Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Desperate Need For Foster Parents

According to the most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) estimates as of July 2015, there are 415, 129 children in foster care. Forty-six percent of these children are placed with foster families. Others are placed with relatives, in group homes, in institutions, or are trialing home placement. Therefore, ~190, 959 children in the United States needed a foster home in 2014. This equals out to a need for at least 38,191 needed foster homes. This does not include relative care.

When there is such a huge need for foster homes, kids often have to move away from their communities and be separated from their siblings. In addition, kids may have to move foster homes several times until a long term placement is found. This causes more trauma for a child, who has already endured more than people endure in a lifetime.

These children endure neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and/or sexual abuse, are ripped out of their homes, and sometimes due to the lack of support are also ripped away from their siblings and out of their communities. We cannot make their parent's decision for them, but we can prevent additional trauma caused by a system that is supposed to keep them SAFE.

How can you help?

1.) Pray for these children. Pray for peace. Pray for strength. Pray for understanding. Most of all, pray that these children are placed in homes that provide them the love and care that they were designed to provide.

2.) Support foster families the weeks following a new placement.  Make a warm meal. Offer to do a load of laundry. Anything is helpful when the whirlwind of a new placement is full force with daily appointments, shopping trips, and sleepless nights filled with night terrors.

3.) Donate any clothes, shoes, or blankets that you are not currently using to a foster parent you know or if you want to find a program that serves foster children do a google search for somewhere in your neighborhood. Hygiene products, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, brushes, and deodorant are also helpful.  This has been a huge blessing throughout our journey.

4.) Offer to babysit. Foster parents need a break every now and then. Having a generous list of people who have been approved by completing a background check is very helpful when babysitters are needed.

5.) Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). Spend quality time with a child and become their voice in court. For more information you may visit http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301295/k.BE9A/Home.htm

6.) Become a respite care provider. If you are not able to make a full time commitment to fostering, but still want to help, respite care is for you. It's temporary care consisting of a couple of days to a few weeks. The following link shares a little bit more info about respite care: http://familyrespite.org/respite-provider. Call your local DCS office for further information about becoming respite care provider in your county.

7.) BECOME A LICENSED FOSTER CARE PARENT! Be the caregivers for these sweet children until their relatives or parents can care for them in a healthier environment or until an adoptive placement is found. I can assure you that it will be the hardest, but most rewarding experience of your life. Please call your local DCS office for more information.

8.) Adopt a child through the Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP). There are several definitions of special needs in foster care, which include being a member of a sibling group and being over the age of 2. Therefore, most adoptions through foster care are "special needs" adoptions. For more information please visit the following link: http://www.adoptuskids.org/for-families/state-adoption-and-foster-care-information/indiana.

Please consider helping in at least one way to ensure that children who have been through trauma are being cared for. Whether you are supporting a family who has been called to foster or you have been called yourself, you will make a huge difference. Matthew 25: 14 "And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015


When we took our classes for our foster care license the word self care came up a lot. We even were prompted to go around the room and give an example of something we like to do for fun. I thought to myself, I will make time to do these things. I love to run and exercise. I love to curl up with a good book even if I only make it through a few pages. This will be no problem.

Then three kids walk through the door and all of those self-care activities are thrown out the window and survival mode kicks in. Throughout the last six months we have been reminded over and over to take time to ourselves. While this sounded fantastic, it just did not seem to fit into our hectic schedule. This was a huge mistake on our part. If it were a priority we would have made time, even if only for five minutes.

Putting ourselves on the back burner worked for a while. We were so engrossed in the day-to-day and helping our kids heal that running, deer hunting, and reading did not matter anymore. Then the days got harder and although we knew we needed a break, we kept treading through the waters. Then the day came where we new we had no choice, we had to take a break to move on in a healthy way. For our kid's sake and ours we needed a break. Not a huge break, just a break. One or two days away can make a huge difference. Consistently, 15 minute breaks make a huge difference. No matter the length, breaks are always good.

This goes for all parents out there: TAKE A BREAK! Even if it is only for five minutes, set time aside to be alone and breathe. We need it to survive. Think about something you used to love and have not had time to fit in your schedule. Make time! You and your kids will have better lives for it. Okay, I'm done, but seriously take a break....

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sensory Processing

A number of you have seen my facebook posts about the sensory boxes I have made the kids and I have received numerous questions. I thought I would take time and explain the benefits of and reasoning for sensory play. By no means, I am no expert. This is just a little information from one parent to another. For more information you can go to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation website at http://spdfoundation.net/index.php/about-sensory-processing-disorder/ or for more personalized tips/information you may seek advice from your primary physician or an occupational therapist.

"Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses," (spdfoundation). A disorder may occur when appropriate responses to sensation are not present. For example a child may tense up when someone touches their shoulder, become nervous when washing their hands, have trouble eating different foods, or have a sensitivy to light. As you likely gathered all of these examples refer to the senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, or touch.

The reasons children may develop a sensory processing disorder are not concrete, but it is likely genetic and/or environmental. For kids who have been neglected, environment plays a huge role. Most people have sensory input from the time they are born. Parents rock their babies to sleep, play peek-a-boo, encourage smiles/babbles, and provide colorful toys with different sounds/shapes. When children miss out on these things due to neglect sensory-input may be more difficult in the future. For example, imagine trying to rock a three year old to sleep when they have rarely been picked up and held. Do you think this child would jump into your arms and look into your eyes? Maybe, but they may also go into freak out mode.

Two of our children struggle with touch and one with sounds. No, they have never been diagnosed with anything, but their responses are not what you would expect normally. One of our children shrinks and pulls away when a hand is placed on their shoulder and blames sounds for not being able to complete tasks. This same child loses focus and becomes easily sensory overloaded. One of our kids loves squeezing our hands and hugging us tight, but freaks out when someone holds her hand normally or gives a gentle hug.

For the first child, sensory boxes are a huge help. This child may become so sensory overloaded that describing feelings becomes impossible. This child will ask for a sensory box, play for a little while, and then express their feelings. The sensory boxes I have made included fake grass, rice, beans, rocks, water, shells, shaving cream etc. Anything that he can touch and allow to flow through his fingers.

Our other child throws major tantrums, but tends to calm down after jumping into her bed several times or pulling the blinds up and putting them down over and over. Bear hugs are a frequent request. We plan to get a big bean bag to jump into and a sit in spin to help the child fulfill their needs. Sensory boxes are fun for this child and it provides a great bonding experience, but no positive changes are seen in this child's behavior after playing with a sensory box.

In my opinion, sensory play is a benefit for all kids. Playing with water, sand, shaving cream etc is always fun and if it helps your child focus--BONUS!! We honestly started sensory play as a little experiment. I thought to myself, preschoolers do sensory activites and our children may have never had those experiences, this could be fun! Then I started seeing overwhelming benefits of increased focus and ability to express feelings. So for now, sensory play is a big part of our life. We try to implement it at least twice a week. And thanks to Minds in Motion, our kids get some sensory play in at school everyday. We are blessed.

If you have any questions about making sensory boxes, I would be more than happy to help. With all other questions, please seek a professional source.

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