Friday, March 24, 2017

court for Sparkler

Sparkler is a friend of My Genius Sister's.

Sparkler was visiting her mother, JW, in prison this past week. JW was delicately trying to tell Sparkler that court was going to happen again. Contempt charges had been filed against Cardinal, Sparkler's paternal grandmother, and the guardianship of Sparkler was going to be contested.

JW is trying hard to not make all of this extra stressful for Sparkler. Everyone knows that anything could happen in court. Despite the fact that JW wants Sparkler to live with My Genius Sister (MGS)...Cardinal is "family" and sometimes judges can't see past that.

JW asked Sparkler if she knew about court already.

With more confidence than an 8 year old should have about matters of this nature, Sparkler schooled her mother...
"Yes, Mom. I know there is going to be court. They're going to talk about guardianship. Do you know what a guardian is, Mom? A guardian is supposed to GUARD you. And Mom, I really think MGS would guard me better than Grandma does." (paraphrased)
Things with Sparkler have deteriorated from just "not good" to downright dangerous. She moved out of the home she had been in. This, in and of itself, isn't a bad thing. The home she was in could almost have been featured on an episode of Hoarders. But her new home had no furniture, very few clothes, and no food. Plus, Grandma is drinking...a lot. She's leaving Sparkler alone. In fact, Cardinal was unable to be located not that long ago and Sparkler took it upon herself to walk to the local bar to wait for her grandma. Patrons took pity on her and bought Sparkler supper. And funny...Grandma was very surprised and angry that someone in the bar called child services and yet another investigation was opened.

So right now, My Genius Sister is at court. She doesn't get to sit in on the proceedings because she has to testify about some photos that are being presented as evidence. It's a different judge this time. And...fingers crossed...I think this judge cares more about the safety of Sparkler than the last one did.

Please say a prayer for everyone involved. I'll let y'all know what happens.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

scheduling a visit

This post is going to be long and choppy. But I want to shine a light on some things foster parents sometimes have to deal with in The System.

At the adversary hearing, about two weeks after the children were removed, Whiz and Rex's parents were given their service plans. They were also assigned visitation. Because of the domestic violence charges on Dad, visits between Mom and Dad were to be separate. Each parent was given two, 2-hour, visits per week. Mom's visits were to be in the local CPS office. (CPS agreed to provide transportation.) And Dad's visits were to be supervised in the community.

Relatively soon after court, CPS coordinated the visit schedule between Mom, myself, and the third-party monitoring company. Mom's visits were to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays, about 30 minutes away from where we live. I am required to provide all transportation. That is a done deal where I'm at. Neither CPS or my licensing agency will transport the children unless it is an emergency. Even then, it's unlike they would transport. This requirement of me, to provide all transportation, is in my contract. (And I'm totally OK with that!!! I just say this so people understand that there are NO "transporters" available.)

Dad works full time. Visits for him were to be done around his work schedule. That meant that the actual visit day and time might change and that he would take his four hours worth of visit time all at once 1 time per week.

Mom has been pretty hit and miss. She's called to cancel most every visit she misses ahead of time so I don't have to drive and wait around for the no-show. I'd say she's made it to about 1/3 of her visits.

Dad doesn't do well at scheduling his own visits. I think that in most cases, visits with Dad have only been scheduled when the third-party monitoring company calls and/or texts Mom to make him set up a visit. He's actually kept every single one of his visits that was set up, though.

Then they had court on March 10. Dad was able to convince the judge to let him have visits with Mom. The number of hours didn't change. Visits are still supposed to be a total of only four hours, per parent, per week.

The third-party monitoring company sets up all the visits with the parents. CPS generally stays out of the whole mess.

The boys had a visit with both parents on Thursday the 16th. They had another one on Sunday the 19th.

I have NO problem with the schedule or the frequency. I'm definitely not trying to sabotage anything. But when the monitoring company told me they were scheduling another visit (this one for only two hours) with Mom for Thursday the 23rd, I did ask if that was "OK" - as I thought the parents were only supposed to get four hours per week and Mom had seen the boys for four hours just the past Sunday.

Back and forth I went with the monitoring company. More than anything, I want the monitoring company to actually SET a visit SCHEDULE with the parents. I do not care if it changes all the time. But from the very first time I spoke with Dad, he told me that he gets his work schedule a month in advance. He has told me every single time I've asked him that he will give his full schedule to CPS and/or the monitoring company and set visits up a month at a time.

