By Carol Jones
ICM does two things to facilitate foster care for the children served. First the staff recruits prospective foster parents for children that may be referred to the program. Second the staff spends time deciding which of the children referred would fit best in which recruited home.
The process is set up to provide services for the referred children. Most of the children will be school-aged, usually boys, and often between the ages of 8 and 15.
The program does include foster parents, but only if they fit the needs presented by the children. More foster parents will be recruited than will be hired for foster care. Doing the training and the paperwork does not assure a foster care placement.
Being willing to provide respite care for other foster parents is a good way to start getting to know the children we have in care; particularly if you have not fostered before. Along with deciding what type of child you want to share your home with, you need to decide what type of child you would manage to care for during a short visit.
The makeup of your home will make a big difference as to the child you will be able to foster. If you have young children in your home, you will not be able to foster a child that might hurt your children. Children cannot be watched every minute, so a child with serious behavioral difficulties cannot be allowed around smaller children.
Your schedule makes a difference in the placement you will receive. A young child, a preschooler cannot have parents that both work full time unless there are other family members or Waiver staff that can take care of the child.
Most children will have Waiver services. Depending on the age of the child, the hours approved may not cover all the hours before and after school. It is important that the child have time with the family to bond and to learn the family rules.
Some children will need more time one-on-one with the adults in the home. The foster children in the program have rarely had adults in their lives that have shown them how to interact with children or adults in their world. Many times the adults have been unpredictable and hurtful.
Trust is something that comes with time. Foster children may not completely trust the foster parents or the children in the family for months or even years. You need to understand that children have not had a chance to feel safe and secure in their home before. Any thing you do that says “we don’t want you” will slow the process of bonding and trust.