Setting the Scene
It’s a Tuesday night and you’re watching TV with your family while dinner is cooking in the oven. Your spouse gets a call and walks out of the room to take it. They call you in to the other room and tell you that the caller is DSS. They have a child who has been removed from their home and needs placement. After a short conversation you say, “yes,” and the placement worker tells you that they will be there in an hour.
Within that first week, there are a lot of unknowns. Caseworkers are still gathering information. Often, you as a foster parent will be left with some blanks. Most schools, day cares, and doctors’ office are understanding since they’re often familiar with foster care and have experience working with other foster parents and children already present in the community.
Every foster placement has its own set of circumstances, but there are a lot of moving parts and a “have to be done” list when receiving a new foster placement. If it’s your first placement, it’s good to know what to expect. Knowing what to expect can cut down on surprises. The less surprises, the easier it is for you and your new foster child to adjust and bond.
Below are things will happen or need to happen within the first 7 days of a new placement.
First Week Events
- Medical Assessment – A medical assessment is the first priority when receiving a new placement. Knowing your foster child’s health status gives you great insight into what to expect when it comes to care, behavior, and nutrition. If the child is local, then they may already be established at a doctor’s office close to you. If they are from a different county you can choose to travel to their doctor’s office or make an appointment for them at a doctor’s office nearer to where you live. Always check that whatever doctor’s office you choose accepts Medicaid.
- Set up day care or school (if needed) – If the child is not school aged, working foster parents can enroll their new placement at a local daycare that accepts ABC vouchers provided by the state. However, if one parent is not working, then that household is not eligible for the ABC voucher. Before you get a placement, it can be helpful to identify which day care facilities near you accept ABC vouchers, and how their enrollment process works. If a school-aged child can stay in the same school, then all you have to do as a new foster parent is go in and update their contact information to have the caseworker, you and/or your spouse listed as the new contacts. If the child cannot stay in the same school, then it is up to you as the new guardian to enroll them in a local school as soon as possible.
- Probable Cause Hearing – A probable cause hearing is required to happen within 72 hours of a child entering foster care. During a probable cause hearing the DSS investigator will testify before a judge the circumstances leading up to the child being removed and the judge will determine if there is probable cause for the child to remain in foster care.
- Child and Family Team Meeting – A Child and Family Team meeting is a gathering of family members, teachers, relatives, youth leaders, and other interested community members who come together to build on family strengths to ensure the child’s safety, permanency, and well-being. Child and Family Team Meetings are family-driven, culturally responsive, goal-orientated, and problem-solving processes where families make decisions about the care and protection of their children through the development of their Family Permanency Plan. (source)
The foster care system is a dynamic system full of lots of moving parts and people. The number one goal of foster care and workers is to provide a safe environment for the child to heal and grow. Though this process can be overwhelming, we strive to make sure that Thornwell foster parents know that they aren’t alone! Support is key in ensuring success for foster families and foster children.
Interested in learning more about Thornwell’s foster care licensing program? Click the button below to find contact information and forms to get you started. We can’t wait to talk to you!