Foster care and adoption can create many wonderful and happy times. Still, they can have unwanted outcomes, such as allegations and investigations. Many adoptive and guardianship families have experienced, to some degree, an allegation on their family, resulting in an investigation by your local Human Service Zone. Although most of the allegations are harmless, there can be serious allegations made against your family, such as poor discipline techniques, neglect, poor parenting, and so forth. Allegations can be made by multiple sources, such as foster/adopt/guardianship children, birth family, community members, school personnel, and so on. Many families say it is not if allegations/investigations occur, but when they occur.
Some recommendations to protect you and your family if you find yourselves in the middle of an investigation, or simply wanting to prepare for the instance that you may experience an investigation are below:
1) The most important recommendation is to document anything and everything. Documenting can be very beneficial in the instance that you experience an allegation, resulting in an investigation. Document any concerning behaviors such as aggression, inappropriate comments, and an increase in behaviors. Also, taking pictures of any new bruises, scratches, and cuts and documenting how the injury happened can be beneficial.
2) Another important recommendation is to discuss any concerns, changes, or updates with team members as soon as possible. Team members can include case managers, therapists, doctors, teachers, and any other provider significant to the child and family.
3) Engaging in safety planning so all household members know what to expect in regards to behaviors can also be beneficial. Having a safety plan in place can help prove to investigators that you are working on each possible crisis and have a plan in place when and if it is needed.
4) If you do find yourself in the middle of an investigation, being honest and open is the best route to go. Being cooperative with the investigative agency can help them to better trust you. Answering questions, following the rules, and providing documentation can help.
For more information and a webinar discussing allegations and investigations, please see our post adopt website at http://www.ndpostadopt.org/ under parent resources and webinars.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW