The goal of foster care across the country is always the same – reunify the child in care with his or her parents as soon as their home is a safe and stable environment. That’s why the Birth Parent National Network, through the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership, is working to improve relationships between both types of parents.
According to the Children’s Bureau, of the 250,248 children who left the foster care system in the U.S., 51 percent, or about 127, 626 children, were reunified with their parents in 2016. For those children, the assimilation back into the home of their birth parents was often made easier when foster and birth parents worked as a team.
“It is important that the adults in a child’s life coordinate and cooperate effectively, and nowhere is that more true than in the relationship between birth parents and foster parents,” the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership wrote in their official position statement. “Sometimes the child welfare system creates unnecessary barriers to engaging with each other. We believe that in order to be productive at strengthening families, we must collaborate, and have the support of child welfare professionals to do so.”
Born from The National Alliance for Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, Casey Family Programs and the Youth Law Center/ Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership aims to identify strategies to help birth and foster parents work together to facilitate reunification and prevent re-entry into the system. The group also looks to increase recruitment of foster parents willing to work with birth parents.
Across the country, families will be hitting the roads for holiday visits with relatives and warm weather vacations. In fact, nearly 51 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more last week for Thanksgiving, according to AAA. For most, traveling in cars, planes and trains are a mild inconvenience of traffic jams and bad airport food. But for parents traveling with children in care, these vacations can turn into nightmare full of screaming kids without proper planning.
Traveling with children can be difficult because travel takes them away from everything they know and feel comfortable with and exposes them to an entirely new world. For foster children, whose routine has already been completely uprooted due to being removed from their homes, traveling can be extremely stressful and emotionally draining.
The temptation for many foster parents is to stay close to home to avoid adverse and unpredictable reactions, as well as the possibility of meltdowns in public places. But sometimes traveling is unavoidable, and the truth is, a child with anxiety, autism or any other hurdle is still a kid who wants to be part of the family vacation.
Agencies across the world, including foster care providers, have implemented a behavior management strategy aimed at transforming socially, academically and behaviorally challenged children. This technique, known as the Nurtured Heart Approach, is aimed at awakening the greatness in all children.
Originally created by Howard Glaser in 1992, the Nurtured Heart Approach was developed for working with intense children, including those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and other behavioral, emotional and anxiety related disorders.
Intensity, according to the Nurtured Heart Approach, is a powerful quality that, if developed correctly, can help children excel.
“When a child learns to feel great about his or her intensity, the incidents of challenging behavior dissolve,” according to the training. “Now the intense child is using his or her intelligence and energies in constructive ways, and he or she often turns out to be an intensely gifted young person.”
The technique employs three stands, or guiding principles, that are aimed at transforming children. The first revolves around the refusal to give time and energy to negative behavior. For example, instead of focusing on what a child did wrong and yelling, the caregiver will save that energy for something good. Continue reading
In their most recent study, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 5.4 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 across the country were current illicit drug users, marking an increase from their last study. This statistic only just begins to paint the picture of the epidemic that is running rampant in the country and leaving no group more vulnerable than the unborn, who are subjected to prenatal exposure to drugs. The uptick in substance abuse has resulted in more children being placed in foster care, some of whom entered the system at the time of their birth.
The nation’s drug epidemic has been steadily increasing since the start of the new millennium. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that heroin use increased across the country among almost every demographic since 2004, particularly among women whose usage has doubled. While an increase in any demographic is concerning, an increase among women is cause for alarm when considering the innocent victims of prenatal exposure to drugs. Continue reading
Throughout the United States, many children experience trauma on a daily basis. The more than 400,000 kids in foster care who have been abused or neglected all have stories of pain. They have endured trauma that, if not addressed, will have an effect on them for the rest of their lives. Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) offers a trauma course for resource parents in NJ that equips them to help foster children after traumatic experiences.
According to the Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County in Texas, 26% of children in America experience or witness a traumatic event before the age of four.
Adolescence is tough. Young people are naturally trying to discover who they are and how they fit in. In this pivotal stage of life, acceptance is essential. Foster kids feel like they have been rejected by their families, and adding bullying to the equation can make an already difficult situation more challenging. It’s a rough world out there, and it’s important to ensure your foster child is prepared to handle the ever-growing trend of bullying when it arises. That’s why Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) is developing a new bullying prevention course for foster parents in New Jersey.
Bullying is a form of discrimination that impacts thousands of young people in the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 20% of students from grades 9-12 have experienced some form of bullying. For foster kids who have already endured abuse and neglect, this is an added stress. Continue reading