Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Working Mama Wednesday - Career Choice Impact of Foster Care

Recently I received a few calls about new positions to consider.  This isn't all that unusual.  I'm fortunate to get calls fairly frequently from recruiters looking to steal me away (or offer me a better opportunity).  Some positions I've considered but many I've almost immediately rejected.

Why?  Foster care, primarily.  There are two impeding factors that make me averse to considering a new position because they don't go well with our lives as foster parents.

First - Relocation.  Anytime relocation is required (about 50% of the calls I receive) I usually don't give it more than a passing thought.  Moving out of the area would require transferring my license and, depending on the situation we're in at the time, not taking our foster kids with us.  That means we'd have to make the kids move to another home or wait until they leave on their own (or are adopted) and that process is so uncertain most companies wouldn't want to wait.  Interestingly, the most recent call I received said they would wait, up to a year, if I'd commit to moving after that year was up.  Moving out of state would require a complete change in our foster care situation - since we're licensed through the state we'd have to completely close and start from scratch in a new state.  Not sure we want to do that either and the factor with the kids would still be in play.  Of course, relocating with our core family would be enough of a consideration to make us stay - not sure I want to uproot them from everything they've always known.

Second - Work requirements.  50-75% travel?  Will. not. work.  Not at this point in our lives.  Not only is it crazy enough to manage 5 kids (or so) with my hubby and I working different schedules but add to that the repeated trauma of mommy leaving for a week or two at a time?  I don't think so.  Not right now.  (Plus, I have a big desire to be home with my kids and actively parent them).  On top of that, I've really been blessed to be in a good place where my crazy family schedule is tolerated with my current job.  Yesterday I worked from home so I could manage a doctor visit and FAD worker visit during the day.  Today I got to work an hour later than I would have liked to because of the crazy of our morning routine topped off by my son spilling his cup of cereal on his pants in the car in the oh-so-unfortunate spot looking like he had an accident.  (Of course I was working last night until 11pm so it all evens out).  Losing that freedom right now in my life is a bit frightening.

I've always said my family comes before my work and it does.  But with this latest round of "would you consider...", I was really convicted about my plans vs. God's plans.  I constantly lecture everyone in my head if not more vocally about how they COULD do something if they wanted to and how letting God choose their course involves being open to what God wants, no matter what that looks like or how it impacts my life.  Bottom line, I have to be willing to move or travel or work somewhere else or not work if that is what God is calling mie to do and how on earth would I be willing to if I shut down the consideration before even listening to the recruiter, let alone the Holy Spirit.  

Now I find myself being challenged to open up my world of possibilities of what God's plan could be instead of putting Him, once again, in the box I've created to support my own plan for my life.  What if He asked us to move?  We've done it before and it was wildly successful.  What if He asked us to change companies and with that brought more of a 7:45-5:15 kind of schedule?  

I need to be open to being obedient...that's the best place I can be.

Of course I still hope that place is physically at my current home :) Just like I'd hoped not to be infertile...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Moolah Monday - Sequestration & Federal Budget Cuts

Shamefully, I've been largely ignorant of the sequestration talks recently.  Honestly I had avoided hearing anything about it until late last week when, at work, I spoke to a lawyer who was referencing possible impacts on court schedules.

This got mie thinking about how sequestration will affect foster care.  For those of us waiting for court dates, will we see longer waits?  What about out agencies?  Will they experience cuts?  Daycare funds?  Medicaid?  Foster care payments?  

Suddenly I'm intrigued - is this what is causing some of the craziness I've been seeing in the local counties recently?  Perhaps.

Before I continue further, it is important to note the difference between local, state, and federal budgets (spending) and therefore local, state, and federal programs.  For example, in our area foster care & adoption do not take place in federal courts but rather county ones.  It is important to know which agencies have funding from which areas to fully understand the impact to your specific programs of interest.  Of course, there is a trickle-down effect from federal funding to state to local jurisdictions, so cuts can be felt broadly even if they don't occur that way.

It is also important to note that I generally support federal spending cuts and my writing this is not a complaint but rather curiosity of resulting effects.  If I ruled the world I'd protect foster care and adoption completely from budget cuts but - well - you don't see mie ruling the world.

