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Course Summary

Sometimes it can be helpful to step back and gain a big-picture perspective on foster care. This overview provides basic information about the child welfare system, including how a child enters care in the first place, statistics, and a look at the foster care experience from a young person’s viewpoint. You’ll also receive insight from a national journalist, young people, and the federal government.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • The ways a child can enter foster care
  • The basic path a child welfare case follows
  • What entering care might feel like to a child
  • General statistics for child welfare

Step 1

Watch the ReMoved Film. This fictional short film provides a moving depiction of what entering foster care looks like from a child’s perspective:

Step 2

Watch the The Reality of Foster Kids. Reporter Lisa Ling, producer of Our America, provides some insights she gained as she reported on Los Angeles’ child welfare system:

Step 3

Read the guide,  "How the Child Welfare System Works" This guide from the Child Welfare Information Gateway (a service of the Children’s Bureau) provides a high-level overview of how the child welfare system is designed to work.

Step 4

Review "A Child’s Journey Through Foster Care" , a simplified diagram that illustrates how a child moves through the child welfare system.

Step 5

Read the following "Foster Care Statistics" . Child welfare statistics usually run several years behind the current year. While the statistics shown in this training module are from 2015, they are useful in looking at general child welfare statistics and current trends.

Step 6

Watch the short film, The Well-Being Journey for Youth in Foster Care from the Youth Transition Funders Group, where young people share their foster care experiences:

Step 7

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

Provide one idea, either that you’ve tried, plan to try, or believe a foster parent could try, that would ease a child’s entry into the foster care system. (Please leave out the child's name.)

Course Discussion

mari20e2002's picture

mari20e2002 said:

Arriving into a strangers home as a foster child has to be the scariest thing those children are going through. Giving them love and attention is number one. Doing everything you can to make sure they feel secure.
jsothern's picture

jsothern said:

I noticed that with my foster son, keeping a schedule and routine helped him to transition well into our home. It helped provide a sense of stability and security, which are two things that can all too often be ellusive to children in the foster care system. They have already gone through a period of not knowing what might happen next, so our schedule/routine gives some peace of mind because he knows what the future brings. And to keep things from getting stagnant we find times to randomly treat him so that he realizes there can be good and pleasant surprises as well.
mistycorn's picture

mistycorn said:

I think being transparent and open are the best things you can do for a child new to the system.
Melissa Vickers Lykins's picture

Melissa Vickers... said:

just listen and have something to make them feel welcome in your home, whether it be a favorite food or toy.
LorindaRoy's picture

LorindaRoy said:

Things that I find are helpful are getting down to eye level, welcoming them, sensing out how they are feeling, giving them a space that is their own-comfy. Letting them know where things are that they may need and that they have free access to. Forshadowing the routine for them-so that they know what to expect. Be consistent, yet sensitive. Finding out their interests and making plans to enjoy those.
lancedoze's picture

lancedoze said:

I do Listen...Screaming, fighting, and many other difficult situations. They are Children, not adults...Treat them like CHILDREN...They need to have someone who will listen, protect, and put them first.
CarolineShafer's picture

CarolineShafer said:

I believe listening is a great quality a foster parent can have. Being a genuine listener, and willing to hear the child's struggles and concerns can help begin to build trust.
mshuffitt7's picture

mshuffitt7 said:

I have been a foster parent for now 8 months, and I have 5 littles now and I have found esp the oldest ones really want their voices to be heard , they don't believe adults really listen
DJLonS's picture

DJLonS said:

My wife and I were recently blessed with the ability to foster a 7 month old child who's previous primary caregiver was that of an 8 year old sibling. Not that this child wasn't performing admirably, there were understandable and unnecessary issues thrust upon the 8 year old that should not have been. When we received the 7 month old we decided, due to the child's lack of stability and structure it would be pertinent to create a basic routine. The routine consisted of feeding times, play times, nap times, and bed time. Appears simple enough to most, but when one doesn't have that in their lives it is a task to get them on that train. Structure in a young child's life is important so that they know there is stability and consistency. As you saw from the videos, they go through enough already. They want to know and they NEED to know there is stability in their lives and one simple way to do that is to set a routine for them.
MMM0582's picture

MMM0582 said:

I am just starting out in these classes and I have not yet fostered any children, but I do have thoughts on how I'd like to try and help them if I do get the opportunity to have children in my home. I would like to make them feel as comfortable as possible by making them feel safe and wanted. Let them be free to express themselves and not get discouraged if they don't always react in a positive manner to anything that I might try. I know that it will take time and effort and I know that these kids often times are coming from a horrible situation. I just hope to be the best kind of parent that I can be for them.