Step 16 - The Confusion
When I first started talking to people who are already on this journey, the biggest recurring theme they shared was how broken the system is. Like many industries, it is extremely unorganized and the people are overworked. There are rules in place that make sense and there are rules in place that do not. Everyone told me that you need to simply focus on one child at a time - try to help one child - try to ignore the brokenness of the system.
When I had my first home visit and found myself with 14 tasks to complete that I had no idea about prior to the meeting, it was the beginning of what I’m going to call “the confusion” - the many times it has seemed that no one really knows what is going on.
The week after my first home visit, I sent in all of the paperwork and emailed to schedule the second home visit. My licensing coordinator responded with four separate emails in a stream of consciousness. Here are the tasks that came out of those:
Replacing the turn deadbolt on the back door with a keyed one
A safety ladder to easily exit the house in case of emergency
Sending in my Driver’s License number
Then my second home visit came. Besides needing to adjust the water temperature, everything else in the home was in order. However, she said that she had not received all of my references, so I reached out to each one of my references individually to see if they had submitted it. Every single one of them had submitted them days before. The next day my licensing coordinator said she did receive all of them. I’m not sure where the confusion came from there.
Before the water check, we exchanged a flurry of emails as well. A few to schedule the water check. A few to add some more tasks:
Sending her a picture of myself
She planned to bring the safety plan when she did my water check. The safety plan is a list of what we would do in different types of emergencies and how to keep children safe with all of the water around. She forgot the safety form, so even though I passed my water check, we had more followups by email:
Signing the safety plan
She emailed me two different times to keep me updated on the progress she was making on my home study! These were very welcomed emails :) She then sent me some more followups to work on:
Pictures of my work area
Picture of my safety ladder
Chimes on all of the windows and pictures of those
Description of the locks on my windows
Description of the lock on my cleaning cabinet
Signing training forms (2 separate emails with two separate forms)
When everything was sent in I didn’t hear back for a week. I finally heard from her on Tuesday when she told me I was officially licensed! I was extremely excited, but definite still wish there was a complete checklist to go through one by one to make sure every task is complete as you go along this process. As a process engineer, it is completely shocking to me that people would do things more than twice without making a full list.
On Wednesday morning, I got a call about a child. The information I was given was that this was a teenage girl whose current foster home needed someone to take over for the weekend. This is called “respite” care. They asked if I was available starting Thursday afternoon. They also told me that the placement could become permanent if the weekend went well. They told me to wait for a call from placement. I waited all day and never got the call.
In the late afternoon I called my licensing coordinator and my class teacher to try to get more information. No one answered. I then got a frantic text to call placement at 3:30. It turns out that placement was given the wrong phone number for me. I called and got more information about the child and was told that case management can transport the child to/from school. I was told I would get an email with the details. When I did get that email it said that the child’s belongings could not go to school with them, so I would need to find a way to pick up her belongings before noon the next day. It was 6:30pm. I was never told about picking up the belongings, this just happened in email.
I called and text the current foster parents to schedule a pickup of belongings. No answer. When I did hear from the current foster parent at 8pm she said that it is fine for the child to bring her belongings to school and that we didn’t need to schedule a pickup. The woman was so nice and encouraging and so grateful that I’ll be providing care for the weekend. When I asked her about permanent care, she said no, it's just for the weekend.
So after all the stress and the roller coaster of emotions that comes with being told you may have a child placed permanently in your home in less than 24 hours, I now “know” that I will have a child staying with me for the weekend. In spite of all of the confusion, I’m still pretty excited to meet her this afternoon!