Step 11 - First Home Study
This has been one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the process for me. As an efficiency expert, I expected a full checklist of items to complete to make sure your home is ready. Steps you need to take and items you need to purchase. I have received no such list.
Throughout each class session I will randomly hear of something that needs to be done and have started to form my own checklist. You need a fire extinguisher. Check. I always keep one in my kitchen and one next to my bed. I’ve had two friends in life have their beds catch on fire. One was blow drying her hair with a dryer plugged into an extension cord running between her box spring and mattress. Clearly, user error. The issue for me was that this friend lived in the same dorm as I did and I did not find out about the fire until hours later. I had slept through the fire alarm and the entire evacuation of my building. I almost lost my job because I was a Resident Assistant and my boss didn’t believe that I could have slept through it. If I can sleep through fire alarms, I want a fire extinguisher next to my bed. The other incident was when I was a child, my friend woke up with the foot of her bed on fire. She had left a heating blanket on when she fell asleep. Now, I always keep a fire extinguisher by my bed. I bought one for the kid’s room. The next day I went back to class and learned it needs to be a certain class of fire extinguisher. The one I had bought was not that class. Luckily, the one in the kitchen met requirements. Then I learned you need to have your fire extinguisher serviced every year. Another date to add to the Periodicals section in my MINTOA.
When you are a foster parent, everything needs to be locked. All of the medicine in your medicine cabinet needs to be locked up. I bought a safe and reorganized my linen closet to make it fit. Then one night in class I learned that your vitamins need to be locked up as well. Then I learned that even the medicine you keep in your fridge (I had bought Pepto after a bout of food poisoning) needs to be in a lock box in your fridge. I bought another lock box. Your alcohol needs to be locked up - luckily I was 12 days sober when I learned this one, so it was unnecessary for me. All of your cleaning supplies need to be locked up too. This one was hard for me because I didn’t used to keep all of my cleaning supplies in one place. The laundry detergent stayed with laundry and the dish detergent with the dishwasher. Now it is all in one cabinet. I bought another lock. The number of keys on my key ring went from three (house, parent’s house, mailbox) to six to account for all of the new locks in my life.
Temperatures are important when you are fostering. When I attended orientation I learned your hot water temperature needs to be between 100-120. I had recently had my father turn it to 140 because the shower wouldn’t stay hot for the entire duration of my shower. I turned it back down. I bought a thermometer that measures water temperature. Then in class I learned that your fridge needs to be below 40 degrees and the built-in thermometer in your fridge doesn’t matter, you need to buy a standalone thermometer for your fridge. I found one specifically for that purpose, with a blue portion that marked safe fridge temperatures. My fridge is in the blue.
Obviously, all outlets need to have covers. Not that this will really matter for my teenagers, but it’s a rule just the same. I already had outlet covers on every outlet behind the beds (wanting to precaution against beds catching on fire). I bought more covers. Every outlet is currently used or plugged.
Every door needs to have two locks. My front and back doors have locks on the handle and a deadbolt. My two sliding glass doors had a lock up top. One had a PVC pipe to put in the track. The other didn’t. I measured, went to a home improvement store and came back with a PVC pipe to put in the second one.
When they come to do the home study, they inspect your home and tell you everything you need to adjust before the next time they come back. Most people pass on their second try. If they did give a checklist beforehand, I wonder if they could cut out that second visit. My father suggested that perhaps they purposely don’t tell you anything for the first visit so that they can see the state your house is truly in before you change anything. That makes sense to me, but my anxiety would have been much lower if I had a list beforehand.
Yesterday morning was my first home study. It went really well in terms of looking at my home. Little did I know, that would only be five minutes of the entire 2-hour session. There are only two things I may have to adjust in my home. You need to have a smoke detector in the bedroom area. Mine is in the hallway about 6 feet from the kid’s bedroom door, I’m waiting to see if I need to buy one to put in their room. I probably will anyway. You also need two barriers to entry between inside your home and water. My backdoor leads right to the water. I may need to buy door chimes to sound when the door is opened. Because I am adopting teenagers, she is checking into whether or not that is necessary.
I also learned 14, yes 14, new things that I need to do before I can be licensed. This process really seems like once you complete one thing, four more pop up, but with the amount of things you truly need to do, I am starting to think they don’t provide you with a full checklist of every single thing because it would be so daunting you might not even start. I, however, am very glad that I now have what seems to be the entire checklist of everything I need to do before I am licensed. I should have everything completed within 30 days.