When a foster child leaves your home
I hope this isn't a dumb question. I'm just starting the certification process and I have so many questions.

What do you send with a foster child when they leave your home? I would think you should send all of their clothes and shoes, but what about other things? Do you divide up toys and let them keep their favorites? How about pictures? Does anyone make photo albums to send with the child?

It makes me sad to think a child will move around and continually lose familiar and favorite things.
All of their clothes and shoes that fit (not things that they have outgrown - unless they were gifts from birthfamily, special occasion)

Any toy/item gifts that they recieved while living in the home.

In our area foster parents are to keep lifebooks of the time that the children are in their home, (which should include pictures) and send those. Depending on the situation they are going to though you may want to talk to the social worker about sending a copy or what the social worker would like done.

Hope that helps!

Diane
In our state we are legally required to keep a "lifebook" which is actually a scrapbook. I buy the 12x12 kind that are large enough they will also hold school papers, report cards, etc. I buy a extra pages that are 12x12 but divided into 4x6 sections for photos with memo slips so I can write when the pic was taken and who is in it etc. This is especially important for children who are in care long-term. If you make no scrapbook or anything for them then that time in their life is forgotten time with no pics or anything. Many foster children who come from neglect have never had periodic pictures taken and may not when they (if they) return home. Most I have had did not have school pics taken. So this is really exciting for them. I found some blue and pink ones on sale at Kohl's that have a small cut out in front for a pic which is nice because I can grab one and see by the pic on the front who's scrapbook it is.

You are required to send all clothing, shoes, and toys purchased for them (unless we are talking something like large Fisher Price toys or swingsets that were purchased for your whole group). We are required to keep receipts of clothing and I tape them to computer paper and write out beside them what size and a description of the items. I buy a rubbermaid and write X's clothing on it to put items I purchase out of season when on sale or items that bioparents sent that don't fit or are damaged. I keep it in our storage building. Then when they leave, I put all their clothing in it and send the clothes rubbermaid and all with them. Same way with toys. I buy a rubbermaid and write X's toys on it and they use it as their personal toy box while they are here and it goes with them as well. It is the easiest system I have found.

I also purchased MANY of the $5 hardback books at Kohl's like Guess How Much I Love You etc that my husband, sons, and myself can sign and send with them as a small good-bye gift. We are big readers and read bedtime stories (a first for some) so it is a fitting bon voyage.

Just some ideas. You will find what works for you. Good luck!

Kim
I would also suggest, if it's workable, to keep a copy of the child's lifebook, possibly on a CD. Don't send that with. Maybe make a copy of the CD and have it put into the child's file that the foster care worker keeps, and keep a copy yourself.

We had a child in pre-adoptive placement for two years back in the eighties. Her placement disrupted, and her lifebook was sent with her when she left.

We were reunited with her about three years ago. The next year, she had twins. I was talking to her on the phone one day and she was very upset about the fact she had lost her lifebook over the course of being moved around. She was upset because she had no pictures of herself as a small child and didn't know if her babies looked like she had then. I looked around and found what pictures I had from her time with us. I also had just a few pictures of her from before her placement with us at age six, including a couple shots of her as a baby about nine months old. We made copies of all the pics and put them in a simple book for her, then sent them to her for her birthday. She called her sister (our daughter) when she got them, and our daughter told us she was crying and crying with joy because she could see how much her twins looked like her at that age. Those few pictures were just priceless to her, and if we hadn't saved them after the agency sent them to us and she left our family, they would have been lost forever.

We did not send her the originals. We know, with her chaotic life, she will most likely lose the pictures again and we will have to copy and re-send them at some point.

That's why it seems like a good idea to keep a copy of the lifebook. I wish we had thought of it at the time. Any text can be just typed on the computer and saved along with the pics on a CD. It doesn't have to be fancy or time-consuming. Nice lifebooks are important and we had nice ones for our kids, too, but it's the information that holds the real value. Should your foster kids ever be in contact with you later, you will easily be able to provide them with that crucial information.
When any child leaves my home I sort through all of their clothing, shoes & toys. Any toys & shoes that they obtained while in my home move with them. Only clothes that fit move on with them - usually an assortment of old & new clothes. I often hold onto a couple of out fits so I'm prepared for the next child that size. All my children leave with a new blanket (one received while in my home & labeled with their name in perm. marker).

