Friday, October 7, 2011

"Foster Friday" - You Want Me to Do WHAT?!? - Crazy Foster Care Rules

Gotta love those "CPS Minimum Standards!"  (Ours happens to be a 355-page manual that foster parents are expected to know inside and out even though it changes at least once a year.)  And then you have your agency requirements that make absolutely NO sense and leave you dazed and confused and thinking, "Seriously?  You seriously expect me to do that?"  Things like: "A clean towel and handsoap must be readily-available for children's use in the restroom."  Immediately followed by, "Handsoap must be stored out of reach of children."  HUH?!? 

With so many rules and regulations, it can all be very overwhelming for newer parents in Foster/Adopt Land.  Fortunately, most parents soon learn to recognize what I refer to as the "CPS Levels of Naughtiness."  This refers to the level of severity of the rule that has been broken.  Because it doesn't matter how good you are or how hard you try...  You will break rules.  Mostly due to the fact that CPS has oh-so-ingeniously created conflicting rules and regulations just to cover their own butts (hence the "locked-away handsoap that should be readily-accesssible to children" rule).

"The CPS Levels of Naughtiness"

1)  "A Rule Simply Because We Think it Looks Good on Paper, but We Really Don't Care if You Follow It or Not" - These include, but are not limited to:
  • The locked away handsoap that is readily-accessible to children (Not once in three years has anyone mentioned this rule to me outside of asking me to read that section in the Minimum Standards during a quarterly visit).
  • The "do not use foil" rule (again, only read about in quarterly visits).
2) "A Rule That We Change Every Quarter Because We Think 'Written Warnings' Make Us Look Like We're Doing Our Job" - These are those rules that they, without fail, ask you about every single time they step in your house.  You think you are following the rule because they do ask you about it every time they step in the door, but you soon discover that what they told you the previous visit has been changed to something completely different this time around, and you get a "talking to" and a notation on your quarterly inspection report.
  • For me, this has been medication storage and what counts as "locks," as well as how many locks are required for what types of medications.  CPS Minimum Standards state that "all medications should be locked, with topical and ingestible medications stored separately.  Psychotropic medications should be double locked."  I know this because I have taken that stinking Medication class every. freaking. year. since I began fostering.  It's one of those required annual refresher courses that make seasoned foster parents want to poke out their own eyeballs with hot sticks.  My agency, on the other hand, likes to shake things up every quarter by making up their own rules.  "All medication should be locked."  "All medication should be double locked."  "Psychotropic meds should be triple locked."  "Psychotropic meds should be double locked."  "Cabinet locks do count as a lock."  "Cabinet locks do not count as a lock."  "Topicals and ingestibles need to be stored in separate compartments of the locked medicine box."  "Topicals and ingestibles need to be store in separate locked medical boxes."  Yeah...  You can see why there is no hope and that foster parents will inevitably get a "You've Been Naughty" letter no matter what they do.  It used to bother me.  Now, I just smile and nod and follow CPS Minimum Standards and play dumb when it comes to my agency.  ;-)
3)  "Strictly Forbidden by Punishment of Death" - Meaning the CPS Powers That Be would have me taken out back and flogged should I fail to strictly adhere to the rule.  These usually pertain to things and techniques that your own parents used for you and that you survived in one piece.  The number one thing being:
  • The use of Johnny Jump-Ups - I can think of things that are waaaaayyyy worse than letting a baby jump away in a toy that babies have successfully enjoyed for decades, but Heaven-forbid you even mention Johnny Jump-Ups in a CPS workers presence!  You will be the recipient of the "side-eye" for certain.
So what foster care rules drive YOU bonkers?  There are so many more that I could ramble on about, but I thought I'd give all of you a chance to join in the fun.  ;-)


CherubMamma said...

You and I live in the same state so we suffer from the same rule issues. I second every single thing you said in this blog entry! (Though, I've never had anyone mention the hand soap thing to me. However I was told to lock up my dishwasher detergent. And yes, they meant lock up. Not just keep out of reach.) (I don't follow that rule.)

Other rules that I hate:

** All foster kids have to attend every court hearing. No matter what. Even if they're two years old and it falls right in the middle of their nap time. The judge wants to see their faces. But they rarely actually get called in to the courtroom.

** The medication lock-up rules. I know you said it above. But they absolutely drive me nuts. I'm also tired of filling out the med logs. (Though, I do understand the purpose behind those.) Ours recently changed too and I have to do "math" every day. They require us to say how much medication is left after every dose. I feel stupid doing this as my little girl is on a liquid. If I spill some I have no idea how much landed on the counter. So I feel like I'm lying every time I fill in that number. And don't forget to lock your med log in with the medicine too. It can't be on top of the locked container. It must be on the inside.

