Foster parents are the only ones in this "system" who are working with and for foster kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This struck me this particular weekend because so many people in this case promised to get back to me on Friday and didn't. And I realized Sunday afternoon that they were all "off" and I could count on hearing from none of them until Monday at best.
There was the agency caseworker, who has supposedly been working for 3 weeks to find us respite care for a night early this week when we have "big kid" plans. Last heard from Friday morning; at that time, it was "still working on it" and would send me some numbers of people I could try "soon."
There was the county caseworker, who called me Friday morning and left a message asking me to call her back. Which I did, within about 30 minutes, and had to leave her a message.
There was S's counselor, who told me at the end of S's last session (which was on TUESDAY) that she would call on Friday to set up this week's counseling appointment and to talk to me "about what she's seeing with S."
None of them called on Friday.
I was sick Friday, so I didn't call them myself, but the point is that I Shouldn't Have To Do That. These are professionals. Who told me they would call on a certain date. But didn't. (Rational Aside: OK. I get that when you work in child welfare, there comes a point in the day and the week when you have to just stop and give yourself a break because it never really ends. I really do get that. But all these people have my email address. It have taken them a few seconds to send me a quick: Sorry, got swamped today, will be in touch Monday. And those few seconds would have gone a huge way towards making me feel more supported and less on-our-own-here-until-they-feel-like-talking-to-us-and-then-we'd-better-show-up-when-and-where-they-say.)
I spent the weekend stewing about the fact that all of these people get to go home at the end of Friday and pretend to forget about the children whose lives they hold in their hands while I am still fielding "When can I go home?" questions and "I want my mommy" tantrums and dodging kicking feet while I'm at it.
This morning I got busy, and I am 2 for 3 so far.
- Emailed the agency caseworker, copying her supervisor, forwarding the whole email chain of 3 weeks worth of my asking for this one respite night. She responded with "I'm in court, but here are some people you can call." (Couldn't she have sent me those numbers on Friday night?) Then I did the rest of her job and found my own respite caregiver.
- Called the county caseworker and got her voicemail. Still wondering what she wanted to tell or ask me.
- Called the counselor and she actually answered! We spoke briefly and I learned what she had wanted to talk to me about. She had a revelation that S may be a little uncomfortable with reunification at this time because she remembers how unstable life was with her mother before she came into care and that's not what she's used to anymore. Really? You think? A 3 year old that spends 10 months in a stable household with consistent routines and rules might be a little put off at the idea of leaving all of that to return to the chaos that was home before? And could be feeling conflicted about that because she does love her mother and want to be with her? (AND ISN'T THAT ONE OF THE REASONS I PUSHED FOR COUNSELING IN THE FIRST PLACE!?)
Foster Care Sucks.