Every child or teen in agency custody has a primary caseworker that manages services for the child and his or her family. This worker will be with the public agency. You will work closely with the caseworker assigned to the child in your care. If you are fostering in a private agency you will also have a case manager from that agency.
In working with a private agency, clarify with the case manager how you should communicate with the public agency worker. Some agencies may prefer that you communicate with them first and allow them to carry information to the public agency.
Regardless of how you foster, here are some tips for developing a good working relationship with a caseworker:
- Tell the caseworker if you prefer to be contacted via text messages, emails or phone calls. Fill the caseworker in on your work schedule and family commitments that limit your availability at certain times. Ask what the best time of day is to reach the caseworker directly.
- Talk with the caseworker about how each of you defines an emergency. Make sure you know how to get help in an emergency if the caseworker is not available.
- Ask the caseworker what type of information is needed right away and what can wait until your next home visit.
- Email the caseworker any time you have new information about the child, even when it is not an emergency. This keeps the caseworker up to date, and also ensures that the information is documented. Put a clue to the matter in the email in the subject line.
- Ask the caseworker about the number of children and families on his or her caseload. This will give you an idea about how quickly you can expect a response to your non-emergency questions and needs.
- Share positive information about the child or teen whenever possible.
- Ask the caseworker for help finding community services and supports that you or the child might need. Check with the caseworker about when you can sign up the child for services or activities on your own and when you must do so through the agency.