Youth in foster care need love, support and guidance from the important adults in their lives including caseworkers, foster parents and family members. Children in foster care have often experienced significant trauma from abuse and neglect, and foster parents, in particular, play a critical role in creating a safe, loving environment where they can begin to heal and grow.
Upbring has partnered with the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing (TXICFW) at The University of Texas at Austin to determine how we can support and encourage youth to successfully transition out of the foster care system and thrive in adulthood. Currently, researchers are following a cohort of youth across the state for the Texas Youth Permanency Study (TYPS). Learn more at Upbring.org/TYPS and start integrating these early findings into your home!
3 recommendations for foster parents include:
Help youth build and maintain authentic relationships.
Youth, especially those who come from unstable backgrounds, crave attachment to adults who make them feel safe. As a foster parent, you’re given the opportunity to create an important bond and encourage stability and normalcy that a child in foster care may have lacked in the past. Think about ways in which you can include youth in family activities and gatherings to nurture a sense of belonging. By making the child in your home feel welcome and like part of your family, you’re building the strong and authentic relationships they need to succeed.
Support youth’s personal growth.
Self-confidence is key when envisioning a brighter future for one’s self. Encourage children to try new things and discover what’s important to them and what they’re passionate about. Support them as they try on new roles and challenge them gently. Remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes and forgive them for making mistakes. By focusing on the “good” in them rather than their challenges you can help them build self-confidence. In a safe environment, children can learn more about themselves and the world around them and discover who they truly want to be.
Help youth have a normal childhood.
As a foster parent, you have the opportunity to bridge the gap between a traumatic past and a “normal” childhood. Day to day activities that you may consider to be commonplace could be novel for a child in foster care. Going to an amusement park, shopping for new clothes and even participating in chores around the house all create a feeling of normalcy and belonging. Additionally, assisting a teen in your care with tasks such as getting a driver’s license or learning how to file taxes will create a smoother transition into adulthood when he or she leaves the foster care system.
We all play a vital role in ensuring foster youth are given the tools and resources needed to successfully transition into adulthood and break the cycle of child abuse. To learn more about how foster parents and other stakeholders (judges, mental health professionals, adoptive parents, birth parents and institutional staff) can help create brighter futures for youth transitioning out of foster care, visit Upbring.org/TYPS.