There's a sentence to strike fear in the hearts of foster parents everywhere.
Actually, I think this one is a good change. It's called the "Prudent Parent Policy" and appears to be somewhat aptly named. It's not going to make major differences in my life because C is really going to be the last placement for a very long time (I mean it this time!) and she's too little for most of the changes to matter. But, for older kids in care, it's going to make a huge difference in allowing them to lead semi-normal lives.
Under the new rules, the foster parents are allowed to use their own judgement (GASP!) concerning short-term supervision. That means I can:
- leave the child with anyone over the age of 18
- leave the child in someone else's home
- let someone else transport the child
- even let the child spend up to two nights supervised by someone else, either in my home or in theirs!
- take a child out of state without permission
- leave a child with anyone under the age if 18
- leave a child with a biological family member other than state approved visitation (duh)
But, for older kids? This is huge. This means that the 4 year old can go to a playdate at his friend's house after preschool. This means that the 8 year old can go to pizza with the baseball team and get a ride home with the team mom. This means the 10 year old can go to the spend-the-night birthday party for the classmate. This means that the 13 year old can go on the school's overnight field trip without the foster parent having to be a chaperone. This means that the 17 year old can travel with the dance team to the competition that is in-state but a 5 hour drive away, so the team is leaving the night before and will stay in a hotel. This means foster children can participate in school and activity carpools without the foster parents having to be the only driver. This means, in general, that foster parents can make normal, rational parenting decisions about where it is safe for the child to be. And that will go a long, long way in allowing at least a semblance of normalcy in these kids' lives.
I always thought it was crazy that the system put me through all these hoops and trusted me with every detail of these children's lives, including trusting me to feed them, bathe them, clothe them, care for them in sickness...but didn't trust me to know which classmates' houses were safe enough to allow the child to go over and play after school for an hour. (And I'll confess, I kind of did this already with L who became good friends with a girl who lived about 8 houses away. I never let her spend the night, but I did let her go over to play after school, even though the mother was not "approved.")