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Create a great relationship with your foster child’s caseworker

Create a great relationship with your foster child’s caseworker

In order to be a truly successful foster parent, you will need to work closely with your foster child’s caseworker and your child welfare agency. It is important for the well being of your foster child that you work alongside the caseworker and the agency, and help to build an effective partnership and strong working relationship with both. With this strong relationship, all of you you will have a much better chance of guiding your foster child through the many difficulties and challenges he will face, as well as work together to see that his future is as bright and successful as possible. Remember, you are a team, and team work is important Keep in mind, your caseworker and your agency want what is best for your foster child, as well as what is best for you. After all, without foster parents, agencies and caseworkers would not be able to place children into foster homes. Here are a few ways to create a healthy relationship with your foster child’s case worker.


Do

Do understand that they have a difficult job

Caseworkers have a most difficult job, as they work in what is a difficult and stressful environment. While your foster child is your main focus in regards to the child welfare agency, caseworkers have a large amount of children in their caseload. They will see, on a daily basis, children who have been abused and neglected. They will have the responsibility of taking a child out of a home, against the strong wishes, and sometimes hostile conditions, of both child and parent. They will be required to work with the birth parents, instructing them how they can be reunited with their child. At times, caseworkers will sit in a courtroom, as attorneys and birth parents battle over the custody of a child. The amount of paperwork that corresponds with each caseload can be daunting, as well. Add to that slashed budgets, less resources, and a larger workload. To be sure, they have a tough job.

Do create an open and honest line of communication

Like any healthy relationship, it is important that your relationship with your foster child’s caseworker is an open one, and is built on trust and mutual respect. It is important that you share all information with the caseworker and the agency about your foster child. Caseworkers have the responsibility of documenting everything when it comes to each of the foster children in their caseload. Make sure the both of you have current telephone numbers and email addresses, for both home and work. Plan ahead, if possible, for home visitations, as well as visitations with the birth parents. If you work from the beginning in establishing a strong partnership, these requests will be easier to make, and have a better chance of being met. Do not be afraid of holding any information or concerns. Instead, the more you share with the caseworker, and the more honest you are, the stronger your partnership will become, which only benefits the wellbeing of your child.

Do be prepared when you meet with the case worker

Before you meet with your case worker, whether at home or another setting, make sure you are prepared beforehand. Have all proper forms and information gathered together which you might need for the case worker. This includes any school progress and report cards names and contact information for his teachers, calendar of upcoming events in your household, medical paperwork, receipts and invoices, and any other personal observations you may have noted for your foster child. Also have with you your foster child’s medical information, such as doctor’s name, address, and phone number, primary health care information, as well as any dates for future medical and dental appointments ne numbers and email addresses, for both home and work. Plan ahead, if possible, for home visitations, as well as visitations with the birth parents. If you work from the beginning in establishing a strong partnership, these requests will be easier to make, and have a better chance of being met.

Do be an advocate

Your foster child needs you to be an advocate for him, fighting to see that he has a positive future. As an advocate, you have the right to be heard in your role as a foster parent. Your foster child needs someone standing in his corner, so to speak. When he is enrolled in a new school system in your area, he will need you to work alongside his case worker, ensuring that he is in the right classes. If he has learning disabilities, he will need you to make sure that the right phone calls are made, the right teachers are informed, and the right testing is administered to him in order to determine how best to meet his learning needs. If he comes back to your house after meeting with his birth family, and is emotionally confused, he will need you to inform his case worker about the turmoil he is facing when visitation occurs. If your foster child is in need of some kind of therapy, he will need you to insist that a therapist is assigned to him. hing a strong partnership, these requests will be easier to make, and have a better chance of being met.


Don't

Do not believe that case workers don't care

Your foster child’s case worker went into the business of helping children for one reason; because she want to help children in need. She has feelings and emotions, just like you, and she cares for the well being of your foster child. She also appreciates what you are doing, as well, and how difficult your job is. Keep in mind, your case worker wants what is best for your foster child, as well as what is best for you. After all, without foster parents, case workers would not be able to place children into foster homes.

Remember, she has a difficult job to do, and sometimes decisions are taken out of her hands, and made by the court. Your foster child’s case worker can also be upset by some of these decisions, and grieve for the well being of your foster child, just like you. 

Do not expect that the case worker can do it all

With more and more children coming into foster care each year, across the nation, and with the shortage of case workers available, those case workers who are employed by child welfare agencies are finding themselves with more and more children to look after. Not only do the case workers look after foster parent and foster children, they are responsible for working alongside the biological parents, as well. Along with this, case workers have to ensure that all legalities in conjunction with your foster child are up to date. Add to this the fact that they have to visit the home of each foster parent and child once a month, and a mountain of paperwork ever before them, it is easy to see why many case workers do not stay in their jobs for long periods of time, as work burnout is common in child welfare careers.

Do not fail to help out

As case workers are often times overworked, your foster child’s needs may not be met right away. In fact, you may find that his needs are not being met at all. Your foster child will need you to persevere, and not give up. Your foster child will also require you to remain optimistic, even in the most difficult of times. At times, it will require you being unwilling to take “No” for an answer, and not settle for second best. It may require you to “think outside the box,” as you and your case worker work together to create other ways to solve problems that he faces. , it is easy to see why many case workers do not stay in their jobs for long periods of time, as work burnout is common in child welfare careers.

Do not fail to give your foster child alone time with the case worker

Part of your case worker’s job is to observe your foster child, and how he interacts with your family. Your case worker has the responsibility of ensuring the foster child’s health, safety, and well being. Your case worker is going to want to take some time to talk with your foster child. It is important that you give your foster child and case worker privacy and space. Encourage your foster child to open up to the case worker. After all, your child’s case worker is probably one of the few consistencies in his life at the moment, a person that he will see on a regular basis and a connection to his birth parents, family, and life before he came to be placed with you. Help your foster child to develop a strong and positive relationship with his caseworker in his own way. When your foster child leaves your home, whether it be through reunification or some other means, he will likely still remain in contact with his case worker. Thus, it is important to his mental health that his relationship with his case worker is a good and productive one.


Summary
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Your foster child’s case worker has a great deal on her plate. She has to look after the concerns and needs of not only your foster child, but many others. There are also the other foster parents that she has to meet with each month, too. Along with that, she has to work with the birth parents, as well as attend countless court hearings. With a little preparation on your behalf, as well as organization and a positive attitude, the working relationship between you and your foster child’s case worker will be a pleasant and productive one. It is easy to see why many case workers do not stay in their jobs for long periods of time, as work burnout is common in child welfare careers.


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Photo Credits: Beautiful African American Woman and two year old boy by PhotoEuphoria via Bigstock; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Dr. John DeGarmoLeading expert in the foster care system

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent since 2002, and he and his wife have had over 40 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering pass...

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