Like any job, fostering involves paperwork. Foster carers are regularly called upon to undertake detailed assessments of children placed with them and to participate in the planning of services for those in their care. There has also been a significant increase in the number of foster carers who are asked to attend court and case conferences, and who participate in children’s statutory reviews and other meetings. Foster carers are expected to provide their own written support for these occasions.
There is also great concern about allegations of abuse and complaints made against foster carers or their families. Unfortunately, some foster carers will experience this, and it can be an upsetting and difficult process.
As a result, there is a clear need for a method of recording day-to-day events in the home that may, at a later stage, assist foster carers in recalling events accurately. Although some fostering services provide guidelines for record keeping, some foster carers are asked to record information without any guidelines about what they need to recall. The child’s records need a consistent method of day-to-day recording to assist in the accuracy of information. Information recorded should be factual and not personal opinion unless it is clearly stated as such, i.e. ‘In my opinion…’.
If you are the foster parent, guardian or adoptive parent of a foster child then you know good record keeping is critical to obtaining the services needed to support your child. Services may include therapy, medical or dental support from Social Services or you may have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and need increased educational support. Whatever your need, proving your need is critical. And the only way to prove your need is through good record keeping. I know it’s one more thing on an already full plate, but if you set it up once and keep it current, you can prevent problems, validate your concerns, and provide your expertise along the way. Using an electronic journal such as CaseKeepers.com allows you to capture daily events and upload critical document quickly and efficiently. Later, reports can be created and provided as needed for doctors, teachers, social workers, IEPs and even the courts as needed. Everything is organized and easy to access.
Here are two big reasons why it is important to have organized, current records on your child:
1. Demonstrate your proficiency. Parents are often sidelined and considered the least professional person on an educational or medical team. Professional assume the parents are not experts. When you arrive with a detailed report, you can access information faster than anyone else, and can offer evidence of your affirmations, you rise up to a peer level and can assert yourself as someone other “the parent.”
2. Recording evidence. Unfortunately, it’s too common to have conflicts with IEP teams, insurance companies, and medical professionals. Often times, disputes arise over the “we said, they said” dilemma. When you can cite dates, times, agreements, whatever is needed, you become the authority in the disagreement. If you are starting down a path of dispute, I strongly encourage you to record all meetings. Tell them you are recording and offer to send it to them. It’s easy, these days, to have both sides record on smartphones. Then when they claim, “I never said that,” you can share the recording and the transcript. And if you ever have to file a special education or civil right complaint, it will be critical to have dated records of every hallway conversation and e-mail sent. The more heated a dispute is, the more important it is to put everything in writing.
Your records should include:
- Details of a disclosure or allegation the child makes and what the foster carer did in relation to this;
- Details of contact visits and any other form of contact such as letters, cards, telephone calls, etc.;
- Any behavioural matters, noting actual behaviours and how they were dealt with;
- Any significant milestones in development, e.g. first word, first day at school;
- Comments the child or young person makes that give you concern (exact words should be recorded);
- Details of any theft or damages caused by the child or young person (both inside and outside of the home);
- Details of any specific incident, events or changes of circumstances in your household;
- Issues related to safer caring;
- Details of any visit or contacts by the department or other professionals and those initiated by the foster carer;
- Details of any work undertaken by the foster carer on life-story work, understanding of cultural and identity issues or work agreed with the child’s social worker or the supervising social worker.
- Medical and dental record.
It is important to record positive as well as negative events, developments and situations.
Additional information on record keeping:
- Foster Parent Requirements
- How to be a Foster Parent Blog: Document Everything
- How to Write Effective Documentation as a Foster or Adoptive Parent
use an electronic journal such as CaseKeepers.com
CaseKeepers is an electronic journal that may be used from your personal computer, tablet or mobile device. Each entry is tagged with the date of the entry and the date of the occurrence. Entries can be tagged for efficient entry and filtering. Documents, photos, videos, and screenshots of texts may all be attached to an entry. And finally, you can annotate each entry with information you think is important.
- Define tags to support your day to day activities or behaviors in CaseKeepers. CaseKeepers supports four categories of your choosing. Within each category, you may define as many tags as you would like. If you are keeping records for multiple children, create a tag for each child. Define tags that suit your needs. CaseKeepers Customer Success team is happy to help you create a list of useful tags for your use.
2. Each time an incident occurs whether positive or negative, create a journal entry using the tags. For example, you might be at the grocery store and your child, Johnny, throws a tantrum and hits you. Later, you might go back and add your notes.
3. Create a journal entry and attach important records such as all medical records, IEPs, report cards, court records and any other documents that you need to keep on hand for future reference.
4. Attach videos and photos of key events whether positive or negative such as holidays, birthdays, school events, milestones, etc.
5. In addition to allowing you to create an electronic journal for you to keep your records, CaseKeepers also supports scheduled popups to track mood, sleep, exercise and anxiety. These trackers allow you to quickly provide daily mood information to doctors, teachers, therapists and social workers.
6. Create reports to share your records may be shared with anyone as a PDF. You choose which journal entries are part of the report. Or you may choose to electronically share your entire CaseKeepers electronic journal with a professional of you choice.