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How to Write Effective Documentation as a Foster or Adoptive Parent

3 Days to Awesome Documentation


Parenting Class Quick Links: Index | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Quiz

What You'll Learn Today

  1. What documentation tools can help with your goal of writing effective documentation.
  2. What incidents or events to document.
  3. How to write and how not to write documentation as a foster or adoptive parent.

What documentation tools can help with your goal of writing effective documentation.

Documentation tools can help a family note a child's behavior, grief cycles, medical problems and emotional status. It also is a simple record of the various activities a child is involved in and how the child is doing in those activities, including school.

It's also important to note that often important documentation may come from your child's school, therapist, or others that spend time with your child. Keep track of these documents by creating a simple binder to hold all important documents.

Read the following article Documentation Tools to Assist Foster and Adoptive Parents for a more detailed overview of the various effective documentation tools.

What incidents or events to document.

  • Conversations between the child, therapist, birth parent, day care provider, teacher, other foster parents, or social worker when you feel points of the conversation may be relevant enough to remember in detail. Note what was said and how you responded.

  • Visits between the child and birth parent or prospective adoptive parent. Note how the child is adjusting and handling grief. Note how you are helping the child manage behaviors and grief before and after visits.

  • Situations and behaviors in the home or school such as arguments, extreme behaviors, stealing, incidences of lying, sexual acting out, poor grades, etc. Note what happened before the incident, how you responded, and how the child reacted to you.

  • Injuries and sickness when the child has hurt himself or missed school due to being ill. Note what happened and how the child was treated.

  • Calls for support when you were overwhelmed as a foster or adoptive parent and sought help. Note who you contacted, dates, times, and what response you received. Also note how it helped or didn't help.

  • Breakthroughs and moments of change when you notice that your foster or adopted child has started healthier habits or has decreased in negative behavior. Perhaps she did well on a test or maybe she didn't do well on a test but handled the failing grade much better than she did last semester. Effective documentation doesn't mean that only the negative events or problems need to be reported. Positive changes are important to document as well and help the social workers and therapists plan appropriate supports.

Read the following article Why is Documentation Important When Fostering? for more details on why each of these is an important incident to document.

How to write effective documentation as a foster or adoptive parent.

Remember in school when we were taught to remember the who, what, when, where, and how of writing a report or essay? It's basically the same principle when it comes to documenting. It's about sticking to the facts.

  • Who - Who was involved in the conversation or incident? What children or other individuals were present.

  • What - What exactly happened? Report what was said and by whom.

  • When - When did the event or conversation occur, note the date and the time.

  • Where - Where did the situation occur, at school, home, after a visit in the car? Wherever it happened, include it in your documentation.

  • How - How did you handle the situation or event? Describe what you said and how you said it. Detail the consequences you utilized, if any and how the child responded.

How not to write effective documentation as a foster or adoptive parent.

As mentioned above, it's important to stick to the facts, not your feelings, emotions, or thoughts on the situation or event.

If you feel that you must share some of your own opinions or fears, then make sure that it is recorded in another manner - perhaps in your own journal or even in an email to your family's social worker. I feel it's important to share thoughts and feelings, but not in the same report used to document an incident that occurred in your foster home. That may be seen as unprofessional.

Today’s Assignment: Get Organized!

Contact your foster care agency and ask for copies of logs or forms that you need to document incidences, or even just daily occurrences. If not you can utilize the ones I've created, Foster Care Printable Worksheets.

Some agencies utilize online reporting and record keeping. Ask if your agency does this and how you can maintain copies for your own files. Some foster care agencies also offer a form of organization for each foster child's file. If not, you can create your own file following my advice, Creating a Binder for Foster Care Records.

Recommended Articles in Today’s Lesson

Parenting Class Quick Links: Index | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Quiz

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