A new expanded print edition of Success in Dependency Court will be available soon.
Why do foster parents need a book?
The court system is confusing. No one clearly advises or advocates for Foster Parents within this juvenile court system. Caregiver’s Compass provides an innovative and informative guide for Foster Parents to learn the processes and keep track of necessary information.
After years of watching Foster Parents struggle with their role and desperately wanting to advocate for their children in a system not set up to hear the Foster Parents, Nancee Tomlinson wrote Caregiver’s Compass to educate and support Foster Parents.
Caregiver’s Compass helps Foster Parents understand their role in the process and why the information is important. Foster Parents can use their day to day work with children in foster care to create good records for later use.
If you’ve purchased or read Caregiver’s Compass, please leave a review at either site above.
When a Court orders a parent into drug/alcohol rehabilitation, the Court means now.
Does entering rehabilitation mean that child will be returned to the parent immediately? Absolutely not. Rehabilitation requires following a plan and succeeding in small steps as the plan moves forward. The best results come when the employees from the rehab facility testify about the progress and success seen in the parent.
Can a parent wait to enter rehabilitation?
Certainly, but the options for support from CPS and the Court will less forthcoming as time passes. The longer a parent waits the more likely that parent’s rights to a child in state custody will be terminated. 13 months of failing to achieve goals triggers the termination process.
Don’t wait until termination papers are served.
© 2016 Nancee Tomlinson
When parents divorce, hurt feelings and judgmental attitudes do not magically evaporate like the morning fog. At times, one parent may feel that the other parent mistreats their children by failing to meet a need. For example, a parent does not return the child’s clothing at the end of a visit or the other parent changes the sleeping arrangements in a way that the hurt parent disagrees with.
The answer, dear parent, is to resolve the problem between yourselves. Calling Child Protective Services for an issue that does not involve a child being physically or psychologically injured or neglected in an appreciable way does not solve problems.
If you see that your child is injured or being mistreated and neglected, then you should call the police. Take your child to obtain medical treatment. Do you believe that the police should be involved? Should a doctor be treating the child for some injury or neglect? Is this really an issue that needs to be raised? Or are you expecting perfection from the person to whom you are no longer married? Are you being petty?
If you disagree with the other parent’s parenting style or life choices (that do not endanger the child), have a conversation about it. You must decide whether the issue rises to the level of calling your divorce attorney to request a contempt motion, for which you will have to pay. If your children are safe and not exposed to any dangerous people, experiences, or situations, then you might consider letting it go.
CPS should be used for dangerous situations (a child being hurt, physically neglected). If you had the wherewithal to hire an attorney, then you should use the legal means to address your issues before a court. Getting CPS involved in your children’s life means getting the government involved in your life. CPS will turn the microscope on your home as well as your former spouse’s home. Would you sacrifice your rights to your children to harass your former spouse?
Often times a case plan includes requirements that CPS must meet but foster parents, generally, provide communication for their steps. The most specific example that I can recall is a requirement that the parents be notified of medical appointments. If a foster parent does not realize that notification requirement, then the goal cannot be accomplished and a parent’s attorney will ask why it was not completed. The foster parent notifying CPS turns into a critical step in the process.
Communication failures like this one could cause a case to drag out unnecessarily. Knowing what is expected in the case plan makes being a witness easier for foster parents.
Case plans provide a wealth of information. What appointments will the child need, medical, psychological, psychiatric, therapists, tutors? These needs could listed in the case plan but without reviewing it, the foster parent could be unaware of the important needs of a child.
© 2015 Nancee Tomlinson
How can keeping notes on contacts help a foster child?
Under everyday circumstances, memory may be all a person needs to recall pieces of information. Recollections of speaking with a doctor or doctor’s office and what information was communicated generally provides enough information to move to the next step in the process. In Court, though, one would need to know a date, the name of the person spoken to (say a nurse, not the doctor) and what specifically was said.
This behavior has two benefits.
(1) Being a witness in court is intimidating. The stress can cause one’s memory to freeze up which in turn causes more stress. Creating a written record provides an easy reference for the specific details.
(2) A record of the day to day interactions with school personnel, medical contacts, therapists, case managers, CASAs, you name it, can provide more details that could even show a pattern in a child’s life. In some instances, smaller details that may be unimportant to the foster parent might shift the tide in a dependency case for Child Protective Services or for a Guardian ad litem.
Tracking the details brings greater clarity to the bigger picture of a foster child’s life. Raising a foster child provides many day to day challenges that could over shadow the larger picture. The details do matter as well.
© 2015 Nancee Tomlinson
Monday, September 7, 2015, Nancee Tomlinson will appear on Dr. John DeGarmo‘s radio show Foster Talk to discuss the legal system and how foster parents case better support and advocate for foster children. Join us, won’t you. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/drjohndegarmo/2015/09/07/foster-talk-with-dr-john
Clients bring me their plan. The plan to convince the Court that the situation has changed; the client is new person.
The most significant hurdle for clients in this situation is themselves.
“I’ll start after my case is over.” “My friend owes me money. Once they pay up, I’ll change.” Whatever the condition, it’s always tomorrow.
Understand, as I’ve said before, words alone will not prove. A child has been in CPS custody for 12 months. Suddenly a parent realizes that the child could be taken from them permanently. Now, it’s a problem. A parent has been absent and failing to comply with the case plan for a year then all of the sudden it’s an emergency.
12 months in, a parent can’t accomplish the goals meant to be worked over time.
Perhaps it’s a criminal case. A drug case. Client wants rehabilitation. Tells the judge the client is headed to rehabilitation. But suddenly is in jail for new charges. Think that the judge will risk a low bond the second time?
Get moving, get started. Change your plan, change your attitude.
© 2015 Nancee Tomlinson