In Florida we are supposed to get a "resource book" for each child from the PI or CW. Usually I get and empty 3 ring binder. I put copies of everything in there - health records, WIC paperwork, day care/ school papers, medicaide info, everything. I am dilligent in photographing my kids at least once a month and date the photos for the their resource books. (I ususally have kids under 3yrs and they change in appearance so quickly).

In 18 months I've had 9 children moved in & out of my home (only 2 sets of 2 sibs). I keep a file with the "care & custody" letter I had for them and paystubs from the monthly (daily) stipend checks. I also keep a photo album of my kids with the dates I had them in my home. Just in case any of them ever come back looking for some history.
Shutterbugette~
Things are different everywhere, but I wanted to point out that in my state the clothes the children bring with them and those that were purchased with their monthly clothing portion of the stipend MUST go with them (whether they fit or not). We are not allowed to keep them for the next child they may fit. Just an FYI for each person to check with their state rules.

EmptyNest~
I like the idea of putting the lifebook on CD but I wouldn't really know how to do that. How do you do it? I would love to have a copy for myself without making two scrapbooks. We have to send the hardcopy with them so I like the CD idea.

Kim
[url=http://www.gongol.com/howto/burnphotostocd/]How to Burn Photos to a CD | Gongol.com[/url]

The link above will show you how to burn images on to a cd.

How that helps.
we also have to send everything that was sent with the child in the beginning & bought for the child while in our home--they are theirs.... I have had some bp say if the child has outgrown it they don't want it back but make sure that sw or supervisors makes note of it... We have had some cases in our county lately that have gotten real ugly b/c fp didn't send everything and the child was upset. I make a photo album for each child that is in my home that has descriptions of what the pic is about. The pictures are taken with my digital camera so i keep a copy on cd as well......
From what I read. We are only required to send 7 complete sets of clothing and their toys that they brought and/or given to them personally while in our home. When Our girls go we will send them with more than the 7 sets. They will go with all the clothing they got for bdays and Christmas. They will also go with eveything that we specifically bought for them that still fits. The clothing that we already had in our home or that was donated to us we will keep for future girls. The girls will probably leave with 3-4 weeks worth of clothing. Toys are another story. They have tons!! All the toys will go and I wont be sad to see all the toys go. The girls horde things like Happy Meal toys, broken crayons, scrap paper, everything. I will send it all with them!!
my 4yr old fs i found out will be leaving me next weekend after being with me a year. You can imagine all the stuff. I started packing for him this weekend and all the clothes that fit him are going--3 big suitcases worth, and the clothes that he came with or his family bought him that he has outgrown. and all of his toys that he has aquired over the year. I just hope his uncle has room in his trunk for everything b/c L wants everyting to go. He even wanted his sheets and blankets and i don't have the heart to tell him no so his room is being stripped of everything but the furniture and he would take the bunk beds if i would let him... Point being if the child is old enough to know or think it is theirs then they should be able to take it.....just my opinion.
In our state as well, "if it comes, it must go" everything that has come with the child or was bought for the child has to go with the child from one place to another. I label the tag when kids first arrive and everytime I buy anything specifically for them (not the surplus stuff I buy for the everybody box), that way I know what goes with them when they leave. To be honest, I am not really sad to see all that stuff that bparents send gone, sometimes they just don't have the resources to buy appropriate things or the conginitive faculties to know that the things they give their children to have at my home are uneeded and often unuseable, but we take them anyway to show that we are supporting them in front of thier kids.
We have an inventory sheet of their clothing and possessions that we update every six months. When they leave, whatever is listed on their inventory sheet goes with them.
We, too, have to keep a clothing inventory. We are to use $40 of the month stipend each month to purchase necessary clothing. You can save up and then spend $120 after 3 months etc, but you still have to show that you spent the allotted amount.

Also, for many of these kids, TPR will happen and they may or may not have seen their bios a handful of times over the course of time. Sometimes the ratty clothing that mom sent with them will be the only tangible thing they have that a parent gave them and will want to keep it no matter how ratty or how small it becomes. I
always just pack it away with their other belongings.
Kim
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