I then briefly heard a news story this morning about impacts to our Great State and one caught my attention more than others.  Approximately 4800 students would need to be cut from the head start programs.  I had (and still have) no idea how those cuts would be made and whether our children would be impacted.  For those of you not aware, head start is a program that is offered to 3 & 4 year olds (or younger, in early head start programs) to low-income families.  Most families/children would need to qualify to attend by proving need as they would to receive medicaid, WIC, or most other social services.  There are several qualifications for automatic acceptance to the free-tuition program including whether the child is currently or has ever been in foster care.  We don't currently use this program but it is nice to know it is there if we needed it, Summer included.

I did quick research this morning and thought I'd share what I found.  Happy reading :)

Child-welfare specific cuts - note, foster care payments are exempt from sequestration, for the most part.
General Information  - Medicaid & SNAP are exempt so they will not be seeing cuts.  WIC & HUD funds are subject to cuts.  

The last link brings clarity to the child care question, which is both exempt and non-exempt depending on the type of funding you're talking about.  Less than half of the funding is eligible for sequestration and only 8% of that funding would be cut in sequestration.  Many states have a match program which matches $ for $ depending on whether the state follows federal rules.  SO, about 2% of the annual child care budget would be cut for states with a match program or 4% for states without.  Additionally, many states set aid to foster children as a priority over other needs so foster children would theoretically get first-funding in those states.  

Given this information I'm much less concerned than I was originally when I read about the impact these cuts would have on foster care, foster children, and foster parents.  That being said, many, many of the services provided to families with children in care (transportation & housing vouchers, parenting classes, etc.) are at a higher risk of being cut and I wonder what impact this will have on reunification goals to begin with.  We shall see...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Foster Parent Friday - What Do Your Foster Kids Call You?

Q: How do you decide what the kids will call you and what they will call your other kids. And how do you even bring that topic up with your bio kids and the new kids?

A: This is another question from a friend of mine who is getting ready for their license and first call.

This is something we’ve learned not to stress about.  It’s very easy for us to manage and not something to overthink.  We started out by calling each other by the names our nephews and nieces call us.  I’m Auntie Mie.  Within 24 hours the kids were calling us mom and dad and we ran with it. 

Nowadays when the kids arrive I invite them into our home and introduce myself by saying “Hi!  I’m Marie.  You can call mie Marie or Auntie Mie.  The other kids who live here call mie Mommy.  You can call me that too if you want – it’s up to you!”.  These are all names I get called on a regular basis and are names they will hear others call me, that way they have options for what is comfortable for them and won’t feel left out or weird for calling mie by a different name than everyone else.   For the first few days, they usually call me by my first name or just avoid calling me by name altogether.

As for how to handle with my forever kids, I don’t.  They call mie mommy.  When they talk to foster children they’ll either say “my mommy” or just “mommy” and everyone knows who they are talking about.  Eventually, almost every child has ended up calling us mom and dad within a week or two.  We don’t ask them to and we don’t force it on them – it just happens naturally as they feel more comfortable in our family.

I have a child now who yells to mie by saying “Eh!” (especially while he’s using the bathroom and needs wiped, which makes it even more pleasant).  I remind him that my name is not “Eh!”, that my name is mommy, Marie, or Auntie Mie and that is what I’ll respond to.  I think it’s important that kids learn to respect other people and call them by a name not just yell at them like they are an object.  If they call mie by someone else’s name, I’ll correct them.  Other than that we just go with the flow and not make a big deal about it. (It works the same way with my hubby’s names).

Things do change a bit when I’m talking about their family or around their family.  I try to respect their parents when I’m around them by ensuring they call them mommy and, if necessary I’ll call refer to my (house) or your mommy’s (house).  Another way I’ll handle it is by saying “Mommy Marie” or “Mommy First Name” when there’s confusion.  Hearing their child call me mommy usually doesn’t sit well with birth parents, as would be expected.  I try to b gentle and remind them about everything I’ve told you hear and that it’s natural for them to pick it up at my house since I have other children.  I remind them it’s just a name but the kids KNOW who their mom is and no one, not even mie, can replace them.  It’s always worked out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Stability

Our lives as a foster family lack any sense of normal.  They say in the world the only thing guaranteed to stay the same is that everything keeps changing - oh how true that is in our family.

I just dropped off #17 & #18 with the caseworker.  You know, the caseworker who had apparently never met them even though they had been removed in August and in our home since the end of December.  She knew nothing about them and nothing about us except for that my sister and I look alike.  I suppose that's good so she knew which random person at McD's she should walk up to in order to get the kids she didn't know.  I tried to prepare them the best I could.  I even broke out the Spanish so I knew they understood the words I was saying (we've been trying to teach them English so I've not been speaking much Spanish to them).  #17 was happy to go to his relatives house but I could tell it was a nervous smile and later was proven correct when he bumped his head ever so slightly and the flood of emotions came out. I asked him if he was crying because he didn't want to leave (in Spanish) and he said yes.  I felt horrible.  #18 just sat there with stoicism as she does when she isn't feeling safe.  I could see the terror in her eyes.  I hated every minute of it.

