When we think of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), we typically imagine soldiers returning from war. However, PTSD is not only limited to active or veteran members of the military. In fact, youth in foster care are experiencing PTSD at rates far higher than the general population.
Why are PTSD Rates So High Amongst Youth in Foster Care?
When children are placed in foster care, it is generally due to forms of neglect or abuse. From their early experiences and exposure to trauma, youth in foster care are far more likely to exhibit the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. A study assessing those previously in foster care found that 30% of respondents met such criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder compared with 7.6% of a general population sample with similar demographics.
While children in foster care may come from difficult backgrounds, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois places incredible importance on helping them overcome those situations so they can move forward to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
How Does SOS Illinois Combat PTSD for Children in Foster Care?
At SOS Illinois, all three of our Villages were created around providing the absolute best care and support system possible for children entering foster care. Our mission is to provide youth a community of hope while helping them grow into caring, productive adults. Part of that care is centered on helping children heal from past traumas, and we do that in several ways.
On-Site Clinical Services
Each of our Villages offers on-site clinical services that are available to children in our care whenever they need them. Individual and group counselling services allow youth at SOS Illinois to obtain the help they need, in a setting that provides comfort, security, and trust. By devoting time and attention to each child, one-on-one, our on-site therapists are able to address the particular needs they have to ensure they’re getting the help that will best serve them as an individual. In doing so, we create an environment in which children can move forward productively, feeling safe and secure.
Dedicated and Trained Team
The professional therapists and case workers at SOS Illinois are highly trained in assisting with trauma, and they are dedicated to the growth and success of each and every child that enters foster care. Additionally, each of our full-time Foster Parents undergo extensive training to address the needs of children in their care with complex behavior and emotional challenges, including those with PTSD. Administrative staff are also offered trainings during orientation and throughout the year to equip them with tools to compassionately work with youth on our Villages and at Casa Tepeyac.
Are There Ways to Assist Foster Youth After Age 18?
When youth enter foster care already exhibiting diagnostic criteria for PTSD, it’s important for them to get the clinical assistance they need in order to prevent the disorder from greatly impacting their future. However, that’s not always the case, and those youth exit the system at age 18, only to find themselves struggling with untreated PTSD. Part of this problem can stem from the sudden transition from intense system dependence to rugged independence, without supportive mentors or families to continue to promote healing.
At SOS Illinois, we not only support the mental health and wellness of children in foster care, but we also look into their futures and the ways we can help guide their transition to independence in a manner that promotes confidence and wellbeing. One of the ways we do that is through our College Bound and Beyond Program, which readies youth emotionally, physically, and financially for independence.
How Can I Help Youth Experiencing PTSD?
If you’d like to help in the effort to heal the effects of PTSD on children in foster care, we invite you to make a gift in honor of our comprehensive mental health services at SOS Illinois. There are several ways you can give. Simply choose the one that feels right to you. You can find out more about giving here.
If you’d like to learn more about how we are raising awareness for mental health, check out this blog.