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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Foster Care Binder


 

As we are preparing our house to open back up for foster placements, I am reviewing all of the things I could have done better the first time around.  When my three boys first came I tried to prepare the best I could, but you don't really know what you don't know, LOL!  One of the areas that I totally could have done better in is organizing the massive amounts of paperwork, records, notes, and observations you will have when dealing with foster care.  For the boys I have a HUGE Rubbermaid filled with papers, it is completely disorganized.  Today I am going to show you what I have been working on to keep it all organized this time around!

I decided a Foster Care Binder for each child would be the best way to keep everything in one place and well organized.  You will find the links to individual pages/forms throughout the post, they should open in google docs so you can customize them to fit your needs. 



BINDER COVER:  You can get a copy of my Binder Cover here.  I choose to leave the child's name off of the front, that way if I need to bring the binder with me the name is not visible to anyone.  If you had more than one Binder you may want to put Initials or design a different cover to distinguish each child.

BACK OF BINDER:  I have a copy of this poem (or this design) on the back outside cover of my binder.


Flash Drive:  Any time I receive paperwork, notes, emails, cards, etc.  I scan them into my computer and put a copy on the child's flash drive.  This way if the child moves on I can easily pass the binder along and still have a copy of everything without having to worry about storage space, or I can quickly email caseworkers documents, etc.  This is also a great way to keep copies of school work and crafts, just scan them onto the drive and you don't have to feel guilty about throwing away the weekly spelling test!  If you want to keep the binder when the child moves on, you can always burn everything from the flash drive onto a CD that you can send with them or give to the Case Worker.  I keep the Flash Drive and a few pens and post-its in a zipper pouch in the front of the binder.

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BASIC INFO SHEET:  This sheet goes in the front of the binder and contains any pertinent information such as, Name, Birthdate, Age, Grade, Date of Placement, Allergies,  Medical Diagnosis.  If I can I like to put a picture of the child upon placement on this sheet too.

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CONTACT SHEET:  This sheet includes the names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and emails for anyone involved with the child.  At the beginning of the placement I will handwrite them on this sheet in pencil, because things can change quickly.  Once things settle down I will go back and type them in if I feel so inclined :)  Behind this sheet is one of those plastic baseball card collector sheets to place business cards in from various professionals involved with the child.  Always ask for a card or if they don't have one get their name and jot it down.  Transporters, visit supervisors, ANYONE!!  You never know when you will need to recall someone who had an interaction with the child.
 Case Workers (County, Agency, Transport, Visit)
 Supervisors
 GAL/CASA
 Birth Parents
 Doctors
 Therapists
 Dentist
 Teachers
 Principal
 Former Placements
 Siblings and Extended Family
 Foster Placements of siblings


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CONTACT LOG:  You can get a copy of my Contact Log here.  Rather than tying to make all the information fit into columns, I've found it is easier for me to give myself as much space as needed to write notes or things I need to follow up on.  I will also insert written communication such as emails, cards, etc. in plastic page protectors.  I will still log these into the main Contact Log and then write "See Attached" in the notes section.  That way I can keep track of everything in chronological order. Get a copy of the cover sheet for this section here.




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IMPORTANT PAPERS:  This section contains any important papers I need for the placement, including placement paperwork, Birth Certificate or SS cards, Medical Cards, permissions for treatment or travel. I also like to include this Incoming Personal Property Inventory sheet so I can keep track of any items the child came with and add any items that are given to them by birthparents throughout the placement.  The other sheet I keep in here is a timeline of the child's life, including past placements and important events.  This can be very helpful when you are talking to various therapists and doctors, I find that having a visual of all the dates is helpful in getting a full picture of the child.  I can also add events to it as they come up throughout the placement or as new information is disclosed by those involved with the case. Get a copy of the cover sheet for this section here.



