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Understanding the Child in Foster Care
Children entering foster care experience the trauma of being removed from their families. They come into care with losses that may include their parents, extended family, home, familiar routines, pets, neighborhoods, schools, friends, favorite toys and treasured belongings, and in some cases their culture. The following resources provide information to help understand how parenting may need to be adjusted to reduce the impact of trauma on the child. Resources include State and local examples.
Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children
Adoptalk, Winter 2009
Explains the ambiguous loss–grief or distress combined with confusion about the lost person or relationship–felt by parents of adopted children with special needs, birth parents, and foster and adopted children. Strategies for helping children cope with ambiguous loss are provided.
How Loss of Culture, Ethnicity, Religion and Heritage Can Affect Children in Foster Care
Krebs, Singer, & Marshall (2009)
Describes the significance of the losses of culture, ethnicity, religion, and heritage for children and youth in foster care.
The Perspective of the Consumer: Foster Children Tell Us What They Need
In Chapter 4 of Foster Care Therapist Handbook: Relational Approaches to the Children and Their Families
Child Welfare League of America (2008)
Discusses how the thinking processes of foster children shape their reality and reviews how the experiences in foster care are often confusing, traumatic, and emotionally provocative.
State and local examples
Disruptions in Close Relationships: How They Affect a Child's Behavior, Thoughts, and Feelings (PDF - 190 KB)
University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension (2003)
Examines types of disruptions that may occur in a child's life, the stages of coping, and includes a chart illustrating common reactions of children coping with separation and other major life changes.
Family Members Behind Bars: Difficult Questions Children Ask and Answers That Might Help: A Caregiver's Guide to Montana's Criminal Justice System From Arrest to Release (PDF - 467 KB)
Montana Alliance of Families Touched by Incarceration (2009)
Provides Montana foster and kinship caregivers with guidance for answering questions children might have about parental incarceration.
Fostering the Child Witness of Domestic Violence
North Carolina Division of Social Services & Family and Children's Resource Program
Fostering Perspectives: Views on Foster Care and Adoption in North Carolina, 12(2), 2008
Provides experiences of children who have witnessed domestic violence, how the violence can impact them, and strategies foster parents can use to help such children.
Systemwide: Mental health - Grief and loss