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Foster Parents - Behind the Scenes of a Weekly Home Visit

One of the most important ways we support our foster parents is providing weekly in-home visits. CCR foster parents in all Wisconsin counties receive weekly in-home visits. What happens during the visit? Does the Case Manager visit with the foster parents, the kids, or both? What is discussed? For the first time ever, we are sharing a glimpse into a weekly visit. Below is a summary of the first two home visits with "Krystal", a 7-year-old in Wisconsin foster care recently placed in a CCR foster home with no other children living in the house. Prior to this placement, Krystal was in a county foster home with several of her siblings. She was moved due to relationship difficulties with her younger siblings.

Foster parents rely on weekly in-home support visits.

The Clinical Case Manager (CCM), "Megan", made the first visit to the foster home 5 days after initial placement. Upon arrival, Krystal was ready for school and eager to attend. It was a later start for school so Megan had additional quality time to spend with Krystal. She encouraged Krystal to do things for herself such as zipping her backpack and putting on her shoes, both were a struggle.  Krystal was notably talkative throughout her contact with Megan. She willingly gave Megan a tour of the foster home, including her bedroom. Her favorite color is pink.

While completing initial paperwork, "Linda", foster mom, reported that Krystal has done well in their home since initial placement. She is talkative and energetic. She struggles to focus during play and wants to move on quickly. Meals are going well thus far, although Krystal repeatedly asks for junk food. Bedtime is a struggle for Krystal. She is easily agitated and cries. Linda reports that using an Amazon device for stories seems to help Krystal relax. She sleeps through the night most nights and appears well rested. No nightime bed-wetting has occured.

Foster kids often require school support services.

Linda enrolled Krystal in first grade at the local elementary school. She was unclear of the assigned class or teacher. Linda reported that Krystal had an IEP at her previous school and that the office administrator seemed aware of it and what to do. Linda believes the IEP is for cognitive/learning needs and not behavioral issues. Records indicate services are targeted towards speech/language impairment and specific learning disabilities, with “significant” delays in cognitive functioning noted.

At this time, Linda is unaware of a specific Family Interaction Plan with Krystal's biological mother or siblings. She  anticipates reunification with the mother is the goal.

Foster parents create stability with repetition and routine

Krystal enjoys listening to “Amazon Storytime”. As mentioned, Linda discovered early, that electronic stories ease bedtime anxiousness for Krystal which often includes extended periods of crying. Linda states that she or her husband sit with Krystal providing comfort  as needed to help her transition. Krystal reported watching lots of movies on her mom’s iPad when she lived at home. Linda reported that Krystal will have access to an iPad at school, but she hopes that it stays in the school building and does not travel home with her.

Black girl 2Krystal prefers convenience foods, and reported a favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs. Linda mentioned Krystal struggles with traditional doorknobs and dial light switches in the home. Linda will pay close attention to any other potential fine motor development delays. Krystal does not have documented animal aggression behaviors. However, she has been "rough" with the family cat and two dogs during the first week. Linda will work with Krystal on how to play with the pets gently and appropriately and reports she has no concerns for her pets well being at this time.

Foster parents receive medical histories when possible.

Linda will confirm Krystal was tested for TB and the date of her last physical exam, believed to be within the last 90 days. Linda has no major concerns at this time. She noted darkness under Krystal's eyes, which she suspects may be from iron deficiency or poor sleep habits. She will let Krystal settle into a routine and see if the circles diminish. Krystal has multiple crowns in her mouth, upper and lower. She told Linda she has had many cavities. Krystal wears eye glasses for distance. She reports that she is wearing old eye glasses at this time because her new glasses are broken. Krystal reported that her mom is getting the glasses fixed and will return them to her. Linda will maintain the same medical providers and dentist.

Megan drove Krystal to school at the conclusion of the home visit. Krystal remained talkative and excited for school. During the car ride, Krystal told Megan;

"When my mom is done cleaning the house, I can go back home with my family."

Follow-up support and specialized treatment plans

A second home visit was scheduled for the following week. Prior to the visit, Megan met briefly with Krystal's primary teacher and the special education contact. She was told Linda received a copy of the IEP. Both teachers report Krystal requires extra attention and is behind her peers academically and socially. Megan drove Krystal home from school and visited during the drive. Krystal seemed happy to see Megan and showed her many items in her backpack. Krystal reported liking her new foster home. She was happy Megan remembered her favorite color was pink and thought to bring the book Pinkalicious to read together during the visit.

The second visit lasted almost 2 hours. During the visit Linda reported that Krystal has had a hard time adjusting to being the only child in their home. She has mentioned her older siblings only on two occassions. Linda notices indicators of issues with attachment, disassociation, and possibly autism. Krystal wanders due to curiosity and is not hesitant to follow a stranger – both reasons for increased supervision. Krystal needs frequent reminders and a consistent/structured schedule. Linda reports Krystal works hard to build resourcefullness skills but needs help with most tasks and relies on others for help.

Linda has been working patiently with Krystal to be gentle with family pets. She continues to be rough with the cat and dogs but has caused no harm to date. Linda reports that Krystal called her husband Robert “Dad” very soon after being placed in their home. Megan explained it is common for some foster children to use the words mom and dad as a name more than the role associated with the term. Krystal continues to enjoy stories through the Amazon Echo device, which has parental controls established.  She has appropriate screen time limits and does not use social media. Linda has scheduled a 6 month routine check-up with the dentist.

A referral for individual therapy is in process. Family therapy may occur in the future when sufficient individual progress is made. An evaluation for autism will be scheduled.

Biological family visits

Krystal's biological mother plans to attend an activity at school. This contact will be supervised by school staff.  Krystal sees her older siblings in school and both foster families communicate well thus far. Both families want the siblings to stay connected and have discussed future visits. There will be weekly phone calls with both biological parents on Saturdays. These calls will be audio only, monitored, and will last a maximum of 20 minutes. A consistent plan for face-to-face visits with the biological parents will be developed in the next week. A permanency plan is yet to be filed, but will include the primary goal of reunification.

Wow. A lot happens in a foster home during the first two weeks!

Of course, this is just a quick summary, but it demonstrates well how much goes on during the first two weeks. Foster parents are learning, discovering, and scheduling. Clinical Case Managers are observing, planning, and documenting. Future visits will slowly become focused on specific plans for treatment and growth. Each child is assessed and receives an individual treatment plan. Foster parents, CCM's, and county workers all partner together to help the child meet goals on a treatment plan. When goals are met, new goals are added, and healing can happen.

Foster parents and Clinical Case Managers prove every single week that it truly takes a team approach to help kids like Krystal heal and grow.

We would love to speak with you about becoming a foster parent with CCR. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

 

 

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