My wife and I are now foster parents here in Las Vegas, Nevada. We just got our first placement in the beginning of September and already received a random visit from our foster child's caseworker.
Was it stressfull?
Do I think its a good thing?
This "new" initiative (which I've been told has been done before and really isn't new) is apparently a big current push for the foster care system and is causing some anger and frustration, as apparently foster parents that have been in the system for a while rarely ever had their foster child's caseworker stop over.
I was interviewed on the channel 5 news in a piece that was to help get the word out to foster parents that these random checks would be coming:
In the video I say something to the effect of "If my child was taken away, I would want them to put the child in a home where someone is checking on the safety of the home often". In retrospect, its kind of a silly statement because if I was the person who's child was taken away for abuse or negligence, I probably wouldn't care much about where they place the child because I'd be losing my child for being a bad parent first place (exceptions for parents that have one bad random incident and work swiftly and diligently to get their child back).
What would have been a better statement would have been for me to say, "If the Department of Family Services is going to remove a child from a home due to abuse or neglect, it seems to be pretty prudent for them to continually verify that the home where they place the child is a safe place; Otherwise, what's the point of removing the child from the abusive or neglectful home?!"
Apparently a lot of the foster parents that have been fostering for a long time are all up in arms about these random visits. I'm not sure if they think its a violation of their privacy, or what the varied reasons they are upset, but I think its silly to be upset. This isn't a violation of our privacy as this is a public role we have chosen to take and with that role comes the responsibility of being open to the public system.
It is stressful to know that the caseworker may check up on us at any time, but really if you we are good foster parents and we keep our house and our foster child(ren) safe, we should have no reason to be upset. Our DFS (Department of Family Services) caseworker should be able to stop by and check on us without us having the chance to fix and make sure we are living up to the safety codes that we implemented to become licensed foster parents. If we aren't living up to the codes, then we are opening the opportunity for a catastrophe to happen.
Is a catastrophe going to give us a chance to make sure we are living safely? No... it just happens. And if you ask an fireman or policeman you'll find out that most really bad incidents would be avoided if the people involved were aware of the safety issue.
For instance, if you leave your prescription drugs on the counter where your toddler could get at them and swallow them, you've got a potential problem. Or if you have a sharp knife out where the child can reach and hurt themselves, you've got a potential problem. If your fire extinguishers aren't where they are supposed to be or your fire alarms aren't working, you've got a potential problem.
The safety codes, most of which are rudimentary and obviously necessary, are in place for a reason. I actually welcome the random checks, so that I can be sure that we are forming habits in our daily lives that keep our house safe and keep us from making a mistake that may end in tragedy. So yes, DFS, please come to my house any time you want which just forces me to be a better and safer foster parent.
As a friend pointed out... the next step is to also do random checks of the home where a child has been reunited with his/her/their parents to make sure the parents are continuing to take care of the child(ren) and not doing whatever it was that was the reason the child was removed in the first place. Apparently this doesn't happen. Hopefully someday it will.