How can a two-parent family where both parents work full-time (I don't remember if that's your situation) can do the appointments, phone calls, etc. required to foster a baby or preschooler?
My partner and I are thinking about fostering but it seems like there's so much scheduled on top of the normal parenting requirements that there almost needs to be a stay-at-home parent.
This is going to be a difficult question to answer. Every single state, agency, and social worker operates differently. So, what I know to be true about my area might not apply in yours Stacy.
Because I work from home I've never tried to put extreme limits on when and where those appointments and phone calls, etc. take place. I've pretty much let everyone know that I can go with the flow. However, I know that Mimi at I Must Be Trippin' is a single foster mom that has structured her schedule. I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong Mimi, that she was very up front with all parties involved in her cases. She does home visits with everyone only one day a month. She meets with social workers, CASA volunteers, lawyers, etc. during that day only. Where I'm at I bet being that strict with my schedule would be met with a great deal of resistance. However, the need for foster parents is so great! I'm betting that if you were up front during your home study and extremely up front the first time you meet with any of the professionals involved in your kid's cases that it would be do-able just about anywhere.
The first couple weeks of a new placement will probably be the most difficult each and every time. Where I'm at we are required to take our kids to a doctor within the first 72 hours of placement for a communicable disease screening. I simply take my kids to the doctor and get a full physical done as well to at least get that ball rolling. Often kids will need a few different doctor appointments when they first come in to Care. I've had several placements where the children were behind on vaccinations which required multiple appointments to get caught up.
I have 30 days in which to make sure my kids have seen a dentist. Again, the dentist has always required multiple visits as well. All my placements have arrived with rotting teeth that needed extreme restoration.
Then of course you might have to juggle therapy, psychiatrist appointments, family visits and more. Each of these are case specific though.
Legally, your job has to accommodate your appointments. The Family Medical Leave Act entitles you to 12 workweeks of leave within the first 12 months following a placement. Granted, this is unpaid. But you are legally entitled to take time off to tend to the various appointments. When we were licensed in Iowa I worked outside the home and my husband was a full-time college student. I approached my boss with the idea of us fostering prior to us getting our license. He was generous enough to understand that I was going to need a flexible schedule. I personally ended up just being able to take time off as necessary and work extra to make up for things. Thankfully, during the time we fostered in Iowa it was MUCH, MUCH easier than it is down here in Texas. I had so many fewer appointments.
I'll be honest – I'm not sure how a single foster parent or a two-parent family where both work outside of the home do it. But they do!! Here are some blogs I read by either a single parent or a two-parent working family. Maybe they can be of help or inspiration.
Letting Go of Mie
All My Pretty Ones
I Must Be Trippin'
Love's A State of Mind
I'd love it if any of my readers could comment on this blog with more advice about juggling the craziness that is foster parenting with a full-time working schedule. I'm guessing that most of the responses will include getting a strong support system that is approved by your licensing agency/State to help back you up. Transportation services are available in many areas as well. Please chime in with other helpful hints!