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Freak Out factor ... how serious is the house safety assessment?

Many of my adoptive families worry about how to prepare for a safety check of their home. Here are some FAQs and my responses. Feel free to comment with additional questions and I will happily respond to them!

(1) How clean does my house need to be? Will it reflect poorly on us if the house is dusty, toys are on the floor or the floors need to be mopped?

(A) I will never do a “white glove” inspection. Your home does not need to be in perfect condition when I visit. In fact, I would prefer to see you and your family in your normal everyday habitat. Please don’t stay up until 4 am cleaning the night before my visit! In my opinion, homes are meant to be lived in and played in. I do not expect perfection. If I am concerned that the lack of cleanliness of a home poses a threat to the health or well-being of children, I will address those concerns with you and we will work together to find solutions to improve that aspect of your home life.

(2) Do I need to have all of my child proofing equipment installed before you come?

(A) If you are waiting to be matched with a child and you do not have children in your home yet, you do not have to have child proofing equipment installed before my visit. My recommendation would be that the child proofing equipment be installed prior to your child becoming mobile or prior to finalization of your adoption, whichever comes first. General child proofing measures include:

  • outlet covers

  • child safety locks or zip ties on low cabinets and drawers that are used to store cleaning supplies, medications and dangerous utensils

  • baby gate to block access to stairs

(3) What is the state regulation regarding guns and ammunition?

(A) Guns must be stored in a locked safe or other container, away from the access of children. Ammunition must be stored in a separate locked container. I will ask you to show me where you store your guns and ammo during the home visit.

(4) I have a dog, do I need to put the dog outside or in a cage during the home visit?

(A) Please feel free to handle your dog the way you do anytime that you have company. I actually love dogs and I don’t mind if they want to visit me for a while. In fact, I like to see how your dog interacts with the family. But I also want to respect your normal routines. If your dog is used to being outside or in a crate when visitors are in the home, you are welcome to have them engage in their normal routine.

(5) Is it true that we need to have a fire extinguisher in the home?

(A) During the home visit, I will make sure your home is prepared for fire safety. You will need to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and smoke detectors installed near all bedrooms. Please make sure that your smoke detectors are in working order prior to my visit.

(6) What is the rule about protecting children from open bodies of water?

(A) If you have young children or are in the process of adopting young children, pools and ponds must have restricted access by a fence that can not be opened by a child. Hot tubs also must either have a locking feature or have restricted access by a fence that can not be opened by a child. In addition, I suggest that families with small children consider installing a device in doorways that “chirps” to notify the family when an exterior door has been opened and/or a sliding lock at the top of exterior doors that will restrict a child’s access to the outdoors without adult supervision. If you have questions about your specific scenario, we can discuss options during your home visit.

(A) The home safety assessment is a tool used to ensure that a child will be safe and secure in your home. If there are criteria that are unmet during your home visit, we will discuss ways to amend those areas of concern. Once the necessary changes have been made to ensure safety, I will return to your home to complete the safety assessment. I hope that my adoptive families will view the home safety assessment as a collaborative process where we work together to create a safe environment for your child to live and grow.

If you have any questions about the house safety assessment or any other aspect of the home study, please feel free to contact me via phone or email and we will discuss your concerns!

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