As a foster parent, I need to be able to find childcare that accepts state payment, so that I can continue to foster and keep my job.
Finding quality childcare for any child can be difficult but for foster parents, it can be an impossible task. Foster parents cannot send their foster children to any local daycare that has openings. The daycare must be a state funded childcare center in order for them to accept foster children.
These daycare centers must go through additional licensing requirements as well as get set up to accept payments directly from the state. If this is not enough of a deterrent, the state pays a fraction of the cost of what a daycare normally charges and does not allow the daycare to accept payment from the foster family to make up the difference.
As you can imagine, this alone is a reason working families may not be able to foster children or may choose to close their license when they find they have to choose between keeping their jobs or fostering children.
Access to resources is regularly cited as a major frustration for foster families. Recently, there seems to be increased difficulty in finding childcare facilities that will take foster children, which means that working parents are sometimes having to say no to placements.
So what do we do?
Let's get creative. Below we have listed three specific areas that could be tackled, as well as three important considerations. Childcare facilities must jump through a long line of hoops in order to take state payment, so we can't just demand that more do. How can we find creative solutions to at least make it easier for foster families to find the facilities that are available?
Specific Areas of Focus:
REDUCE THE SEARCH TIME
If you've ever spent time trying to find daycare or after-school care, you know how many phone calls it can take. Imagine doing that on a regular basis as you get new placements. One potential area of improvement is simply helping foster parents with this process.
CREATE FEEDBACK LOOPS
An area of difficulty is that the foster parent is in charge of the child, while the state is in charge of payment. Sometimes it is hard to all three to stay in sync. Is there a way to improve this process?
What can we do to recruit more childcare facilities that accept state payment? How can we make it easier to get through all of the different hoops required?
As always, the names of children in care need to be kept confidential.
SOCIAL WORKER OVERLOAD
We aren't sure, but it is possible that one problem with communication is that it's getting lost in the deluge of tasks that social workers are responsible for. If this is the case, we can't just ask social workers to do better, we must find a way to help all parties.
We can't overhaul the entire process of licensing childcare facilities, so what can we do that is simple and focused on improving the experience of the foster family?