Monthly Archives: January 2017

Safety Hazards in the Household

Accidents can happen in an instant. While most household hazards are commonly known and precautions are common sense; there are hazards that need extra precautions to protect the children in your home.

**Each year over 569 children die from strangulation, suffocation, and entrapment in household appliances.

Foster homes must be especially aware of hazards in the home; therefore, we have compiled a list of household hazards not always on our radar and ways to keep the children in your home safe.

1. Stove: Stove knobs and oven doors are a temptation for curious little ones learning to tune fine motor skills and are easily turned or opened. Safety locks designed specifically for stoves can prevent a child from climbing into the oven causing possible suffocation or being burned. (Cost range from $5 to $25)
2. Dishwasher: Like the stove; dishwasher doors are easily opened and a child can climb into if not locked when not in use.)
3. Toy chests: Like stoves and dishwashers, not having safety latches installed to prevent the lid from closing on toy chests can be very dangerous, easily trapping a small child inside.
4. Cords or wires: Long cords present a tripping or choking hazard. A small child can easily get caught in cords and become tangled causing injury even death from strangulation. Prevention is as simple as winding cords up tight and attaching zip or twist ties.
5. Window blind and curtain cords: If too long, blind and curtain cords are a choking hazard. It is suggested that these cords are wound up to a length no longer than 7 inches.
6. Televisions dressers: Children love to climb. By securing the dresser to the wall and installing drawer latches an injury from the dresser falling over can be prevented. A U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report showed that, between 2000 and 2011, 349 people were killed by a falling television, appliance or piece of furniture; 84 percent of them were children under 9 years old. Televisions were most deadly, accounting for 62 percent of these fatalities. The CPSC reports that between 2006 and 2011 more than 100,000 injuries occurred from tipped TVs. From 2000 to 2011, falling TV’s caused 215 deaths; 96 percent of those fatalities were children younger than 10.
7. Swing sets: Children can be injured by wrapping rope or chain around the body or neck. It is important to talk to the children placed in your home about these dangers. After a time, swing materials begin to deteriorate, crack or fray. Check regularly and replace if needed.
8. House plants: Some house plants can be potentially poisonous. Best practice is to keep them out of reach of children. When purchasing, ask the store clerk if a plant poses a danger of poison.
9. Pets: Children are very curious and love to touch animals. Some children are afraid of animals. Some animals are fearful of children. Best practice when bringing a foster child into the home is to introduce the child to the family dog or cat slowly. Show them the animal is safe and teach them safe ways to touch an animal.
10. Overloaded electrical sockets and electrical wires running under carpets can pose a huge fire danger.
11. Toilets: Seats and covers can cause injury to little hands when they fall down quickly. The best way to avoid these injuries is to teach family members to put the seat and lid down when they are finished using the toilet.

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There are a large number of children in foster care across the U.S. who need adult advocates to speak on their behalf and make sure they don’t get overlooked in the crowded system. Becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) means taking on the responsibility of gathering information from all the people that are a part of a child’s life to present to a judge who will then use it to determine the best circumstances for the child to be in.

Help Children in the Foster Care System

Children of all ages and backgrounds are placed into the foster care system every day for a variety of reasons. The one thing that they all have in common is that their lives have been significantly changed, and that can be frightening for many of them. Every child deserves to feel cared for and safe, and that’s why the role of foster parents is so important. However, there are also plenty of other things that you can do to help foster children in your community, even if you’ve decided that foster parenting or adoption isn’t right for you. Take a look at some of the ways you can make a difference in a child’s life below.

Look Into Mentoring

Foster children don’t generally have a lot of stability in their lives, so having a mentor that they can look forward to seeing and spending time with on a regular basis will serve to provide them with some consistency. The support and encouragement that mentors offer are vital to children who desire to know that they’re worth someone’s time. Some specific programs use mentors to help with academics or life skills, or you may just spend quality time playing games, talking, sharing a meal, etc.

Provide Respite Care

You may have tossed around the idea of becoming a foster parent and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the best situation for you and your family, but there are many types of foster care placements that don’t have to be long-term. Numerous children need people who will take them in under respite care, which is reserved for short-term, emergency situations. As a respite care provider, you may receive a child that has just been taken out of their home and must find a place to stay for 24 hours, or you may be a source of relief for a few days for biological or foster parents who are dealing with difficult situations.

Volunteer Your Time

Aside from mentoring one particular child, there are many other opportunities for you to volunteer your time to the foster care system. This may include driving children to and from medical appointments or visits with their birth family; spending time at a local foster organization and helping with meal preparation, reading to kids, wrapping presents, organizing donations, etc.; and/or taking professional-looking photos of children waiting to be placed in a foster or adoptive home.

Make a Donation

Foster children often leave their homes with very little to none of their clothes and personal possessions. There is always a need for donations in good condition in the form of clothing, toys, books, games, toiletries, luggage, and school supplies. You can contact child welfare agencies and children’s homes in your area to get a good idea of specific items that are needed. Organizing a donation drive or fundraiser is also welcomed.

Foster Care Placements

Numerous children continue to enter the foster care system every day, each with a different background and unique situation. In an effort to provide the proper care and accommodations for the multitude of foster care children that need a caring and stable environment, there are various types of placements that can occur so that all individual needs are addressed. If you are new to the foster care system, becoming familiar with the different kinds of placements can be helpful in deciding which one(s) would best suit you and your family as foster parents.

Emergency

Emergency foster care happens unexpectedly and on very short notice. Children removed from unsafe circumstances may need a place to stay for one night or for a few weeks, depending on the specific situation. Immediate relocation of a child may be due to something as extreme as abuse or as simple as a parent’s failure to follow court orders. Emergency foster families must always be prepared to provide food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities as soon as they are called upon as well as be able to handle the trauma a child experiences from suddenly being taken away from their parents.

Respite

Whether it’s because of a physical disability or behavioral problems, some children can be more challenging to care for than others, and respite foster placements offer birth, adoptive or other foster parents a break from the intensive nature of such responsibility. These short stays usually last a few hours, a weekend or from one to two weeks and assist in giving permanent guardians the support they need to continue caring for their children effectively.

Long-Term

Long-term foster care is needed when children are unable to return to their birth parents. This is a way of providing a more permanent home life for them until they reach adulthood without committing to an adoption. Oftentimes, older children in the foster care system prefer this type of placement rather than being adopted and will remain in touch with their birth family.

Specialized

Foster placements that are deemed specialized involve children with medical conditions and require families or individuals that have been trained to properly handle their needs. These can be very ill, emotionally disturbed or behaviorally difficult children that demand hands-on, experienced and time-consuming care in a home that promotes love, discipline, and encouragement.

Parent/Child

Foster families that take in parent and child combination placements are dedicated to teaching and guiding by example the appropriate way of parenting. This is usually a service provided as a resource for young parents to learn and develop parenting skills, keeping the family intact whenever possible.