I wanted to become a foster parent for as long as I can remember. My dream was to foster a younger child. Furthermore, I always heard older foster kids were more difficult to manage. I had a basic understanding of childhood trauma, and I knew fostering would come with challenges. What I didn't realize was how important it would be to have a team behind me. Along with a great agency, a teacher that also understood trauma would be invaluable. Without a doubt, I love being a foster parent, but I could never do this work alone.
Foster mom loves a team approach.
I can honestly say I had no idea how much kids were hurting. Moreover, I didn't know much about trauma. The day I called CCR to get information about becoming a foster parent changed my understanding. Mainly, I learned what long-term effects neglect and abuse have on younger children. Most importantly, I realized that foster parents must understand trauma, be educated in trauma-informed care, and be supported 24/7 to be successful in helping foster kids heal and grow.
What I learned during that first 40-minute phone call with CCR was enlightening and educational. Additionally, I gained insight into my strengths and what I had to offer kids in foster care. My skills and personal experiences would contribute significantly to helping younger children heal. Furthermore, I learned that love alone would not be enough to help a child heal from trauma. I would need a team at CCR and a team at my foster child's school. Especially the child's teacher.
To say I was nervous about accepting my first placement would be an understatement. Self-doubt took over. Although my case manager said my feelings were "normal," I questioned myself.
Jaydeen was a tiny 5-year-old and came to my home wide-eyed and full of energy. Lots of energy! Without a doubt, it wasn't always positive energy. The first few days, okay months were a challenge. Jayden lacked any semblance of structure. Also, she struggled to listen, and there were no boundaries with play, mealtime, or bedtime. Indeed I had my work cut out for me, and I needed a professional team behind me.
With extreme trepidation, I drove her to school and nearly cried when I left her. I wondered if the teacher would be able to handle her in the classroom with the other children. Jaydeen struggled in all the ways CCR told me a child of her age might. We had been together for just a few days before her first day of school.
In addition to living with me, a stranger, Jaydeen had been torn from family, friends, school, and her teacher. I prayed her teacher would have a successful first day with her. What I didn't anticipate were the trauma-informed care principles her teacher would apply. I'm not sure why I was surprised, but the email I received detailing Jaydeen's first day was insightful and gave me so much hope.
Good evening, I wanted to give you an idea of how Jaydeen's day went.
When Jaydeen came to school, she did a great job lining up and following the class into school. When we get into school, frog stickers are on the floor that the students stand on while waiting to use the bathroom. Jaydeen was having trouble standing on the frog and began running down the hallway. When I asked her to stop, it just escalated, and she kept running. After using the bathroom, students hang up their items. Jaydeen did this just fine.
Class begins with circle time. Jaydeen did not sit in the circle but instead played at a table with some manipulatives. I put them out for her in advance, anticipating that sitting still on her first day may be challenging. (I've seen this before) Unfortunately, during our circle time, she began playing in all centers and started throwing toys at us to get our attention. We continued with circle time, ignoring the behavior, and she stopped. Her behavior adjustment was very encouraging.
During playtime, Jaydeen seemed to be very revved up. She ran around the room, screamed on and off very loudly. She knocked kid's toys over and watched them react. When I approached her, she would run away. We gently asked her to stop and explained that it was not safe, and she calmed down a bit but then continued to jump up and down. When Jaydeen is NOT getting a reaction or attention, she will stop some of the negative behavior.
I had another adult in my room, and she asked Jaydeen to play a game. She settled down for about 10 minutes and played a few games in the quiet area. After that, she played calmly with a few of the other students. She was enjoying her playtime. The adult then played with her in another center, but she started to hit her and pull her hair. I tried to engage her in more calming activities, but that wasn't easy. She did manage to work nicely in the art center for a brief time with me.
Kindergarten teacher reading to foster child
I told the class that I would be setting the timer to clean up. When the timer finished, the children cleaned up. Jaydeen began knocking over things and did not clean up. She took the timer and ran out the door down the hallway. She came back and said, "I hid the timer." I didn't react and said it was time to clean up and go home. Jaydeen came back to the room with the timer. She then tried to get her water bottle but was again instructed to clean up things she knocked over. I told her she could have the water after she picked it up. Subsequently, she picked up, and she got her water bottle.
She got ready to go and lined up nicely with the other kids. She waited quietly and patiently for you to pick her up.
My aide and I are concerned about her safety and wouldn't want her to hurt herself or others. In turn, I want to keep you informed about how she is doing. I know this is new to her, and I will continue to use tools to encourage positive behavior. However, please understand that the safety of all the children is of great importance. I am hopeful that she will get into a routine with consistency and time.
I hope this email isn't too overwhelming. Let me know if I can help in any way.
WOW! WOW! Exactly what I learned about trauma and the behaviors and emotions it creates. These are the things that CCR taught in the foster parent training. Teachers and foster parents expect actions like these from kids with significant trauma, especially with severely neglected children. Jaydeen's teacher is fantastic, and I am so blessed that she is part of my team on this journey with me.
What I appreciate most is that her teacher looked for positive ways to redirect Jaydeen. Also, using trauma-informed care practices allowed for many positive outcomes throughout the school day. Most importantly, she continued with patience and encouragement. I can't imagine how hard it must be having a disruptive student in the classroom.
Several weeks have passed, and Jaydeen is making progress each day both at home and school. Her teacher communicates with me regularly so that we are both on the same page. Trauma is ugly. Trauma is real. Most importantly, kids can heal from trauma!
Trust the information CCR shares. The staff is transparent and honest. Foster children need love, but they also need more than basic parenting skills.
Please contact CCR or call anytime. The staff will help anyone explore how to become a foster parent. 800-799-0450