While it is true that documenting daily activities, behaviors, and observations is part of being a smart foster parent. It's false to believe that only negative events, problems, and issues are to be documented, a child's successes are just as important.
What does documentation show?
Documentation shows a foster child's day-to-day activities. Most social workers and judges want to know how a foster child is doing in school and if they are involved in any extracurricular activities. It's important that foster families take the time to keep school reports and take note of the fun things a foster child enjoys doing. Also, note how well the child performs in different activities.
Documentation may show a pattern of child behavior. This type of information may help a therapist with a diagnosis, if needed, or better aide in the recommendation of a parenting technique or ways to cope as a foster family. Documentation will also show what improvements in behavior are being made which will shed light on what's working in your family.
Documentation may help a child get needed services and supports. When a fostering family can show that a child struggles to maintain appropriate behavior during school, or different times of the day, social workers are better able to make needed referrals for services.
Documentation may help a fostering family get needed services and supports. It's not just the foster children that are often in need of services. The reports provided by the foster family may help a social worker see that the family really needs a break, for example, such as a respite.
Documentation helps protect a foster family from false allegations. Unfortunately, fostering families need to remember to protect themselves. Documenting situations, or even heated or uncomfortable conversations is an important part of that self protection. While simply documenting an event won't automatically make an allegation disappear, it may help in the investigation process. It may even bring a foster family some peace of mind.
It can be a lot of work, but ignoring documenting the events of your foster home may be a big mistake. Discuss with your foster care social worker to learn more and see if there are logs or forms utilized by your foster care agency. If not, please feel free to use the following printable forms within your foster home.
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