Children are in Wisconsin foster care for a wide variety of reasons. Every reason creates or stems from a traumatic experience or series of experiences. We have written many blogs about kids referred to CCR. We share as much information as we can while protecting the child's privacy. Our goal is to help prospective foster parents understand trauma and its effects on children. Sadly, we share another unimaginable story of a 12-year-old girl who needed a loving home.
We often tell prospective foster parents to focus on a child's presenting issues and behaviors vs. the child's age. Many new foster parents that want to foster younger children discover quickly that kids can present much younger than their age. Tasha is an example of a child whose behaviors and emotions do not match her age. Although she is 12 years old, Tasha behaves like a much younger child with regular outbursts and attention-seeking behaviors. Although in sixth grade, Tasha has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and struggles socially with peers. Her exposure to a tragic and frightening incident compounded her trauma to another level.
Tasha has a tough time when told "no" and has been known to scream profanities when angry. At 12 years old, her behaviors are more like a younger child throwing a tantrum. Door slamming and foot-stomping are commonplace. She was not disciplined by her biological parents and was provided with little structure or boundaries. A history of neglect has taken its toll on Tasha, and the only way she knows how to express herself is through heightened, unhealthy behaviors.
The CCR clinical staff says "basic" parenting skills don't work with kids with trauma. They are right. All CCR families complete trauma-informed care training to gain the knowledge and tools needed to care for kids with trauma histories. Kids like Tasha do not respond to basic discipline tactics and logical consequences. Studies on children like Tasha show that severe deprivation or neglect: disrupts how children's brains develop and process information, thereby increasing the risk for attentional, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral disorders. Using trauma-informed parenting skills helps kids like Tasha learn, heal, and grow.
Tasha's biological father is deceased, and she lived with her mother and stepfather until late 2021. Her mother and stepfather have a long history of drug addiction and domestic violence; both were addicted to Opiates, as was her stepfather's sister Joanne. Tasha was regularly in the presence of adults using drugs. Tragically, Tasha witnessed Joanne overdose and pass away in the family's home. Her stepfather told Tasha to call the police and give false information during the overdose. When the police arrived, they found drugs accessible to Tasha and subsequently removed her from home, and she was placed in a county foster home.
Tasha's foster parents gave written notice to have her removed from their home. The foster parents stated they struggled to regulate Tasha's attention-seeking behaviors and found caring for their four biological children very difficult while tending to her heightened needs. Both foster parents worked outside the home and utilized afterschool care for Tasha. She struggled in the unstructured environment. The couple believed that Tasha required additional services not currently provided, and the county agency agreed.
The case was referred to CCR in hopes of matching Tasha with a family offering a parent available to her at all times outside of school hours. The ideal foster home would not have other children living in the house to provide Tasha with much-needed one-on-one attention. In addition, an experienced foster home using trauma-informed parenting tools would be best for her.
The referring county's goal was to reunify Tasha with her family. It was anticipated that she would need a foster family to commit to at least an 18-month period. Sadly, we did not have a CCR foster home available in the right location that could meet Tasha's needs. Tasha is one of over a dozen kids near her age that we could not place this month.
Referrals are pouring in at CCR, and we do not have enough homes for all the children. Many are sibling groups, and a large number are over age eight. They are good kids that need more than what a basic Level 2 foster home can provide. They need treatment services to address their trauma and foster parents willing to learn about trauma-informed parenting.
Tasha is a perfect example of why CCR requires all foster parents to have a flexible schedule with a parent available when kids are not in school. Kids with significant trauma histories need a structured, stable home environment utilizing trauma-informed care parenting tools. They have difficulty succeeding in daycare, afterschool programs, and summer camps. We
Our experienced team is dedicated to foster parents and kids to ensure foster parents feel supported and kids have ample opportunities to heal.