Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Traveling woes...part four million, five hundred sixty-seven thousand, three-hundred, twenty-nine.

Mr. Amazing and I are in the process of becoming members of B.A.C.A.

I just got my patches that prove I passed my background checks and that I'm safe to be around kids. I can now attend what are considered "child events" - things where B.A.C.A. kids are present.

As it turns out, there are two events in Central Texas this weekend. And since Russell doesn't have any appointments on the weekends, and the rest of the family's schedule is clear, we decided that we would all go up together. (Herman will be staying behind. He's not joining B.A.C.A. just yet as he doesn't ride a motorcycle...yet. And he doesn't want to go through the screening process to become a member until he can ride independently.) Mr. Amazing will ride his bike and the younger kids and I will follow behind in the "cage".

All that's left to do is get permission for Russell to travel with us.

I bet y'all know where this post is going...

The first thing I did was send a text message to Russell's CPS worker:
I know that minimum standards in Texas allow for me to travel with Russell for overnights less than 72 hours long in the state. Would I need extra permissions from you to take Russell anywhere on the weekends - for example, San Antonio, for a Saturday night?
She replied:
Yes ma'am. Just have your agency send me an email stating where you'll be going and staying. Dates and phone numbers. Purpose of trip.
I did that last night. This email went to our worker at our licensing agency:
We are going to go to San Antonio to a B.A.C.A. (Bikers Against Child Abuse) event this Saturday, April 25. We will be staying the night with B.A.C.A. members and children at the San Antonio Aquarium as part of an event called Sleeping with the Sharks. Every adult present will have gone through FBI fingerprinting (a requirement to be a B.A.C.A. member or prospect). We will return Sunday afternoon. Russell will not be missing any visits with his family or any other scheduled appointments. His CPS worker said all she needs from you is an email stating where I’m going, dates, phone numbers and the purpose of the trip.
Child: Russell
Foster Family: Mr. Amazing & Cherub Mamma
Date: Saturday, April 25 to Sunday, April 26, 2015
Location: 6320 Bandera Road, San Antonio, TX 78238
Phone Numbers: xxx-xxx-xxx
Purpose: family time at the aquarium and Sleeping with the Sharks B.A.C.A. event
Please let me know if you need anything else.
Thank you.
Cherub Mamma
I didn't hear anything from my agency worker so I called at about 11:15am. I was told she was in a meeting. I told the secretary I had sent an email this morning and that I needed an answer soon so I could confirm with the event coordinator. The secretary put me on hold briefly and then said that my agency worker was waiting to hear back from CPS.

< sigh >

So I sent a text message to the CPS worker:
Did you get the email from my agency this morning? I'd like to go to San Antonio this weekend for one night. I need to give the event coordinator a head count though. Is there a problem with Russell traveling with our family?
She responded:
I did let your agency know that we need at least 10 days notice because I have to get approval from Russell's attorney and then file it with the court to have the judge sign and approve. I'm going to do the advisement either way. I won't know until Friday if it got approved.
My response:
For a single night trip in the State?
CPS response:
Yes ma'am. Any time a child leaves the county the court needs to be notified. With the exception of (one county over). If you go to (two local attractions) just notify me. No court approval is needed.
My response:
I don't mean to be difficult. But that is much more restrictive than the State minimum standards. We are supposed to treat our foster children like members of our family and trips lasting less than 72 hours within the State do not require anyone's approval but yours.
At least that's what the standards say.
Do you think you'll know by Friday?
CPS response:
Let me ask my supervisor.
I didn't get a lot of notice for this event. I'm sorry if this is causing extra hassle for you!!
Not a problem ma'am. Let me talk to my supervisor. always...this worker adheres to a set of rules that I can't find written down anywhere. These rules aren't fair to the foster parents or the foster children. If I had respite available I could easily dump Russell on them for Saturday night and no one would say a single thing. They would expect it.

But I want to include him?! That almost requires intervention from God, Himself.

I really wish I could have a sit-down with the judge on this topic. I have run into problems with travel entirely too many times. Trips have been cancelled and foster kids of mine have gone into unnecessary respite more times that I want to remember!! Why, oh why, oh why, do they have to make it even more difficult than the already in-place Minimum Standards?!

I don't always have 10 days notice for things. Sometimes the weather is right and the schedule is clear and we just want to go somewhere.

No...I would never leave overnight without getting permission. With my luck something would happen and I'd get caught.

So Russell and I won't go if I don't get permission to travel. Mr. Amazing will go to the events with TT and Bart alone. And yeah, I'll probably enjoy having the house to myself for a weekend. But dagnabit...I really want to go!

