fbpx Fostering Communication
Authored by Nexus Family Healing on May 30, 2024

When a child enters foster care or transitions to a new home, everyone involved in the process and the child's care experiences a wide range of emotions. Foster parents play a crucial role in supporting the child, the child’s family, and the rest of child’s care team – well outside of the daily needs of being a parent. Along with the youth in their care, foster parents will be navigating different experiences and emotions as they learn and grow together. An important piece of being a foster parent is to create and maintain open communication with both the child, the child’s family, and the support network around them. 

A hurdle for any foster parent and youth is when transitions or big changes are taking place. This may be a change in the child’s placement where they are needing to move to a different home or can reunite with their family, or even changes in school or with their care team.  

For a foster parent in this situation, there are several ways to support and care for youth as they navigate through an emotional time: 

  1. Open and Honest Communication: It’s crucial for foster parents to keep open and honest communication with youth. Make sure you are communicating with them in an age-appropriate way and reassure them that you are there for them. 
  2. Provide stability: Make sure you are maintaining a stable and supportive environment. Youth may have a strong emotional reaction to unfortunate news. Stability is crucial for youth in care, especially when during times of transition or difficult information. 
  3. Emotional Support: Be prepared to provide emotional support for the youth in your care to process their feelings. Talk to them and offer a listening ear, and validate their emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly.  
  4. Assist with Transition: Transitioning, whether into adoption or long-term foster care, or other moves in their life looks different for each child, and can bring up a lot of fear and anxiety. Talk with them about how they are feeling and see what ways you can ease their concerns, whether that’s creating a plan together or talking through what you know about the next phase in their life.
  5. Maintain Connections: If safe and appropriate, one of the best things a foster parent can do to help the youth in their care is to foster and maintain connections with the child’s biological family. Keeping those connections with their family is important for youth’s sense of identity and well-being and can help as they navigate big decisions and changes.
  6. Advocate for the Youth: The most important job a foster parent has is to advocate for the child’s best interest throughout the entire process and time the youth is in their home. This may involve working closely with social workers, therapists, educators, and other professionals involved in the youth’s care. 
  7. Self-care: While it is often overlooked, it is important to take care of yourself as a foster parent. Supporting a youth through the foster care process can be emotionally challenging. It is important that the foster parent makes sure to prioritize their well-being and seek support from others as needed. 

By providing stability, emotional support, and advocacy, foster parents can play a crucial role in helping children navigate the complexities of being in foster care, new places, and simply being a growing child. 

This blog article was contributed by Jessica Rosenquist, Child Welfare Specialist at Nexus-Onarga Family Healing.

Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for community mental health servicesfoster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 50 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Access more resources at nexusfamilyhealing.org/resources.