Foster care can be a confusing and emotionally difficult time for a child. A new foster care book written by Julia Cook called, “Foster Care: One Dog’s Story of Change,” is a great resource that helps adults explain foster care to children. The book features a pup named Foster who has a lot of different feelings about being in foster care and having little control over what’s happening in his life. His foster family assures him that foster care isn’t forever; it’s a safe place where many people are working to help bring his family together again.
The book also includes a list of helpful tips for adults who are helping a child navigate the confusing world of foster care. These tips were written by Dr. Suzanne Lohrbach, Executive Director of the KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation, and Jodie Austin, President of KVC Nebraska and Executive Vice President of the KVC Institute.
Tips for foster parents and educators:
- Co-Parenting Matters: Work in partnership with the child’s family when possible.
- Accepting Differences Matters: Acknowledge, respect and accept a child’s faith, gender, racial and ethnic background so they have a healthy sense of self and belonging.
- Significant Items Matter: Special items and routines are important and show a child you care and understand.
- Teamwork Matters: Often, there are many people involved in the child’s life when they are in foster care, and it’s best when everyone works together as a team.
- Knowledge of Child Development Matters: Recognizing how trauma such as abuse and neglect has affected a child’s development will help you understand their behavior.
- Reassurance Matters: Assure children that these grown-up problems are not their fault.
- Words Matter: Respond to a child’s questions honestly and at a level appropriate for their age.
- Healthy Interactions Matter: Approach every exchange with a child as an opportunity to have a positive interaction and build his or her social, emotional and coping skills.
- Self-Care Matters: Don’t forget to take care of yourself and seek support when needed.