May is Foster Care Awareness Month
In Los Angles County alone there are 34,000 children in foster care at one time. There are so many families fostering children today. Foster children are vulnerable and they need their caregivers to be sensitive to their needs emotionally, physically, and psychologically so they can provide an environment that supports their growth and their healing.
Here are 6 Tips with a F-O-S-T-E-R acronym easy to remember to assist you and your child in a healthy transition.
- F- if they were in a previous foster home and social worker to get a history!!!, talk to the foster family to find out what their experience was like, what was FAMILIAR TO THEM- and create that familiarity in your home. I.E. if they like tuna fish, with no relish, make sure you know that. if they had a special comfy toy- make sure there is a soft stuffed animal for them to hold onto.
- O-bserve Watch Listen to their cues - this is a sensitive time, they will be leaving one home and moving into another, they will be experiencing a significant sense of loss. 95% of communication is non-verbal to OWL - ask questions 75% of the time- encourage them to share their feelings and support them by listening.
- S - Give them their space to create SECURITY, bonding can take 6 months to 2 years. Allow time to connect and have autonomy. Children, who have experienced multiple placements need what’s called the dance of attachment, and balanced back and forth of closeness and space in order to build trust NECESSARY for a SECURE ATTACHMENT.
- T-each them all there is to know about your household i.e. rules, where their toothbrush belongs, if they get up at night and need more water- how do they get some, if they are hungry?
- E - Have empathy. Transitions can be challenging. Empathy must be conveyed both verbally and non verbally. You will have an innate desire, naturally to rescue the child from the distress of transitioning. Put your EMPATHY mask on first and then place your foster child’s EMPATHY mask on and Convey to them with empathy:
“This must be hard for you!” “It is really hard, and you’re doing it and WE will get through this.”
“I’m so sorry you feel so sorry about _________.”
- R - Find resources such as a Support Group in your area with other foster parents so you can receive advice as needed. Attend the support I began in Los Angeles at CeliaCenter.org And read my book, Groundbreaking Interventions: Working with Traumatized Children, Teens and Families in Foster Care and Adoption full of therapeutic DIY Interventions for you and your foster child to build safety, trust and connection! or Watch on my YouTube Channel Jeanette Yoffe