On any given day, there are more than 5,100 children in the Nebraska foster care system. Youth enter foster care when their families experience a crisis requiring the youth to be moved out of the home to ensure their safety, often after experiencing abuse or neglect. A relative that can take the youth into their home is the first place the state turns to when they’re trying to locate a home for the youth. If this isn’t an option, they look for someone known to the youth such as a teacher, neighbor, or coach so that the youth can stay with someone they already have a relationship with. Trained foster families then become an option when a relative or someone known to the child isn’t an option. Many people don’t understand the important role foster families play and how foster parents support healing for a child in the foster care system.
Foster parents provide a youth with the essentials they need to thrive by providing them with a home, food, clothing, education, access to medical care, supervision and transportation, nurturing, and guidance. They also play an important role in helping youth heal from the potentially traumatic stress they’re experiencing because of a family crisis. The goal is for a youth to return to their biological family when safely possible, and the foster parent is a key part of this journey.
Supporting a Youth’s Family and Reunification
Foster care is a safe place that gives a youth and their family an opportunity to resolve conflicts or disruptions and learn healthy skills so the youth can safely return home. While a youth’s parents are working hard to build these skills and resolve conflict, a foster parent is not only caring for the youth, but they’re also supporting the goal of reunification. The parents of a youth placed in foster care can find relief in knowing that their child is being cared for by a supportive, loving family until the youth is able to safely return home.
Childhood Trauma and Behavioral Guidance
Healthy brain development is critical for every youth’s wellbeing and health, and a youth’s brain is continually developing from the time they’re born and long into adulthood. All early life experiences, positive or negative, intervene in a youth’s brain development, impacting their emotional, behavioral, and physical health. Often, youth who are placed in foster care have experienced some type of trauma, abuse, or neglect. A youth’s brain development is impacted during a traumatic experience, and treating that trauma is crucial for improving the child’s life.
Foster parents are provided training by KVC to best handle situations with a trauma-informed lens. This training helps foster families manage any challenging behavior a youth displays, and provides techniques to help the youth cope. Foster parents support healing by helping youth build social skills, learn trust, think critically, increase self-esteem, and develop appropriate behaviors.
In addition to treating trauma, providing boundaries and structure are an important aspect of developing healthy behaviors, emotions, and social interactions. A foster parent provides a youth with appropriate guidance and discipline. Youth need to understand that unacceptable behaviors have consequences and they’ll be held accountable. Foster parents provide fair and consistent guidance to youth so that they continue to build independence and understand how a family functions. These skills will help them ensure appropriate behaviors in school and eventually the workplace.
Providing a Safe, Supportive Environment
Every youth deserves to receive love, compassion and nurturing every day. Foster parents can help a youth feel safe and supported by having positive interactions with them each day. These positive interactions not only help a youth feel loved and supported but also helps them learn gestures, words, and basic physical skills needed to communicate in a healthy way.
How foster parents support healing from trauma, abuse and neglect are critical to helping youth lead a healthy life. More foster parents are needed in every community. If you’re interested in providing a safe, loving environment to a youth in need, fill out this short form and our Recruitment Coordinator will get in touch with you soon to answer all of your questions.