Fostering: Emergency Placement
Late Tuesday evening Rent-a-Dad and I received a phone call about a child needing an emergency placement. By Wednesday evening our emergency placement was able to go home.
During the day on Wednesday, we had received several phone calls and text messages. Friends and family were asking if we needed anything. By the time we replied to those concerns our emergency placement had already been re-united with family. This news shocked several of our friends and family members. They were a bit confused thinking that foster parents provided homes for stays lasting longer than one day. It is true that the bulk of placements last more than one night, often the stay spans a minimum of eight months. Emergency placements are rather different.
Emergency placements are a little like they sound. Something has happened to the parent or caregiver and now the child needs some where to call home no matter how temporary.
The first priority of DCS is to find a safe place for the child in question to receive food and a warm bed. Once that house is identified DCS then turns its attention to finding other family or friends that could care for the child. The search may only last a few hours, a day or it could take several weeks to several months. The intention of an emergency placement is to re-unite this child with family/friends as soon as possible.
It is important to keep in mind that emergency placements happen for a number of reasons. A caregiver might unexpectedly be in the hospital. A parent may have passed away or be missing. Not all foster care placements are due to negligence, drugs, or abuse.
Sometimes DCS finds out about cases like this late at night. A warm bed and safe home need to be identified so the child does not need to fall asleep on the floor at the local DCS office. This was the case with our emergency placement. By the next afternoon everything was worked out and could be reunited with family. In situations like this the reunification process happened so quickly that the child never truly had to be in care.
There are so many reasons to become a foster parent from emergency placements to long term care. Not only are there many reasons but also many ways in which a person can foster. Foster parents do not have to adopt or even plan to adopt. They can open their home to strictly deal with emergency placements or even respite care.
Interested in learning more about the different types of foster homes and placements? I encourage you to contact your local Department of Children Services or local charity that works with the foster care system. Rent-a-Dad and I work through the state. However there are plenty of private foster care organizations in the area where we live that we could also work through. There are even group homes meant to provide more of a respite type of care for families.
The only sad bit of information I have to share is that terminology can be different from state to state. Not all state agencies have websites that are easy to navigate let alone explain what you need to know. Families United Network, Inc. in Pennsylvania has a good “go to” page that explains some of the terminology I have used in the past from emergency placement to kinship foster care.