Trauma-Informed Training Helps Foster Parents Feel More Prepared

Posted March 5, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog caregiversfeelmoreprepared 2018

The right train­ing can equip new fos­ter par­ents and kin care­givers with essen­tial infor­ma­tion about car­ing for chil­dren and teens, includ­ing youth who have expe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant trau­ma. Such prepa­ra­tion is crit­i­cal, accord­ing to fos­ter par­ent Kim Palmer, of Lin­coln Coun­ty, North Car­oli­na. That’s because, until a child is liv­ing in your home, you don’t know what fos­ter par­ent­ing is like,” Palmer says.

Cue a new train­ing cur­ricu­lum called ARC Reflec­tions, which child wel­fare agen­cies are using to teach fos­ter par­ents about the effects of trau­ma. The tool also gives care­givers, like Palmer, prob­lem-solv­ing strate­gies that can help chil­dren and teens reg­u­late their emo­tions, con­nect with oth­ers and build life skills.

Explore the ARC Reflec­tions Train­ing Program

ARC Reflec­tions doesn’t just focus on how to decrease the hard times,” says Mar­garet Blaustein, who co-authored the cur­ricu­lum with Kris­tine Kin­niburgh. It pro­vides tools that help care­givers increase the pos­i­tive times.”

Joint­ly devel­oped by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and the Jus­tice Resource Insti­tute, ARC Reflec­tions includes every­thing that a child wel­fare agency needs to con­duct the train­ing, includ­ing an imple­men­ta­tion guide, Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions, facil­i­ta­tor guides and handouts.

Through­out the pro­gram, par­tic­i­pants learn how to man­age their own respons­es to car­ing for chil­dren. The cur­ricu­lum empha­sizes tech­niques for self-care, advis­ing fos­ter par­ents to do as adult air­line trav­el­ers do: Put on your oxy­gen mask” before try­ing to help chil­dren. Fre­quent check-ins also allow adults to pay atten­tion to their ener­gy lev­els and emo­tion­al states, strength­en­ing their abil­i­ty to be thought­ful, engaged caregivers.

Kei­th Wong, pro­gram man­ag­er for Fos­ter Care and Adop­tion, Resource and Sup­port, in Fair­fax Coun­ty, Vir­ginia, points to a par­tic­u­lar­ly com­pelling exchange he had with a fos­ter par­ent about the curriculum’s effec­tive­ness: When asked, Do you think ARC Reflec­tions has changed you or how you par­ent?’ she choked up, say­ing: It changed my life. It changed my rela­tion­ship with my child.’”

The opti­mal train­ing team for ARC Reflec­tions includes agency staff with train­ing expe­ri­ence plus a fos­ter par­ent who can relate to peers. Fos­ter par­ent Palmer, who served as one of the train­ers in North Car­oli­na, was a valu­able resource for Lin­coln County’s Depart­ment of Social Ser­vices: I could say from my expe­ri­ences, How many of you have dealt with this? Let’s talk about how we han­dle it,’” she recalls. We could give very spe­cif­ic exam­ples to fos­ter par­ents since I had those experiences.”

The train­ing spans nine inter­ac­tive ses­sions, which allow care­givers ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to share sto­ries, offer sug­ges­tions and devel­op an infor­mal sup­port net­work of peers. Each ses­sion also uti­lizes a com­pos­ite case study — called Olivia’s Sto­ry — that explores a child’s expe­ri­ences at dif­fer­ent ages and devel­op­men­tal stages. In addi­tion to rein­forc­ing key themes, Olivia’s Sto­ry illus­trates strate­gies for help­ing chil­dren man­age their emo­tions and behav­ior. It’s a resource that hits close to home, accord­ing to Blaustein. Quite a few care­givers said that they iden­ti­fied with Olivia’s fos­ter par­ents and rec­og­nized their own expe­ri­ences,” she says.

Down­load the Fos­ter Par­ent Resource Guide

This post is related to:

Popular Posts

View all blog posts   |   Browse Topics

Mental health is a pressing issue for Generation Z

blog   |   March 3, 2021

Generation Z and Mental Health