Friday, January 27, 2012

Foster Parent Friday - Questions to Ask When You Get "THE CALL"

In honor of my sister’s license approval, I thought I’d type up a list of questions to ask the placement worker from CPU when they call with a potential placement.  I previously talked about all things placement related here and here, in which I talk about how I go about questioning the CPU worker, nevertheless I thought it would be beneficial to write out the questions in a separate post for the benefit of all new foster parents out there waiting for their first call.

Questions to ask when you get “The Call”:

Basic Questions
  • # of Kiddos
  • Ages & Birthdates
  • Gender(s)
  • Race/Ethnicity (if you care – they usually tell us without us asking)
  • County of Origin (this is important in our area to know not only how far away the case is but also what to expect from the system in this case)
  • Type of Placement (Emergency, Foster Care/Legal Risk, Straight Adopt – usually won’t get a CPU call for a straight adopt)
  • Reason for Removal
  • When do the kids need placement?
If with this information you are willing to proceed then ask the more detailed questions.

Detailed Questions
  • Are there any kinship placements or ICPC’s pending?
  • Have they previously been removed?
  • Are there additional siblings?  (Either already placed in foster care, not being placed together, or living with relatives)
  • Medical History & Condition
    • Are there any developmental delays?
    • Are there any known disorders, disabilities, or illnesses?
    • Is there suspected abuse?  (I always specifically ask if they have been sexually abused, especially with males)
    • Is there suspected exposure to drugs/alcohol?  Will they be tested?
    • Height/weight OR clothing size – they may not know but I ask anyway.  
  • Visit information (where, when, how often, etc.)
  • Are you the only one being asked or are they waiting on others to call back too?
  • Is the family cooperating with the department?
  • Is there a history of violence or gang affiliation in the home?
  • Age/stage specific questions – are they potty trained, etc.
  • What else can you tell me about the situation?
If I accept, I also ask for this information during the call:
  • Caseworker contact information (usually this is an investigator with emergency placements)
  • When should I expect the caseworker to contact me?
Depending on the situation, I’ll also ask these questions or I might ask these questions of the caseworker when he/she calls:
  • Do you already have a Medicaid number for me?
  • Do you have their social security numbers?
  • Have they been in childcare?
  • Do you expect they will have a CASA appointed to their case?
  • Are there any upcoming appointments (doctor, dentist) already scheduled?
  • What services are you expecting the child will need (ECI, therapy, medical specialists, etc.)
  • When are the next conferences and hearings scheduled?
Usually I get plenty of information from the CPU worker to determine whether or not we are willing to take the case.  In the more rare event that we don’t get enough information to agree to accept the placement, you have the following options:
    1. Speak to the caseworker/investigator before accepting placement
    2. Pre-placement visit – these are available for all placements EXCEPT emergency placements and are not required for children under 2 (in our area).  Nevertheless, you can ask and if it’s a placement for kids already in care then you can certainly set the expectation that you have a pre-placement visit.  Keep in mind that it may not be beneficial for the child to have a pre-placement visit in some circumstances.  We try to use our best judgment (and have never had a pre-placement visit).
Also, I always tell them that I think we’d be willing to take the children but I’d like to call my husband quickly to run it by him.  I ask them if I can have 5-10 minutes to call back.  This has always worked.  My husband and I have an agreement when we have openings in our home that we will answer the phone when it is a repetitive call and the first words are “We have a call” or we’ll text each other with “we’ve got a call”.  That way we get back to each other very quickly and in time to get back to the placement worker quickly.  Of course we have always said yes to the placements we’ve received with two exceptions – when we were out of state once and when the placement would have put us out of compliance with our license (i.e., children are too old or too many under 18 months).  

I hope this is helpful – do you have any to add?


Small Town Joy: said...

We learned to ask the workers what the child is called. We had a 9 month old come to us one time that would not respond when we called her name. Come to find out she had always been called Sissy. She had no idea that her name was anything different. I am sure she was so confused!

Tammy (aka. "Mimi") said...

I think one major thing to remember, especially when it comes to emergency placements (which tend to be the majority of them) is that you can ask all the right questions, but don't hold the workers to the answers. I have found with MOST of my placements that what I am initially told is later found to be only partially true or just completely not the case at all.

Often times, placement workers know nothing more than an APPROXIMATE age and gender and what the general circumstances of the removal happens to be. They can tell you what the health and developmental levels of the children APPEAR to be, but with no information to go on other than what they can SEE, they really just don't know. You just have to go with your own instincts and be prepared for lots of changes and new information to come to light as the case develops.

CherubMamma said...

The other thing that I have found is important to ask where we live....
What language do they speak?

Mie said...

Well said! I hadn't asked that before and should have so I knew what I was getting my hands into with this most recent placement.