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MEDICAL SECTION: If you take medically fragile placements you may find it best to have a whole binder divided by type of Doctor/Specialist.  For me,  I keep a summary sheet in the front with doctor/dentist information, how often and when they are supposed to see them, when the last appointment was and when the next one will be.  I keep a separate sheet listing current medications, dosage, directions, who prescribed them as well as a medication history sheet showing past medications.  I usually keep a few copies of their current medication sheet so I can hand it out when asked what medications the child is on ( I also include any Over the Counter medications or vitamins that are given regularly).  I have a medication log to document that I have given the medications.  I then just keep all medical documents by date, if something is important and I will need to find it quickly or often I will put a post-it note on it that sticks out a little from the binder.  In the back of this section I keep Incident Reports which I fill out if there are any bumps or bruises that I want to document. I will scan it in and email it to the caseworker, make a note of the email in the contact log,  and then place it in chronological order in this section. Get the cover sheet for this section here.


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EDUCATION SECTION: I keep a sheet of important information up front, School contact info, teacher name, grade, room #, schedule including "specials" (for example 'Gym Day' so we bring sneakers), school calendar, IEP dates.  Next is a copy of the current IEP and Evaluation in page protectors.  Afterwards all important documents are put in chronological order.  If a placement receives early intervention I keep that paperwork in this section rather than medical section. Get the cover sheet for this section here.

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VISITATION SECTION: I keep a sheet of important information up front, Visit Schedule, Transporter contact information, visitation supervisor information, visitation center address and phone number.   Then I keep a Monthly Calendar where I color in visit days either Green, Yellow, or Red.  Green for successful visit, Yellow if there was an issue (late, left early, etc.), Red for No Show or Cancelled.  I think the visual is helpful to keep track of the visits.  I keep a Notes page to write any observations from the visit or things kids said about visit. Get a copy of this section cover sheet here.

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BEHAVIOR SECTION:  This section will vary depending on what behaviors need to be addressed in each child.  I keep a Monthly Calendar where I can jot down things as well as note pages where more detailed summaries can be placed.  If we are using a specific behavior sheet or reward program I will include those here. Get a copy of this sections cover sheet here.


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COURT RECORDS: I keep a summary sheet of any court info I may have, court house address and contact information, judge assigned, GAL assigned, case number, important dates.   The rest of the Court paperwork gets organized by date.  I will also include a note page if a caseworker gives me a summary of what happened at a court date and include it accordingly. Get the cover sheet for this section here.


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FINANCIAL SECTION: Any expenses that your agency may reimburse for can be kept in this section.  I keep mileage logs here as well as any receipts for tolls.  I also keep a copy of the current Clothing Inventory showing the placement has the required number of clothing items in each category as well as receipts if your agency requires them.  Any extra-curricular activities that the placement may be in  or school fees and the receipts.  Check stubs from the monthly stipend can be hole punched and kept in this section as well. Get the cover sheet for this section here.

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MONTHLY REPORTS:  My agency requires a monthly report to be filled out, I keep copies of each monthly report here as well as some blank ones. Get the cover sheet for this section here.


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PICTURES: I keep a copy of important pictures in the binder such as school pictures for the year, Christmas Card Picture, pictures from important events, a picture with their birth family, pictures with caseworkers, etc. Get the cover sheet for this section here.




How do you organize everything?  Id love to hear in the comments!

Be sure to like me on facebook or pinterest so you can get all the latest posts and printables, see the right hand side for links!

27 comments:

  1. I am a new foster parent and I like organization so this is right up my alley-thanks so much for sharing all your hard work!

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  2. I have a binder for my Grandson that I am fostering. It is big and I thought it was very organized, until I went to look for something. I also have notebooks that I write everything down in. I like organization, I thought I was doing good. Now that I have found your forms and style of doing it, I know it can be done better. I look forward to putting it all into place. Thank you!!

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  3. I am preparing to welcome a child into our home and this has been extremely helpful! I thrive on organization and had already began a binder for a child (i have them for my own two kids) but this is much better than what I was putting together!

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  4. Thank you for the idea of a flash drive. I cleared off my book shelves yesterday and moved papers from a former placement. These are ones that I thought might be wanted in the future, but couldn't figure how to store them. Scanning and putting on a flash drive will be so much better than a stack of papers. The same could be said for copies of forms and the like. I already take pictures of art work before recycling them (discreetly) but hadn't thought to do it for other things.

