Where Do We Go From Here?
Last week I introduced you to an infographic created by Simmons College called “Demystifying the Foster Care System”. I briefly discussed that the information shared in this picture calls for the need to be aware of how foster and former foster children are learning and growing in the school environment. This ranges in awareness from classroom management styles to closing academic learning gaps. As teachers, one of the greatest passions behind our job is helping children reach their highest potential in all areas of their life. It is why we do what we do. The statistics behind the foster care system should encourage us to continue building that passion because there are students out there who need our help, encouragement and support.
“The statistics behind the foster care system should encourage us to continue building that passion because there are students out there who need our help, encouragement and support.”
As an educator, the bottom section of this infographic, “Poor Outcomes for Foster Youth” is what alarms me most. While I don’t have control of every aspect that leads to these types of statistics, there are some things I can do when a foster or former foster child is in my classroom to help because I never know what may be the defining factor in steering them away from these behaviors. After all, isn’t that the desire we have as educators – wanting our students to make positive decisions that productively add to themselves, their family and the community around them.
“Working with colleagues, the staff of a school can create a safe place for foster and adopted children to learn and grow. It is through that community that these statistics can be reversed.”
So many of these behaviors are linked together that it is near impossible to pinpoint which one would come first. Each child may have a tendency towards one or two of these behaviors than the others and each educator may be able to addresses issues in one or two of these issues better than the others. What will benefit these children the most is for a school community to come together to support them and their specific needs. Where one teacher may address one area of need another teacher can address another. Working with colleagues, the staff of a school can create a safe place for foster and adopted children to learn and grow. It is through that community that these statistics can be reversed.
Demystifying Foster Care, SocialWork@Simmons
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.
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
As Independence Day approaches here in the United States, I can’t help but think of the freedoms we are blessed to experience in this country. While there seems to be a lot of questions on what those freedoms are, we are still blessed with far more than many other countries have. There are many working and fighting here and overseas to ensure those freedoms are kept and no group or entity take those freedoms away. What happens, though, when a person cannot experience those freedoms because of a block within themselves? A person is trapped inside memories that have challenged and degraded those freedoms.
This is what occurs in many children who have found themselves in foster care. Experiences have caused the development of trauma that affect many areas of a child’s life. Not only can the child have flashbacks of these events, but actual changes occur in the areas of the child’s brain that deal with development and learning. Years later the effects of this trauma can be seen because of the far reaching impact mentally, emotionally and physically.
Unfortunately, many of the manifestations of this type of trauma are diagnosed as other things like depression, hyperactivity, inattention, etc. Many factors contribute to this ranging from an incomplete understanding of a child’s background to wanting to cover the symptoms rather than get to the heart of the matter. Because of this, many children never begin the process of true healing. They stay within the confines of trauma.
Do not miss the possibility of trauma in your children. While it is hard to think of such diagnosis for your child, the resources that can come thereafter have the possibility to open your child to truly experience freedom in all new ways, That, my friends, is an independence day worth celebrating every day.