I recently spoke to a south Florida family who has been waiting to become licensed foster parents for over four months. They finished their MAPP training classes way back in October. Their homestudy was completed soon after. They did everything asked of them quickly and correctly. Yet they are still waiting for the community agency to pass their paperwork on to the state due to a shortage of caseworkers.
They have a room in their house ready for a child. They’ve let their places of employment know that they will need time off when they get their first placement. They are anxious to provide a safe and nurturing home to a child in desperate need.
They have been very patient, but the wait is becoming increasingly frustrating. We were approved to adopt quickly, but the ICPC process once we were matched to our daughter who was in another state took six long months.
Here are some tips I found useful to get things moving along and to stay sane while waiting:
1. Don’t hesitate to check in. Call or email caseworkers weekly. If you don’t receive a response after two days, try again.
2. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Caseworkers are overwhelmed. Be kind to them.
3. Keep copies of everything. It is not uncommon for paperwork to get lost.
4. Have the contact info for other caseworkers besises your own and the supervisor. The turn over is high with in the social services field. Your caseworker may suddenly be gone without notice, so you need to know who else you can contact.
5. Ask if there is anything you can do to speed things along.
6. Don’t hesitate to move your request up the chain of command if you aren’t receivign reasonable and timely responses.
7. Keep a log of your communication with caseworkers and other staff. Document dates, times, conversationd details and who you spoke to each time. Save copies of all emails sent and received.
8. Read up on parenting traumatized children while you wait. Study common diagnosis abused children have, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
9. Continue getting your home, family and life prepared for a child.
10. Build a support network of other foster or adoptive parents who are already licensed or playing the waiting game like you.
The frequent communication will keep your family’s paperwork at the top of the pile. Your organization will come in handy in case something slips through the cracks. Continued preparation will add to your success once you finally have a chld in your home.
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