    Right now I organize it in a large expandable folder. The front contains things I need (birth certificate, ssn, brief family medical history, lawyer's contact info, etc.), especially when going to the doctor or signing them up for things. Behind that we have medical - including copies of old insurance cards (they used to change monthly), education - including EI and EC stuff, previous placement information, a summary of what they came with, followed by random papers that I haven't ever used but with which they came. While it is all in order and in one place that is easy to carry, it is sometimes hard to find the different sections.

    My monthly notes for our home visits is kept on the computer. We aren't required to do this, but I find it is much easy to just hand it to the CW than try to remember things. It also gives it in an already written form for them to see - when the next doctor's appointment and dentist appointment is, how school and school therapies are going, an update on behaviors and a section for notes on visits (how they went or when the next/last one is/was if we supervise them ourselves).

    I also scan in my monthly reimbursement reports and any other forms I need to send into the office. These are kept on my computer, but I think I will work on putting them over on a flash drive. Again, thanks for that idea.

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  5. I love your binder pages! I use a binder too. Mine has a zipper closure with handle and shoulder strap to make it easier for me to take to appointments while holding the baby. I need to use your flash drive idea! Such a good idea

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  6. Awesome post! I'd love to see a blank copy of your monthly reports! Also, do you have a printable calendar you can share? Thanks!

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  7. My family is at the beginning stages of the foster to adopt program this is really helpful since I have no clue! Thanks

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  8. I have been fostering for 5 years now. You have made my life so much easier! I'm going to put these binders together for the families in our agency. Thank you so much for the ideas and pintables! You are amazing!

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  9. This is amazing! We just got our license and are waiting for the phone to ring. This is so helpful!

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  10. It goes without saying that foster caring involves a huge amount of paperwork, so this is where you need to commit your organization skills more. Kudos to you for doing a job well done! Keeping a binder is the very first step, now all you have to do is to keep it somewhere safe to secure the sensitive information it contains.

    Ruby Badcoe @ Williams Data Management

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  11. thank you! so amazing, I just printed them all off. We are waiting for our certification to go through and expect to get a call this month. Now I feel more organized :)

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  12. We are days away from receiving our first placement and these forms are so amazingly helpful! What a blessing! Thank you so much for all your time to share these!

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  13. I'm so thankful for your hard work! We are in the process of being certified, and with so much to do this is so helpful. I'm going to make a few binders so that they're ready and we have a lot less to worry about when we have a new child in our home. Thank you!!

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  14. I too am a foster parent and love organization. My binder is a bit different but love the ideas. It really makes the process much easier.

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  15. Oh how I love this!

    When a child leaves your home, do you send the entire binder with them or just pull out the info that goes with them, staple/clip it together, and keep the binder intact?

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  16. Thank you so much!! I have been having a hard time with organization with foster care stuff (usually very good at organizing)! Thank you thank you thank you! so needed!!!!

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  17. My husband and I are starting classes in two weeks to become foster parents. This binder looks so helpful! Thank you for sharing.
    I'm a teacher and like to feel prepared even thought I have no idea what to expect. I plan on using your binder as a guide for making my own. :)

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  18. If you want to rate and give reviews according to service you got from foster home & adoption agency in Los Angeles, Orange County and California please visit Rate & Review Foster Home Agency

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  19. We are just starting the process of classes and prepping... this... this right here... thank you!! I didn't know I needed it until now. Thanks & Happy Fostering to all.

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  20. I recently downloaded your forms, and when trying to print them out they printed a VERY light gray color and are hardly readable... Is that how you made them? I bought brand new ink, so I know that's not the problem...
    I absolutely love this binder! Thank you so much for your post!

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  21. Thank you for sharing all of your hard work. I, too, am an organizer. I have included your printables with some other sources and compiled an awesome notebook that I will be sharing with others. Your hard work has cut hours of time out of the work of me and countless others. God bless you for all you do.

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  22. We are going to be welcoming our first foster son very soon and this binder is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. I printed mine out today. :-)

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  23. Thank you so much for sharing these ideas! They will be beyond helpful with my binder organization system!! :D

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  24. Thanks so much for this. We just got our approval and this is very helpful.

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  25. This is an amazing system! I am a case manager for foster care and though we file things differently, this is a great idea for foster parents, especially for older kids who would need access to these documents after they leave!

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  26. This is a life saver. I am probably the most organized foster parent in the agency because of this binder!

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  27. How can I print these?

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