You have had your foster child for many months and have heard little or nothing. You are becoming attached. Afraid to contact the case manager for fear that might trigger the child’s removal. What can you do?
Obviously, calling the case manager to inquire about the status is an obvious next step, but not always a comfortable one. The foster parent may be thinking of adoption but afraid of appearing pushy. Case managers are overworked and may have changed. The lack of an easy and ongoing relationship with the case manager can cause uncertainty.
Waiting around for something to happen, however, is not always wise. The case manager may misinterpret silence, assuming that the foster parent is content to remain in a holding pattern. An appropriate contact, after six months or more, may prevent a later mistake based on silence. Here are a few suggestions about how to proceed.
Start by asking other foster parents what their experiences have been in similar situations. Some of them may have dealt with the same case manager. How were they received?
Talk to your child’s CASA or GAL. They are appointed to represent the child’s best interests. Ask their advice about how best to proceed.
Moving along, you may want to request a meeting with your case manager. For many reasons, a person-to-person sit-down is better than a discussion over the phone. If you are still not satisfied, you might request a case conference with all parties present. .
Contact an attorney and ask for his or her counsel. Obviously, select an attorney knowledgeable about child welfare laws and DCS policies. You may want your attorney to accompany you to a case conference meeting.
If you end up in disagreement with the DCS about what is in your foster child’s best interests, you may want to be heard where final decisions are made: in court. While not always a simple matter, a good attorney will know several ways to bring your point of view before the judge. The options range from filing a “motion to intervene” to a petition to adopt.
Waiting months and months for something “good” to happen while you hope for the best is not always the best strategy. After checking things out and preparing, foster parents may be better served by a more pro-active approach.