer, an ongoing social worker (rather than our family resource workers, this social worker’s job is to work with the children and families), a current foster parent, and a former foster child.
Now that MAPP classes are finished, we are just waiting for our home study to happen so that we can be submitted for licensure. If we get licensed, we’ll have to do 10 hours of training each year to maintain our license. For now, we are just focused on checking all of the boxes, crossing t’s, dotting i’s, etc. Oh, and planning our wedding :).