But now we go back to a new reality.  Our core family plus baby baby (who, in case you were wondering, has not had a ruling yet in his case afterall...).  Life is so much easier with our core family and it is remarkable how helpful it is to have the core family together when foster children leave.

Core.  Stable.  They go hand in hand.  Our core family is where our stability is at.  We know we will not leave each other the way our foster children leave.  We will be together as long as God allows.  In this time change, yet again, it is so comforting to have the core family come together again and enjoy each others' company.

This time we plan on going to Monster Jam this weekend.  It will be the first time Summer is old enough to come with us and we've invited a few extras to come along.  Monster Jam is stable and routine; we go every year and it's an opportunity for us to reconnect, have fun, and do something together that carries tradition with it.

We'll probably play games together tonight or help Logan prepare for the upcoming cup-stacking tournament.  We're going to eat Salmon.  Maybe we'll go out for ice cream.  I'll probably let my kids sleep in my bed.

So our life is changing once again.  One way or another I expect it to change again in the near future as baby baby's case receives the judge's ruling.  I hope he stays.  I hope his siblings will come with us.  Neither of those may happen.  Both might.

We really don't know how our life will shape up.  I hope you realize that neither do you even if you're not a foster parent.  But for today we will enjoy our core family, the stable things we're given and the promise that God will never leave us.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Working Mama Wednesday - A Little Mie Time

First - Can I tell you all that I love you?  I do.  When I do blog regularly and I see your comments and browse through the stats on how my blog has grown and touches people daily I'm so honored and humbled. And proud.  Can you be humbled and proud at the same time?  Hmmmm...

Second - If you're wondering what happened with baby baby's case, so am I.  I haven't heard from the caseworker yet and it's now the day after.  I'm trying to take that as good news.  At the very least the judge didn't order immediate return of baby baby to his parents.  I suppose he could have ruled immediate return for the siblings and not the baby, but I don't see that likely either.  I also suppose he could have ruled that the siblings return to a family member immediately, but not baby baby and therefore I wouldn't have heard about that.  He could have ruled all four stay in care.  He could have postponed his ruling for all I know.  What I do know is that baby baby did not leave yesterday as we'd tried to prepare our hearts for.  Just in case.  I will forever remember the personal, quiet moment Logan spent with the baby before he left to school when I told him to say goodbye, just in case.  It was extremely sweet.  He had a bad behavior day at school.  Coincidence?

Third - We did get a call from a caseworker yesterday.  The kids who were supposed to go home at their 14 day hearing, 6 weeks ago, are leaving tomorrow.  We are happy to finally have a date for many reasons.  I know this sounds harsh and generally they are good kids but given the case details and the fact that they were supposed to have been going home "any day" for 6 weeks - this is a bit of relief for everyone to move forward instead of held hostage by the system.

OK - back to Mie time.

A couple weeks ago I had to travel to Las Vegas for a week for work.  It was a logistical nightmare.  I had a 5 week old baby who had never spent the night with anyone other than mie (even my hubby) and who wasn't old enough to go to daycare.  My two backup childcare providers were unavailable.  The private nanny we'd been using was costing $100 per day AND wasn't available.  My hubby generally works off-hours, which meant we would have needed overnight babysitters and a private nanny.

I would have rather stayed home than leave my family for a week (though I did look forward to sleeping through the night for once).  Truth be told, I was a bit nervous about leaving my hubby with 5 kids 6 and under for 5 days straight - no breaks and no housekeeper to take care of all the things that magically get done around the house.  And an infant, 24 hours a day, for 5 days.  That would have been enough to overwhelm any man.

I was alone most of the first day and night.  I found myself walking the strip alone, buying souvenirs for my kids, and feeling incredibly lonely.  I had about 2 hours worth of freedom from being mommy and wife and then had no idea what to do with myself.  I considered a visit to the spa.  I ended up eating dinner alone in my room and sorting personalized M&Ms into 4 different containers for the kids while watching an Intervention marathon.  I just wanted to go home.

Work activity picked up on Tuesday and so my loneliness was at least distracted.  And then the fun started.

