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Like My Wife Does Not have Enough to Do June 11, 2008

Posted by faradhi in Foster Care, Public Policy, Waste.
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We are really enjoying the children we have had in our home. Now granted we have only had two but so far so good. The current one we have, a 5month old who was one month premature and in the NICU for a month, who we have had for 4 months (you do the math to figure out when we got her) has had very few issues. The only reason we have her is because the family she will be going to lives in another state. More on this later.

So we have this adorable, healthy 5 month old. We get a call from the Social Worker. The state requires a 4 month check up. My wifes says, no problem she just had it a couple of weeks ago and her pediatrician says everything is going smooth as silk. But Nooooo, the Social Worker explains, the health department has to do a check up as well. Of course they do, it would be way too convenient to have only one 4 month check up. Come on people, like we do not have enough appointments, we have to have two 4 month check ups. We have three Social Worker visits a month, court dates, foster care review boards, doctors appointments and now health department check ups that have already been performed by the doctor. Yes mistress may I have some more please, use the whip please mistress.

Now in this case when I say we, i mean my wife. This lovely, light of my life, beautiful woman keeps up with all of the appointments while I waste time at work writing blog posts. She has been an incredible mom to the children in our home. That said, she has enough to do. She does not need the additional responsibility of repeating appointments.

Ok, aside from the inconvenience lets look at this from a public policy standpoint. The state Medicaid has to pay (thereby we have to pay) for a Doctor’s visit and any tests they run. Then we turn around and bring them to the county heath department for essentially the same thing. Paid for by who? That’s right boys and girls, We do! Congratulations taxpayers, not only do you get to partially pay for this child’s care, some of the child’s formula via WIC and all the child’s medications, you have to pay for two identical appointments. So while they are cutting the Department of Human Services budget, we double dip on taxpayer dollars so that a healthy 5 month old can be seen for two check ups.

Ahhh just warms my heart to know that the state government is working hard to cut costs wherever they can.

Disaster Recovery for the Child – Applying Work Experience to Foster Care June 9, 2008

Posted by faradhi in Foster Care.
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At one point, we were down to one car. I had an unfortunate accident that totaled one of our cars. While we shopped and decided on which car to purchase, we were using one car. This means that I had to be picked up from work each day. Well on one such day, we decided to stop and pick up some equipment I loaned a friend. During that brief visit, the child began to cry inconsolably. This is very unusual this child is normally very laid back. So after an hour of trying to console and figure out what was wrong we decided to bring a the child to a local children’s hospital’s urgent care facility. One one problem… We left the foster care contracts at home. This is required to show we are allowed to obtain care for the child.

So, I drop my wife and child off at the urgent care facility and rush home to grab the contract. The urgent care facility was awesome. They saw the child before I got back and everything turned out fine. I guess it was a slow day for them. But Doctor’s Offices tend to be very rigid and urgent care facilities tend to be worse. I was very surprised when I got a call from my wife stating that the doctor had seen the child and everything was copasetic.

We know that we need the contract to get anything done on behalf of the child. But, my wife figured she would be out only a few minutes. Off to pick me up then right back home. So the moral and lesson to the story is that you should alway make copies of the contracts and put them in any cars you have. That way, you almost always have them. In this case, since the child is an infant, we are placing a copy in the diaper bag. That way we always have it.

I am kicking myself over this. As a professional that is responsible for Disaster Recovery for my organization, I have a copy of the Disaster Recovery plan in the trunk of my car and one in my house. That way I have it wherever I am. It should have been second nature to do this for the child.

On a side note, I wish the state would issue some kind of ID card with the child’s and foster parents’ names that we could put it in our wallets. This provides convenient and easy way to let facilities know that we are the child’s caregivers. Who knows, maybe some time in the future.

“I am Not Your Attorney” – Thank God June 6, 2008

Posted by faradhi in Advocacy, Foster Care, Legal Issues.
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This is a statement that I have gotten twice while addressing failures of the Tennessee Guardian Ad Litem (I will be using GAL for short) assigned to our current child. Now I know that this poor excuse for an Attorney is not My attorney. All I have to say to that is “Thank God” I would rather have competent counsel.

I guess I should backup and explain a little. The child currently in my home is an infant. My understanding is that the GAL should follow the Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 40 Guidelines. The GAL is either unaware or unwilling to follow these guidelines because she is missing a lot.

First the GAL made no attempt to contact the child she is representing. The biological family where the child will be placed was contacted. However, the client got nothing. Now true, her client is more interested in pacifiers than attorneys but there is a section in the Rule 40 that covers that case.

(c) General Guidelines.

