How Do We Decide to Say “Yes” When the Placement Desk Calls?

We are licensed directly through our state, not with a private agency. This means that we receive the daily email distribution listing briefs on every child in our county (and sometimes beyond) in need of a foster home. We also receive frequent phone calls from the placement desk (and after-hours placement) asking if we can take a(nother) child, “even just for the night.”

As you may guess, we want to say “yes” to them all! But obviously that’s not possible. A couple of years ago, I came up with a simple rubric to help us decide whether we can say “yes” (or whether we need to say “no”) when the placement desk calls.

To get the full scoop, watch this sixteen-minute video. If you don’t have time for that, here’s the gist of what we take into consideration when deciding whether to add another child to our home when those sweet social workers call:

  1. Are we licensed for a child or children that age? This may seem like a ‘no-brainer,’ but it’s not! We’ve said ‘yes’ to the placement desk and taken a child who was older than what we are licensed for. (We got in some trouble for that!)
  2. How are we (my husband and me) doing? How is our health? How is our emotional well-being? How is our relationship?
  3. How are our kids doing? Is it the right season of life for our kids to have the disruption of another child added to the mix? Are our kids in a place emotionally where they can handle our attention being even more divided than usual?
  4. What do we know about that child? Do we have good reason to think that bringing them into our home will not put our own kids in any kind of risk? Does the child have any fear of dogs (we have a big, loud dog!) What do we know about how they will fit in with our own children?
  5. What does our gut say? This might be the most important thing of all! We have gone with our gut every single time except one, and that one turned out to not be a good fit for us. (He moved to a single foster parent with no other children and has absolutely thrived in her care! He is now reunified with his mom, but his foster mom remains a significant presence in his life and he sees her often.)

If you are a foster parent, I’d love to know how you decide whether or not to say “yes” when you get “the call.” Please share your thoughts below!

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