The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, through its Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody, received $1.6 million to improve the treatment of children entering foster care who have been traumatized prior to placement. Traumatization is nearly a given for children entering state custody, as severe physical or sexual abuse, or complicated grief and loss are frequent reasons for foster placement.
It is important to realize that children who have experienced trauma prior to placement may continue to experience trauma as their actions and reactions while adjusting to a new living situation may seem defiant, noncompliant, unthankful or antagonistic. It takes a tremendous amount of patience to to get a child through that period of pain that accompanies so much loss- loss of the familiar, loss of the loved, loss of the life they have always known. Even if that life included abuse, we should not take for granted the power of facing the unknown in leaving that abuse behind.
So I propose a simple ABC approach to helping foster children. Foster children need:
Acceptance for who they are and the challenges they present.
Boundaries that begin to form a structure that has been missing in their lives.
Consistency in order to establish expected and predictable patterns in life that help them settle and begin to heal from their previous traumas.
In reality, all children need these ABC’s. You may not be a foster parent, but you know children in your community, church, or family who have gone through a lot in their short lives. Will you prepare yourself to support and love children when the going gets tough? Will you share your commitment to ways of helping vulnerable children in the comments below?
These views are my own and are presented on an as-is basis, additional training is recommended. Contact your state child welfare agency for information and training to be a foster parent. You may also contact Youth Villages in TN or any of the states it serves for foster and adoptive services.
Disclaimer of financial and material interest: I am an employee of Youth Villages and have the opportunity for a monetary incentive from my company if a family decides to foster based on my referral.
Copyright 2013 Glen Gaugh