One of the odd things about foster care is that it’s not all about being a foster parent. You have to have your home certified. Here, the state comes out every three years do to a safety inspection and the foster agency has to do a monthly inspection and an annual surprise inspection. We’ve been doing this for almost 6 years (yikes!) so you’d think we’d know what we’re doing. But, with this move, it almost feels like we’re starting from scratch.
I compare the licensing process to a pregnancy. When you’re taking your classes and working on your home study, it’s the time to prepare. It’s the time to ready your home and your family for the new addition that is to come. It’s the time when you need to find a day care, find a sitter, figure out if your pediatrician takes the insurance, figure out where toys and books and clothes will live. Well, I thought we had all of that figured out! And most of it we do… But, we are finding out that there’s a lot of work that we still have to do.
Here are some things that we need to do and I think a few of them may surprise you. We are required to have a fire extinguisher on each level of our home–our last place was a ranch style home so I guess I bought one and didn’t give it another thought.. now I have to find a couple more. We have to do a fire escape plan with at least 2 exits for each bedroom and one of those exits has to be directly out of the house. Now, I think this is a good idea for any family. Foster families do fire drills each quarter. But, we have never had a second story so I’m off to try to find a fire ladder. The biggest change for us is the addition of a pool. In Arizona, a pool is pretty much the only thing that allows you to be outside in the summer. We’ve never had one, we’ve always taken full advantage of the public pools and splash pads, but I am very much looking forward to not having to pack up everything anytime we want to cool off. But, along with that pool comes all of the requirements. Our home already has the approved type of fence, but we still have to purchase some extra equipment. I bought a coast guard approved ring the other day… $120!?! I’m still trying to find the shepard’s crook that I am required to have, it’s not exactly pool season so a few of the stores that I’ve checked with were sold out. We also have to have all of our toxins (dryer sheets, dishwasher detergent, paint…) locked up in away that requires a key. We’ve been down this road before so we know what we’re doing, but the locks that look the best are way expensive and kind of a pain to install (thanks, Daddy!). Hmmm.. what am I forgetting. Oh, we need to have a carbon monoxide detector, again, I think these are a good idea for any family. We are still waiting to find out if we’ll need one for each level or only one for the level that’s at risk.
Basically, we’ll be spending a bunch of time and a small fortune to get ready.
And this is what every foster family goes through. But, it’s a little peak at what lies ahead. When you foster a “typical” child in AZ, the going rate for reimbursement is $16.40 a day. It’ll cover the basic living expense for a child, but if you want to be a parent and have your child involved in sports or activities or classes, that’s going to come out of pocket. If you want to travel, that will cost you, too. And, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops as well. Foster parenting isn’t a way to get rich. But, it shouldn’t make you go broke either.
I think that I’ll work this year to share a few of the hints and tricks I’ve found to make fostering more affordable.. If you have any, please let me know so that I can share!
And, if you know a business that might be interested in offering a discount for foster parents, I’d love to know that as well.
In addition to preparing our home, there are other changes afoot in our home. I don’t plan on teaching PS-MAPP for awhile. So, perhaps it’s time to find another outlet for my passion. I truly love being a parent and a foster parent and I want to help others down the same road. I think I might just have stumbled upon the way for me to do that next.
Hope that your day has an epiphany as well! 🙂