The process for becoming a foster parent is not for the weak. What should you expect if you follow this path? Classes, training, paperwork (a LOT of paperwork), medical tests, and the dreaded home study.
We started with an orientation to get an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. Then we did IMPACT classes (this may be called something else in other areas) which you have to complete to be a foster parent. We had to be certified in CPR and first aid. We had to have clearance from our doctor saying we were physically capable of caring for children. A drug screen, TB test, and a syphilis test were also required. Yes, a syphilis test. That's always fun to ask for at the Dr. office. If you have teenagers in your house they have to have some of these things too. I recently had to take my 16 year old daughter for her syphilis test. I wonder how many times I mentioned it was because we did foster care? Not her most fun day.
The paperwork is immense. Personal questions - I mean really personal. Referrals - hmmm....who can I think of who will say nice things? Once this is complete they start the home study. I was a nervous wreck about the home study. In my mind people were coming in with white gloves to check out my house. Thankfully, that was not the case because we would not be foster parents. They gave me a list of what they would be checking for. I can follow a list. It's like a rubric we use in school. Do all these things, get an A. That I can live with. Working smoke detectors? Check. Medicines and cleaning supplies behind child locked cabinets? Check. Weapons in a safe? Check. Outlet covers? Check. First aid kit? Check. List of emergency numbers posted? Check. Drawing of house plan posted? Check (Still haven't figured that one out, but we have it).
The Home Study person has to come to your house 3 times. They meet with us together and they meet with us individually....including our teenagers. Yikes - no clue what they told her, but I guess it wasn't too bad.
When it's done, you wait. It takes time for them to write up the whole home study. You hear nothing. In my mind I'm thinking of all the reasons they won't approve us. Maybe I forgot to dust. Did I forget an outlet cover? The house is really small.
Have I scared you away? Hopefully not. This whole process took us 6-7 weeks. It takes most people a little longer but I happened to be on my summer break from school, so I was able to focus a lot of attention to it. I don't think they are worried about a little dust or a small house. Looking back it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought. These people want to approve you. They know how badly foster homes are needed. Of course, they want to be thorough to make sure the children are safe.
I can assure you that the foster kids will apparently be safer than my own kids were growing up. I doubt I kept outlet covers in and I didn't keep a first aid kit on hand. Somehow, they lived through it. There's a lot of rules, some which seem crazy...but that's a whole other post.
A lot of hassle. A lot of time. If only I could show you the pictures of the 6 faces we've come to love since then. Totally worth it!