Becoming Trauma Informed Foster Parents

Becoming Trauma Informed Foster Parents

What does trauma informed mean? A program, organization or approach that is trauma informed is defined by the 4 “Rs .”

  1. Realization of the widespread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for healing
  2. Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in people
  3. Respond rather than punish. Fully integrate knowledge about trauma into practice, settings, procedures, policies and laws.
  4. Resist repeated traumatization

What does trauma informed care mean to a foster parent?

Caring for a child who has experienced trauma requires a shift in the way we think about child development. Childhood trauma impacts a child’s physical and emotional growth.

As a foster parent, you will come to understand children react to trauma in many different ways. Their behavior is a response to the trauma and, as such, must be dealt with in a way that promotes healing.

We use the 5 “Ss” of Helping to remind us of ways we can help a child with trauma.

  1. Safety – Make sure that the child feels safe whenever he or she is around you. Can the child see what is happening all around them in the space where you meet? This child may not do well with his or her back to the doorway. Be predictable. Keep a routine when working with children, and work hard at informing when the routine may change.
  2. Self-soothing – Help identify what helps the child stay calm or calm down. Children and youth dealing with trauma often have 2 speeds, high and low, and can go from one to the other in a matter of seconds. They have not learned how to help themselves stay calm. It is important for you to stay calm when they overreact and to be there for them. It is even more important for you to help them identify (through your observations) what seems to help them stay calm or calm down.
  3. Support – Be the protective, adult shield, but maintain appropriate boundaries. Some of these youngsters may be particularly sensitive about being touched because of what they have experienced. These are kids who need a cheerleader, and, often times, you can fulfill that role.
  4. Strengths – Children dealing with trauma can be very challenging. While it may take a little time and observation, it is important that they know they have strengths. Tell them about their strengths!
  5. Self-care – Take the time to care for yourself, whether that’s through exercise, reading, writing, the arts or even having fun at an amusement park.