The dirtiest word in Foster Care.


Can you guess it? Nope, it’s not the ‘F’ word or even the ‘B’ word. it’s actually the ‘D’ word, disruption. What is a disruption? In short; it’s when a foster placement isn’t working out in your home and you ask your agency or DCYS worker to remove the child from your home and place him or her elsewhere.

Oh  my  goodness, there is so much negative sigma associated with the dreaded ‘D’ word. I have heard about foster families being blackballed from fostering children, I’ve heard of licensure removal, I have heard that foster families have been gossiped about by their peers, and so on. To be honest, I had been terrified that I could one day have a disruption and my dreams of helping children in my community would be crushed, it seemed like that was what always happened…I had read stories upon stories about how a foster families were in trouble because of disruption and the threads online in forums didn’t make me rest any easier. Simply put, if you have a disruption then your foster career was over. 

Well, I’m here to tell you different. I have experienced disruption first hand and I am not feeling victimized in any way. First, let me tell you that having a disruption is absolutely devastating. I had self doubt, I felt like a quitter, I felt like I failed my community, I felt like I failed that child. It hurt, it hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I wish I could explain it but there aren’t words that can fill the void of emotional despair I had felt. 

I felt like a child in my care was a danger to himself and others, I had absolutely no help from the mental health provider as he wasn’t yet enrolled in my area yet. I had reached out to my DCYS caseworker trying to get help expediting the child’s mental health care, she suggested I call and start enrolling him myself and I did. The entire case was a hot mess, there were wrong case workers, wrong names, wrong cities, it just wasn’t right in so many ways. I had gotten my placements set up for an appointment 9 days away. This was after calling and making several pleas to help, I specifically said ‘I need help, this child is out  of control.’ That wasn’t a big  enough cry for help, they pretty much told me to wait until his appointment. Unfortunately, 3 or 4 days before the appointment there was an incident and I requested to have the child removed. That was the hardest phone call I had ever made to date. I  cried, I begged for help, I demanded that the child be picked up immediately. I am extremely thankful that my DCYS worker was quick to help and quick to have the child removed. I suggested that the child needed a higher level of care and the DCYS worker took me very seriously.

After a series of phone calls, interviews, papetwork, I met with my licensing workers through AZCA. I was terrified that they were coming to meet with me to revoke my license, to scold me, to lecture me on how I had done everything wrong. I was terrified. Was this it? This one incident is going to rip my dreams away…I was incredibly nervous. I didn’t like feeling this way, even though I knew I had done all the things I had been trained to do, sheesh, I still felt like a kid in the principals office. I dreaded seeing my AZCA workers. 

When AZCA had come to my home a few days ago, I was an emotional mess. I tried to keep my composure but I failed, I ended up a crying blubbering mess. They weren’t there to scold me, they weren’t there to take my license, they weren’t there to point the finger at me. They had come to educate me, to make sure I knew I had done all the right things, and give me extra resources. The most important and critical thing they had told me was to always use the key word “CRISIS” when dealing with mental health providers (because begging for help, explaining the situation, crying, and saying a child is out of control isn’t enough.) Per Jacobs Law the mental health providers are to see anyone in crisis within 2 hours, but if you don’t say crisis…it doesn’t count. Mental health providers are required to asses mental health within 7 days, in addition; they’ve got 21 days to set up a service appointment.

Mohave County Mental Health Crisis: 928.214.2370 or 877.756.4090

When mental health fails you, call the Tattle Line (a/k/a Member Services): 800.640.2123 or 800.867.5808

Would you rather email? DCS@azahcccs.gov

I asked what was the definition of crisis, unfortunately it’s a case by case/person by person definition…however there are some red flags that should always be considered:

  • Increased anger outbursts
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Inappropriate bed wetting (wtf?)
  • Nightmares 
  • Harming animals
  • Refusing to eat
  • Acting sexually towards others
  • Threatening self harm
  • Self mutilation 
  • Frequent tantrums 
  • Starting fires
  • Talking about death
  • Aggressiveness towards others

These are things I’ve taken directly from the paperwork I’ve been  given from AHCCCS. I know some of it seems bizarre but it’s been outlined so I’m sharing.

In addition to all of these services for the children there are services offered to foster families that will be covered by the child’s insurance. 

  • Family support services assist the  family who are caring for the child.
  • Individual, family and/or group counseling; including trauma informed practices.
  • Respite services 
  • A broad range of in-home supports bases on your family’s needs.
  • Assistance in dealing with a family loss and separation when a child leaves your home.
  • Referrals to peer run organizations, support groups, community services and workshops.

In other news, I’m currently on hold. I’m not ready to have any other placements just yet. I need time to re-enter my family and heal emotionally. We currently have one placement and late December we will think about reopening our beds. 

I hope this post is informative and helps someone, had I known that these things were avaliable I would have used the key words and possibly could have avoided a disruption. I’m happy that the child now has a level of care that he needs, that’s the only thing that helps me feel better about the situation. 

Hopefully I won’t experience any long term affects from the disruption, I have been assured I wouldn’t but I won’t know until after I reopen our beds. I’ll definitely keep my readers updated as the process continues. 

Have a wonderful day!

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