My mom was able to drive out to join mie Tuesday afternoon so we hit the town.  We had a dinner out on the strip.  We walked the strip.  I stopped someone from pick-pocketing a man.  I think I saw pure evil in that girl's eyes and am almost certain there was some spiritual warfare going on as we exchanged glances.  We walked the strip some more and visited a few hotels.  We chatted and had fun.  After we arrived in the hotel room at about 8:30, I tried to quickly purchase tickets to see David Copperfield to surprise my mom.  We ended up with front row seats and had a really fun time.  It was definitely worth it.  Then it was back to work Wednesday and said goodbye to mom.

I came back to my room to a beautiful bouquet of flowers sent by my hubby.  The note said "can't wait until you're home", which was as romantic as it was a cry of desperation.  I took a nap.  A glorious nap.

After dinner I decided I was going to hit the casino floor.  I'm not much of a gambler.  I've been to Vegas plenty of times but have only gambled once.  It was blackjack at a $2.  I put down $20 and left with $40 but that was so extravagant of mie at the time.  I just don't care for gambling.  Nevertheless I didn't want to be alone and had heard some of the stories about what went on while I was out with my mom so I decided to walk around and see what everyone else (I worked with) was doing.

I ended up sitting at a blackjack table nervously dropping the $100 bill my mom gave mie to pay for her ticket to the show the night before.  That is crazy for mie, Y'all.  But I did it amidst my coworkers who easily had 3, 4, and 5 times that on the table.  I ended up playing for 5 1/2 hours and pocketed about $500. Crazy huh?

You see growing up my parents didn't go out without us much but occasionally we'd go to Vegas or Laughlin as a family.  Very rarely they would go alone. We once ended up in Laughlin for 4 days with no money.  We will never forget that story.  I digress...  My mom would play slots and my dad would play blackjack.  Back at home my dad would play blackjack on that first computer we got around 1992.  

At some point he started teaching us how to play.  He taught us the dealer rules and "what the book said" about all the different scenarios on the table.  I thoroughly enjoyed the game.  It was challenging and fun.  Of course then we didn't gamble so I learned how to play really well without getting hooked on betting.  It was just a fun game.  And so it goes in Vegas - I figure playing blackjack at a table with friends having a ton of laughs and getting to know them better while playing a game I enjoy and am comfortable with seemed like a good way to enjoy some recreation.  Apparently, it also worked out that because I'm not hooked on gambling AND I knew how to play (and, quite possibly because I don't drink), I ended up winning too.

So. Much.  Fun.

By Thursday morning my reputation for winning and being fun to play with had spread.

So Thursday night I did it again.  I had SO many laughs.  I bonded with some coworkers.  I had fun playing. I enjoyed socializing as an adult without having to worry which kid was doing that crazy thing kids do.  And, I doubled my money again.

By the time I came home my superhero hubby was ready for a break. My hubby deserves superstar credit for being a great dad and hubby while I was away!  I "let" him play video games that night with his friends.  I immediately turned over my entire winnings.  I didn't and still don't care about the money itself but it was a blessing to him and certainly was an extension of gratitude for what he did in giving mie that trip.  I worked.  I only had one night of the 4 where I got good rest.  But, I had some time to just have fun without worrying about all of my responsibilities I have back at home. The break left mie strangely rested and energized for my real-life.  I will forever be grateful for that time away.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Recap: Preparing for, Accepting & Receiving, and Saying Goodbye to Foster Children

I have received several great questions recently about preparing for, accepting, and saying goodbye to placements.  I've started answering some and kept thinking it seems like I've written this before.  Alas, here are several posts to answer some of your commonly asked questions.  If you have more questions after reading some of these posts, just post them in a comment here or in the original post - I'll get your questions either way and will be happy to answer them as soon as possible.

Preparing for Placements
Preparing for Kiddos

Preparing Siblings

Preparing Siblings (Guest Post)

Accepting & Receiving New Placements
Deciding on a Placement

Questions to ask CPS when you get "a call"

More about Getting a Placement

Saying Goodbye
Goodbye Traditions

I sincerely hope this is helpful.  It's very helpful for me to know I'm helping others interested in foster care or adoption as I write this blog.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Please Pray - Judge's Decision

Hello everyone!

Can you please pray this weekend for our baby baby's case?  Apparently the judge in the case heard the hearing today (finally) but declined to make a decision until Tuesday.  It appears as if the folks involved in the case clearly believe that the decision IS NOT clear, that the decision could equally be to send him (and his siblings) home with mom and dad, send some or all of them to the relative the siblings were with, or have CPS retain custody (and move toward termination).

