Kansas Children's Service League
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How Foster Families Help Kids
While in so many ways like other boys and girls, children in foster care, due to their unique circumstance, face special challenges. KCSL provides foster families with the training and support they need in order to be successful in helping the children in their care.

Despite these challenges, children are resilient and their strengths always outweigh the challenges. A successful foster parent never forgets to remind children of what their strengths are and refuses to dwell on the challenges.

Following are the core challenges foster parents help children overcome:

  • Loss – Children in foster care mourn the loss of their birth parents, siblings, friends and community, even when they are happy in their current environment. The successful foster parent helps the child maintain a connection to their past while building towards their future.

  • Grief – There is no standard ritual to grieve the loss of a birth parent and siblings. The successful foster parent is sympathetic to the child’s feelings and give them the time, space, and support to work through their emotions in a constructive way.

  • Intimacy – Children in foster care often feel incomplete and at a loss regarding their identity because of information gaps in their genetic and family history. The successful foster parent may help children retain a sense of self by assisting with completion of a life book, or adopting treasured routines and traditions into their home.

  • Mastery and Control – In an attempt to master their sense of loss of control due to entering foster care, children in foster care sometimes engage in power struggles with their foster parents. The successful foster parent understands the rationale for this mind-set and sets clear expectations and consequences to address misbehavior.

  • Rejection – Children in foster care often feel rejected by their birth families, causing them to avoid situations where they might be rejected. The successful foster parent creates a welcoming and affirmative environment for children, and encourages participation in activities that will bolster the child’s self-esteem.

  • Guilt/Shame – Oftentimes children in foster care believe there is something wrong with them and that is why they were removed from their parents’ care. The successful foster parent does not fault the child, but does work with them on those areas they find challenging or wish to improve.

  • Attachment – Due to the disruptions that can occur in raising children in foster care, some children have difficulty attaching emotionally to their caregivers. The successful foster parent is aware of this and works with the child to complete the attachment process by maintaining an environment of love, nurturing, and establishment of trust.
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