I lost half of this post and now it has been three extra weeks so I’m going to try to write this another way. Hopefully it gives the information I want to give 🙂
So three weeks ago, we got new kiddos. Their official blog/board names are Professor (the 3yo boy), Doc (the 2yo girl) and Little Lamb (who turns 4 months next week). So what is it like at the beginning of a placement?
First, obviously you have the children. These ones seem so young, but being advanced probably actually makes it harder for them. Where preverbal trauma of being removed from mom and dad may be worse in some ways, especially long term, it seems that children like these struggle the most because they can understand some aspects, but not enough to make sense of it. They tend to be more verbal about it, more questioning, more anxious. Or maybe it just seems that way because they can verbalize it. But behaviorally, these kids also tend to be a bit tougher. At least that is my experience so far. Obviously comforting the children, giving them what they need, helping them the best we can is duty number one.
But unfortunately, in the first days, there is a TON of work to be done. Let me outline some of that.
First, I have to put together folders for each child for all their documentation. I start with placement papers and medical consenters. I got a few other documents with these kids. Some kids come with a lot. For example, I had a whole folder worth with my (now adopted) children. Some kids come with court papers. Others come with nothing extra.
When children come with medication, that has to be dealt with also. Medication logs are printed out and filled out with pertinent information. All I have to do is initial and put the time for each date for each medication after the paperwork is set up.
Whether they come with any items or not, inventory needs to be taken. Most of the time, that means going shopping in order to have the minimum requirements of things like socks and shirts and pajamas. When kids come with a bunch of mis-matched stuff that doesn’t fit, it makes it a little tougher because all that has to be documented but they still need the minimum requirements of what they *can* wear. So right away, you’re trying to give them a wardrobe and document it.
We also have to have, posted, a schedule and home rules for each child. Now, of course, we have general rules such as “respect property” and “respect others,” even more detailed such as “use polite words” or whatever. But for each child, there has to be personalized rules. Well, except you’ve known the kids 24 hours at this point. How do I know whether we need to focus on polite words or keeping hands to self?
Then there are appointments:
- Placement exams are scheduled as soon as possible. In these children’s case, I needed in to see the doctor regarding the one immediately because I was worried she was eating and breathing well enough! Turns out there was a lot regarding that but we did beautifully. Also, one child needed a “sick child” exam right away.
- Dental exams are also scheduled as soon as possible. The baby won’t get hers until 6 months old. The 2yo will have one every 3 months. The 3yo is on the regular every six month schedule.
- The placement worker at the agency needs to come out immediately.
- Our home’s agency worker needs to come out about day 7.
- The CASA sets up an appointment to come out.
- The children have a lawyer so needs to come out
- ECI does evaluations for all children under 3 years old.
- A psychologist does an evaluation for all children three years old and older.
- Visits with parents start as soon as possible (investigators here are supposed to give the parents at least one visit and they often will do a second in order to make it easier for the regular worker after the 14 day hearing).
- Any appointments that are child specific have to be taken care of. This is where we got hit bad this time. The baby already had a team of doctors and appointments set up. Additionally, because the parents didn’t make their last visit, the surgical team set up a team meeting for us a few days into care so she would still be able to have surgery on time (next week).
- We waited this time, but we ended up setting up play therapy also. Oftentimes, I set up play therapy before the children even walk through the door though.
Add that we actually had 8 hours of training set up for the week the kids got here too.
I had to, also, do end of care documentation for the last set of kids since they left the same day these kids came. For example, that meant I had SIX monthly reports to do (one for each of the three who had left and one for each of the new three).
Additionally, supervision and discipline is a little different at the beginning of a placement as kids have to learn how we do things, we have to learn how they do, etc. These kids didn’t listen AT ALL at first. They still often need you to be ready to help them comply (or at least pay attention so they can comply). The older two put a LOT of things in their mouths A LOT. The 2yo also puts stuff in every other “hole.” We also have never had two kids bicker as much as these two do. And then they weren’t potty trained so we had to do that which went really well until visit last week when Professor started having issues with it.
And of course, don’t forget we have a life. I have two young adult children. I have six children under the age of 7. We have to play a lot. We homeschool. We enjoy the park a lot and gymnastics. We still have to cook and clean like anyone else (well, actually, I guess it is really more than most families, huh?).
And on top of all this, I got sick the weekend the kids got here. Now, ideally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it has turned into one. I am hoping that the doctor figures out what is wrong soon. I actually do think I feel a little better this morning. I hope! I did set up for Doc and Professor to go to another foster home for today. I’m hoping that helps a little both during and after Little Lamb’s appointment. Maybe one more day of rest before I get on with our week will work well for me.
So I have a couple more partially written posts too. Hopefully I’ll start getting them posted.