I've always wanted to foster. That's why I knew offhand what the requirements are in NJ! Now that I have a small daughter I am feeling uncertain. I grew up around foster kids who would discuss graphic abuse rather bluntly, which makes sense of course, they were trying to make sense of their life experience & trying to share with me something that they had gone through...however it was somewhat traumatic for me to the point that I blocked out some of the things said to me only to have them resurface later. Despite this I still always hoped to foster and never imagined giving birth to a baby when so many needed my home & assistance. Now that I have a child I am uncertain about adding an older child to my family, the things they might say or do and the way they might try to normalize their life experiences. Looking through the foster to adopt listings I see a lot of older kids. My dream is to search for our next house with fostering in mind as a lot of kids have special needs and health issues. I need all one floor or at least a bedroom & bathroom on the ground floor or a staircase wide enough for a chair lift. I still consider taking the class and setting my boundaries and waiting for kids roughly my daughter's age to need a spot...I just assume that I wouldn't end up meeting anyone who would end up becoming a long term or permenent member of our family.
The people that I know that have fostered are amazing families. It is so much work emotionally and time-wise. It is so hard to do what they do- set boundaries with kids, families, say no when you know you can't handle a kid, let go when a kid ends up back with their abuser, ect.
I think it's an amazing thing, but you need to figure out your hopes and goals and boundaries and your partner's hopes and goals and boundaries.
As my signature shows, I am a foster mom. I don't know what all to say here but I'd be happy to answer questions. However, I am in Manitoba, Canada and therefore specifics may be different for you.
One thing impressed me from what you've said- you're not planning to do this for monetary gain but to help these children. In our orientation, we were told that fostering isn't a job. We get paid only for expenses, so it's not at all comparable to babysitting. Financially, my husband thinks it may actually cost us a bit to foster, especially when you have a baby on forumula and wearing disposable diapers, but it's difficult to figure out. But it sounds like you have the financial aspect worked out already.
It took about five months from filling out the all the forms until the first children were placed in our home but I've heard that it's possible (in our province, I don't know anything about your state) to get licensed very quickly if necessary.
Fostering is a 24/7 commitment but you know that and are considering how to manage. My agency pays for a certain amount of respite hours a week and I try to take advantage of that if possible. This means the agency pays for a babysitter so we have a break. If you look after very small children, as we do, this is a necessary break. However, there are times when the children are upset from family visits or whatever; then I try to keep thme with me until they're more settled.
Supposedly one should not adopt/foster children the same age or older than one's bio children but I think Persephone is young enough that they would BE her brothers and sisters; she wouldn't remember life without them.
About caring for many small children at once; I have loads of help from my teenage daughters and husband and respite provider. Plus the newest baby goes for family visits four times a week for several hours. So I'm not the most helpful on that. I've noticed, though, that my 11-month and 24-month olds are starting to co-exist rather nicely and it's not as much work as it was a few months ago. They'll entertain each other. And you will do your best to supply the emotional (and other) needs of each child who comes into your care.
taz posted while I was writing and I agree with what she said especially about older children. The children we have fostered have been under 2 when they came into our home, and we like it that way.
Thank you both. I had an abusive step-father and I've been majoring in Psychology (one of my 2 majors) with a focus on children, so I'm not so concerned with the graphic stuff. I want to provide safety and understanding for that, if I ever fostered older children. I looked and most of the ones here who need the help are 11-16.
I've always wanted to foster or adopt, not just now. It was something I wanted even when I was younger. I talked with my husband about it when we got engaged when we were 16 and he's always understood I wanted to. Even if I can't help these babies by taking them, as long as they get out I'm happy. I'll still go ahead with the classes and such just in case and so that I can be prepared for doing it in the future.
