We completed our second Home Study Saturday! It was the same case worker who did the first one. This time, she talked to us both as a couple and we went over things like
- How we met and when we started dating
- What we like about each other and what our strengths as a family are
- Parenting – discipline methods, what our hopes for Oliver are, how we would manage two kids
- How we planned to apply some of the things we learned in our classes – trauma informed care, preventing sexual assault, etc
- Family Rules (we don’t have a lot of hard rules, but we did talk about teaching him to listen and not hit)
- Even though we aren’t religious, they do ask if we are open to including religion in the child’s life if it’s important for them. This really is more for older children, but we did talk about it.
- How we feel about ourselves as parents
We also went over what we’re open to in terms of a child but also as a licensed foster home. So this included what age, race, and abilities/disabilities we would be open to. Since we’re open to any race, we also talked about how we would make sure a child of another race might feel in our family. I’m glad they ask these questions, it is important to think about. The full list of what topics are included in a Home Study in Texas is on the DFPS website here.
We also have the crib and some other things set up in the nursery, so we were able to show that. It might not look like the most Pinterest- worthy nursery just yet, but it has a crib and a rocking chair and even some decorations on the walls.
From here, our Home Study will get typed up and reviewed by a committee. This could take 2-3 weeks, but once the committee approves us we should be licensed in a couple of days. Shortly after that, we will meet with the placement specialist at Depelchin to go over what would be a good match.
We had our first Home Study this past Saturday. We will go through at least 2 Home Studies, and should only need another one if we need to clarify anything from those. Our second one is actually set for this coming Saturday, so we don’t have to wait for too long. This one was already almost a month after we were actually approved to go to Home Study.
This time around we each talked to the Case Worker separately, and then took her on a “tour” of the house and backyard. While Gabe and I each ended talking about more or less topics here’s what was covered:
- Our entire life story. Basically, you start at childhood and talk about how you got to today.
- Any childhood traumas. For me, this included a lot of questions about my parents divorce, what that was like, and how it was handled.
- The names/location/occupation/personalities of each member of your immediate family.
- Where we went to High School, College, etc.
- All of the jobs we’ve held and how we feel about our current job.
- Our physical/mental/emotional health (this actually was literally just the question “how is your emotional health?” so was easier than it sounds).
- How our families handled talking about sex and how that impacts our parenting.
- How close we are to our immediate family (how often do we see/talk to them).
While it was really in-depth, our Case Worker was very nice and so this felt a lot more like a conversation than an interrogation which was good. I’ve been really worried about this – since I’m estranged from my mother, I was worried this would be a red flag that I would struggle to explain but it turned out okay.
I actually found a guidelines for what the Home Study covers here. We went over some of it the night before, and it was helpful to have some idea of what to expect.
Next weeks Home Study will include interviewing us both together, and going over our budget. We also will take another look at the new baby’s room since we didn’t totally have the bed set up last time.
After that, our Home Study notes will all get typed up (this could take up to two weeks, it is our entire life story after all) and then sent to committee. The committee meets every Tuesday, and will either clear us for placement or come back with any questions.
Since we’re moving in to the final stretch (of the process to be placed, anyway) here’s a picture of Oliver and his Big Brother shirt.
Well we’ve officially completed “Phase I” and are cleared for Phase II – the Home Study.
Our last class was Policies and Procedures, which I thought would be pretty light, but was pretty intense. We were immediately handed a binder that was several inches thick, full of the rules and regulations. It’s really got everything from what to do if you leave town, medication, trampoline rules..seriously, everything.
We also went over the visits from our case workers (there’s a different name for that, but it’s totally slipping my mind right now), as well as parental visits and drop-ins from CPS. That seemed a little overwhelming, but I’m sure it sounds like a lot more than it actually is.
I also went to get my TB test – a really sort of odd requirement in this process. I went to get it at Walgreens, which seems simple enough. But the way the test works is that they inject something in your skin and you actually have to return in 48-72 hours for them to read it. So, that means two trips.
So, now we are just waiting for someone to follow up with us on scheduling the home study!
We only have two more training classes to go! What felt pretty daunting at the beginning of this journey has actually not been so bad. Although some of the training topics have been heavy, I was really worried about all the running around and getting childcare but it’s all worked out so far.
Some of the topics we’ve covered have included grief & loss, sexual abuse prevention, cultural diversity, and discipline/giving your child choices. So, tough topics, but really things any parent could learn about. We’ve also learned a lot about the process and how Foster Care works, along with how thing have changed over the years.
While my awareness of the need for foster parents is part of what brought us down this route, it’s still shocking and sad to hear stories like this in the news. Texas had 65 children in foster care that were sleeping in someone’s office in March because they didn’t have enough beds. I’ve discovered this process will move so much quicker than I thought – originally I thought it might take months to get a placement, and now it seems like it could be weeks once we wrap up the home study because they have a such a big need for homes.
- Two more classes! We have one that will mostly consist of CPR and First Aid, and then a class about Policies and Procedures to tell us the next steps going forward.
- Any other paperwork, etc – I know we still need to get TB tests, and take photos of things like our medical lock boxes, and get anything else needed for the Home Study in order
- Home Study – these are typically completed in 30 days once they open the case, and then we can move to placement. I will share more about what this looks like once we know!
We’ve been making good progress on our to-do list, but it’s been interesting – things that seem like they might be pretty easy have almost always included more steps than we thought they would.
Here’s what else we’ve checked off the list:
Finger Prints – I thought this would be like going to a post office really quick or something. Apparently there are actually only a few places that do this. I had to schedule an appointment and go to an H&R block in a strip mall in some neighborhood I was definitely not familiar with. But, the process itself only took about 5 minutes.
2 of 3 Online Trainings – We have 3 online trainings we have to do. Technically we don’t start training until April, but I’m knocking these out now. They sound really intense, but have actually been pretty easy.
Schedule a Fire Inspection – okay so technically the inspection is the item on the checklist, but scheduling it was sort of a challenge. I ended up going to the City Permit Office to finally get it scheduled. We also have to make sure our fire extinguisher is a certain weight, and then get it checked and tagged, before the inspection.
Fire Inspection – the fire marshal will come to our house and make sure the aforementioned fire extinguisher is all good, all the rooms have fire alarms, etc.
Start Training – we start our training in April, and will be attending classes at Depelchin every Tuesday and Thursday. The classes include CPR, discipline and more. We’ll also have homework, I’ve been told.
We also have several other small to-do items, like getting lock boxes for all of our medication and TB tests. You can see our full check list here if you are interested.