Foster care is a vital service that provides temporary homes for children who have been removed from their parents due to abuse, neglect, or other safety concerns. However, the experience of entering care can be traumatic for children. Therefore, foster parents and child welfare professionals must work together to create a stable and nurturing environment that helps children thrive.
Creating Stability and Security
Foster parents can help children in care thrive by creating a sense of stability and security, providing a consistent routine, clear boundaries, and a safe and comfortable living space. That includes being responsive to a child’s needs, including emotional support. In addition, foster parents can help children feel more secure with openness and honesty about what to expect.
Socialization and Connection
Another critical aspect of helping children in care thrive is providing them with opportunities for socialization and connection. For example, encouraging them to participate in extracurricular activities and community events and connecting them with other children and adults who can serve as positive role models.
Foster parents can also help children stay connected to their families and communities by facilitating contact with birth parents, siblings, and other relatives, when appropriate.
For example, the fear of losing siblings can lead to feelings of insecurity, depression, loneliness, and anxiety. However, research has shown that keeping siblings together in foster care when possible has multiple benefits, including combating loneliness and fewer behavioral problems.
The innovative and unique model of care at SOS Children’s Villages Illinois is the commitment to keep brothers and sisters together in a stable, single-family home with full-time, professionally trained Foster Parents.
In addition to providing a stable and nurturing environment, it’s also important to address any trauma a child may have experienced before entering care. While removing children from unsafe environments is the best option, it can initially add to a child’s insecurities. The trauma of leaving their family and a familiar environment can paralyze children with fear and lead to depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
For instance, ensuring that a child in care receives therapy or counseling to help them process their experiences and learn coping strategies can be critical to their thriving. It can also include providing trauma-informed care, which, in its most basic form, means being aware of the impact of trauma on a child’s behavior and development and being responsive to their needs.
Caseworkers and therapists are responsible for many children in a traditional foster care system, spread out geographically over many different areas. As a result, they are frequently responsible for very large caseloads, which adds to the difficulty of providing needed services to every child assigned to them.
Caseworkers and therapists are on-site at SOS Illinois and exclusively serve its Villages and former children in SOS Illinois’ care. That means every child living in an SOS Illinois Village has built-in access to a caseworker or therapist whenever it’s needed. SOS Illinois caseworkers and therapists are equipped with the tools to help with difficult situations that enable them to provide timely crisis intervention when and if it’s needed.
Consider Becoming an SOS Foster Parent
Foster care is a challenging and often thankless task, but it’s also an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of children. By providing a stable and nurturing environment, and addressing any trauma that a child may have experienced, foster parents and child welfare professionals can help children thrive.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, consider signing up with SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. One thing that sets SOS Illinois apart from traditional foster care is full-time, professional Foster Parents. The SOS Illinois model places Foster Parents in single-family homes in one of its Villages, where up to six children, ranging in age from infants to young adults, call home.
Change a Child’s Life Today!
If you decide that becoming a foster parent is not for you, there are many other ways to support foster children and other foster parents. Donations change lives! The generosity of donors has enabled us to provide safe, stable, loving homes for more than thirty years.