Please pray for the judge to have wisdom and that God's will is done in this situation.  Please also pray for our family to accept the news well and have a chance to absorb the information before any changes are made.

Thank you!

Foster Parent Friday: How do you help younger children prepare for foster siblings?

Q: How do you help your young child understand the transition for kids coming in and out? Your youngest is about the same age as my oldest so I'm trying to figure out how we're going to explain all of this to her.

A: This is a GREAT question, one I wish I’d had some advice on before we had our first kiddos.  It is written by a friend of mine with 2 young kiddos in a family that is just getting ready to start accepting placements.  Our situation is a bit different in that when we first started the process, Logan was an only child.  We were able to talk about “brothers and sisters” in terms of foster children without getting confused with biological siblings.  He didn’t have any bio siblings – he knew others who had siblings but in his world having them dropped off by CPS was just as reasonable as other more ‘normal’ methods of getting siblings.  For our daughter, she has been with us since she was 9 months old and has always had brothers and sisters who have left.  She’s just now getting to be old enough to realize that kids are coming and going.

In my experience, the age where you can start preparing kiddos is between 2 ½ - 3 ½.  Much younger than that and they probably can’t be “prepped” because they don’t have a good grasp on what is coming nor can they process the “why” much.  Of course, every child is different and I’d recommend trying to prep vs. not trying any day.

When we were going through the process, we talked a lot about brothers and sisters with Logan.  We told him about how his brothers and sisters would be coming.  We prayed for them.  We talked about how they had different mommies and daddies but they couldn’t keep them safe so they were coming to live with us.  We sang silly songs about them (Think “Jesus loves my brothers and sisters, this I know...”).  As I mentioned, Logan knew that other people had brothers and sisters but he didn’t – he often talked about his “brother Charlie” and “brother Benjamin” – we have no idea who those kids were to this day but he knew how friends and his cousins all had siblings.  We prepared a room.  As we shopped for things we talked about what we thought his brothers or sisters would want to (eat, wear, play with), etc.  We talked about whether he’d share a room or not and what toys he’d share and which he wouldn’t.  We just incorporated it into everything we talked about because we knew at one point we’d get a call and within a short time he’d suddenly have siblings. 

That call came (and so did the kids) while Logan was sleeping.  This was probably worst case scenario (and yet likely...) for us in that the kiddos were going to share a room with him and we didn’t want him to wake up and suddenly there was a crib and a baby in his room that weren’t there before.  So, we moved Logan into our bed that night so that he would see us first when he woke up instead of the other kids.  When he woke up we talked to him about how “our brothers and sisters” came while he was sleeping and then began the introduction process.

From then on all we talked about was how the kids were staying with us while the parents were trying to get better.  They might go or they might stay but Logan would ALWAYS stay.  Concepts like “forever” don’t really mean anything to kids that young so we tried to emphasize that he would always be with us.  We talked about how he came from our tummy so that meant he would never leave.  Later as Summer was adopted we were able to explain how she would now always stay too....we called her the sister that would stay.

Now that Summer is old enough we’re trying to pay more attention to how we transition kiddos out and how she’s processing when they leave.  We follow our goodbye routines for the whole family, but for her in particular we also have had to make a few accommodations.  Specifically, we’ve immediately moved the child’s bed out of her room to help her process that they aren’t coming back. 

Here are a few other tips:

  • ·         Ask for your child’s opinion before the child arrives – As soon as we get a call and are sure a child will be placed with us we ask our children how they feel about adding a new child or sibling group.  We tell them “we just got a call” and share how many, age, gender, and that they can’t stay with their family, would it be ok if they came to stay here with us?  This is clearly a dangerous question.  What if your child says no?  You can either ask in a better way (what do you think about them coming to stay with us?  Would you like it if they came to live here?...something opinion oriented) OR, you can just roll with it like we do.  Usually Logan (and Summer) say yes.  Logan has said no before and at that point I take the chance to talk through it with him – kids need a home, what are his concerns, etc.  At the end of the day if he still says “no”, we’d tell him that as mommy and daddy we appreciate his feelings and are thankful he shared – as mommy and daddy we are making the decision to give the children a home because that’s what Jesus would want us to do (quote scripture) and go out of our way to help ease his/her concerns.  That hasn’t had to happen yet. 
  • ·         Talk about it as much as possible.  Talk about your children’s dreams and wishes about how it will be (what do you want your new brother/sister to be like?  What would you like to do with them? Etc.).  This will give you good insight into what they are thinking is going to happen and you can help clarify things that WILL NOT happen before the kids arrive.
  • ·         Remind your children they will always stay.
  • ·         Remind your children the foster kiddos might stay or might go and that you will take care of them as long as God (or the judge) wants you to.
  • ·         Decide how you will explain the reason for removal/care.  We tell our forever kids that the parents couldn’t keep the kids safe. We tell foster children that they’re parents are sicky and are working on getting better.  This has worked for us so far.
  • ·         Emphasize your core family’s routines.  Understand which routines are going to stay the same and which are likely to change so you can help prep your kiddos for that change ahead of time.

