The Facts of Foster Care – An Infographic by Simmons College

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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Last week, I was on vacation in Washington, D.C. with a friend and her two kids. As we were taking in all the sites, I get an e-mail from co-founder of Transfiguring Adoption, Darren Fink. He was really excited to share some information he received from Simmons College, namely an infographic that has been created to share the realities of the foster care system. As soon as I looked at the information shared on it, I immediately felt the weight of needing to not only share this information (see end of this post), but more importantly doing my part in trying to help reverse these statistics.

While the graphic as a whole offers a broad picture of children in a current and former foster care situation, each section gives light to a specific area of life for them or the home around them. As an educator I look at each section and realize the impact it has on the child as they sit in my classroom. I can’t help but shutter a bit in realizing the many obstacles that must be overcome before a foster child is able to productively learn in the classroom. I am a firm believer in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and much of this information attests to those basic needs like physiology, safety, love/belonging, and esteem not being met. With these needs being unmet, solid learning is going to be really difficult.

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While there appear to be many barriers to educating foster children, it IS NOT impossible. What must happen first, however, is recognition of the reality of the various needs of these children – physically, mentally, emotionally and academically. Over the last few years there has been a push in the education world to differentiate instruction to best meet the needs of each student in the classroom. In order to do this, the teacher must know the background and needs of each individual student. We cannot shy away from the realities of our students’ backgrounds or believe that everything is perfect. These statistics prove otherwise for our students who are in or who have been in foster care.

I am looking forward to digging into this information in the following weeks a bit more and looking at the implications for educators who work with foster children. By being educated about their needs and backgrounds, we are able to best serve them in a way that leads to learning and growth.

What do you think of the facts below? How can educators utilize this information and make a difference?

Demystifying Foster Care, SocialWork@Simmons

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3 Fun Activities to Discover More About Your Foster-Adoptive Family – Chapter 10 – Kids’ Discussion

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If you have been following the discussion on our blog, you know that Harry Potter has come to another quidditch match. This game is against Slytherin so Harry and everyone in his school especially wants to see the Slytherins lose the game. However, it is going to be difficult to win as someone has bewitched a bludger (a magical ball that flies on it’s own and try to knock players off their broomsticks) to attack Harry.

What would you do if a bludger was trying to kill you? Would you keep playing? Would you stop the game?

During a timeout Harry’s team talks about the problem with the bludger. They want Harry to stop the game or ask the referee to take a look at the bad ball. Harry’s whole team believes that the Slytherins put a spell on the ball and everyone wants to protect Harry.

Harry keeps playing. He knows that he’s a great quidditch player. He knows he is talented. He knows that he has what it takes to help his team win.

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When people tell you that you’re talented at something and you know that you’re talented a few things start to happen.

  1. You feel good about yourself.
  2. You know that you’re important.
  3. You’re braver and more courageous because you have confidence.

Hopefully, as you get to know your foster-adoptive family, your parents can tell you what you’re talented at and you can notice the talents of other people in the family.

What Is Your Family Good At?

People inside a family want to help each other succeed. They stick together. No matter if you’re in a foster family, adoptive family or birth family, everyone inside your family is going to be different and not everyone is going to be good at the same things. Let’s play some games and find out a little bit about your family.

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The M&M Activity

For this activity you’ll need a bag of M&M’s.

  • No one is allowed to eat the candy
  • Put a handful of candy in front of each person
  • No one is allowed to eat the candy 🙂
  • Set a timer for two minutes
  • During the two minutes no one can talk to each other BUT everyone can interact with the candy
  • No one is allowed to eat the candy 😀

What happened during the two minutes? Usually, two things happen.

  1. Some people will make pictures or designs or create stories with their M&Ms.
  2. Some people will put the candy in groupings by color or make other groups.

The first type of people in your family are the ones that like to be creative. They might be the ones that are good at art or writing stories. The second type of people are those that might be good at logic. These people in your family might be the people that will enjoy math, science and history.

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Tell Us About Yourself Activity

  • Have a volunteer leave the room or out of earshot for one minute
  • While the volunteer is gone, choose another volunteer
  • Give the 2nd volunteer one minute to stand in the middle of your family and talk about themselves
  • After the minute is up, the first volunteer comes back and talk about themselves for one minute

How did everyone do? If members of your family had trouble talking and filling up the minute, then you know those are the introverts in your family. In other words they are the people that are most energized by being alone or in small groups. These are the family members in OUR house that beg to go home and play the Wii instead of going to the zoo.

On the other hand family members that seemed to like being in front of everyone and talked over their minute are your extroverts. They are more energized when they are out in public or a lot of sensory input. In our house I, Darren, would rather read a book at a busy coffee shop while one of my kiddos would like to read a book in their bedroom.

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Listen to the Story Activity

  • Listen to this story
  • Everyone chooses one of the two options at the end

A humane shelter worker is giving your family a dog. Before they bring the dog to the house though, the worker wants you to know some things about the dog. The dog’s name is Buddy. Buddy is a beagle. He is a very playful puppy. Unfortunately his old owner didn’t like to play with Buddy. In fact the owner would yell at Buddy when he wanted to play until Buddy got so scared that he would accidentally pee on the carpet. The owner would then take all the dog’s food and water away for two whole days. This happened at least one time every week. The owner brought Buddy to the humane shelter because he was a bad dog. The humane shelter worker wants to be sure that your family would play with Buddy and give him plenty of food. Your family agrees to let Buddy come into your home. However, when one of the kids fills Buddy’s bowl with food, Buddy was afraid the child was taking the food away. Buddy got angry and bites the kid’s leg. Unfortunately, a vet and the humane shelter worker both agree that Buddy will always try to bite someone in this situation. The vet tells your family that their is no chance of changing Buddy’s behavior.

