I had it narrowed down to two, so I did the whole pros and cons list to get a better feel of what would work best for me.
- I know a couple using the agency, and they have been really pleased with it. (HUGE PRO)
- The agency took several days to respond to my inquiry (Not thrilled about how long it took), but when they did finally answer me, they actually answered all of my questions. (Big Pro considering no one else up to this point had answered any of my questions)
- The office is about 30 minutes away from my house. (Not too bad considering this is Texas, and everything is sprawled out around here, but my old agency was only 10 minutes away, and literally on the next street over from my parents' house, so I had easy access to babysitters on training days. Thirty minutes in the opposite direction could get old pretty fast.)
- Buried in the paperwork that they sent me, I discovered that they license all of their homes as "Therapeutic" homes, whether or not you accept Therapeutic placements. That means that I would need at least 50 hours of training per year (as opposed to the 20 for Basic or 30 for Moderate Care). (BIG Con. I'm a single, full-time working mom. Add being a foster mom to that, and the stress level and time management issues quadruple! Trying to find time for another 20-30 hours of training plus the extra drive time would be hard.)
- The agency has foster parent support groups. (Huge pro as this is the first agency that I've seen that offers this! And believe me... It's needed!!!)
- This agency responded to my initial inquiry in less than 30 minutes, answered all of my questions, and even included attachments of paperwork that I would need. (HUGE PRO!!! If you've ever tried to get anything out of anyone in the foster care system, you know that it takes an act of Congress to get any answer, let alone a straight answer. The fact that they got back to me so quickly and with so much pertinant information was awesome!)
- The office is two miles from my house!!! (HUGE PRO!!!)
- They offer several additional reimbursements and assistance that most of the other agencies don't offer like mileage reimbursement, financial aid for children's extra curricular activities, and a respite care incentive to encourage foster parents to take occasional, much-needed breaks. (Pro)
- I don't personally know anyone using the agency, so I don't have anything to go on as far as personal experiences with them like I do with Agency One. (Con)
- They base their required training on the level of care the foster parent(s) want to foster, so most (if not all) of my previous training should count, and I can be licensed with this agency within the next month.
- I would have to do another homestudy, but the majority of the time consuming work would be done already by using my existing homestudy from my old agency.
- I've had several questions over the past two days, and every time I get a response within thirty minutes!
I've already submitted my background check application and transfer of information consent so they will be calling my old agency soon. I'm not really looking forward to the backlash from that. Hopefully my old agency will be gracious enough to hand over my files and keep their mouths shut when it comes to their personal opinions of me.
I have a two day orientation and training seminar on the 28th and 29th of this month, and short version of a homestudy right after that. All of my other records are current, so as soon as the agency's homestudy is submitted and approved, I'll be licensed again! Hopefully I'll be getting baby calls by the middle to end of next month. YAY!!! I'm so excited to be doing this again!!! I learned a lot from the past couple of years, and now I have a much better idea of what to expect. Keep me and my past and future kiddos in your prayers!