9. What happens when kiddos come into care?

Hello, Sarah Here. So far we have gotten two false alarm calls for placement. Both were for two children ages one and three. After we told people that we have had a few false alarms, the questions started pouring in asking about the process. How do kids come into care? What is the process of getting kiddos to foster parents? What do foster parents get to know? Who is all involved? This post is here to answer some of those questions.


How do kiddos come into care? Well, that one is tricky. Most often, someone calls into a phone number (220-SAFE in Milwaukee county) to report suspected abuse/neglect. They could be teachers, relatives, friends, etc. Another way suspected abuse/neglect are reported is if police are called to the home due to a dispute and they see signs of abuse/neglect.

When the suspected abuse/neglect are called in, the person that takes the call asks a TON of questions. Names, addresses, ages, school, daycare, what the suspected abuse/neglect is, if you observed abuse firsthand, callers information and relation to the people they are calling in about, if the caller feels there is an immediate threat to the safety of the children, etc. Once that call is concluded, the person that took the call writes up a report to be passed on to their supervisor. If there are not enough details they may call the reporter back.

*Please note- you can call in suspected abuse/neglect anonymously* 

Once that report is reviewed by the supervisor, they decide if the information provided warrants investigation. If it does warrant investigation, they determine if there is an immediate threat or if it needs to be investigated within the upcoming week.

The initial assessment worker then goes out to the home, interviews all parties involved, the children go to a child protection center to be interview/examined, they check to see if there are present danger threats in the home that would warrant another friend or family that is deemed to be safe to come and stay at the home and monitor anytime the children are around.  If this is unable to happen then they move to the next step. Deciding if the children need to be removed from the home and who is the best fit for this role.

If the child is going to be removed from the home, the initial assessment worker calls PSG (Professional Services Group i.e. Child Protective Services) and they run background checks on any family members that may be able to step in and care for the child. If there are no suitable family members, or if no family members are willing/able to take the child(ren) in, PSG calls the agency that is “up” for placement. This alternates between Children’s Hospital and Saint A.

That agency worker (a Licensing Worker for Children’s Hospital… not sure what they are called with Saint A’s) then reviews the details of the case and looks through the list of available foster parents and starts calling to find a suitable match. Some foster parents are available between 8-5, some between 5pm-10pm, some M-F, some only weekends, some 24/7- that’s us. We agreed to be called 24/7.

Once the Licensing Worker reaches a foster parent that is open to hearing about the child(ren) that are being placed, they share a few details about placement. Child(ren)’s ages, a brief description about what is bringing the children into care, if the kiddos have ever been in care before, if they have siblings and if they are being placed together or separately. The Licensing worker asks if you are interested in placement of that child(ren). If you say yes, you wait for more information.

In both the calls we have taken, we ask questions about the kiddos that the Licensing Worker may or may not know the answers to. If they don’t know, they have to call PSG and ask them to ask the Initial Assessment Worker to find out the answers. There is a bit of a relay of information there. This is as far as we have gotten.

What happens next? When the Licensing Worker finds the appropriate home for the child(ren), the Initial Assessment Worker that was investigating the home and family will bring the child(ren) to the foster home.  They bring along a folder of information that includes as much info as they could gather from the bio parents. Doctor info, school info, medical card, contact info for bio parents, etc. They give that information to the foster parent and answer any final questions the foster parents may have, that is if they have any more information and if they can share it.

The initial assessment worker is involved for the first 7-10 days post placement, and then the case gets transferred to the FCM (family case manager) at the agency.  The FMC will then be with the case all the way to the end- whether that be reunification, transfer of guardianship to a relative, or adoption.  The case starts the day the child was removed from the home and the biological parents have 15 of 22 months to work towards their goals and work towards reunification.  Typically at the 12-15 month mark, our agency files for a termination of parental rights if the bio-parents are not to the point of the reunification.

All in all, within the first few hours to week the abuse/neglect are reported and the kiddos are  brought into care, there are no less than 9 people involved. After that, a ton more people get involved. We will write about that in a future post.

This is a depiction of what has happened with  our almost placement with Children’s Hospital and is also based on information gleened from conversation with people that work at Children’s Hospital. This could/would be adjusted depending on the agency involved/state the kiddos are from.

Foster Parents….Based on your experience with the process, what do you wish new foster parents knew about the first 48/72 hours of placement? What would you have done differently your first call?

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