Hopefully I'll hear something soon.


MamaFoster said...

This really bothers me. So many issues. Not fair to the Foster family. Not fair to the Foster child. Made up rules. Why was I not made aware that I needed to give u 10 days notice. :(. It ridiculous.

VJ said...

Does your husband's BACA patch say "Mr. Amazing"? : )

Also, a fun trick I learned with my county worker - the made-up rules instantly disappear when you adhere to them too stringently. We live one mile away from the state border and were told we needed to give two weeks' notice if we ever wanted to leave the state - something beyond minimum standards. Seriously, to go to the grocery store across the state line or to my parents' house 6 miles away (they are approved caregivers). So I filled out all their forms and submitted travel dates for the next six months: weekly Sunday dinner with my parents, going to Target across the border on a Wednesday, etc. etc. (you get the idea, I was being annoying). And magically, they called me and said "Oh, you don't need to do that, you can travel anywhere within 150 miles as long as it's not overnight!" Hmm, really, that's DEFINITELY not what you told me. "Well I don't know who told you that you needed permission just to cross the state line, but you can travel 150 miles for a day trip without notifying us." YOU told me that, but I see you have changed your ridiculous made-up rule. Thank you for seeing reason.

So, you could just see permission for weekend trips that you think might happen (always easier to cancel) until they decide you get a "waiver" because they don't want you to bother them anymore. On the bright side, you get to text your CPS worker? I never got our CPS worker's cell number. And she took a minimum of 3 days to respond to voicemails left on her work phone so you can imagine the good times we had. Small miracles!

Amber said...

What would happen if you (Cherub Mamma) sent an email/registered letter to the agency/judge/CPS/whomever along the lines of the letter below?

Dear Name,

According to Section 6320 of the official TX DFPS Handbook*, [insert copy of chart that says no special/advance permission is needed for < 48 hrs trip w/foster kid within TX] -- however, my agency has advised me that in-state trips out of town require written permission which must be submitted to [Whomever] 10 days in advance as per [attach email exchange w/agency].

I am confused by this conflicting information.

Can you please advise me who has authorized [agency] or [judge] to impose a requirement for traveling with a foster child that is significantly more onerous than that required by the state of TX? And provide me with a link to the [official law/act/regulation] that authorizes [agency] or [judge] to do so?

If no such, law/act/regulation exists, I would be very grateful if you could confirm this to me in writing.

I look forward to hearing from you by no later than Month X, 2015 [whatever service standard TX state gov't has for responding to inquiries from the public + link to the service standard reg online].

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Kindest Regards,
Cherub Mamma [w/contact information]


Anonymous said...

I do think you are a model foster mother. And I do think it would be nice if everyone in this country learned English... however where you live that simply is not the case. It is also not the case in many many metropolitan areas of this country. Where I am it would be helpful to me to speak both Spanish and Mandarin as well as English and that isn't happening any time soon. SO I am not expecting the population in your area to overnight become fluent in English or you in Spanish. BUT, I am wondering if it would be helpful for you to make a brief form about R in English and then ask Rickie to translate it into Spanish so both languages show and you can tick off boxes that apply. Basic things like his name, disability, abilities, when he last napped and will need another, status on eating and maybe favorite play activities??? MIGHT this help? Maybe Herman is leaning Spanish in school and could make the first pass as a learning activity and then Rickie correct? A simple way for Rickie to give back IF HE WANTS TO HELP but no pressure. And it might help not only for day careers but also when he has visitation...
Or perhaps I am WAAAY Out of Bounds. Not sure why my anony. comments are not posting. THANKS.

Cherub Mamma said...

As far as the day care goes, I was able to communicate (well enough anyway) Russell's needs to the lady in the office. I know that immediately after I enrolled Russell for drop-in care, she went over to the infant room to talk to the ladies that work there. They were expecting him this morning.

I did have a note, written in English, briefly detailing his situation. I wanted the workers to know that he does have healing fractures. (I don't need anyone calling CPS on me telling them his arm is all crooked...because it is.) There are one or two staff members that speak English.

All I really had to communicate to the ladies this morning was that Russell had already eaten breakfast and that I had packed baby food and one bottle for him for lunch.

I don't foresee using daycare more than once every seven weeks or so (when I go to my rheumatologist for my infusion). And thankfully the daycare understands Russell's needs well enough to put him in the infant room so his needs are being met appropriately. I even got lucky enough that they're charging me the toddler fee (which is cheaper).