So what do you do when you get an emergency call at 2am? You get up. Emergency calls are the hardest. You usually know the age and sometimes the gender of the children but you rarely know their disposition and why they are coming.
The two things I try to make sure I do is make sure there are clean sheets on the bed and something quick to eat. Most kids will at least a peanut butter sandwich so we keep peanut butter in the house at all times. And quite frankly you don’t want to making beds at 2am, especially if you have other foster kids in the room they are going into.
The one thing I learned is that even when you are given information, it is rarely correct information. In fact, for several weeks I though my five year old was three. Sure explained a lot when I finally got his file and found out he was older. Otherwise he would have basically been the smartest, most advanced three year old I have ever met. So never assume what or who the children are going to be.
One time I got in a child that attacked his mother and needed emergency placement. The officer said the child was basically overwhelmed and the mother was struggling with the role of being a parent. The officer never told me the child’s age and honestly implied that he was a teenager. Imagine my surprise when a terrified five year old showed up on my doorstep.
The process of taking emergency placements is confusing and quite frankly not everyone does their jobs correctly. All you can do is respond the best way you can.
Another thing that helps is not putting a lot of pressure on the child when they come in. We usually get them settled quickly and then go on with our day like nothing has changed. This helps them to adjust without being self conscious. At 2am: get them clean, get them settled, and let everyone go back to bed.
Sometimes this is a little bit easier said than done. This is one of the few times I break my rule about TV at bedtime. A lot of times a light cartoon will help get their mind off the frequently traumatic events of the evening. Emergency placements are not for everyone, but it can be a very rewarding segment of foster care.