What should your family do? Keep Buddy or send him back to the shelter? Why?

People that chose to keep Buddy because of his past will be the members of your family that make decisions by listening to their feelings. These are the members in my family that have dessert without finishing my dinner when I had a hard day at work or school.

Members of your family that chose to get Buddy out of the house more than likely make decisions by looking at the facts. I like to play board games with these family members because they play by the rules. They also come up with a fair way to see who should go first in a game.

What did you find out about your family?

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*The staff of Transfiguring Adoption are not professional counselors. The activities used in this blogged are meant to be fun ways for families to start conversations and should in no way be used for professional therapy.*

Kids’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12

Parent Discussions: 

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04

Chapter 9 – 3 Reasons For Telling The Truth Even When It Hurts – Kids’ Discussion

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What did you think of this chapter? Harry, Ron and Hermione yet again find themselves in the middle of amazing and unusual circumstances. Do you ever wonder how these weird things always seem to happen to these three?

Harry, Hermione and Ron are found to be the only people at the scene of a “crime.” Namely Mr. Filch’s (the school caretaker’s) cat has been injured. The students seem to think that Harry had something to do with the injury because he was spotted at the scene of the crime. Mr. Filch seems to believe that Harry is to blame. So many people seem to think that Harry did something that he didn’t do. Again, it doesn’t help that Harry, Hermione and Ron have a reputation for finding trouble.

The interesting part of this story is that Harry’s least favorite teacher makes the suggestion that the group was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is a glimmer of hope to clear their names of any wrong doing. However, when Professor Snape starts to question the three on some details about the evening, Harry chooses to lie. The worst part is that we get a sense that most of the teachers know that Harry wasn’t being completely honest. Harry was really scared that everyone would think that he was literally a lunatic if he revealed the truth.

Have you ever done something like this? We ALL have a tendency to get into trouble or a bad habit.

An Example from the Fink Home

Our family has one person that has the habit of stealing sweets out of the pantry. We find sweets wrappers hidden under their mattress from time to time or we find food missing. I (Darren) walked into our kitchen one morning and noticed a container of frosting over half of the way eaten in the refrigerator. As soon as my child came into the kitchen, I immediately asked why they ate all the icing in the middle of the night. My child tried to convince me that they didn’t do it. Something just wasn’t right about their story though. I continued to ask why they did the act. After many “I didn’t do its,” they finally admitted to taking the frosting out of the pantry and eating it. Oh, did I mention that they knew the icing was for their brother’s birthday cake that day?

Do you think it’s right to lie? Do you think it’s right to steal?

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Why would you do something like this?

  1. I Take Care of Me
    My kiddo had to find their own food in their biological home. They didn’t have an adult to buy them food. They still kind of think that if they want a certain type of food then they have to get it for themselves.
  2. Scared of Punishment
    Who likes getting in trouble? My child lied because they thought I would get so mad that they would get in HUGE trouble.
  3. Forgot to Think About Others
    When you don’t have adults making sure you’re safe, who has time to think about others? You just want to know that you’re safe and will stay alive. This kiddo didn’t want to hurt their brother by taking the icing for his cake. This child just doesn’t have practice thinking about others first.

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Why Should You Learn To Tell the Truth and Talk Even When It Hurts?

  1. You Get Better Care And Safe Adults Care For Me
    If my child would have come to me, a safe adult, and told me they wanted to eat the frosting, I would have helped them find some other candy or sweets to make the craving go away. I would have talked with them about how taking the frosting would hurt their brother’s feelings. Safe adults won’t ignore you, they want to help you. They love you even when things get rough.
  2. Avoid Punishment
    It’s odd that people lie to avoid punishment when really the truth will set you free. I’m not saying that there won’t be consequences, but they are usually WAY better than getting caught in the lie. For example, in this situation if my child would have told the truth, I would have made them apologize to their brother and mom. This is better than having to apologize and having your allowance taken away.
  3. Stronger Family and Friends
    There is something almost magical that happens when you tell the truth. The other person might be a little angry that you did something wrong, BUT they will also be very glad that you TRUSTED them enough to tell the truth even when it hurt you. It shows that you love and care for that person. It feels good when you live with people that strongly care for you, and you care for them too. It feels safe and loving.

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. Do you think Harry made the right decision? Why not or Why?
  2. When is a time you lied? Why did you lie?
  3. How does your foster-adoptive mom/dad feel about lying?
  4. Ask your mom/dad what they would do in the above situation if you lied. If you told the truth.
  5. Create a plan. Sometimes we need reminders to do the right and most healthy thing. Come up with a phrase or word that your parent(s) can say the next time you start to lie to them. When you hear this word/phrase, this will be your special cue to start over and tell the truth. It will also be your mom/dad’s cue to realize that you are going to try to tell the truth even though you might be really scared.

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Kids’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12

Parent Discussions: 

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04