If you were a foster/resource parent, how would this knowledge affect what you would do?
Children in foster homes need love, attention, and support to fully develop into productive members of the society (Dingwall et al., 2014). The first consideration that takes priority is the well-being of the child socially, physically and emotionally. Most foster parents only consider the physical well-being of the child through the provision of shelter and other basic needs like food and education. However, children under foster families need more than just the physical provision (Thompson, 2015). One way of ensuring that such a child feels loved is to give them attention and space to feel safe. This affection is through constant communication with them in the gentlest way possible considering that some of them come from abusive families (Featherstone et al., 2014). Hence, for the children that grow up shy and uncomfortable around others, the foster parent has to try and reach out to them so that they feel comfortable and thus open up to them. As a result, the child will slowly learn to speak out and gain the trust of others as they also start to trust their families.
Another way of improving the welfare of a foster child is to ensure that they feel that they belong to the family and that it is not only a transitional home for them. Most children who end up with foster families do not feel at home, and the situation becomes worse when their foster parents do not consider them as their children but as foster children. Hence the children should be welcomed into ones home and made to feel like they are home (Julien-Chinn et al., 2017). The children can be taught to see their foster parents as their mothers and fathers by referring to them as their sons and daughters and not foster sons or daughters. Where foster parents have their own biological children, all children under their roof should be accorded equal treatment (Lietz et al., 2016). To make the children feel like they belong to the family, even more, the foster parents can also observe family practices like birthday parties for the foster children and even introduce them to their extended families including aunts and uncles. When the parents consider all these and a solid relationship is cultivated, chances of moving the child from one foster home to another reduce, to the children's benefit.
If you were a DCP&P worker recruiting foster/resource families, how would this knowledge affect your selection and training of these families?
One of the critical factors that stand out and need deliberation in the placement of children in children homes is their capacity to adapt. Hence a DCP & P worker, in the course of interviewing the child has to learn about what the child likes, what they want in their parents and what they consider a conducive environment (Pilkington, 2013). These will then be considered in finding a suitable foster home for the child. When children are taken to an environment that they had never fathomed, they take a long time to adapt (Riebschleger et al., 2015). Hence, the choice of family should consider the childs inclinations. For example, for a child that grows up and likes drawing, they can be taken to a foster home where the parents are artists or have some form of love for art and can bond quickly with the child through art. In instances where a child likes singing or dancing, or outdoor activities they can be taken to homes that have some of these aspects in one way or another to provide a natural and alluring environment for the child to fit in.
The families also need the training to communicate with children from abusive homes in ways that enable the children to feel like they are in a different and better environment where they are protected and cannot be hurt again. This can be asking the children what they want or like and giving them the same, or teaching them about what is good for their overall development.
Dingwall, R., Eekelaar, J., & Murray, T. (2014). The protection of children: State intervention and family life (Vol. 16). Quid Pro Books.
Featherstone, B., Morris, K., White, S., & White, S. (2014). Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families. Policy Press.
Julien-Chinn, F. J., Cotter, K. L., Piel, M. H., Geiger, J. M., & Lietz, C. A. (2017). Examining risk, strengths, and functioning of foster families: Implications for strengths-based practice. Journal of Family Social Work, 20(4), 306-321.
Lietz, C. A., JulienChinn, F. J., Geiger, J. M., & Hayes Piel, M. (2016). Cultivating resilience in families who foster: understanding how families cope and adapt over time. Family process, 55(4), 660-672.
Pilkington, L. (2013). CHILDREN IN CARE: Matching children with foster carers. Trafford CYPS. Retrieved from https://www.trafford.gov.uk/about-your-council/children-families-and-wellbeing/docs/matching-children-with-foster-carers-checklist.pdf [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017].
Riebschleger, J., Day, A., & Damashek, A. (2015). Foster care youth share stories of trauma before, during, and after placement: Youth voices for building trauma-informed systems of care. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 24(4), 339-360.
Thompson, R. A. (2015). Social support and child protection: Lessons learned and learning. Child Abuse & Neglect, 41, 19-29.
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