I've had the babies for over two months now and I NEVER know when the next visit with Dad is going to be. And now that Mom and Dad visit together, based on Dad's work schedule, I don't know when ANY visits are going to be.

And I'm just not OK with that. I don't want much....just a little bit of advance notice. Not only do I have a household to run, but I've actually got a rather time consuming job that I have to give attention to on a daily basis as well! I can't promise a job to a customer and then get pulled away for hours to transport to a visit, wait around, and then transport back home. (I wait in the community for two hour visits. The location of the four hour visits is slightly closer to my house, so I drive home.)

Everything ended on Tuesday night this week with the director of the monitoring company telling me that he was waiting to hear from Mom to see if she had secured transportation to the Thursday visit. I assumed one would happen - but I didn't know for sure yet.

Wednesday morning...

Both babies puked on me at different times. I didn't think too much of it. Rex is a puker and Whiz will puke when he's mad.

Wednesday afternoon...

I sent a text to the monitoring company (the boss man) asking if the visit for Thursday had been officially confirmed. In between any answer, I got Whiz up from his nap.

Whiz had a fever of 103. I sent another text to the monitoring company advising them of this. I said, "Do you want to do a visit with him sick? He could be better by tomorrow, of course."

The monitoring company boss told me to contact him Thursday morning if Whiz was still running a fever.

Later Wednesday afternoon...

I decided to take Whiz to the doctor. Normally I don't think too much of a fever. But because of the visit, I was going to make sure I covered ALL my bases!! I packed both babies up and headed to the pediatrician.

I sent a text to the monitoring company, "I'm at the doctor with Whiz. He tests positive for influenza A. He's likely to be sick for several days as the symptoms just started today." I sent this text to both the actual monitor and her boss.

The monitor (let's call her Abby) replied, "Let me speak to Mom and see what she'd like. We don't recommend the visit, but if you'd like me to ask, I will."

I replied, "I will do WHATEVER I need to do. I understand both keeping the visit - because Mom needs to be able to parent healthy and sick children. I also understand looking out for Whiz and his comfort and letting him stay home."

The response from Abby that came next floored me:
"Visit will still happen in the morning. If Whiz is worse, then Rex will be the only one to stay for the visit."
Let me break that down...

Abby wants me to put two kids in my car and drive 30+ minutes over to the town where the visit it. I'm supposed to drop the healthy child off and then hang out somewhere in the community with the sick kid for two hours. Then I can come back to pick up the healthy kid.

Or...

I can drive both kids. Drop off one. Drive back home. Wait around for maybe 45 minutes. Drive back. Pick one kid up. Drive back home.

I told this 20 year old girl, "If Whiz is worse, it won't be good for him to travel and stay out in the community for two hours during the visit time. And I can't drive back and forth like that. It would be over two hours in the car for Whiz."

During this fiasco that definitely raised my blood pressure, Rex tested positive for the flu as well. I communicated this with Abby and she told Mom. Mom decided to cancel the visit for today.

Thank God!

Both boys were puking this morning. Whiz ran a fever ALL DAY. And both boys slept a ton!!! Mixing a visit into all of that would not have been good at all!

And here I am...Thursday night...and I have NO IDEA when the next visit with the babies' parents is going to be.

I'll be bugging Abby and/or her boss again tomorrow. I'm going to type up a lovely email for our CPS worker and my licensing agency. Right now, all I'm "demanding" is at least a two day notice prior to any visit. But I haven't put that in writing (other than texts).

And if you know anything about foster care, if it didn't get written down...it didn't happen.

Document. Document. Document.

Monday, March 20, 2017

CPS did their monthly visit

Not word for word...but quotes from the babies' CPS worker from about an hour ago...

The children will probably go back on a monitored placement.
Then they'll come back into Care when Dad gets arrested again.

The judge gave me permission to start on the ICPC home study.

The parents have got a year to work on their case plan.

One thing that is going to hold the parents up is that they only work their services on Dad's days off.

Yes, the old case will be taken into consideration. (I asked about the 15/22 federal law.)

The parents know how to work The System. They know what to say. They'll take their classes. I've got information from the neighbors. I can't disclose to you what they said. But they know things. I hope someone will call me.

I have no proof. Mom had a black eye the other day but she refused to let me take a picture of it.

We will check the police reports to see if neighbors call the police on Mom and Dad.
Even if there's no arrest, we will factor that in.

Well, if they go back on a monitored placement, at least we'll have the home study started on the relative for ICPC.

I hope we can keep these babies safe.