** Children need to have their hands washed after a diaper change. But there's no mention of the caregiver being required to wash their hands. (I don't know about you, but the kid doesn't touch the diaper...I do.)

** I was also told that I have to provide paper towels for my kiddos to dry their hands off with. Either that or every child has to have their own towel. (Again, I rule I'm not about to follow.)

I could go on and on but I've already hijacked your comments. :) There are so many whacked out rules we're expected to follow for sure!!

** No standing water. That means kiddie pools must be dumped the minute kids are done playing in them.

CherubMamma said...

Please forgive any typos and the fact that I obviously have one paragraph out of order. It's been a long day. :)

Teresa said...

I've had my kids in Johnny Jumpers during homevisits. Do not use foil?! You are foster saints for dealing with that.

I am certified right through our county, and we literally have NONE of these rules. I've never been told anything about soap, handtowels, or cleansers. I have children on multiple medications that their caseworkers have never asked about. We have locks on our cabinets that no one has ever tested.

That's probably not good either- there has to be a happy medium somewhere.

MamaFoster said...

do you mean you are not supposed to use aluminum foil? on what????

i have never heard of any of these rules...i am almost sure i don't know half of my own rules...and no one asks me about them. :/

Tammy (aka. "Mimi") said...

Well, the "rules" don't SPECIFICALLY say "no foil." They say that all food must be stored in airtight containers. My first AGENCY interpreted that to mean all food must be in tupperware... No foil or plastic wrap covering a plate of brownies... No pizza boxes in the fridge... Everything needs to be transferred to tupperware to be stored.

Fortunately, no one has ever followed up on that because I have a pizza in my fridge right now! In the box. I am a rebel that way.

Penelope said...

And foster parents are forbidden to restrain a child. So what is a car seat???

Mamalion Kara said...

Laughing my head off! I joke about THE RULES all the time. No additional locks on the top of doors because of fire code, but please make sure you have a lock high enough that a 10 year old can't reach it. A 10 year old? What can't they reach? One way or the other I am NOT following the rule! You must be in Texas because I have joked about every one of them. I have also scared our new agency caseworker to death when I told her to please give me a little notice before her "unannounced" visit because I would need to lock up the loaded shotgun at the front door. She did not get my humor at all! I am glad I found you!

Tammy (aka. "Mimi") said...

Hahahaha!!! Funny you should mention that about the lock having to be high enough that a 10-year-old can't reach... I brought that up in one of my PRIDE classes stating that I am 5'2" tall and that most 10-year-olds are taller than me! I told them that I didn't think it was overly safe for the mommy to have to stand on a chair in order to get out of her own home. They didn't think that was funny either. They really SHOULD send these people to "Sense of Humor School."

Jessica Miller Kelley said...

Just found this post because I was googling to find a locking medicine box. Bleh. I'm going to add your blog to my reader (just starting out as foster parents, so need lots of advice!) but I better get back to my lock-box search!

Allison said...

Well... I have completed everything I need to do to be licensed at this point, and I am literally just waiting on the license to be processed. I have been through all my inspections, 14 hours of training, and my home study. I have gotten no such list of "rules"; and actually very few "rules" have even been discussed. Our training packet (including things like lists of what types of issues kids in foster care have, how to meet kids emotional/physical/social needs, and options for discipline other than corporal punishment) was only about 20 pages long total. So either my state has MANY less rules than yours, or they will be throwing an insane number of rules at me at the last minute. I'm sure it may be some of both. ;)
- Apparently meds have to be locked but no where in all the prep stuff they sent said that. When the DHEC inspector came, she said they had to be locked, noted it on her report, and said DSS is supposed to follow up on her report but she is not sure if they ever do.
- I know there has to be some crazy amount of paperwork that is required for EVERYTHING (like incidents, meds, etc) but this has not been discussed AT ALL.
- I think the only actual rules that I have gotten are: food cannot be locked up, no corporal punishment, rooming guidelines, DHEC (but really all they were looking for was water temp, sharps/poisons were secured, meds/firearms locked, pets vaccinated), fire inspection (have to have fire extinguisher, fire escape plan, and up-to-date/functioning smoke detectors).

I'm totally bracing myself for all the random stuff they are going to throw at me AFTER I get licensed. Like you, I am very Type A and would like to know this stuff ahead of time!

*~Kat~* said...

Jessica I find the easiest thing to be a locking tool or tacklebox. But then I just bought a plastic shoebox and drilled holes in the ends for padlocks :)

*~Kat~* said...

Jessica I find the easiest thing to be a locking tool or tacklebox. But then I just bought a plastic shoebox and drilled holes in the ends for padlocks :)

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