Mama S here. Hey everyone! I’ve been doing a lot of chatting with people about our agency and the reason we decided to switch. For the purpose of this blog, I won’t name what agency we are with and what agency we left. Feel free to message me and I’d be more than happy to chat in greater details. The purpose of this message is to talk about finding the right fit for YOU.
Mama A and I decided to become foster parents almost 2 years ago and almost immediately we were overwhelmed and didn’t know which way was up. There were levels, TFC (?!), large agencies, private agencies, foster care, special needs foster care (not what you think), foster to adopt, safe haven, GAL, Social Workers, Case Managers, more paperwork than it took to buy a house, home visits, state codes, interviews, and more and more and more.Where did it all start? Picking an agency. We chose wrong.
Our first foray into fostering was though one of the two big agencies in our town. We thought that it was best to go with the big boy in town. There was more literature about them, we had heard of the agency before we started down this path, and honestly, we didn’t know anything about anywhere else, what we were doing, or what our options were. So, we submitted our application and went forward.
Come to find out that we landed ourselves in an agency that does really well with a large amount of kiddos and families, but we needed more support than they were willing/able to provide. We were placed with a kiddo that was above our skill level and were not provided the tools/resources to help us be successful. As I previously wrote about, we put in our notice on the kiddo and did some soul searching.
We ultimately decided that we wanted to continue being foster parents but that we needed additional support that we would be unable to get with our current agency. As such, I started to research other agencies in our county. I narrowed the list down to 2 and reached out to both. I chatted with staff of both agencies and laid out what our story was, what we were looking for, and how we wanted to move forward. One of our biggest complaints was that we never felt listened to and one of the two agencies did the same. They said that we would have to change our age range of kiddos and take in kiddos that were outside our comfort level. The lady from the other agency laid out the statics. If we were interested in medically fragile infants (where we were thinking of going) we would wait for placement for quite awhile. She then proceeded to tell us about their agency, the kids that they typically see, and the support that they offer.
We were cautiously optimistic. We started the process of getting relicensed and held our breath.
In one of the many conversations we had with J (licensing worker of our new agency) she said the most impactful thing we have heard on our journey. She said, “I would rather have you say NO to 100 kiddos and take a kiddo that is good for your family rather than say yes to a kiddo that you are worried isn’t a good fit and have problems down the line.” Not only did she say that, but she has consistently backed up those words with actions in the year that we have been with them.
We took a pre-placement visit with a kiddo that we struggled to connect with. I chatted with J and she told me that if we were having these concerns, that perhaps it was best for us to say no. WHAT?! That blew us away.
Another awesome part of our agency is the support we get with placement. J is almost always there for us in whatever way (reasonable of course) that we need. One time that stands out in my mind is this. P was at school and wasn’t feeling well. She needed snacks for various reasons and both Mama A and I were unable to leave work and get them to her. J went to the store, got P a sandwich, cut it up into sections to be spread out throughout the day, and brought it to her. Our previous worker would never have done that!
I love to tout that our worker is the champion for US and the kiddo! She makes us feel heard, which is uncommon in foster care all too often, she makes us feel supported, and valued.
We have ended up changing our open age range again (now we are open to teenage girls- how that has shifted!!) because of the level of support we have received. I cannot speak highly enough about our agency, our licensing worker, and every other worker we have encountered with our agency.
I highly encourage you to interview potential agencies. Chat with them about your family, your needs, your expectations, and your hopes. Ask them about their placement practices. Ask them about what happens if you take in a kiddo above your skill set. Ask them about what support looks like in the first 30/60/90 days of placement and then again for after that. Ask so many questions.
If you are not sure of the questions to ask, chat with a current foster parent. Ask them what they wish they knew in advance. Most foster parents will be more than happy to share that part of their journey with you. Live in our area, let me know and we can get coffee and chat! I love doing that.
There are so many kiddos that need homes and the more families that are there to take them in the better the fit that the agencies can look for. What characteristics are above your skill level will be in someone else’s and what characteristics are in your skill level are outside someone elses. That’s what makes this system work.
Thank you for reading! I’m trying to boost the visibility of the blog, so if you have enjoyed- please share!
All the love and Happy New Year!