Triss, I appreciate it. It's sounds about like what I expected. Also, Canada is one place my husbands been looking at to move to (England and the west coast also) and if you'd like, send me a message about living in Canada. :)
My husband and I are foster parents in Pennsylvania, so I'll chime in and give my two cents. :)
First of all - you absolutely did the right thing by calling CYS. So many people don't get involved because they feel that "it isn't their business," and the next thing you know, there is a horrible story on the news that could have been prevented. ANYWAY -
I can only speak to how things are done here in PA, but we have kinship foster parents and traditional foster parents. Kinship is defined as anyone who would have a significant relationship with the child or the parent. So that can be family, close friends, teachers, etc. Kinship placements are preferred over traditional placements (i.e. strangers), but they are not always possible. If you were in PA, you would be considered a kinship resource for those children, as they already know you and have some sort of a relationship with you.
Also - since kinship situations usually come up suddenly and kinship resources usually haven't fostered before, the approval process is expedited and can usually be done with the children in their home already. So, if you were chosen as a kinship resource for those kids, they could be placed in your home immediately and the clearances, training, and paperwork would "catch up" as soon as was possible.
My husband and I are traditional foster parents, meaning that we are willing to take in children that we don't know. However, at trainings and other events, we have chatted with and gotten to know kinship foster parents. Pennsylvania and other states are mandated by law to seek out kinship resources (adoptive and otherwise) for children that come into custody. I can't remember if you told CYS that you would be a resource for these kids, but if not, you can always call and let them know.
As far as managing a bunch of kids, I can share this - I think that we are always maxed out physically and mentally no matter how many kids we have... whether that is 3, 5, or 1. We make it work. :) I have two biological kids, am expecting another in the next few weeks, and until last week, we had a foster child with us. We can get a call any day for another foster child and we will just make it work. Being a foster parent is one of the BEST things I have ever done. If it's something that is on your heart, it is probably the right thing for you to jump in and do! Good luck. :)
Thank you Foreverelectra. We have the kinship fostering here. I've looked pretty deeply into yesterday (including looking at beautiful children that need homes and a little boy named August who would fit right in but my husband said not right now. He said he wants these babies, but not others right now). So since we have that, I will be taken into consideration for the 2 boys, I don't know about the baby she's carrying. I know, as with SNAP benefits and the like, there can be an expedited process if the person being considered would be the most secure environment and the best people for the children. Since a large majority of her family is much older and several of them are physically disabled, I'm back to be hopeful I have a good shot.
One day, whether I get these babies or not, I'm going to foster. My husband agrees. ^_^
Wow, how incredibly sad. I'm so glad that you reported the mum, and I hope that CPS does take it seriously. It is *so* frustrating when you know beyond a shadow of doubt that something is wrong in the family situation, but nothing happens from the CPS side of things. I literally just had this conversation yesterday with a doctor at work who was telling me about a case he reported, yet nothing came of it. (I'm a registered nurse; here in Australia health professionals have a legal obligation to report any suspicions of child abuse/neglect, although nothing may come of it despite how sure you are something is wrong. I think that part of the problem in my area is the extreme lack of available foster families, the system is just overwhelmed at the moment.)
It sounds like you are in an ideal situation to take the children in, and I really hope that they take that into consideration. At the very, very least, I hope that they get a social worker in to monitor the situation, so that they can see for themselves what is going on. The mum sounds like she may possibly have some perinatal mental health issues going on, and maybe the situation honestly would get better with some appropriate mental health intervention for the mum and some family counselling, but then again, maybe not. At any rate the children do sound like they are in immediate danger if she was blatantly abusing them in front of you -- imagine how much more goes on behind the scenes. Where is the father? Is he in the picture at all? What's his extended family like, would they be able to take in the children?
Please do keep us updated on the situation. I don't even know these children, but I'm going to worry about them now! :(
I'm a Priestess, registered in my state, so as a member of the clergy and as an educator, I'm required to report it as well. I knew she was neglecting his education long before now, but I had no idea it was like this. The father is EMT and he spends 5 days of the week living at the EMT house (or whatever it's called). His parents, from what I gather, are the "We don't want anything to do with them unless you're willing to bring them to us" sort of people and I know they don't like her.
The report was filed on Thursday officially but they said they couldn't do anything about it until Monday. :(