Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Can you elaborate on the agency you use. I guess I just assumed that you can only foster from your state's child protective services division. I had no idea there were other agencies involved..."

I went thru an agency that a friend refereed me to get my foster license. I called our county's DHS (dept. of human resources) first and it ended up being easier to get licensed thru my agency (more flexible I guess) than thru DHS so we went with that. (that should have been my first clue that my agency may not be what it should be).

I have come to find that I don't know that I actually like this idea though. Basically, our agency is the middle man. All they do is deal with DHS for me, but I still have to deal with them so what is the difference between me talking to a worker at my agency (who can't make any decisions I might add) and me having to deal with a DHS worker (who CAN make decisions)? Hmmmm, maybe I just found the difference.

I have also found that I receive less money for the kids than people who are licensed directly through the state which I think is insane. I also have to keep track of some of the money which other people don't have to and I even have to give the family some of the money I get for the kids when they go home if I haven't used it. So, I get less and then on top of it I may have to give some it back. (which I did with Sabrina. I gave back around $350 which was her "personal needs" money that was left over-that is almost a whole months worth of money that they were giving me to care for her).

So, so far I am dealing directly with people that can't make any real decisions, (Such as when Lizzy's visits needed to be stopped and they "couldn't" do anything until I threw a HUGE fit and got everyone in front of a judge. The dhs worker, when i told them about the visits, told me that he had stopped visits over way less than what Lizzy was exhibiting) and they give me less money and require me to give some of it back even though I pay for every part of this child's existence except for her medical care.

I am sure there are other differences, but these are some of the "big" ones that have been grinding on me lately.


Debbie said...

For us we found that going through the agency you get more money. But you can only be licensed to adopt or to foster, not both. With our state/county we get less money and will be licensed to foster and adopt. So if we have a foster placement that becomes available for adoption we don't have to have another home study or do anything, we're just ready to adopt, not so with the agency. At least that's what we've been told, not having done it yet.

So interesting to see how different states work.

Jen said...

hmmm..can you switch or drop the agency? we go directly through the state and seem to get answers and contact with workers pretty quickly this way..

Crayon said...

In my state, private agencies tend to pay more... a LOT more. However, all the private agencies seem to be special needs only. Such as "medically fragile" children or those with severe emotional and/or behavioral disorders who are stepping down from Residential Treatment. Usually these are called treatment or therapeutic foster placements. I don't know if you can be dually licensed to foster AND adopt through private, however, we are dually licensed to foster and adopt through the state. We were never asked, it's just how the licensing works. Btw, I think it's interesting how they left the part blank on my certificate that says how many children I can have in my home. LOL. I have to wonder if that was on purpose...

Me and Jesus said...

my agency is a private christian agency. The caseworkers have no power. Some are helpful, some are just there to make more paperwork for you. Either way I always build a good relationship with the County workers. We can get kids from 5 different counties.
WE get a per diem that is WAY higher then what the county would pay. However our regulations are much stricter then the county's.
We can do adoption and/or foster. I have done one straight adoption and two foster to adopt and a couple foster to RU.

My agency does a GOOD job of documenting things, better then the county would. I like also that we can work with different counties. So far my local county workers have been wonderful for me, but there are very few people who can say that.

I would be very concerned working with such an agency... if things arent done "legal" you can screw up an adoption!

Rebecca said...

Just to add another perspective for those considering fostering, here in Texas you get paid the same whether you go through the State/County or a private agency.

The primary difference is the level of support you receive. The County caseworkers have between 50-75 kids on their case load--insane!!! The private agency workers have between 25-35 kids on their case load, so they are able to devote WAY more time to each child. With my first placement, in 4 months I only heard from the children's DFPS cw 3 times TOTAL (in 4 months!!!). I spoke to my agency cw several times a week. With my current placement, I speak to the girls DFPS cw 1-2 times per MONTH and my agency cw 1-2 times per WEEK.

If there is an issue, my agency cw will call DFPS and get it resolved, which relieves me of the stress of trying to hunt down the DFPS worker who never returns phone calls. It is true that the agency cw cannot make any legal decisions for the girls, but they can hound DFPS until they do what needs to be done...and they have done this for me multiple times.

For me, another HUGE thing is that my agency is a Christian agency and they do everything with the utmost integrity. Not so with DFPS. :(

The agency does require more paperwork and a bit more training than the county, but that is all to CYA, which in the world of foster care you can never do enough of!!!

So for me, I would never in 100 years consider going through the State/County directly. But I can totally see how in your state it may make more sense to do. I think people just need to research the differences in their states between county vs. agency and (if possible) ask other foster parents IN THAT STATE to give them some feedback on what their experiences have been, because it seems to vary drastically from state to state.

Diane said...

What is the down side of switching to be licensed by DHS?

In my state, only private agencies license foster homes and non-relative adoptive homes. But the licensing agencies only manage/control the placement homes, not the children. They have to follow specific state rules for licensing. Very few agencies make up additional rules, but some do have placement restrictions (e.g. no children under 1 unless at least one stay-at-home parent). The state CPS worker is responsible for and makes all decisions regarding the children and takes care of any of their needs, from case plan, foster care payments, transportation to visits, daycare, therapy, etc. Each of these has to be approved individually within CPS, but it is their responsibility to provide.

Mrs. Bird said...

Thank you for the clarification. I think there are private agencies now that I think of it...The trauma specialist we'll be working with is from one.

Pipsylou said...

You always have such great posts. I thought the state's pay was the state's pay. It's that way here. Interesting!

you can take the girl out of the country but.... said...

Where I live in New Jersey we get $800 per child plus daycare and we can spend that on whatever we want. No receipts, no returned money. I can't believe it varies so much.
I have spent the whole day reading your blog, starting at the beginning. It reads like a book. I am also a foster mom with one adopted child and one bio.