Regular meetings with case managers and CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) and other individuals connected with a case are also considered “services.”
Foster parents, Middendorf emphasized, must sacrifice a certain degree of privacy not only to pass background checks and various screenings, but also in allowing the various parties connected to each case access to the child.
Middendorf described the background checks and screenings for prospective foster parents as expensive, time-consuming and exhaustive, adding, “it [the lengthy screening process] helps us to be comfortable with where we’re placing the child, and it helps, to some degree, to make the birth family comfortable [with the placement].
She was quick to point out, too, that parties involved with the case don’t drop by a foster home unannounced. Every service is meticulously scheduled and pre-arranged.
Foster parents must have the flexibility to deal with children from a range of backgrounds and circumstances, too.
“There is no ‘typical’ foster child,” Middendorf stressed. “Every child we come in contact with has experienced some kind of trauma. Foster parents must be able to accept and address each child’s behavior appropriately. They’ve got to be able to just kind of roll with whatever comes about.”
That’s not to say foster parents go it alone with no help from DCS. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Middendorf.
In addition to the service providers who regularly visit the foster home, DCS itself is required to stop by once every thirty days. We work with the family and take a team approach to resolving each case, Middendorf said.
By state law, successful “resolution” in each case means reunification with the birth family. Thus, DCS is required to work toward reuniting the child with the birth family for a minimum of six months.