Alex here! As Sarah and I continue to play the waiting game (currently waiting to hear back to see if we have been officially licensed) I thought I would give you the last piece to the pre-screen puzzle. Classes. There are nine hours of pre-screening classes we had to take. Those nine hours were broken up into 3 three-hour classes.
Class one was “Overview & Expectations.” In this class it was just that; an overview. As a team we were introduced to the roles that would make up our team. Those roles including the foster parent(s), the birth parent(s), the child(ren), case worker, and licensing worker. (For Sarah and I the case worker and licensing worker is the same person.)
Class two was “Children in Care & Their Families.” This class stressed the importance of the child and the child’s background. The class also discussed what we, as foster parents, can do to help keep peace in a stressful situation.
Class three was “Foster Family Self Care.” This was the class that drove home the realness of needing to keep you grounded. The main focus here was the importance of you time and needing time for you and your partner to stay connected.
I will be gentle with what I say but I will also be honest. I did not take much out of the classes. Now, there could be a few reasons for this. 1- Sarah did some great research during our prescreening process. She found resources about fostering, about parenting, foster parent stories, and what to expect overall. 2-There were 16 of us in the classes together. The 16 of us all came from very different backgrounds. Some were older and had experience raising children, others have no experience (that’s me), some are in the process in order to foster family children, some of us are LGBT. In other words, all walks of life were in attendance. How do you reach everyone when you do not know what they already know? 3-They threw a big net over all of the information needed and hoped to catch a little something for everyone.
I felt the 9 hours served as nice reminders but I did not walk away with knowledge I did not already have. For example, in class two we were reminded that the children in foster care would be coming from a traumatic experience. I feel like that is obvious; a child would not be coming into our home if there wasn’t a reason. What I could have used was what to expect 24 hours after receiving placement of a child. What to expect in the first week, month, year. What are our rights as foster moms?
The parts I paid the most attention to were the life stories. One of our instructors is a foster mom and when she would talk about her life that is when I pulled the most. That is when we saw a true portrait of what we could expect. There is often a large gap between theory and practice and I wish we would have discussed more of the practical application.
Now, although I was not blown away with these pre-screening classes I will go into the next set of classes with a fresh view. We have 11 or 12 more classes (I cannot remember the exact number-there is a lot to keep track of, after all) to take over the next two years in order to finalize adoption or to keep our license past the 2 years. Maybe these courses will be more focused or maybe they will apply to what Sarah and I will be dealing with in our day-to-day lives. All that I do know is that we have all of our ducks in a row for the time being. Now we wait for our phone to ring with the call saying we are licensed in the great state of Wisconsin as foster parents!