Helping a child who is hurting

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Buckner wants to assure every child lives in a safe and nurturing home. For many foster children, however, the trauma from abuse or neglect they experienced in the past remains with them even after they have been placed in a safe home. Here are some ways a foster parent can help provide healing to a child who has experienced trauma.

All children who come into foster care have experienced trauma from the abuse or neglect they experienced with their biological families. But each child is capable of healing – capable of overcoming their past hurts and developing into the person God created them to be.

This is where foster parents come in. Foster parents not only provide a safe and loving home for children in need, but they also help provide critical healing.

"The main thing is to form a relationship with the child by listening and proving that you are there for them and can provide for their needs," said Mayra Vargas, Buckner foster care recruiter.

This can take many different forms and may look different from child to child.

"Sometimes you just have to meet the child where they are," said Cameka Hart, Buckner therapeutic family specialist. "Maybe the expectations you set when they first arrived need to be adjusted after you get to know the child. A good foster parent understands that flexibility is required in their expectations and celebrates all progress, no matter how small it may seem.

"Successful foster parents get personal satisfaction from helping a child learn to grow and build a strong attachment with trusted adults," Hart continued. "Foster parents need to understand that sometimes a child will show rejection toward them or test their boundaries at first."

This testing of the boundaries is normal, and when the foster parent continues to show love and patience toward the child, the child learns he is safe and can begin to heal.

"Be a strong advocate for your foster children," Hart said. "And also be able to ask for help when it's needed. Buckner has all kinds of supports available. We're here for you."

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