Handling allegations is just a part of being a foster parent. We often say to new foster families, it's not if an allegation is made against your foster home, but when an allegation is made against your foster home.
Because adoptive parents are often adopting children with similar needs as foster children, allegations against them as adoptive parents is also not a rare occurrence.
Here are a few tips on surviving allegations
I know it's going to be tough, but this isn't the time to lose one's mind. Call a trusted friend and share feelings, vent, or just cry. Remember, that an allegation does not mean that you will be found guilty.
Gather any documentation
Locate any logs or incident reports you may have on the reported allegation. If you don't have any documentation, then begin to write everything down that you can remember about the day or event in question. Also, start documenting everything about the investigation and the social workers doing the investigation. Collect business cards and logging phone conversations and home visits.
Be courteous and polite
There is absolutely no point in being rude to the investigating social workers. They have a job to do and must follow up on every report that may involve a child being abused or neglected. Yes, some reports do get screened out, meaning no further action will be taken.
For example, a report about a child having a really bad haircut, while sad, is not abuse and a worker will probably not visit a home over that particular report. Know that the investigating social worker may want to look through your home and speak to your family.
Tell the truth
If as a foster or adoptive parent, there was a moment when patience wore thin and a child did receive corporal punishment or harsh words, then admit it.
No good will come from lying about it. You may lose your foster care license. You may have to complete a corrective action plan and take more discipline classes, but if the allegations are true, then there are consequences. So, just be honest about it.
At this time your foster care worker may not be able to be there for you as a support due to conflict of interest. So, find support where you can in good friends and family. Those who understand the foster care system will probably be your best bets at this time.
Make a decision
Once the investigation is over and your family has been cleared. You may be asked if you would like to continue to foster the child. If the child is the one who made the allegation report, you and your family have a lot to discuss. On one hand, it may be time for the child to learn that making such false allegations does not work. On the other hand, do you wish to continue to put your family at risk? Many foster parents say that it depends on the nature of the allegation.
Assess need for changes
How did your family handle the allegation? Do you need better documentation? After our last brush with allegations as a foster family we learned that we needed better boundaries in place and to keep professional relationships professional.
What did your family learn?
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