At the Foster parent panel that we spoke on last month, we picked up a fun phone trick from one of the other foster families. They use Google Voice for all calls between them and their child's Biofamily. Google voice is a free service that allows you to create a phone number that will ring any and all of your phones without effecting the telephone service you have now. This means you can give your bios this phone number and have it ring at your house, your cell, and your partner's cell so you don't miss a call from them. I actually didn't sign up for this function since my cell phone is always on me, but I can see how other people might find it convenient.
What I love about Google voice is that it can't be traced back to your address like home phone numbers or some cell phone numbers can be. You don't even provide that information to Google at all when signing up- just your phone number and email address.
I also like that because it is not connected to your real number, you can disconnect or change it if the situation with the Bios becomes unsafe and it won't effect the rest of your calls on your real number. On the flip side, you could also change your real number (like if you move into another area code) and keep your Google voice number so that the bios (or kids that have gone home) can reach you by dialing a number that is local to them.
It also will transcribe all of your voicemails and text sent to your google phone number into an email. This is PERFECT for foster care where we are supposed to document everything. One of our cases had a parent who became very hostile with us at times. This parent would leave me angry voicemails that I would save and let the caseworker listen to later. I wish I would have had a written transcript of those messages to give to the caseworker and child's attorney.
Fun trick, right? I thought so too. Since everyone involved with our current cases already has our real number, I won't be using this much until the next placement. I'm really glad I know about it though!!
While we're on the topic of phones- You've probably heard me talk about "Hallelujah Calls" from our county's matchers. This is a cute blog name for the call, but it's also the ringtone I have set for their numbers. Having the matchers' numbers programed in my phone with a specific ring helps me know that I need to pick up the phone and not let it go to voicemail. Here is the link to the free ringtone. Just put in your phone number and they'll text to you: Hallelujah Chorus Ringtone