As a part of life in the foster care system, each case has an FTC or FTM (Family Team Conference / Family Team Meeting) every six months. According to our local Department of Children and Family Services website:
“Family Team Meetings bring together a family and interested people, like friends, neighbors and community members, with resources from child welfare, mental health, schools, and other helping agencies. These interested parties work together to learn what the family hopes to accomplish, set realistic and important goals, recognize and encourage the family’s strengths, identify what the family needs, find solutions that build on the family’s strengths and lead to necessary changes, make a plan for who will do what and when it will be done, and agree on the next steps. The purpose of Family Team Meetings is to keep children safe, promote children’s well-being and support families.”
As a foster parent, I’ve been invited to, and attended all of these meetings for our son. They never quite worked as intended. His birth family, either parent, never showed. However, the meetings have been a great opportunity for me to get an update on the progress of the case and to meet some of the key players. At the beginning, the room was full of people. His caseworker was there, her supervisor, his CASA volunteer and her supervisor, social workers, the investigation worker who determined that he needed to be removed from his home. . . I think a lawyer or two even showed up at the first meeting. However, as the case has progressed, the crowd in the room has dwindled. 18 Months in, at yesterday’s meeting, the only people to show were me and his caseworker. I get that, from a practical standpoint. Rights for both parents have been terminated, but the case hasn’t been moved to the adoption unit yet. A lot of those people who were there before no longer have any connection to the case. It was just a little sad to walk into a room, where in theory we were going to have this great discussion about a little boy’s needs, and it was only the two of us. . . and we chatted about Facebook. Yep. The good news, though, is that rights have been terminated for both parents, and we are going to be transferred to the adoption unit! And we have been fortunate to have the same amazing caseworker through all 18 months of his time in foster care (which for those of you not in the know is crazy rare)! And his CASA volunteer is awesome and supportive and is in touch frequently! It may not have looked like it on Wednesday, but this kid does have an amazing support team and a whole boatload of people who love him. And, eventually, I’ll start posting pictures on this dang blog again. Out of every 100 pictures I take, there are probably two that don’t have our little man in them. . .
I’m linking up to this amazing blogroll of other foster / adoptive parents who are talking about whatever the heck that they want to talk about this time around. If fostering is something that you’re considering, you should check some of these out. It’s always great to get a perspective from someone who’s been through it.