I’m always amazes me how differently foster placements can work from one county to another. That doesn’t even take into account if it’s a private versus a public agency. Just the process of how a placement works is subjective depending on what county you are licensed in. I wanted to share with you how placements worked at my agency as a foster parent.
In our county, foster parents were assigned a licensing worker who was supposed to be their advocate and their contact within the agency. Theoretically, the licensing worker is supposed to be the foster parents biggest supporter and the one who will help solve any issues that come up with a child’s case worker. I say theoretically because our licensing worker ended up being the biggest two faced, lying sack of monkey doo that ever graced the doorstep of CPS. I consider her to be lower than foot fungus. But the one we had previous to the monkey doo was fantastic and so very helpful.
The licensing worker is responsible for keeping all of the profiles of the foster parents in her caseload up to date in the computer system. She is responsible for entering all the age, sex, needs, level of care preferences into the main database. When a child comes into custody of CPS (assuming it’s not an emergency or after hours placement), there is a staffing meeting held. Normally, this meeting consists of the investigator, her supervisor, one of the licensing workers, a placement worker and a supervisor from that department. They go over the case, the reasons why the child is coming into custody and the projected outcome of the case. Any foster home recommendations/requirements are decided by the team at this meeting, such as no younger children, no pets, stay home parent etc.
Then the placement worker goes back to her computer, enters in the appropriate information, and the computer gives her a generated list of foster homes that meet those specific criteria. The computer generally gave a list of 10 homes that would be appropriate. She pulls those foster families profiles and chooses the top 3 that she thinks will be a good fit for that child. She calls the top choice to present the placement information. They get 10 minutes to make a decision if they answer the phone. After 10 minutes, she calls the next home on the list. If they don’t answer the phone, she leaves a message and immediately calls the next home on her list. If the second home accepts the child, then it’s done. She just keeps going down the list until she either finds a placement or she’s left messages at 6 homes. If that happens, the first one to call back is the one who gets the placement.
[Note:Usually, with babies at least, she rarely has to make more than 2 calls. I know in our house, we made snap decisions. If they called us with a baby, I would either accept or decline while on the phone with her.]
At that point, the child doesn’t even have a caseworker assigned (unless they are being moved from one foster home to another). They have the investigator and then about a week later, once the initial court hearing is over, the case gets transferred to a case worker. In our county, with very few exceptions, case workers had absolutely no say in where the child was placed. It was a totally different division of CPS.
Now when a child came in on an emergency or after hours placement, it was different. The social worker who had the task of removing the child would just call the first name on the emergency list and kept on going until she found a home. The emergency home would have the option of asking the placement worker to find a long term foster home or they could decide to keep the placement.