Best Practices in Support Groups
Individuals touched by adoption are united by a special bond. Support groups for foster and adoptive parents can provide a safe place for open and honest dialogue about common experiences or issues related to adoption. Parents can offer valuable insights based on their adoption experience and give and receive support through an exchange that benefits all parties. Adoption support groups are a great way to explore practical, problem-solving coping strategies, and where to find extra help or resources if or when needed.
Support services for resource families are enhanced when the services are shaped and provided by other resource parents and those who experienced foster care or were adopted. Offering the opportunity for individuals who are open and willing to share their lived experiences can add value to the group and form meaningful relationships. As professionals leading support groups, it is important to continuously develop your strengths and skills to meet the needs of your clients. The following are positive traits of effective peer support providers:
- Familiar with the core issues in foster care and adoption
- Connected to the community
- Appreciative of the uniqueness of each experience
- Skilled in strategic sharing
- Able to maintain boundaries
- Detached from own trauma and knowledgeable about triggers
The key to long-term sustainability and momentum of support groups is to promote and share hope, dignity, and joy. Valuing and accepting each individual’s background (e.g., culture, ethnicity, values, beliefs), challenges, and testimonies make each group unique and can uphold a more inclusive space for all. With new technological advancements and tools, support groups can meet in person or virtually, depending on the members' needs. To establish a better understanding of community and individual needs, administering point-in-time surveys before and after meetings can yield a range of meaningful data leading to results that inspire innovation and creativity within family support services/programs. AdoptUSKids facilitated a webinar, “Rejuvenating your Support Groups,” which shares strategies to engage new members and retain existing members.
Child welfare professionals can also collaborate with the Tribe to ensure potential caregivers receive any training and support they need to care for the child. The established familial relationship is a strength of Tribal customary adoption. However, it is equally important to prepare parents to address the impacts of separation, loss, and trauma. The National Training and Development Curriculum, funded by the Children's Bureau, offers modules cocreated with Tribal members specifically for Indigenous foster, adoptive, and kinship families. Explore the resources below for additional information on working with and building collaborative relationships with Indigenous families and communities.
Use the following resources to explore more information on the best practices of support groups, we have highlighted the following resources:
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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