Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why We Receive so Many Placements

I have been asked why we receive so many placements. Sometimes foster parents get licensed and then receive very few foster children.  Sometimes it is just the area you are living in but sometimes it isn't.

First look at your restrictions.

What ages are you willing to accept?  Is it too narrow?  We accept children ages 0 to 18.  Originally we were only open to younger children but when they called and asked us to take a teenager we did, they were able to raise our age in a few hours.  That teenager later became one of our daughters so you just never know what life will throw at you when you are open.

What other restrictions do you have?

Are you open to all races?  What is your comfort level with this and how will your family accept the children who come into your home.

Siblings?  We aim to keep siblings together, our largest sibling group had three children.  Very manageable for us but maybe not for others.  Keeping siblings together is very important to us.  I realize that it is not always possible with every sibling group.  Sometimes they need to be separated.

Medical conditions?  What can you deal with?  We are not a therapeutic home yet we have picked children up from the burn clinic and the NICU. We have dealt with heart issues and asthma.  We have learned many new skills to include how to tape a heart monitor to the back of a very active baby.

Look at how involved you want to be.

Are you willing to transport?  We transport our foster children to all visitations and all appointments.  This relieves the social worker of that responsibility.  Some areas have people who transport but our county does not, it falls on the social workers.  Imagine having to place a child and seeing the name of a family on the board that you know will do all the driving.

Are you willing to work with and encourage the family?  We try to maintain a positive relationship with our foster children parents.  We encourage them to work their plan and maintain a healthy relationship with their child(ren).

Will you evaluate the children and seek out all services that they need?  Services can include Baby Net, therapy, IEP's, speech therapy, OT, PT, to name a few.  Get educated on child development so that you can recognize that there is a delay that needs addressed.  This can require more transporting or just being available when therapies come to the home.

Do you want a baby?  Do you work?  Our heart baby needed a stay at home mom.  We had a  toddler sibling group was very short term so child care was not planned for since grandma didn't work.  Sometimes it is just easier to place children who are not school age into a home with a parent who is home full time.  This is not a requirement but does make life easier for the social workers.  Besides, most day cares won't accept a baby until he is 6 weeks old.  Who will watch the baby until then?

How flexible are you?  If it is the last day of the month and the social worker realizes that they didn't make a visit to your home, are you willing to allow that visit with little notice?  When family visits are cancelled, changed, shortened, lengthened, can you go with the flow with grace?  When you are called about a 2 year old boy will you accept the 4 year old girl instead?  Will you answer the phone at 2 am and say yes?

How patient are you?  Patience is necessary when dealing with the behaviors.  It is also necessary when dealing with the system!  Someone who is impatient will cause problems.

Are you prepared financially?  If you receive two toddlers are you prepared to dress, clothe, feed and purchase necessary car seats and such on s short notice?  Will you treat the children who come to your home the same that you do your other children?  Include them in family activities, take them out to eat, involve them in sports, buy them clothing that helps them to fit in with their peers, pay for their entertainment.

Do you know when to be quiet?  I have seen foster families get black listed based on things that they have said.  Sometimes it is best to just keep things to yourself.  There is a time and place for griping.

There are many factors that are considered when placing children.  Often they are looking for a good match for each child because they try to avoid frequent moves because of bad placement. Social workers are human, they will look for a family that will make their lives easier.  Someone who is easy to get along with, someone who is accommodating, doesn't need much hand holding, is able to manage medical/services appointments without the need to the social worker, someone who they know will take GOOD care of the child while causing minimum drama.  Over time they learn which families are best to place children in. 

A good reputation will keep your home full.
Notice I didn't say who will love the child the most.  At the time of placement love is not a factor.  If all you have to offer is love then I am afraid that it is not enough.  When the child is placed they may not even want your love, they have their parents for that.  However, they do need all the patience, stability, knowledge and understanding that you have. Love may come later.


  1. Thank you, we just got our first placement, and this information will help me as I navigate the waters of foster care system.

    1. How is it going? First placements are so exciting and terrifying at the same time. Do you have a support group among your local foster parents? They can be a great resource.

  2. We're foster-to-adopt, and around when we finished licensing I heard so many stories from other families about how long it took to match (18 months to 2 years). We were so worried we'd take a year or more to match, much less get a placement. But it turned out all those families wanted light skinned children under 5 with no physical or mental health issues. Because we were open to older kids, minorities (we're a minority family), mental health issues (we're a treatment foster care family) and sibling groups, we matched in 3 months.

    I think a lot of the stories from parents involved in foster care about not getting what they expected, or waiting a long time come from unrealistic expectations about the system. Which befuddles me, because I gotta say, our training was pretty up front!

    1. Ah, they tell us straight up that babies will take years for adoptive placement yet everyone thinks that in their case it will be quick. Foster parents have priority and many adopt their kids. I don't think that straight adoptive parents realize that by time they are chosen the child has already been through so many rejections and will have the adjustment behaviors along with it. Love to hear that you found a match!

    2. Yeah, our son is 10, and we're placement number 10. He'll hit 4 years in care this spring. So he's had a rough time not only in his birth family, but also in care.

    3. Wow, 10 placements is a lot of moves. I say that my girls were hurt as much by foster care as they were from their biological home. Too many foster parents give up on their placements too quickly. I hope that you have a support group, mine is mostly people I met online who have been there, done that. Most people don't understand what you deal with on a daily basis.