Hi Cherub Mamma,
I completely understand your feelings regarding me making this picnic "mandatory". I'll share this with you though...in the past some of our foster parents would not allow the children to attend agency activities or functions because the children misbehaved or did not "deserve" to participate. (This included attending our Christmas party that we just had last year.) This bothers me...regardless of how a child behaves, other consequences or forms of discipline should be utilized. There are times that some of our foster parents forget that the children have suffered so much and for this reason, the children act out or behave a certain way. Either way, our kids should not be punished by missing Christmas parties, birthday parties or the chance to see their brother or sister who is in another home.
For this reason, I decided to make this event mandatory. This gives our foster parents an opportunity to have a great time and get to know one another better. Our children, who unfortunately miss birthdays, Christmas parties and events will also be able to have fun and see their siblings or friends. Often times, sibling groups that are not together in a home licensed by our agency, but who are in different homes, do not see each other enough and this is a great opportunity for some of our kiddos to see their siblings at an agency function. I want to be able to make experiences for foster children memorable and strive to do better for our agency. My staff and I have been working hard to plan this for everyone to enjoy and we have been so excited to do this. I wanted to be able to recognize our parents for all they do and thought this would be a great opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, we do not always have the money to offer these fun things and do not do them often. My focus was to ensure that all of our children and parents have a great time and enjoy themselves. If you and the children do not want to attend than you are not required to do so.
I sent an email back...
RE: picnic this coming weekend
Thank you very much for your response. I do understand why you took the approach you did. Overall though, I do think a better solution would be to address the families that acted inappropriately at Christmas directly. So many of the rules we foster parents have to follow 100% of the time with no exception are because of the small handful of parents that abused the system or didn't use good judgment.
Please don't think my lack of attendance this coming weekend is because I'm angry or anything like that. At this point in time it will be mainly so I can get caught up at home. Spending so many days in the hospital with Pumpkin is going to complicate my personal work schedule. I've got several clients who are waiting for me to get them their projects.
Again, thank you for understanding.
I'll clarify again -- I still think making a picnic is perfectly ridiculous! The parents that skipped things at Christmas might have been out of line. I have no idea. But all we've got as foster parents for discipline options is the removal of privileges. They might have been doing what they seriously thought was best. I personally wouldn't not have chosen an "agency" function to use as a form of punishment. Any child that this would have been effective on would have surely been old enough to say something to their case worker. I'm no dummy - and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to stir that hornets' nest!!
But if this is how my licensing agency is going to trend so to speak, I will surely consider other options. (Continuing to fight against the rules that are over the top...switching to a different licensing agency...or stopping fostering altogether.) To be honest, we're hanging on as foster parents until the two cases in our home are finished. After that, we won't be accepting any new placements. My husband is actively seeking a promotion. And in order for him to get promoted, we will have to move out of our area. In the meantime though, I am going to continue advocating for my children and for foster families in general. And I think that means standing up to the crazy rules whenever appropriate.