Supporting the Mental Health of Foster Children

Being a foster child brings a lot of mental health issues with it. Some children blame themselves for the family breaking apart.

Foster children are required to adapt to their foster homes, which are new environments with strangers. Apart from the foster parents, there might be biological children to adjust themselves to.

Over time, relationships are formed, and if the child is moved again, they go through heartache and grieving for the loss of family and siblings. 

Seeing Through Their Eyes

Foster children have been exposed to abandonment, neglect, and/or abuse in their biological homes, which led to them being whipped away from their families.

Some of these children may have gone through the terrifying experience of police arriving at their homes with sirens blaring. They may have seen one or both of their parents arrested.

Despite the wrongs committed by their parents, many foster children long to be reunited with their birth families and cope with this sense of loss daily.

They dream of a perfect reunion where none of the harm they endured took place or will be repeated.

The bad primary home experiences result in foster children who are unable to trust initially, and who will take a long time before they can believe that they are safe and that their needs will be met.

Many have gone without regular food, sleep, or schooling. Others also carry physical scars. Negative events and circumstances increase the likelihood of these children being diagnosed with mental health conditions over and above the adjustments that are required of them.

The Role of Foster Parents

The primary role of a foster parent is to provide a stable home environment where basic needs are met.

Additionally, foster children need to be exposed to normal and enjoyable events, such as eating out or going skating. It is important to provide them with enrichment, calm, and dependability.

Foster children are more likely to behave in unexpected ways and a lot of patience is needed. For example, many younger foster children will wet the bed.

Remain cheerful and reassure them that it’s okay while you change them into dry clothes and remake the bed.

These youngsters may have difficulty falling asleep, or they may wake up during the night. They may also cry often without seeming cause.

Older foster children may also have sleep and eating problems. They may display unreasonable anger, given the situation, but not irrational, given their background.

Avoid reacting. Remain calm and tell them you are available to talk when they are ready. Teens will often isolate themselves and need to be gently encouraged to participate in family activities, with the reassurance that they can go to their rooms if they start to feel overwhelmed.

Taking on the Foster Role

There is a growing need for foster parents, with statistics indicating that 9,200 more carers are needed.

Agencies strive to provide foster parents with all the tools and financial support for the child to thrive. You can visit sites like thefca.co.uk for more information about fostering. 

If you have a spare bedroom and feel you could become a foster parent, get in touch with an agency. 

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