Today, like most other days, CPS placement workers called me three separate times to ask me if Mike and I would be willing to take physical custody of various foster children. I know there was a 6 month old boy, but I didn't speak to the other two workers, so I'm not sure who the other two children were. On average, I get 2-3 calls per day, every day. We have a happy home and and empty bed, so we are a CPS worker's dream. For 12 hours a day, placement workers are trying to find healthy, happy, homes for children that are brought into care for a couple of different reasons.
Some children need what's called an "initial placement". They are brought into CPS care from their parent or guardian's home, and now need somewhere to go. If they don't find the child(ren) a home within the first 24 hours, they technically become a ward of the state, which is a legal conundrum for a number of reasons -- it's much easier if they find a foster parent within the first 24 hours. There's a lot of paperwork that can be avoided. Nonetheless, these kids come straight from whatever situation landed them into foster care in the first place. Our last kiddos came with fresh bruises, diaper rash, and other signs of abuse and neglect. These kiddos are generally just big question marks. No one knows anything about them. Baby P was fussy and hated men, and dogs. These were things that we should have known... as Mike is a guy and we have three dogs. But no one knew, so they couldn't tell us.
Other children need a secondary placement. This means they've been in a foster home and for whatever reason, that isn't working. Maybe the foster parent can no longer care for them; maybe the foster parent needs to care for less children because they're moving into a smaller home, because they have too many kids under the age of 3, opposite sex children are in the same room... there are a lot of rules. We got a packet of foster parent rules that was probably an inch thick. In many ways, this is slightly better than initial placement. We now know something about these kiddos. They've been in a home with someone that I can talk to - the old foster parent could tell me what they do/don't eat, how they sleep, if they have any fears or allergies, if there are any behavioral or medical concerns.
A third time of placement is a familial placement -- it means there are siblings they want to unify into a single home. It is never the goal of CPS to break up families. These kiddos have already been though a lot and they want to keep as much stability as possible. In many ways this is similar to a secondary placement, except there is the unknown factor of the sibling interactions. Maybe they love each other, maybe they hate each other... no one knows.
So anyway, I went through all of this to explain why there are so many calls. Most of the calls I get are for initial placements. Sometimes, it's even a sibling pair that they offer to let us choose one of the kids. These would probably be shorter term placements, because the goal is to reunify the sibling groups when possible.
We are now in a place where we think we can start considering kiddos again. Not today, but soon. Once we gather our thoughts and our energy, we can start looking for the "right" fit for us. We decided that will be a single kiddo that we can easily transition into daycare. A younger infant could go to daycare and never know the difference. A person is a person. A toddler with daycare experience could go into daycare easily as well. It would be a "new" daycare, but they know how it works.
Aside from that, we know we can't handle major medical or behavioral issues. One kiddo they called us about was a biter. No dice. One kiddo had serious medical issues that would require round the clock care. As heartbreaking as his story was (his parent had beaten him so severely that he'd become paralyzed), we knew we were the wrong home for him.
However, we will keep our eyes and ears open for the right match. Someday, it will come along. Considering we are getting three calls a day - probably some day soon.