It's official! We're foster parents for another year. Our recert is done and was rather painless.
Every year our Homefinding caseworker has to update our homestudy. This includes a packet of paperwork, a house inspection, and an office visit.
The manilla envelope of homework included self-assesments that are pretty much a joke. You check Expectation Not Met, Expectation Met, Expectation Exceeded, or Can Not Judge to statements like: Foster parent understands the difference between punishment and discipline and refrains from physical punishment, Keeps the best interest of the child as priority when working with angency, and Supports sibling visits when appropriate. Brandon paid me $5 to check all of his Expectation Met because, really, how else are you going to answer something like that? "Oh, Foster parent has kept all necessry medical and dental appointmaents? Expectation Exeeded! We Rock!". Then there was a list of documentation to gather: car insurance cards, rabbies vaccinations for the animals, certificates from the trainings we did last year (minimum 6hrs/yr), physical forms from our Dr and TB test results are due every other year, confidentiality agreement signed by everyone living in the house, and fire safety checklist.
This was the first year that we had a child who is verbal, so we also had to have Baby 4 fill out a form where he drew pictures answering the questions What was it like living in a family that provides a home for kids in care? and How would you feel if more children came to live in your house?. I could kick myself for not scanning a copy before handing it in. It was a swirly marker mess of cuteness. 4 told me what he drew and I wrote the captions for him that asked for 2 boys and 2 babies to come live with us becuse living in a foster home means playing outside and watching movies .
When our caseworker came over, she let me complain for a little while as she reviewed our documents. Then she walked through our house- checking our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguisher, cabinet locks, and window screens. She took an inventory of our kid space and available beds. She asked us about our support circle and our honest feelings towards taking other children. Then we signed our contract for the next year that agrees to the daily stipend and to complete the required training this year.
We had to make an office visit as well where we would finish up paperwork if we needed and talk to our caseworker without our child present if needed. This office visit was quick though, she took us around to show our faces to the matchers and panhandle a bit for Baby 5. We brought her our family Easter picture and she tacked it up on the bulletin board next to the other ones we've sent at every stage of our family.
Our actual aniversary with foster care is July 29th, so our new certificate won't come until around then. When it does, it comes with a copy of the litle addendum that our caseworker wrote up to modify our homestudy and -my favorite part- the foster parent checklist that was filled out by our kids caseworkers. I like knowing what they say about us. I work really hard going above and beyond to get my kids to visits (We spent 3 hrs at 2&3's Dad's house on CHRISTMAS because there was no one to supervise, but they needed to see him), documenting everything, being at every court date and service plan review, trying to make myself super accessable for homevisits, etc. So it feels kind of nice to see expectation exceeded checked. It's the small things I guess.