Image via Wikipedia
Shortly after we began the process of becoming licensed foster care parents, we were approached by the director of social services and asked if we would be interested in being receiving home parents. So this was kind of a new direction and one we weren’t sure we were ready for, but we were willing to sit down and listen to what they had to say.
First of all, I think it would be beneficial for those foster care newbies out there to know the breakdown of foster care levels. Your average foster care home is what most people think of. The children are raised with a family that lasts anywhere from a few months to a few years and in some cases age out (turn 18 and are removed from the system). These homes can often pick and choose what age ranges, genders, nationality, personality types, and so on that they are willing to accept. In many cases they can even meet the child ahead of time to determine if they like the child. This is your average foster care home.
On the next level up, is a treatment care home. A treatment home is one that is higher licensed to deal with children of a more challenging nature. These home’s are the one’s that take children who need almost constant care but are not considered dangerous or difficult enough to require 24 hour straight supervision.
Receiving homes are a special type of foster care. This is the home the child is first place in when entering the system. Children can arrive at any time day or night with little to no warning. In fact, receiving home foster parents generally carry pagers to be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The children generally stay for less than 30 days until they either are returned home or are placed in long term foster care while the home corrects the issues preventing them from providing a safe environment.
Finally, there are respite homes. Respite providers provide short term care for foster children to allow foster care parents a break. I like to call these homes the super-babysitters.
For extreme cases, there is also shelter care and group home options for foster children in the system.
Originally, my husband and I planned on being a basic foster care family. However, our biggest fear was attachment. One of the hardest things for foster care parents is letting the foster child go when it is time for the child to return home or the child has been adopted. That is the greatest benefit of receiving home care and that is the short term of it and the high turnover. However, the downside is that you really are on call ALL the time. There are no days off or I don’t feel like it. You can not say no if you have a bed open. This means you can get any child of any age, gender, nationality, or difficulty level at any time of the day or not. In fact, they frequently show up in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their back.
This was a big decision for us. We really weren’t sure which way to go because this type of home can be really challenging but it does have a high burnout rate because of the stress involved.
However, when we really thought it over we realized that we can handle this AND we can really make a difference in so many lives instead of just a few. The revolving door aspect of it makes it less likely we will get severely attached and it really gives us the opportunity to help in the best way we can. So we decided that we will do the receiving care and I am truly hoping we will do great at it!