Introduction to My Blog Series
My name is Arianne Riebel. I am the Director of Foster Care and Adoption Programs here at Arms Wide Adoption Services. I wanted to write a blog series which walks families through the placement processes for the adoption journey. (Stay tuned for more posts!) Many families are anxious to receive a placement once having an approved home study. Unfortunately, nothing about this process is necessarily fast, nor does it go exactly the way you would expect it to. At Arms Wide Adoption Services, we start looking for possible family/child matches as soon as we have an approved home study – whether it is for an emergency foster care, legal risk, or “straight” adopt placement.
Throughout this blog series, I will describe the different match opportunities and what you can expect from each. What you can expect, regardless of which route you take, is you will feel like you have little control. This is according to our families, but I would also have to agree! Nevertheless, families say their adoption journey granted them the opportunity to learn more about themselves, while encouraging them to let go of the need to control.
Let’s start! Today’s post is about Emergency Placement Matching.
Emergencies Don’t Always Happen During Business Hours
The most important thing I can tell you about waiting for a placement in emergency foster care placement is ANSWER YOUR PHONE! Ultimately, the reason CPS needs a home for an emergency placement is because it is just that – an emergency. This means CPS has just removed a child from an unsafe situation. They need a home for them, usually that night. If a home cannot be found quickly enough, the child may spend the night in a CPS office or shelter.
When the placement team at CPS gets notified with a placement request, they start contacting agencies’ placement teams, no matter what time of day. In fact, if you are open to accepting emergency placements, you may very well receive a phone call in the middle of the night. You may even receive placement that very same night. No matter what time the call comes, if you don’t answer your phone, it is likely someone else will. This means that foster family will receive the placement instead. I always tell families if we leave you a message for a placement and you call us back the next day, the placement will be gone. Emergencies don’t always happen between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Emergency Placement Matching
Whenever we receive a placement phone call or e-mail, we are usually only given basic information about the child, such as their age and gender. If we are lucky, we receive more helpful information, like their diaper size or formula type. But more often than not, there is little time to collect such details when removing children from these bad situations. We created this First Night Checklist checklist for foster parents to help make the transition and first night a little easier, even if parents only know basic information before the placement. The most important thing in the moment is to find a safe place for the child, while CPS determines the best solution for the child’s situation.
This can be why emergency placements may not last long. Once the child is in a safe place and the emergency has passed, CPS can start communicating with the family. CPS will look for relatives or family friends who may be willing to help and take the placement of the child while the parents work on getting their services completed. Foster parents may also help prepare the child for Biological Family Visits.
Taking The Placement
Once you agree to take the emergency placement, Arms Wide Adoption Services will let the CPS Placement Team know. At that point, CPS workers may choose to place with the first agency which responds with an available bed. However, sometimes if multiple agencies respond with available beds, the CPS worker will then determine the best match. In other words, there may be times where you say “yes,” but CPS chooses another family.
So many parts of the foster and adoption journey are unknown, but the emergency foster placement process has the most unknowns: about the child, about the timing of placement, and about how long the child will stay. Even though emergency placement matching is the riskiest adoption route, it is also a family’s best option if they hope to foster an infant at birth – although adoption is not a guarantee.
Tune in next time to hear more about Legal Risk and Straight Adoption placement matchings.
About The Author
As the Director of Adoption and Foster Care Services, Arianne Riebel, LMSW, LCPAA, oversees Arms Wide Adoption Services’ team of adoption and foster care employees, making sure each step of the adoption and foster care journey goes smoothly.
While earning her Bachelor’s in Social Work at Stephen F. Austin University, she first considered a career in adoption and gained experience working in the field during her college career. A few years after graduation, she completed her Master of Social Work at the University of Houston. Then, gained a decade of experience in child welfare before becoming a part of the Arms Wide family. Through her role at Arms Wide, she wanted to be able to give each child and family one-on-one support and attention. Her favorite part about her job is seeing people become parents or add more children to their family. She loves when kids have found their forever homes. Read more about Arianne here.