two foster children in San Bernardino county and Riverside county

I am getting my first Foster Child, What Now?

Congratulations on becoming a Resource Family. You went through a comprehensive approval process, you completed your pre-approval training, you went through a rigorous family assessment, and now you are a Resource Parent. Congratulations.

You are now receiving your first (of many) child/ren, and you are wondering, what now? Where can I get information or assistance? This article provides a summary of important topics to keep in mind, especially during the first 10 days.

First, where to find help or information

  1. Parent Self-Service Portal. Visit www.FosterQuest.com. We are excited to be pioneers in providing an Information Portal for Resource Families. If you have questions about foster care or adoptions, you may search for the answer on this portal. Think of it as the “search engine for foster care.” In the unlikely event that your topic is not addressed on FosterQuest; you can simply select “contact us” and submit your question. You will then receive an answer, and the response will also be added to the content of the search engine for future reference. We recommend that you bookmark that website or put it on your phone so that you can quickly access it.
  2. Parent Delight Help Desk: 909-710-4900. For all questions about policies, procedures, how to do x, or y, please search FosterQuest. If it is a matter that cannot wait, you can contact the Help Desk directly via text message at 909-710-4900. The Help Desk is available from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM. 
  3. Life-threatening incidents. If it is a serious matter, such as the child ran away (e.g., AWOL) or is threatening to self-harm, please contact 9-1-1 and call the Agency Social Worker immediately.

Parent Delight Coordinator | Agency Social Worker (ASW)

You have been assigned a Parent Delight Coordinator, also known as your Agency Social Worker (ASW). Up to now, your primary contacts have been 1) the Parent Engagement Team, who assisted you with the application and approval; and 2) the Placement and Intake Team, who contacted you regarding the placement of children. 

However, as of now, your primary contact for issues related to the children in your care is the Parent Delight Coordinator (typically referred to as the Agency Social Worker). It is the ASWs job to work with you to help you deal with any problems being experienced by you, your foster child, or your family. 

Note that the ASW is assigned to you and not necessarily or only to the child. That is why, even if you have no children in your home, you can expect the ASW to contact you from time to time at least once per month. When you have a child in your home, the ASW will visit your home at least three times per month. 

The ASW is available to talk with you about any issue that is causing your stress, and our discussions do not have to be limited to matters related to the foster child.  For assistance with forms, documentation, or general policies or information about foster care, please make use of www.FosterQuest.com.

County Social Worker

Every child placed in your home also has a County Social Worker (CSW). Keep in mind that the CSWs role is primarily to ensure that the child(ren) are safe. Their primary concern is towards the child and not necessarily the Resource Parent.  However, you will be in communication with both the ASW and the CSW. While the ASW visits 3-4 times per month, the CSW may visit once per month. If you have any questions that you are unsure about, contact your agency social worker first. 

Court Dependents, Privacy, and Confidentiality.

Due to privacy requirements, absolutely no photos of the child are to be uploaded to any social media. You can take pictures of the child and frame them in your home, which will allow the child to feel a part of the family. 

Remember that you have signed a Confidentiality Agreement. This agreement includes not sharing information about the child to others (including neighbors) and being careful not to make it obvious to others (e.g., at school or in the supermarket) that the child is in foster care. Although there is nothing wrong with being in foster care, you want to ensure that children are treated as “regular and normal children” and are not further stigmatized.

Initial Assessments and Medical 

Please coordinate with your Agency Social Worker so you can take the child to their medical checkup, ideally within the first 10 days. Depending on the program, the requirement may be within 48 hours. Note that children are covered by Medi-Cal health insurance but they may or  may not have their insurance card with them. Call the office if you need assistance with this. Also, sometime during the first 15-30 days, your agency social worker will conduct an initial assessment which will contribute to developing the Needs and Service Plan and may also impact the Level of Care.

Outcome or Placement Goals

You may be wondering if this child is eligible or legally available for adoptions. Or you may wonder how long the child will be with you. Unfortunately, that is unknown. However, by definition, foster care is temporary care, and the agency may not have that information at the time of placement. 

If it is the first time the child is entering foster care, the county may be working on reunification or what they call “concurrent planning.” This means that if reunification with birth parents does not work out, there is the possibility that the child will remain for adoptions. However, this information is not always known at the time of placement.

Resource Parent Availability and Phone Calls

The Resource Parent must remember that the children are a ward of the state and that Resource Parents need to return phone calls in a reasonable amount of time when the ASW or CSW is trying to reach them in regards to the children’s well-being or case.

Also, Resource Families should always have their phones available so that the agency may contact you regarding children. If you plan to be out of town, it is a good practice to inform the agency, even if you do not have a child in your home at the time. This is part of being a successful foster parent.  You also never know when we will try to reach you to send you one of our surprise Parent Delight Packages.

