Friday, May 21, 2010

"Foster Friday" - You're Coming TO MY HOUSE?!?

When I went through all of the training classes leading up to getting my foster care license, they kind of skimmed over the part where they tell you about the number of people coming to your house.  In fact, they didn't say much of anything about it except to mention that the agency comes out "periodically."  I now understand that phrase to mean "We (anyone who has anything to do with the agency, CPS, the court, etc.) expect you to have an open door policy as we will be requiring access to your home any time we ask for it."

In the year and a half that I've been fostering, I have had monthly home visits from:
  • My agency's Family Specialist
  • The children's Caseworkers
  • Each child's CASA
Also requesting occasional access have been:
  • My agency's Director
  • The children's attorneys
  • A CPS Investigator (investigating a prior foster home of one of the kids)
  • A Rep from Licensing
  • ECI workers
  • Psychiatrist
  • Therapist
  • Multiple Case Aids providing transportation
  • Fire Department for the annual inspection (I don't mind that one so much ;-)
I haven't had a placement in over two months, but my family specialist from my agency has been to my house three times since I've been kid-free!

I have to admit, when I first started fostering, I always panicked about keeping the house clean and totally CPS-proof before every visit.  I would usually take off work a little early to run around frantically scrubbing and making sure everything was perfect.  Take out the trash, scrub the toilets, no pizza cartons in the fridge, no dirty dishes in the sink, etc.  After the first few visits, and no one bothered to even leave the front room, I stopped worrying so much.  Now, I pretty much just make sure there are no glaringly obvious violations like medicine sitting on counter or sharp objects sitting out.  That kind of thing...  So what if there are piles of laundry on the floor or a few dirty dishes in the sink?  People LIVE here!

Depending on who's coming over and what they are coming for, I might vamp up the cleaning and preparations a bit (ex. quarterly inspections, licensing, etc.), but for the regular monthly visits, therapy sessions, etc., I really don't worry too much.  People live here.  I have small kids.  It's not going to be spotless.

To be honest, I discovered that my home is a freaking palace compared to another foster home that I've been in recently.  I walked into the "formal" living room, tripped over some crumbling brick and a pile of 2x4s that they were using to build a "bedroom" and nearly fell into one of three piles of dog poo that had collected on the pee-stained carpet!  (And I'm not exaggerating)  There were wires everywhere and rigged up lighting that had to be turned on from another room, and walls that only went up about 3/4 of the way to the ceiling in the 8x8 (and that's being generous) "bedroom" that two of the kids were going to be sleeping in that night.  I was mortified!  Especially considering there were toddlers who were going to be running around that house!  So if that situation was considered okay with CPS, I think a few dirty dishes in the sink and a bottle shampoo sitting on the back corner of the bathtub is going to be just fine.

Mimi's advice for the week... 

Remember that lots of people will be coming to your house, but you don't have to panic every time they do.  They expect it to look like someone lives there.  Just don't have any obvious safety hazards or glaringly obvious CPS violations.  And it doesn't hurt to make it smell good.  I usually have my Scentsy going.  :-)  If the house smells good, you're golden!  ;-)

What about the rest of you?  Do you panic when people come to your house?  Have you been written up for crazy things like using foil or having dish soap on your kitchen counter?  Have I just been insanely lucky with my caseworkers' lack of concern over the trivial things, or is it normal for them not to be overly concerned about the "everyday living" stuff?

2 comments: said...

I limit the days and times people can come..and if it's for older kids I meet them at a grocery store starbucks so I can shop and they can visit. It doesn't always go over well but, my house, my rules, my way :)

Leah W said...

i used to clean the house from top to bottom every time anyone was coming, and like you said, they barely step in the front door. so, now i don't sweat the little stuff and just try to keep it picked up. the other day a CPS worker came out to interview my foster son about his last foster house without ANY warning, no phone call, nothing. I had someone painting the house, another person trimming the trees, it was a total construction zone. Thankfully I had cleaned the day before!!! They just came in, briefly talked to my son and then left, no big deal. just like you said, other homes are so much worse, my worker often times tells me how lucky the kids are that get to come to our house.

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