Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Twins and a self harming teenager

That was the call I got today. Six year old twin girls and their 14 year old sister. Wanted to know if I would take them.

Of course I would, as long as they'd be ok around my 2 year old. I know very little about what to expect so I trust my agency to only place children with me that wouldn't pose a risk to my daughter. They decided to discuss it further...

The call back this afternoon was disappointing. The older girl was very angry and destructive and the local authority wouldn't place them with me. There had been mention of me just having the twins but they want to keep them all together (which I totally understand).

Schools start back next week so I'm keeping my fingers crossed things will happen soon.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Child Protection training

I went to my first training session through my foster agency today.

I had a good time, I really enjoyed meeting the other foster carers and I learned a lot - not really much on the Child Protection side of things as I've done that training many times before, but lots of stuff about social services and foster agencies that I didn't know.

The manager of the agency was there and mentioned a referral they'd had for me - two school aged children - but the call she was waiting for never came, and it was another false alarm.

I also found out that many social workers take their holidays during school holidays... apparently this is the reason the agency haven't had many referrals. It makes sense, as the two social workers I've been trying to contact about two (seperate) children I want to be considered for (for a long term placement) are both out of the office until early September. I just wish the agency had thought of this and mentioned it to me before I ended all of my childminding contracts - I could've had 6 extra weeks of steady income!

But oh well, at least I've had a lovely relaxing summer, and I'm now very prepared for my foster kids when they get here :D

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Feeling frustrated

So much has happened in the last couple of months, and yet I still feel like I did all those months ago when I was first approved... I'm STILL waiting for my first foster placement....

At the beginning of June I moved from my lovely, affordable flat where my daughter was born to a bigger, more suitable place ready for foster kids. This house is nicer and perfect for children (all of the kids I look after have said they prefer it), but it's A LOT more money.

Soon after I moved I was offered my third possible placement - one that I really wanted to say yes to but couldn't because of my work - and made the decision to quit childminding so I would be available at short notice for the next referral that came my way. This was such a hard thing to do because not only was I letting the families down, I was also putting myself in a situation where I had no idea when I'd be earning again and yet had higher rent and bills to pay.

A month after moving (with the house still only half unpacked!) I went away on holiday with my family for 2 weeks. I really needed the break and it was great relaxing and watching my daughter enjoy herself and learn so much. I called the foster agency the Monday after we got back, and I was informed that while I was away they'd had a referral specifically for me - siblings aged six and one - but with it being an emergency the local authority couldn't wait for me to return to place the children. It was so disappointing to hear that another placement had passed me by. Especially one where the kids were perfect ages.

That week I worked my last full week childminding - an exhausting 50 something hours! Luckily one of the families was happy for me to carry on minding their child with the knowledge that I may have to cancel at very short notice. This has been great for me as it means I'm still earning some income and also only working a couple of 10 hour days a week. I get a bit of a break and it keeps my daughter entertained too which is great!

On Wednesday 30th July I had a call while I was in the park with my daughter and a friend. The agency had had a referral and I was told to be ready in case the children needed placing. I rushed home and spent the rest of the day tidying the house and organising things so the kids could move in the next day. At 4.30pm on Thursday I got a call saying the case was still in court and I would be informed of the outcome the next day. I waited and waited for the call on Friday but it never came so I called the office first thing on Monday morning to find out what was happening. A few hours later I was told that the placing authority wanted to keep all four kids together (not split them 2 and 2 as I'd been told previously) and had found other carers.

The next day I had a call to say they'd had another referral - an adoption breakdown. I agreed to take the child but didn't hear anymore. I then got a call on the Wednesday - they'd had a referral for 2 children aged 10 and 12. I asked what was happening with the first one and was told that he couldn't be placed with younger children, so would I take this new referral. I reminded the agency that I was only approved for up to age 7 which caused a lot of flapping at the other end of the phone. I was told they would get back in touch with the local authority and call me back... as usual, no word so I called them the next day - no the children couldn't be placed with me, and what a silly age limit I had, it really should be upped to 12. Well, that's what I asked for to begin with, it was my link worker who suggested age 7 to panel, but somehow I'm made to feel its my fault...

I know it's only been two weeks since I've actually been free to take emergency placements but this whole thing is starting to get to me again. I feel like I'm waiting for the phone to ring every day, and am constantly on edge in case they want to place kids and I'm not ready. I still don't have the foster kids bedroom set up, but not knowing what ages the kids might be means I can't really do anything. I think the worst bit though is the way the agency deal with things. They never seem to know the facts about my situation or my approval (several times I've had to remind them that my daughter is 2, tell them how many bedrooms I have, state the ages I'm approved for). And when they say they'll call and then don't. I'm starting to feel like I'm only important to them when they can use me - they don't seem to realise that right now I'm putting everything on hold for them and it might be nice them to actually call when they promise they will. I'm starting to wonder if maybe I should have gone with another agency. I'm going to give them a year from my approval (ie until October this year) and if things haven't happened by then I might just have to see about moving to another agency.