How you get reimbursed: Level of Care

Mostly every child comes into the agency and is placed in the basic Level of Care (Level One). Each level corresponds to how much the foster parent is reimbursed each month. Note that we may use the term “reimbursement” and not payment, although the state of California does use the term “payment” on their website.

For a child to move up a level, the child must have additional behavioral, emotional, health, educational needs, and the foster parent must have to provide extra care than they would for other children. Ask your ASW to see if your child has the potential for a higher level of care. 

General procedure for payments

Your first payment may come up to 45 days after your initial placement. The agency sends checks around the 20-25th of each month. If you have not received your check by the 25th, please contact the office. Be aware that the check only includes compensation for the previous month. 

For example, that means the check you receive on August 20th, is for July 1-July 30 and does not include any nights in August. So, if a child was placed in your home on August 5th, be aware that the check you will receive on August 20th, does not include reimbursement for that child. Instead, the funds for that child will be in your check of September 20th, which covers Aug 1-Aug 30.

Be aware that the county will compensate you only for the actual nights a child sleeps in your home. If a child only sleeps in your home for six nights out of the month, then you will be paid/reimbursed for six nights, not seven days. For example, if a child arrives May 1st and leaves May 7th; you will be paid for the nights the child slept in your house (6 nights only; left on the 7th day).  Even if the child leaves at 9:00 PM on the 7th, you will still only be paid until the 6th. The child must sleep in the bed for the foster parent to be compensated. 

Child Care and Clothing

Please be aware that Resource Parents are responsible for providing childcare (if the parent is working) and for meeting a certain threshold of clothing for each child, which is called the “clothing inventory.” The child may likely arrive at your home with little clothing, but please do not go out and purchase $200 or $300 worth of clothing because you do not know how long that child will be in your home. It is possible that the child may be in your home for only five (5) days because a birth relative came forward and claimed the child.

Keep all receipts for the clothing you have purchased. Preferably, receipts must be specific to each child, to avoid having to do additional calculations. In other words, when you go to the store, make sure each receipt corresponds to clothing for each child. It is best to take a picture of each clothing item as soon as you are done shopping. Receipts are essential for your records.

Trauma

Remember that all children placed in foster care have experienced trauma. Therefore, you may observe some unknown behaviors. During placement, the county does not always disclose all actions or may not even know all the issues. They often are not aware of the behaviors themselves. Therefore, try to manage the child’s behaviors as best as you can. Please do not give up so easily. They need you. 

Welcome the Child into Your Home

Create a welcoming atmosphere. It would be great if you have something special to place on the child’s bed. This could be a card, a fruit basket, a welcome banner, anything thoughtful to show the child(ren) that they are welcome.

Some tips to remember:

  • House Rules. Please have your house rules posted before the child is placed in your home. It is not recommended that you make up rules as you go. The agency has provided a basic outline of house rules, but you may add to these.
  • Consistency and Routine. Create a routine that works, including designated times for meals, bathing times, etc.
  • Bulletin board. Your resource parent certificate of approval, the home facility sketch, emergency plan, and the child’s rights, should also be posted in a common area in the home. 
  • Children’s behaviors: Remember that children have different temperaments, and at the time of placement, it is not always evident what behaviors children might have. You will be invited to additional training to address behaviors that are specific to your child. 
  • Perseverance. Do not give up! Know that the first few days, or even a week, will be tough for both Resource Parent/family and the child. Do not give up; give them time to get comfortable and learn what works for both.
  • Kindness and generosity. Let the children have a voice. Their world has just been rocked. Try to find out their favorite snacks, personal care products, etc. Let them pick an animal to sleep with and a toothbrush. Do not pressure them, but let them know you are there to listen if they want to talk. 
  • Self-nurturing and Personal Development. Successful parents, who have long-term placements, little or no allegations or investigations, and maintain a constant flow of children have at least two things in common: A) They focus on continuous learning and personal development. They are an avid learner and are always asking for training and additional information, and B) They take time for self-care. To avoid burn-out, successful parents take time to care for themselves. Inquire about our Very Important Parent (VIP) program and how we can help you to self-care and self-nurture.
  • PATIENCE! It takes time for the children to settle in, and for resource parents to adapt to their new family members. Enjoy the experience. Remember why you wanted to become a foster parent in the first place.

Congratulations on becoming a Foster Parent and getting your first child. We know this will be a great and rewarding experience but can also be challenging. But through it all, we will focus on Parent Delight, ensuring that you are more than happy as you provide the highest quality care for children in your home.  We are committed to your success. 

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