  • ·         Tell everyone involved in your case that you need as much notice as possible before the kids leave so you can prepare your own children.  This is essential. Start with the investigator who drops the child off at your home.  Tell the lawyers.  Tell CASA.  Tell everyone you meet with about the case.  Repeat it often.
  • ·         Take every opportunity to remind your children that the foster children might not stay or might leave someday when their parents are better.  This sounds like “Oooh...a Dora birthday would be so much fun!  If XX is still here on her birthday we’ll see if we can do that” or “I bet XX would love to go to Sea World with us.  If he/she is still here next time we go we’ll ask if she can come along” or “you want to be a puppy for Halloween?  That’s a neat costume – if you’re here on Halloween we can try and find that costume for you”.  Don’t promise anything to your kids or the foster kids about what WILL happen with the fosters.
  • ·         Pray for the foster kids parents.  Talk about them as a family in a healthy way (don’t ignore they exist).  We put up their picture, when possible, on our bulletin board as a reminder for all of us. 
  • ·         As you get updates on the case, share with your kids whenever it’s appropriate.  If they’re working on reunification and doing well, tell your kids that so and so’s mom is working really hard on getting better and she hopes one day so and so can go back home with her...stuff like that.
  • ·         As soon as you get a date that the child is going home, pull your child aside and tell them so.  “Remember we’ve said that XX’s mom is trying to get better?  Well!  She’s all better now and XX can go back home to live with her!”  Try to make this sound happy.  Then ask (several times in different conversations) how your child is feeling.
  • ·         Setup and follow a going away routine.  It’s therapeutic.
  • ·         Plan to spend quality time as a family after a foster child leaves.  We often go out to lunch or dinner and celebrate our “core family”.

Finally, realize that no matter how much you plan you can’t protect your child from the feelings they have about children coming and going.  Don’t try to.  Let them have their feelings. Talk about it.  Remind them you are there for them and they will always stay.  Give them lots of hugs.  Remind them they are special to you and you want them.  Pray. 

Then get up and do it again J

Monday, February 04, 2013

CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocate

You all know I think you probably could be a foster parent if you wanted to try.  Clearly that's a blanket statement and there are people who for a variety of reasons or at least in certain seasons cannot be foster parents.  Furthermore I believe that just because you could doesn't mean you should in that it should be what God calls you to do, as with anything else in your life.  (By the way, this goes the other way too - even if you don't think you could and God wants you to - you should).

Nevertheless - if you're someone out there thinking that foster parenting isn't for you right now, will you please consider being a CASA?

CASA is a national agency run by regional programs designed to appoint volunteers to advocate on behalf of the children in foster care.  In most cases, the CASAs are unpaid volunteers who give 9-12 hours per month visiting the children, writing reports for the court, meeting with family members and case workers, talking to doctors, therapists, and finally in testifying at court on behalf of the child.  The intention is for the CASA to follow the child through the life of their case even when everyone else (foster parents, case workers, etc.) might change.  In many cases CASAs become long-term special people in the lives of the children they're assigned to advocate for, even after the case is over.

I have had a CASA (well, my kids) in about half of the cases.  In my area, one county has NEVER had CASAs assigned to the kids (7 of my 18 kids) while one county has ALWAYS had a CASA assigned (3 kids).  Every other county is hit or miss. 

Our experience has been very positive with CASA.  The advocates are kind, considerate of our needs as foster parents, and love the kids in our home (all of them, our fosters AND forevers).  They seem to genuinely care about the kids and try really hard to advocate on their behalf.  I've heard other stories but in our case the experience has been wonderful. 

I was contacted by someone recently who was thinking about becoming a CASA volunteer.  To my elation I'm happy to share with you that she has decided to write a blog about being a CASA.  Please go over to her new site and share the CASA love...