How much notice do you typically get before receiving a child (2 days vs. 10 minutes)? How much notice before they leave?
This is the part of foster care that moves very quickly. Very, very quickly.
For the emergency placements like I talked about yesterday, we typically know about an hour or two before the kids get to our house. Then we set the time for them to leave, usually on a Monday morning around 7:30, because for us, that allows us to get our Little Man to school and for us to get to work.
For our first long-term placement’s arrival, we got about two hours’ notice. Whirlwind!
For our current long-term placement, we knew a few weeks ahead of time that he was coming. His story is a little different because he was coming from a different foster home, instead of being fresh into the system. We are friends with the foster family that he lived with before, so we were really intentional with the transition. We had a goal date in mind of when he would be living with us full time. Then we counted back a few weeks to give ourselves some time to make the transition happen. First, he spent a weekend with us. Then he came on a Thursday night and spent through Tuesday morning. Then slowly, he would stay more and more with us, until he was with us 24/7! We had a family vacation planned, so we were able to take him with us on vacation just a few days after he was with us full time. We got to spend a whole week with both sides of our family really getting to know him and enjoy spending time with him. When we got back from vacation, he started a different school and it almost seemed as if he had always been with us. It was a really smooth transition and seemed to be really healthy for our Little Man.
Like most other questions, this one doesn’t have a simple answer.
When you have a child in your care, it’s important to build a good relationship with their DSS caseworker. The caseworker is the one who knows all the ins and outs of each case. They will keep you updated on how things are going, what direction they’re headed, and what you can expect with each placement. That being said, they aren’t all-knowing and things happen that are confusing and frustrating.
Our first placement came to us very quickly, with only two hours’ notice. They left us in that same time frame, also. We were at lunch one day and our caseworker called to say someone would be picking up the kids in two hours. Part of the frustration for us in that moment was that we did not have a relationship with the caseworker. There had not been enough time to build one, and we weren’t forward enough to march in her office and ask questions. We totally should have. (Take note!) She took a vacation for part of that month, and our understanding is that things happened around her while she was gone. When she got back, thing had changed and there was no way of stopping it.
In retrospect, I’m not sure anything would have been different if we had known more. They probably still would have left when they left, but if we had known what was happening around us, our hearts could have been more prepared.
So as you can see, there are a lot of moving pieces that determine the timeline of a placement. There’s never a simple answer to these questions, but hopefully, I’m able to explain our situation enough to better inform.
If you have any questions about foster care that you would like for me to answer, please leave a comment or send me an email! I’m compiling additional questions to answer in one post at the end of this series!