Saturday, December 20, 2014

Transforming Foster Care: Quality Parenting Initiative

In June, I attended the National Foster Parent Association Conference and walked away from it with a new focus - advocating for and educating foster parents. I wrote a post about the importance of recruiting and retaining quality foster parents. And I promised to come back and share some things that our local agency is doing right - and that every foster parent should be asking their agency or county to implement.

I certainly didn't plan to wait this long to revisit the issue, but such is my life.

First, a brief reminder:
Child welfare in Florida is privatized. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) subcontracts with a statewide network of Community-Based Care agencies (CBCs). My CBC, Community Partnership for Children (CPC), covers Volusia, Flagler, and Putnam counties in East Central Florida. 
(if you'd like a more detailed explanation, you can find that here or here

Community Partnership for Children follows the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) model. We'll go over specifics over the next few weeks and months. For now I want to give you a high-level overview and some general examples.

QPI is about ensuring that excellent out-of-home care is provided to children in the child welfare system by recruiting, educating, supporting and retaining quality foster families and kinship caregivers who are committed to providing the highest level of love, nurturing, advocacy and support to the children in their care. QPI places some non-traditional requirements on foster and kinship families, but also provides for a higher level of support for and partnership with these families. Possibly the very best thing you can do to improve how foster families are viewed and treated in your area is to check into the Quality Parenting Initiative.

Under the QPI model, I am considered to be truly part of the team. I am not only entitled to notice of all hearings and staffings, I am expected to attend and I am encouraged to speak up and offer my insights. Now, I am still the foster parent, so my thoughts don't always carry the weight that I think they should, but I am ENTITLED to a seat at the table. I am considered to be a partner in ensuring the best outcomes for the children in my care. I am expected to be their advocate, and my opinion matters.

I am expected to treat any child in my home as though they were my own forever child. It is my responsibility to arrange medical and therapeutic treatment - and to transport my kids to their appointments and participate in treatment in whatever manner I would if the child were legally mine.

Some may view this as a double-edged sword. When we saw that Lil Bit was struggling with feeding, I asked my CM for a referral. She provided the referral and I scheduled and attended the evaluation. While some may find this inconvenient, it only makes sense - Duck Daddy and I are the ones parenting this child - who else would be able to provide the appropriate information to the evaluaters?? What would be the point of sending a non-verbal child to be evaluated for ANYTHING and not include input from the person or people who provide the majority of his care?

When we felt that he needed a speech therapy evaluation, I notified the CM that I was asking the doctor for a referral, scheduled and attended the evaluation and notified the CM of the results. When visitation was scheduled that would interfere with his therapy, I talked the CM about it and she and I are working together to resolve the conflict! 

Because I am viewed as a PARENT, rather than a babysitter, I am trusted to identify a need and arrange for it to be met.

On the other hand, when daycare called last week because Lil Bit had a rash that appeared to be spreading and needed to be picked up, it was my responsibility to leave work, pick him up and take him to the doctor. It was my responsibility to make arrangements for Duck Daddy to take off the next day in case Lil Bit couldn't go back to daycare right away.

Because I am viewed as a PARENT, rather than a babysitter, it is my responsibility to make arrangements when daycare is closed for the holidays.

Full disclosure: Even under QPI, I have encountered case managers who don't buy into foster parents being part of the team. I have spoken with foster parents who don't feel that certain inconveniences should be their problem. However, it has been my experience that the more I am willing to accept the responsibilities of parenting, the more I am allowed the authority to parent.

It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I'm being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that's not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a "sarcasm font", I've come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my "sarcasm font".

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Please help me tell Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society this is not ok!

Please help me tell Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society that it's not okay to imply that teenagers are not worthy of adoption and affection!

This morning, Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society posted a very ill-considered "joke" about adopting teenagers. This upset a great number of foster and adoptive parents who immediately let the Humane Society know that the "joke" was not appreciated. Rather than apologize, the Humane Society first attempted to delete the negative comments and then ultimately deleted the offensive graphic. But social media is forever.

I am originally from the Texas Panhandle, When this "joke" was brought to my attention via a foster/adoptive parent Facebook group to which I belong, I was embarrased. 

Working from the assumption that the Humane Society was a small, but well-meaning organization that didn't realize that social media is forever, I attempted to contact them and respectfully request an actual apology.

They're HERE!! Jillycakes Orlando is a reality!! Grand Opening THIS WEEKEND!!

Ok, so full disclosure: I have ^the tiniest^ fan-girl crush on Jillian Hopke, winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars and owner of 
The Grand Opening starts on Saturday, December 13th at 12pm. And you MUST be there. Go support a local business/celebrity and tell her Foster Ducklings sent ya!

Giveaway: Snug Organics Sherpa Pajamas

Baby, it's cold outside! But your Duckling can be snug as a bug in their very own set of:

  Giveaway Hosted by: 
  Co-Hosted by: Joyful Gifts by Julie 
  Sponsored by: Snug Organics 

These pajamas are sherpa, pure organic cotton sherpa, doesn’t it just sound warm and cozy and delicious. No worries about being too cold, heavy blankets, or having your heater too high, these are the answer. They are organic and contain no chemicals to make them fire retardant so you do not have to worry about that being close to your baby's skin. These are just so wonderful.

You can get your own pair of Snug Organic Pj’s at their website, and they even offer free shipping for $75.00 orders. They are giving away a pair of these PJ's to one of our readers.

Enter below, Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Giveaway: Lalaloopsy Babies Newborn Dolls

Are y'all ready for some toy giveaways in time for Christmas??? We are sadly lacking little girls in our house, but for those of you that are more fortunate, I present:
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Love Lalaloopsy? (You aren't alone! It's the #1 collector brand for girls!) Well, now you get to enjoy them in the palm of your hands. The Lalaloopsy Babies Newborn Dolls are the perfect holiday stocking stuffers. These adorable newborns come with an adoption certificate and bottle. And they even come at a very cute price -- only $7.99 at Toys 'R' Us stores!