(2)Establishing and maintaining a relationship with the child is fundamental to representation. The guardian ad litem shall have contact with the child prior to court hearings and when apprised of emergencies or significant events affecting the child. The age and developmental level of the child dictate the type of contact by the guardian ad litem. The type of contact will range from observation of a very young or otherwise nonverbal child and the child’s caretaker to a more typical client interview with an older child. For all but the very young or severely mentally disabled child, for whom direct consultation and explanation would not be effective, the guardian ad litem shall provide information and advice directly to the child in a developmentally appropriate manner.

(3)The obligation of the guardian ad litem to the child is a continuing one and does not cease until the guardian ad litem is formally relieved by court order. The guardian ad litem shall represent the child at preliminary, adjudicatory, dispositional and post-dispositional hearings, including the permanency plan staffings, court reviews, foster care review board hearings and permanency hearings. The guardian ad litem should maintain contact with the child and be available for consultation with the child between hearings and reviews. For a child who is very young or severely mentally disabled, the guardian ad litem should regularly monitor the child’s situation through contacts with the child’s caretakers and others working with the child and through periodic observations of the child.


(d) Responsibilities and duties of a lawyer guardian ad litem.

(1)Conducting an independent investigation of the facts that includes:

(viii)Interviewing individuals involved with the child, including school personnel, caseworkers, foster parents or other caretakers, neighbors, relatives, coaches, clergy, mental health professionals, physicians and other potential witnesses;

So, ok maybe expecting the GAL to attempt to contact an infant is a little extreme. Aside from being an infant that cannot talk, the child was too busy watching the bears go round and round above the crib. And believe me when I say, this child takes bear watching seriously. However, the above does say she should have observed the child and interviewed the foster parents (That’s Us!) However, she made no attempt to contact us prior to court. When I confronted her about this she responded that she did not know who the foster parents were. I guess the whole investigation part is a complete mystery to her. I mean, she would had to have used her critical thinking skill to figure out how to get the foster parent information, like call the Social Worker. But hey, Who expects an Attorney to have critical thinking skills. It is not like that skill is important in an attorney.

Now, I am not so egotistical where I need the GAL to contact us on every child. As long as the GAL is acting in the child’s best interest I could care less. In this case, how would the GAL know what is in the child’s best interest if she does not talk to the caregivers. Again in case you are keeping score at home, The caregiver that’s ME! Hi! 😀 One could argue that the GAL should talk to the caregivers for every child. But I am not making that argument here. Maybe in another post.

So in the 15 or so minutes we had with the GAL, we asked the GAL to petition the court for one thing for the child. Even when a child is in foster care, there are certain services, educational and medical to name a couple, that can only be approved by the biological parents. In the cases where the parent is unavailable or otherwise unreachable, a judge must approve the service. Of course a petition must be filed in order for the Judge to rule on the request. An attorney must file the petition. Some things the State’s Attorney can file and others the Guardian Ad Litem must do. The GAL did nothing.

So after a couple of weeks of this request not being acted on, we go before the Foster Care Review Board. I know you would be shocked to hear that the GAL was not there. The Foster Care Review Board is a group of volunteers that review the case and if there are some deficiencies they can request a Judicial review. So we bring up our concerns with the Foster Care Review Board about the service that the child qualifies for but is not getting because the GAL did not petition the court. During the discussion we bring up that the GAL has made no attempt to contact us or the child. The response from one of the court staff was the first time we heard the “The GAL is not your Attorney.” I followed with GAL is required to speak with us as per the Rule 40 Guidelines. The result was a Judicial Review was requested. As of this date we do not know when the Judicial Review is scheduled.

During a conversation this week with the GAL in what turned out to be an unrelated matter, the GAL made the mistake of asking us “What is our problem.” Well, she did not like the answer. I began to detail where I saw her inaction has caused the child to miss services she had a right to have. The GAL would give an excuse and I would follow with a reason that excuse is not valid. She got rather angry. She stated again “I am not your attorney.” to which I replied, “No, your {insert child’s name} attorney and you have done nothing.” She then stated that she did more for the children than she did for her other clients. I followed with I feel sorry for her other clients. The conversation when downhill from there.

The point lost on these people is that nothing I have asked for is for myself. Why do they think that this would be a valid argument. No you are not my attorney you are the child’s. Do your job and get the child what they need. You are supposed to be the child’s Advocate.

“Guardian ad litem” is a lawyer appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of a child and to ensure that the child’s concerns and preferences are effectively advocated.

What is sad is that I am told this is the norm. The GAL may have thought why put a lot of effort in to this case since as soon as a ICPC was completed the child would be going to another state and as such the child was the other state’s problem. Therefore, anything beyond getting the ICPC done could be ignored by not only the GAL but the social worker as well. (More on the social worker later.) They did not count on the foster parents actually advocating for the child. So next lesson learned, advocating for the child will be met with resistance if it means work for those who should be doing the advocating. Sad.

