Oh how my blogging has gotten away from me during the second half of our classes. I suppose traveling over 1000 miles over the course of two weekends between Sessions 6 and 9 kept us pretty busy. However, as of Tuesday we officially completed our 27 hours of PRIDE training. Now, according to our instructors our licensing rep should be contacting us the moment we are done with the training to get our paperwork and begin the home study. As of two weeks ago we found out that our licensing rep had been transferred to the city office. She gave me the number of her supervisor and told me to call her to find out who our new rep will be. I am still waiting for her to return my call. We asked around in our class to find out about other agencies but our instructors advised us to wait until we are licensed before changing agencies that way there’s no risk of loosing paperwork and having to redo any part of the licensing process.
So the remainder of our classes included the following:
Session 5- Strengthening Family Relationships
We talked a lot about cultural identity and the importance of maintaining birth family and community connections, especially when taking in older children.
Session 6- Meeting Developmental Needs: Discipline
During this session we explored the differences between discipline and punishment. We received the DCFS guidelines about disciplining children in foster care which sparked an interesting debate about spanking children. The other hot topic was the issue of not using food as a punishment. Meaning, if dessert is a regular part of dinner there can’t be a “if you don’t eat your dinner you won’t get dessert” ultimatum. We also went over the steps to take to manage crisis situations and de-escalate problem behaviors.
Session 7- Continuing Family Relationships
This one was all about working as a part of a team and the importance of remembering that a child’s “clock” moves very differently than an adults. Even just a few months in foster care can feel like an eternity to a child. I felt a little like they were preaching to the choir on this one because the foster parents are completely helpless as to the timeline of events. I’ve read time and time again about the frustrations of foster parents in how the system is failing their foster children in terms of the timeline. I suppose it was a “be prepared to help your child through this” matter.
Session 8- Planning for Change
Hey! Your life is going to change! Oh really?
Session 9- Making an Informed Decision
Session nine could have been two sessions, I finally felt like we were getting actual information about how to do things, what to expect, and what to remember. I couldn’t take notes fast enough. There was a panel made up of various professionals that shared their perspective on the fostering experience. Keep records for everything. Save receipts when spending state allocated money. Keep a medicine log but don’t administer over-the-counter drugs without written consent from a doctor. Keep a behavior log, for both good and bad behaviors. Make sure children come with their medical card and medical “passport” when they arrive in your home. A comprehensive medical examine is required within 21 days of being taken into foster care. Don’t sign any medical forms or you might be billed, you are not a guardian! 6 hours of adoption certification classes are required before adoption. Say, “yes” to all subsidies offered upon adopting a child to ensure continued support from the state. Send all forms certified mail so there is proof of delivery… it goes on and on. I left feeling a bit overwhelmed because I felt like it was so much useful information given to us in response to our questions, but what if we didn’t ask all the questions? Luckily we left with the phone number of our instructor and the invitation to call with any questions that arise along the way.
The last four and a half weeks have been crazy busy with commuting to the city for classes, the reading, and homework. I’m happy to have crossed this one off the list. There are at least 16 more hours of classes in our future but for now the Tiny Human Project is quiet again.