Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Homeschooling and Foster Care - Part 1

We have been homeschooling for 10+ years and have been providing foster care for 3+ years. I been meditating on the things we've learned over the last few years. When I hit 3+ pages of notes, I decided that this was more than one post. So, here's the first in a serious on the pro's and cons of providing foster care in conjunction with homeschooling.


Foster Care requirements are never ending and often useless.

The list is a pretty intimidating. When we began this process, the to-do list seemed endless. I began planning what to do and how to do it for a couple of years before we officially began the foster care application process.

Every three years we are re-inspected and the licensing worker or the state typically requires something new. And, it is not just the inside of our house. For example, the licensing worker made us move the stepping stones in our then fallow garden because he considered them "a tripping hazard."

Luckily, we don't park our cars in our garage which down graded it into the "locked storage" category. We had friends who couldn't store their bicycles in their garage because their licensing worker considered the bikes a hazard when exiting their car.

This sort of bureaucratic nonsense comes with the territory. We even had our foster care license suspended when the permits for a minor remodel were not filed the way the licensing worker expected. We ended up paying the city $600 dollars to issue additional permits . The inspector from the city barely set foot in our house, but we got the documentation that we needed to satisfy the county.

Bottom Line: To become a licensed foster home, you have to play their games. Just expect a certain amount of busywork and you won't get so upset.


Foster Care is a great motive to organize and earthquake-safe your home.

In preparation to become a licensed foster home, we dejunked our house. I sorted all the outgrow clothing and have each age and gender stored in its own plastic tote. If it couldn't fit in its age/gender bin, I gave it away.

I sorted our linen closet and the drawers in my bathroom. (I found that we had three different kinds of heating pads. I didn't even know that we owned one heating pad, let alone three.) I got rid of accessories to medical equipment that I no longer owned. (I donated those to the American Diabetes Association in my community.) I don't have room to mention all the stuff I found, organized and got rid of in the garage.

Best of all, I installed the earthquake and safety precautions I had been thinking about for years. I learned how to use a power drill and a stud finder. Our bookcases (and there are many) and large furniture are now bolted to walls.

Not all the improvements were requirements of the state. Most were my requirements. I felt uncomfortable having guests in my home when it felt messy or cluttered. I frequently have my children drop what they are doing to do a quick tidy because I received a call from a social worker asking if she can come over sometime in the next hour. (One good thing: social workers are almost frequently late which give us more cleaning time.)

While all these picky details have been a burden at times, having a well organized home has improved our homeschool experience. The children have less distractions and I feel better. In addition, home management is an important skill that I want my children to master.

When I get around to Part 2, I will post the link here.


Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian said...

I'll be interested to hear if you are allowed to homeschool your foster children - here in NM, when we did foster care through the state, it was absolutely not allowed - even though many were so far behind and would have reaped so much benefit from it!

When we fostered through the BIA, however, they didn't care. We took that on a case by case basis, depending on how long we expected kids to be with us, where they were academically and behaviorally, their preferences, etc. With the BIA, kids were also sometimes 'hidden' at our house, so being able to homeschool helped immensely.

As for the beaurocratic nonsense - ugh! One worker decided we had too many dogs (four!) even though they were all friendly, well-behaved, vaccinated, neutered, etc., and our veterinarian had personally written up a guarantee of their personalities - putting his own reputation on the line! We stood our ground on that one, going over her head. Her supervisor came to do a home visit, and showed up ten minutes after a water leak that had flooded half the house, so the dogs were now wet and excited...but he still took our side:)

Janine Cate said...

Since most of the children we take in are under school age, it hasn't come up much. However, I did have a social worker will to look at a public school homeschool (independent study) program.

Jen said...

Thanks for the post. It is good to know that there are others who homeschool and do foster care. God bless you for the work you do for His children.

Henry Cate said...

Thank you for your kind words.