fbpx Take PRIDE in Foster Parenting
Authored by Nexus Family Healing on January 27, 2022

Foster parents have one of the most important jobs – helping and supporting youth who are in temporary need of adults to care for them. What is more impactful than being part of a child or teen’s life, helping them develop into successful adults?

PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) is a curriculum that foster parents complete to build their skill base in working with youth in the child welfare system. PRIDE outlines five key competencies that all families build upon, and are great reminders and tools for both current foster parents or anyone considering becoming a licensed foster care provider.

Five Key Competencies

  1. Protect and Nurture Children
    Caregivers need to make sure that children are safe so they can grow and flourish. Part of safety is ensuring that all children are cared for in a nurturing manner. This may seem straight forward, but can be harder than it looks depending on the child’s history. 

    Children who have been hurt or who have experienced trauma and loss might make it very hard to “nurture” them in the way that most of us experienced when we were younger. They might push people away and even try extreme things to keep others at bay. For example, they sometimes hit, bite, or steal to keep themselves from feeling too many feelings (that might feel a bit like love). Some children may have had people say they love them and then behaved in a way that shows they do not. Trust may seem huge and scary for these youth. Remember that just “being there” might be the most effective way to nurture.

    If foster parents can consistently practice honesty and keeping their word when talking to youth, it can make a world of difference in rebuilding trust. Don’t over promise, be patient and kind, and the youth will eventually see a different way to interact. The foster parent’s example is a huge testimony to how life could be different. It helps to communicate that their new foster family cares for them and how they are safe in the home. 
  2. Meet Children’s Developmental Needs and Address Developmental Delays
    All children grow and develop in different ways. Some areas of growth come faster, and others take longer to develop. Children who are removed from their family home often experience delays and have specific needs; some more visible than others. It’s a foster parent’s job to really understand where a foster/adoptive child is at in each developmental area and then work to parent them appropriately. It’s important to meet a child where they are and not expect too much or too little from them on the journey of learning and growth. And when behaviors get challenging, foster parents have to remember to look for the reason behind the behavior and not judge at face level.
  3. Support Relationships Between Children and Their Families
    First things first, a foster parent needs to find out who makes up their child’s family: one parent, two parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, the kind lady from down the street, friends? 

    Family is not just defined by blood, but rather by the relationship that existed prior to the child coming into care. The child’s team will help with this process and will also be able to identify any safety concerns for an ongoing relationship. Having contact with family can be very stressful for children in care in both positive and negatives ways. For example, they may experience a lot of distress around thoughts like: Is mom safe? Will my parents be mad if I let them know that I like my foster family? Will my siblings be safe? Who will make sure they have food now that I am not with them? Will I ever get to go home? 

    There may be big behaviors with these big emotions. This is not wrong or right, just part of the process that needs to happen. Foster families should be supportive of family and give the child a safe, non-judgmental place to process their emotions.
  4. Connect Children to Safe, Nurturing Relationships Intended to Last a Lifetime
    It is important that children don’t lose relationships with positive people in their life as they enter foster care. This is not always easy. Foster parents can seek help from their child’s care team and lean on other foster families who have traveled this road before. In most situations, nurturing these relationships starts by reaching out to the child’s family, friends, teachers, and neighbors. New relationships can also be lifelong connections for children, and foster parents should help them to find and interact with people who can be ongoing supports.  
  5. Work as Part of a Professional Team
    Foster parents are not alone in this journey. There is no expectation that a foster parent should be able to, all on their own, keep children safe and nurtured, understand their behaviors and needs, and connect and maintain relationships. Each child has a team of people to partner with to help through every step. As a foster parent, it’s helpful to identify the child’s team right away by talking to the assigned case manager and know what expertise is available to add to the toolbox.  

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, check out our resources on how to get started.

This blog article was contributed by Nancy Pillen, Foster Care Supervisor for Nexus-PATH,  an agency of Nexus 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 outpatient/community mental health servicesfoster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 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. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.