Thursday, September 24, 2009

A coffee break with Kelly

Today I'm excited to present our first in a regular "coffee break" feature we'll be having from time to time where we chat with different folks involved in foster care and adoption in Iowa.

To kick it off, today we have a coffee break with Kelly Scheidler. Kelly is a foster and adoptive parent in the lovely southeast part of Iowa and has graciously agreed to be my guinea pig.
Thanks Kelly! :)

To start, tell us a little bit about your family.
We have eight kids right now, ages 10 months to 17. Two are biological, three are adopted and three are in foster care.

What's the most bizarre question you've ever gotten about foster care?
To me, the most bizzare question is "Why would you want to take in someone else's problem children?" I think that's insane when people ask that because children are in foster care not because they have done something wrong, but because of their parents' decisions.

Any favorite foster care stories?

It's really great to be thanked by a birth family for helping take care of their kids or helping them get them back. We never planned on adopting - we were just going to do foster care - but we actually had a birth mother come to us and ask us if we would reconsider that. She was willing to voluntarily relinquish her rights if we would adopt her kids. And it's a good feeling to be thanked by the teenagers we've helped. We have teens who have left our home, but still contact us to let us know how they're doing and thank us.

Do you have a foster parent superpower?
The ability to organize 10 people's schedules. I've never missed an appointment.

Seriously, never? That's impressive.

No. I have everything logged into one place. I had a paper planner once that we lost for three days, and now so I don't have a heart attack I keep everything in a Wal-Mart palm pilot and back it up faithfully.

That's a good tip. Got any other words of wisdom for those just starting foster care or thinking about it?
Expect the unexpected. Be ready to take it day by day because you don't know what's going to be thrown at you. Go with the flow.

If you liked this "coffee break," leave a little comment and let us know!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Two big updates and a tip

Hi! In the last couple of weeks we’ve added some important updates to our web site – this info is especially important if you’re a current foster or adoptive family.

What you need to know –

1. New DHS rules. As you might already know, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) has adopted new rule changes that will affect current foster and adoptive families. These changes will go into effect on October 1, 2009. These changes include new rules for licensing, safety and training requirements.

It’s important you take some time to read through the changes here.

It’s a lot of information to digest, so I would encourage you to have a conversation with your Iowa KidsNet support specialist or IFAPA peer liaison even if you don't have questions. He or she can walk through the changes with you and talk about which ones might affect your family and how you can prepare for or address those. These rules are also sometimes up to interpretation, so it would be beneficial to talk through the changes with someone that is familiar with them.

Foster parents, we know how much time you invest not only in the kids, but also in continuing to meet necessary state requirements like these. We try to say it a lot, but we can never say it enough – please know how much we appreciate your dedication to fostering and to the kids!

2. Court hearings for youth in foster care. This is really good news! DHS has been pilot testing a new automated process for notifying foster parents about court hearings for the youth in their care. Right now it’s being tested in two counties, and if all goes according to plan, it could be in place statewide by November. Read more here.

3. Tips on support roles. Iowa has a lot of support in place for its families. While that’s a wonderful thing, we know it can also be confusing sometimes to know who does what. DHS and a group of service providers created a tip chart that will hopefully give you a better idea of all the support available and how each person or agency can help you. Check it out here.

Whew! Lots of info. Thanks for taking the time to check it out, and again, please don't hesitate to talk to your support specialist with any questions.

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Potential for greatness

Hi, and welcome!

When we were thinking about what to name our new Iowa KidsNet blog, one of the names that came to mind was potential for greatness. Maybe you've seen this phrase on our posters or web site - it's been one of our slogans for recruiting Iowa foster and adoptive parents.

The foster care system is complex, but at the heart of it all it's about one thing - looking out for the best interests of kids. We believe that with the right kind of love and support (from people like you!) that kids can reach their potential for greatness, even if they've had a really tough start in life. So, hopefully the name of this blog reflects that - the potential that Iowa's children have, and the potential we all have to do something that makes a difference for children in foster care.

We'll be sharing news, resources, stories, etc, about once a week. If you were a reader of our post-adoption support blog, thank you! And if you missed it, you can still go back and check it out here. There's some great resources and articles from our support specialists, and we'll continue sharing those kinds of tips here in the future.

And to close, I'll introduce myself. My name is Stacey, and I'll be your sort-of-host in this space. I've been with Iowa KidsNet since 2007. One of my favorite parts of working in this field is constantly being inspired - we have some amazing foster parents with some very, very big hearts. :)

Thanks for reading and for your heart for Iowa kids!