I've got this foster care homestudy thing down... right, hivemind?
July 27, 2016 9:54 PM   Subscribe

Mrs Rabu and I are becoming foster parents. We're in our early 30's and excited about this as we have flexible work schedules, extra income, lots of love, and an amazing backyard to roam around in for a little one. I have a few specific questions from the pre-homestudy checklist I wanted to check in with the hive about.

We've been taking classes on foster care, and are familiar the ins and outs and we're now stepping into the licensing phase (background checks, CPR class, medical exam, etc etc). That said, the homestudy is a huge and important part of all of this. The age range we are looking to foster is 0-6.

We live in a small, 1000 sq ft house that is one level. 2 bedrooms that are about 10 feet by 11 feet. We will be in one, the child will be in the other one. Adequate space for what they require (40 square feet per child). We have smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguisher etc etc, that stuff is easy. We do have some medical prescriptions in the house and in the checklist it says that those, along with household cleaners need to be locked up.

I have a small pantry with shelving with a closeable door off of my kitchen (with no lock on the door) where we keep the cleaning supplies. Would it be better to just get a lockable doorknob or latch for the top of the door to keep that locked at all times?

How would you recommend locking up prescription medications? There is a big shelving unit in the bathroom with open shelves. The shelves are 11in w x16in tall Should I get some kind of lockbox or safe?

It also says to lock up ammo and guns etc but that's not applicable to us cause we don't own any of that.

The meds and cleaners being locked up seem to be the only hurdle in preparing for the homestudy. The rest seems easy enough (having an age appropriate bed for the kid, screens on the window they will be sleeping in, closet and dresser for them, a car to transport the child in, etc).

The paperwork part I can handle, it's just getting the house ready that is starting to make me feel a little frazzled! But that is to be expected. Thanks for any input and help. The Foster Care Foundation I'm working with has also been answering these kind of questions for me but I hate bugging them so much so any advice would be most welcome. Foster parent mefites, I appreciate your help. Also any other additional tips for the homestudy would be welcome. Should I have cookies baking?? (joking not joking)

PS: The homestudy is not til early September so I have time. Trying to get it all figured out.
posted by rabu to Human Relations (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I do not know the regulations, but if I were asked to lock away my prescriptions, I would get a small fire proof lock box and put that out of reach of a 6 year old. Here is a link to the type of box to which I refer.

The cleaning supplies sound like they are in a reasonable place that with a simple lock either in the knob or outside the door makes sense.

Btw, you sound like you are ready. You sound caring, loving and willing to do whatever it takes to help a foster child thrive. Good luck. I am sure you will do well with the homestudy and with a child.
posted by AugustWest at 10:22 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is a reasonable, lockable medicine box and looks nice enough.
posted by quince at 11:49 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Get the kinds of locks where you can set the combination, so that you don't drive yourself around the bend with trying to manage tiny keys for multiple purposes.

You may be asked to lock up all sharps (knives, scissors, tweezers) too.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:04 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Medication works best when it isn't exposed to the temperature fluctuations that happen in the bathroom. Why not move them to the kitchen and put them in a cabinet with the cleaning supplies? You could then put a lock on the cabinet, which would be more user friendly than having to unlock the food place every time you wanted a snack.

Another option would be to get a two drawer file cabinet with a lock to put in the pantry. Top drawer for drugs, bottom drawer for chemicals.
posted by myselfasme at 4:22 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our kid chugged a bottle of cough mix and spent the night in an ER chugging charcoal. It was not fun and we learned she could climb much higher than we had expected, medical box-wise. We used a toolbox with a combination lock on a shelf set out of reach, and kept non-dangerous medicines regular in a pouch nearby (bandaids, wound-care spray).

A latch is a pain if you have an inquisitive or hyperactive kid, or more than one kid - a lockable doorknob is much easier. I keep all the keys to the lockable interior doors in a pouch hidden in the main room just accessible immediately from the front door so that when (not if) a kid locks themselves in/out of a room, it's easy to quickly grab a key and unlock them.

If you are replacing doorknobs and have small children, I urge you to consider lever doorknobs - they are a godsend when your arms are full of child/toys/covered in sticky mess and much easier for little kids to manage, and can be fitted with the same locks.

Do you have pets? Make sure cat litter boxes and pet supplies/cleaning stuff are similarly inaccessible to kids - a toddler gate marking off the cat litter area is enough, pet supplies can go with the cleaning stuff.

Heavy shelves should also be secured to walls. Basically - imagine Curious George in your house with no-one watching him....
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:21 AM on July 28, 2016

(Everyone stresses out hugely about the home study and almost everyone passes and the people who don't are people with like swords hanging on their walls at toddler height and pet snakes in the baby's room. You sound 99% ready and would probably already pass.)
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:34 AM on July 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

Heavy shelves should also be secured to walls. Basically - imagine Curious George in your house with no-one watching him....

Dressers, bookshelves, and TV stands should also be anchored to walls if you are trying to make the space as safe as possible. And if you have a TV, make sure that a kid can't tip it over. We ended up mounting our flatscreen on the wall to protect it from our kids.
posted by belladonna at 6:48 AM on July 28, 2016

My experience with foster care home study was similar to dorothyisunderwood's - Assuming the caseworker thinks you will be good foster parents (which they almost certainly do if you're to the point of doing a homestudy), they want you to pass the homestudy. If there's something minor that they want changed, like the cleaning supplies, they will just tell you that during/after the homestudy, you'll fix it and be on your way. I know this is easier said than done, but don't stress out about it too much! There will be plenty of stuff to stress about when the kid is actually placed with you!
posted by mjcon at 7:34 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Chiming in with above, if something is not to order, they'll just either watch you fix it, or come back to see that it's fixed. And they'll tell you exactly what needs to be done to fix it.

I stressed so very hard before our foster homestudy, and everyone said 'relax, it's fine, they want you to pass' and I was like NO BUT WHAT IF THERE IS DUST SOMEWHERE? As it was, I had left bleach in the undersink cabinet. Bleach. She opened the cabinet and laughed and was like, I think you forgot something. We are only licensed up to 24 months, so we have no lock requirements. We just have to have stuff up high. She watched me put the bleach up high and happily signed off on us.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

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