Saturday, January 21, 2012

Foster care Precautionary cleaning when meth use is suspected

Meth Labs Have Implications for Foster Parents
When a child has been recently exposed to a methamphetamine lab (within the past 72 hours) the risk to foster parents and other placement providers is minimal; the child has been fully assessed by qualified professionals and, if necessary, decontaminated. However, to protect yourself and others in your home and for the welfare of the child, be prepared to take the following actions:
Decontamination Precautions. Place any clothes worn by the child into a plastic bag until they can be washed. The clothes should be washed separately on the hottest setting.
Rewash a second time and air dry outside the home, not in the dryer. Run the washer once empty to clean it thoroughly. Shoes should be washed with the clothes if possible or wiped off with soap and hot water.
The child should bathe in very warm, but not hot water. Use lots of soap. Wash the child completely including hair, face, between toes, and other hard to reach places. Drain the tub and give the child a second bath to remove any residual chemicals. Drain and clean the tub thoroughly afterwards.
Unfortunately, because of concerns about possible chemical contamination, children exposed to meth labs must leave behind all their personal belongings when they enter foster care. Foster parents should anticipate this and continue working collaboratively with agency social workers to ensure children have what they need in terms of clothes, stuffed animals, toys, shoes, etc.
Seek Information. Be sure that the placing social worker provides you with:
  • As much information as possible about the extent of the child’s exposure to chemicals and/or toxins
  • A description of medical treatment the child has received
  • Information about any follow-up medical appointments the child may require
Family-Centered Strategies. Child welfare agencies are using strategies such as shared parenting and child and family team meetings with meth-involved families only when they can ensure the safety of children, foster parents, and everyone else involved. Even when face-to-face meetings with parents are not possible, it will still be helpful to the parents and child to have ongoing communication through an exchange of letters, photos, etc.
Monitor Child Well-Being. Because some effects of chemical exposure can develop slowly, foster parents should seek immediate medical attention if they notice the child experiencing:
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Unusual movements such as tremors, shaking, jumpiness, agitation, or seizures
  • Trouble breathing, coughing, or poor color
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations or mental confusion
  • Any other unusual symptom that seems severe
Anticipate Emotional Trauma/Stress. It is likely that the circumstances of the discovery of the illegal methamphetamine laboratory and removal have been traumatic for the child. Often labs are seized in SWAT-style police raids and analyzed by people in Hazmat “moon suits.” One or more parents may have been arrested. In addition, the child may have been subjected to neglect or physical or sexual abuse. Foster parents should ensure the child has a warm, stable environment and be prepared for emotional reactions from the child that may follow placement.
taken from Fostering Perspectives Vol. 9, No. 2• May 2005


Post a Comment