The Diffculty of this Blog June 4, 2008

Posted by faradhi in Confidentiality, Foster Care.
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This blog is turning out to be more difficult than I originally thought. As foster parents, we are bound by confidentiality agreements and privacy issues. This means that I cannot post information about our children. Thus I am struggling with how to write about our experiences and yet maintain our children’s confidentiality.

It is not just a privacy issue. Some of the children that may placed in our home will be old enough to read and understand this blog. Eventually all of my children will grow up (No duh) as such this blog will require delicacy and tact. (This is where my family will laugh. Tact to me is something that holds posters on the wall and delicacy is something to be eaten.) This means that negative comments about family members are out. Additionally, the child may be embarrassed about the entire situation. Therefore, care must be taken to avoid the potential for embarrassment.

This blog may become easier as we increase the number of children that have come into our home. The more children we have will make it more difficult to identify one child from another when I strip out identifying information. However, this is still a fine line. Additionally, I fear as more children enter my home I will have difficulty in remembering the experiences that I have. One reason I want to blog is to create a journal of my experiences I can look back on. To temporarily resolve this issue, I plan to write and password protect posts. This way not only can I continue to blog while the experiences are still fresh but I can have others look at it for their input.

So here I am. I want to blog about my experiences. Many of which are so intertwined with the child’s experiences that it is almost impossible to separate the two. I think it is important to get the experiences of good foster parents in public. So many times we hear about the bad foster parents. How many people think that ALL foster parents are out just for the money or neglect the children in their care. The good foster parents have a responsibility to stand up and show the care they give their children. If you have a suggestion please post a comment.

Well, off to begin researching this dilemma.

The Home Study – A Work of Fiction May 29, 2008

Posted by faradhi in Foster Care, General.
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3 comments

The first thing we learned outside of the PATH Training is to always check the work of of the social workers. They are after all human. As such they will make mistakes or misunderstand something you considered clear. The one thing you would expect them to get right is the Home Study. The thing takes 2 – 3 months here which includes classes, interviews and background checks. After all, these are the gate keepers. These social workers are the ones who should be vetting the prospective foster parents. Accuracy is a must for the protection of the children. Yet even with all the detail, the social worker who did our home study still got it wrong, Very wrong. The number and scope of factual errors in our home study were so great I can only describe it as a work of fiction.

I will not post intimate details of my life on a blog. That would be stupid. However I will give specific examples of the types of errors:

  • The home study stated that I have a sister in Texas that has fosters. Now, none of my sisters a) live in texas or b) foster.
    • She was close, I do actually have a sister.
  • My wife was said to have a minor in Biography.
    • WOW! What college taught that? The A&E college of famous people?
  • The home study stated that we had guns in the home.

    • I do have a staple gun. I am not sure why that is important in a home study but hey I guess this was just to show thoroughness.

This is not an exhaustive list. The point is that she made factual errors, proofreading errors and just plain fabrications. Some of the factual errors directly contradict the autobiographies we wrote. Granted pointing out the grammatical and spelling errors may seem to be nitpicking. After all, I am not one to talk. If you read more than this one post, you will quick discover that I am not an English major. That said, my job does not entail writing reports. When I do need to write a report or proposal, I have others check my work. Given the number of grammatical and spelling errors speaks to the care taken to write the report. Finally there are some blatant fabrications. To give the social worker the benefit of the doubt, we were not the only people for which she was writing a home study. She could have gotten confused. The number of errors suggest that she did not check her work. Neither did her supervisor.

We are now trying to get the state to redo the home study. The State wants to just do an addendum to the existing home study. Of course they do, that is much easier for them. Especially, since we sent them a list of the errors in a Word document. Finally, Mary OfficeWorker will be able to put her mad cut and paste skills to use.

Now understand, we do not disagree with any conclusions. Obviously we were approved for fostering. However, we also want to adopt. Therefore, every time a child comes available for adoption this home study will be reviewed. This is of great concern for us. Our concern is that the adoption committees will look at the home study and disqualify us before looking at the addendum. After all, the committee will be presented with a certain number (5 i think) of prospective adopters and are looking for a reason to accept one over the others.

It was a coincidence that we even discovered the error. We asked for a copy not to check but to distribute to other states or private adoption agencies. When we finally received the home study, several weeks after we asked for a copy, we were stunned. What we take from this experience is to follow up on everything. Double check all the work of the social worker. Follow up on everything.

So here we are, we are currently stuck with a home study that is a work of fiction. To be fair, I am sure the home study was based on true events. Just very few true events from our lives.