Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to Foster

Since I don't have a kiddo living with me yet, I don't have adorable stories like Maya's. But in the interest of trying to make blogging here a more-or-less regular occurrence, I thought I would take some time to explain why it is that I don't yet have a kiddo living with me.

I began the process of being licensed as a foster parent in either June or September of 2008, depending on when you consider the process begun. In September I began the required training course, during which we were told that the average length of the process is four months from the beginning of the course. Um, it's been a few more months than that.

In the beginning, I was hopeful that the process would go smoothly. I didn't have the same trouble as others in the course in scheduling the fire inspector to come to my apartment (though by May? June? the licensing worker had lost the inspector's report). I filled out and returned all of the paperwork in basically the order that it was suggested and in the time frame that was suggested. But then the lead inspector came, my apartment failed, and thus began the saga.

The report from the lead inspector said (essentially) "next step: have a more detailed risk assessment to say what needs to be fixed." I went to Israel for a week and came back to a voice message from the the inspector: "Please call me so we can schedule a time for me to come and do the risk assessment." My conclusion from this was that the inspector would come, do the risk assessment, and then provide a report of some sort that I would then be able to give my landlord to give direction in what needed to be done.

Three weeks after the second inspection, I phoned the lead worker at the agency (I'll call her Priscilla, just to be fun) to ask about the report. (The inspector told me that his contract with the agency requires him to complete reports in three weeks.) We're now into February, though the initial inspection was in November. Priscilla tells me that the report will be mailed to me. I call a week or so later, am told that the report has been mailed to me. I call two or more weeks later, am told that my apartment had passed, and what was the problem, and they don't send the reports to the foster parent. (Actually, there were more calls and emails, and more back and forth, but I'm not referring back to my records to write this post.) Eventually I get clear direction that my landlord is supposed to make the repairs without any additional information. My landlord is fantastic and very graciously arranged to make the repairs as promptly as possible, even arranging for me to stay in an empty apartment for the length of the work. (Yes, the landlord is obligated to make the repairs, but the law gives the landlord 45 days--I think--and doesn't mandate any sort of positive attitude about it.)

I get the clearance report from the contractor and email it to my licensing worker. We're in early June now, six and a half months after the initial lead inspection. She forwards it to Priscilla, who loses it in her email inbox. I follow up with Priscilla who doesn't understand why I am the one making the calls to her; it is the licensing worker's job, yada yada yada. They can't accept the landlord's contractor's report; they need their inspector to come back; she'll have him call me to schedule. By a half hour later, under the influence of some sort of miracle, she has called me back twice and done a complete 180. The report is fine, my apartment is fine, and now I just need the home study. Because of course, while all this was going on, they couldn't do more than one step at a time.

Home study involves two visits to my apartment by the licensing worker; she is an hour late for the first visit because she got lost, but otherwise the visits are uneventful. At the end of the second visit, which was about a week and a half before the end of July, she tells me that the next step is for her to write the home study report, which she'll get to "this month" and then it goes to a supervisor for approval. (There was another issue introduced regarding back-up child care providers and background checks, but the saga is probably pretty boring to you all at this point.)

Well, just over a week ago, now towards the end of August, I get a phone call from the licensing worker. She doesn't introduce herself, which itself is a little odd, and I have to do some quick thinking to translate the caller ID's "Kimberly Williams"--not the licensing worker's name--to the worker. Anyway, the point of the call? She's writing my report (yes, a month later than she said she was going to), and, wait for it, they've lost my background check.

And here we are. I've gone in for a new set of fingerprints, because it's not like the whole system is electronic and it's not like fingerprints stay the same. (Ha.) But it needs to be done every year anyway (see sarcasm above--really, can't they just submit the same fingerprints to the FBI to get an updated report?) and it had already been 11 months (see: started process in September and did everything on their recommended schedule).

So now just waiting for the homestudy report to be written and approved. I'm taking bets for when that will be. Leave your guess in the comments.

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