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Unique Needs of Children in Foster Care
Foster care awareness month
Objectives
~ Explore some unique stressors for the child as well as caregivers
Intro
~ According to 2014 AFCARS data, approximately 53 percent of foster children remain in care for 12 months or more
~ Eighty percent of youth involved with the child welfare system require mental health intervention and services due to developmental, behavioral or emotional issues
~ Excessive amounts of cortisol and chronic HPA-Axis activation disrupts developing brain circuits and increases the risk for stress related disease and cognitive impairment well into the adult years (ACEs)
~ Providing supportive, responsive relationships as early in life as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress

Disrupted Attachment
~ Problems with affect regulation and dissociation
~ Lack of impulse control and attentional problems
~ Controlling stance used in peer and caregiving relationships (role inappropriate parent child interactive behavior)
~ Cognitive impairments
~ High Risk for Oppositional Defiant Disorder and aggression in middle childhood and low self esteem and dissociation in adolescence
~ Tend to repeat the cycle
~ When the child is developing a new attachment, particularly after disruption, setbacks can occur rapidly and have serious consequences because it represents a current loss and re-ignites the prior unresolved losses.

Attachment Intervention: CRAVES
~ Consistency: Be the go-to person that responds in an attentive, predictable manner
~ Responsiveness: Provide developmentally appropriate physical, emotional and cognitive support including learning to label feelings, triggers and warning signs and developing coping and distress tolerance skills
~ Attention (Proactive)
~ Validation/Empathy: Try to see the situation from the child’s perspective
~ Encouragement to explore and attempt new things
~ Support when things go wrong or through scaffolding

Summary
~ Young traumatized children’s reactions and behaviors are best understood in the context of relationship.
~ Foster care is an active intervention with the goal of helping the young child to recover from their traumatic experience, not just a “place to stay.”
~ The foster/resource parent is an essential partner in the recovery of the young child.
~ Transitions for young children should be carefully planned

Video by Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes on integrative behavioral health approaches including counseling techniques and skills for improving mental health and reducing mental illness.

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