My friend Diedra recently asked me what questions I would suggest asking a caseworker when considering a potential foster care placement. Years ago I actually came up with a list which I hand wrote on a piece of notebook paper. I guess I figured I would be referring to my list pretty often. Naturally when we got “the call” I was at work, and didn’t have access to it. But having prepared the list ahead of time, I remembered most of what I wanted to ask anyway.
Since I came up with my list 6 years ago, I wasn’t sure I would be able to find it. Yet I looked in my filing cabinet and wouldn’t you know, my list of questions was right in the middle of the file. Perfectly situated between a list of local pediatricians that accepted Medicaid and a detailed spreadsheet I made on daycares in our neighborhood. Apparently my life was a bit more orderly before I had children.
Full disclosure: Most caseworkers won’t know all of this information. Some won’t know any of it.
Second thing to consider: Caseworkers may inadvertently give you false information, especially on the more detailed questions. Take every answer with a grain of salt.
Basic Information About Child:
What is the child’s name?
How old is the child?
When is their birthday?
What is the child’s personality like? Any loves/hates the caseworker knows about?
Does the child have any diagnosed or suspected special needs/allergies/etc? If so, what services/medications/etc are they receiving?
What language does the child speak?
What race/ethnicity is the child?
What religion is the child? Are there any special things such as diet/clothing/etc that should be considered because of the child’s religion?
Information about child’s background:
Why is the child in foster care?
How long has the child been in foster care?
What was the living situation before entering foster care and/or in the child’s previous foster home?
How many moves has the child had?
Does the child have any siblings? If so, where are they placed? Why aren’t they together? Is placing them together a priority in the future?
Questions about visitation:
How often does the child have visitation with their birth parents?
Is the visit with both mom and dad? Or just one? Do any other relatives tend to be present at visits?
Where are the visits held?
Will I be transporting the child for visitation, or will a caseworker?
If the child has siblings placed elsewhere, do they have visitation with their siblings?
Questions about school/daycare:
Is the child in school or daycare?
If the child is in school, what school do they currently attend?
How are they doing in school?
Is the child receiving any special services from the school?
Is it in the child’s best interest to stay in their current school?
If yes, is transportation provided to their current school?
Questions about permanency:
Do you have any idea how long the child might be in foster care?
Has kinship been considered or ruled out?
Has the child’s parent been working on their case plan?
If the case is headed toward adoption, what is the anticipated timeline? Is the child aware of this? How do they feel about it?
Those were the questions on my list (with a few add ons)! Some will likely lead to more in depth questions if they are relevant to the specific placement. Feel free to comment with anything you think I’ve left off.