We often meet with clients for an hour at a time usually. In most cases, that one interaction in our only connection. Other cases, we have several FTMs on the same case so we see the parties more than once. So, trying to see how I have made a difference took me some time and some reflection. My reflection brought me back to a removal case that happened not long ago. This case involved a single mom of a 1 year old. The child was removed due to substances abuse and placed with a licensed foster family.
In the beginning of the FTM, the mom was not very willing to speak much; only answered when she had to and only short answers. We discussed substance treatment and she was willing to do outpatient treatment and an assessment if she had to. DHHS told her that with the assessment they could get a better idea of her needs and how to help her. Mom did not appear happy about this and didn’t seem to believe that DHHS was willing to help her at all; she wanted to only talk about her child and nothing else. We discussed parenting time and the schedule, we discussed medical and dental needs for the child and the foster mom talked about the child brushing their teeth and enjoying it. The foster mom spoke about other things she had seen with the child and needs the child had.
Mom was told about the FTC program and how the family would be a good candidate for the program. When we got to mom’s needs she initially did not want to discuss them, she stated that her only need was to have her child back home with her and that it was so hard not having her child. Mom started to talk about bedtime routine, likes, dislikes, and favorites for her child and when she did she lit up. I encouraged mom to continue so that the foster mom could implement some of the routines, I asked if phone calls at night could be possible. DHHS was willing to discuss the idea of phone calls and mom was elated.
I then told mom that we were all there for her as well and that now was the time to get the help she needed to be able to care for her child better. I asked mom if there were any needs she had, anything at all. Mom opened up and told us that she was behind on rent and utilities, she was not working and was only babysitting and doing odd jobs and not making enough to support her and her child. Mom spoke about the repairs needed on her home and her desire to find employment even if she needed to look outside of the area. Mom seemed willing to participate in services and even thanked everyone for helping her.
Since we provide FTM services for multiple counties on cases where the foster care worker is from another agency, I do not typically know whether the parent followed through on all the commitments made during the FTM. I know, however, that this Mom was at least open to the help we offered to her that day and I do know that I made a difference to mom the day of the FTM because I encouraged her to ask for help.