I am required to fill out a calendar for every foster child in my home detailing their daily recreational time. The back side of this calendar allows space for me to document any contact with their biological family.
In my opinion, these calendars are a complete joke. Good foster families don't have time to waste filling out these types of forms. Nobody really reads them anyway. And bad foster homes, ones that don't allow any real recreation time, are going to lie on the forms anyway.
I've been filling these forms out for years now. For the little ones, I've been using a slightly modified system. On the calendar I write in anything "special", like doctor appointments, therapies, and court hearings. Along with the calendar I submit a letter stating what a typical schedule looks like. Or, in the case of these infants, that their schedule varies significantly because they are babies and that their needs are met as necessary. I mean really...sometimes Star takes three naps in a day. Sometimes she takes six. No one gives a damn about this and I shouldn't have to try and keep track of this kind of stuff.
The rec logs I've been turning in for years - literally since Dude and Dolly were with me - have never been a problem.
I got an email from the director of our agency. She's now our licensing worker because both of the actual workers they had on staff quit on them. (My agency has a real problem with turnover.) The email from Marcy read as follows:
Our auditors reviewed Russell's file and found several missing information. They are requested updated daily logs for Russell since placement. Days missing (Saturday & Sunday) must be filled out. Also please list all recreational activities, not OT/PT/ST or court. This form must list recreational activities that are age appropriate and provided to Russell on a daily basis; example: listening to music, play specific games, FM read books, etc.This email upset me almost immediately.
I will need to pick these up before Tuesday. Please let me know when I can stop by to pick these up along with his therapy notes that the secretary discussed with you earlier.
My Christian licensing agency is asking me to fill in DAILY recreational logs retroactively for the past seven months.
The first thing I did was bitch about it on my Cherub Mamma Facebook page.
Then I really did think about it. I had a choice...either fill in the calendar with made up stuff for each and every day. Or tell the people in authority that their request is wrong and that I won't comply.
There's merit to just doing it and moving on. Not rocking the boat.
But I got this pit in my stomach. They're asking me to LIE. They're asking me to make up what we did. And yes...Russell has a wide variety of toys to play with. But no...I don't read a book to him every day. And I don't feel right misrepresenting truth just to fulfill some stupid requirement.
So, I wrote a letter. I included forty different dated pictures that show Russell in various places in our home playing with a wide variety of toys. Here's what I told Marcy, our licensing agency director:
To Whom It May Concern
In regards to the daily recreational logs due for Russell
I cannot in good conscious fill out daily recreational logs retroactively. There is no way that I can say for sure what happened every single day since Russell came to stay in our home. Also, I’ve been filling out these rec logs in the same manner since they were assigned to me several years ago. At no point in time has anyone ever corrected me and said I needed to do them differently. Anything I would fill out now would be a lie and I’m not comfortable with my Christian agency being so hung up on these rules that they would ask me to lie and fill out seven months of logs retroactively.
I can certainly fill logs out differently as we progress forward with this case. However, I need someone from (our licensing agency) to show me what acceptable logs for infants should look like. When I had a teenager I simply wrote in one “free time” activity per day and listed what his school schedule was. My infants don’t have a “schedule” per se as I meet their needs as necessary.-----
Let me also point out how absurd these logs really are. It should be the responsibility of the licensing worker to ensure that the children in my home are being cared for appropriately. Good foster homes don’t have time to fill out logs every single day detailing out minute-by-minute how the children spend their time. And bad foster homes, ones that don’t allow recreational time or don’t vary it at all, are going to lie on their logs. Once a month a worker comes to my home. They should be able to assess that my children have appropriate toys for their developmental level available.
This is a look at an average day with Russell:
Russell wakes in the morning. I get him dressed and place him in either a bouncer or in his play yard while the big kids get ready for school.
I drive the big kids to school.
Once home, Russell goes in his high chair and is fed breakfast.
The reason I listed each one of Russell’s therapies out on the rec log is because his therapy time IS play time. He is given a variety of toys and things to do with each therapist. He enjoys this time very much and obviously, it is crucial to his overall development. Ultimately though, Russell is playing during therapy with the therapists.
After therapies are over, Russell goes down for nap.
After nap, Russell is fed lunch.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Russell goes to a visit with his biological mother from 2:00-4:00pm. When he first came to the our house, he would go down for nap immediately following the visit. Lately, Russell stays awake all afternoon. He typically plays in the living room with his infant toys or he plays in his play yard.
I rotate Russell’s toys once or twice during a typical day. Developmentally he is an infant. He simply picks things up and shakes them, chews on them, and/or bangs them together. Russell has the following toys at his disposal:
Cars and trucks
Giraffe ball toy
Play garden with slide and ball drop
Block slide toy
Tunnel to crawl through
Maracas and tambourine
It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to say WHAT he plays with all day long. It ONLY makes sense to say that Russell has “free time” when he’s playing. Under no circumstances do I tell him what he has to play with and his attention span is so short he plays with everything. I understand that “free time” isn’t allowed on the rec logs. So I’m not sure what to say. He is an infant. He plays like an infant does. Again, this is why I need someone to tell me what acceptable rec logs for infants should look like.
Dinner is at roughly 5:30pm.
After supper Russell plays with the toys in the living room or he’s placed in his play yard.
Bedtime falls sometime between 7:00pm and 8:30pm depending on how tired he is and whether or not Russell took a second nap in the afternoon.
The following are pictures taken of Russell since he came to our home. They will give proof to a variety of toys and activities being available to Russell.
I HATE confrontation. But I decided I just couldn't let this be. It will be interesting to see how Marcy responds to my email and the letter.