Foster Licensing specialists may come into our office in the morning with a plan of how the day will go as they tackle the list of tasks and appointments for that day, which might include any of the following: gathering renewal paperwork for a family, making phone calls, sending emails, attending CFT meetings, entering case notes and documentation, facilitating service referrals, researching resources, conferring with their supervisor or the child’s case manager or therapist, inspecting a home, and meeting with new a foster family on their caseload. There is no typical day and rare is the day that goes as planned. When we hire new licensing specialists, we look for adaptability as one of the necessary traits in our staff. Licensing specialists are hired to monitor foster families as they become the eyes and ears of the team in the home to make sure that the child is safe and the family is caring for the child appropriately. The other aspect of their job is to advocate for the foster family and for the child to make sure that all needed services and resources are in place. Our specialists develop strong, positive working relationships with their families. Indeed, one of our staff has worked with a family for 15 years and has helped this family care for over 50 children throughout these years.
To illustrate our staff’s ability to move quickly, we look at how placements frequently occur. Two weeks ago, our licensing specialist was working on the placement list when a sibling group of three kids under the age of three came out. She turned to three of her coworkers and said, “It looks like all of our beds are full. Does anyone have any families in the East valley who could help with these three little ones?” Two staff immediately responded. “I had two go home yesterday so I may have two beds. Let me call,” said one. The other said, “I have a family whose license just came through this morning. Where does that other family live so the siblings can visit each other?” The families lived three miles apart. These families were submitted and were selected for placement. Our contract says that the families must be visited within 7 days of the child moving in. Our agency policy is to do our best to be in the home within 72 hours with toys and clothing to help the family get started, so the next morning one of the specialists visited the families and reported all had gone well during the night.
Last month one of our newly licensed single foster moms called our office and said she was really struggling with the behaviors of the three year old who had been in her home for two weeks. Her licensing specialist listened to her and offered suggestions on how to manage the child’s behaviors as well as some additional training resources for her. The foster mom was doubtful about both her decision and ability to foster. She said, “I’m just not sure I can do this.” Her specialist reassured her that she could do this and that one of our other single foster moms had experienced the same doubts and feelings and had become an outstanding foster mom. She said, “Would you like to talk to her about her challenges?” The mom indicated that she would, so the specialist made the connection. Two days later, she called the new mom to check in. The response when she asked how it was going was, “I called Mary right away, and she really helped me. She even watched my foster daughter over the weekend when I attended the training that had helped her so much. I feel so much better! Thank you. I really feel like I can do this now, with your help and with her help.”
Our staff meetings always start with positive stories that reflect what is going on in our foster homes to inspire us with the successes our families and staff are involved in. The story above was told at our last staff meeting. Our licensing specialists are dedicated, caring people who are passionate about doing all they can to support the families they work with to make a difference in the lives of Arizona’s foster children.
Foster Care and Adoption Director
Child Crisis Arizona