As holiday lights twinkle and carols fill the air, not every child feels the warmth of this festive season. For foster children, the holidays can bring a mix of emotions, far from the joy and stability many of us take for granted.
The Hidden Struggle
Foster children often struggle with feelings of dislocation and loyalty conflicts during the holidays. While many families are gathering and celebrating traditions, these children might be navigating new environments, missing their biological families, and grappling with feelings of guilt for enjoying their foster family’s celebrations. Sharon, founder of Foster Care Training Today, is an advocate committed to empowering foster families to help the children thrive. She is calling awareness to the unique challenges children in foster care face during the holiday season.
Having an Empathetic Approach
Sharon emphasizes the importance of understanding these emotional dynamics. She notes that foster children may withdraw or show signs of stress, not because they aren’t grateful or happy, but because they are processing complex emotions. Sharon’s approach is one of empathy and patience, encouraging foster parents to create a space where children can feel safe and understood, no matter what emotions they’re experiencing.
Foster Care By The Numbers
The need for such understanding is critical. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, an online resource for the public about Foster Care, as of April 2023, there were around 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. The holiday season, with its emphasis on family and tradition, can exacerbate feelings of loss and separation for these children. This is where Sharon’s work becomes invaluable. Through her programs at “Foster Care Training Today,” she equips foster families with the skills to navigate these challenges.
Navigating Key Resources
An important resource Sharon advocates for is the National Foster Care & Adoption Directory (NFCAD), accessible via childwelfare.gov. This directory offers a wealth of information for those interested in becoming foster parents, as well as resources to support current foster families.
The Impact of CASA
Another key element that Sharon stresses is the role of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). CASAs are volunteers who represent the best interests of a child in the foster care system. They are often a stable presence in these children’s lives, attending school meetings and court hearings, and ensuring that the child’s voice is heard. Sharon believes that more awareness and support for CASA can significantly improve the experiences of foster children. If fostering children is not possible for you, consider enrolling into CASA.
How to Help This Holiday Season
This holiday season, Sharon encourages tangible actions to support these children. Donating toys, clothes, and funds to foster care agencies can bring direct relief and joy. Volunteering time or considering becoming a CASA are other impactful ways to make a difference.
A Season of Giving and Understanding
The holiday season is a time of giving and kindness. For foster children, the gift of understanding and support can be life-changing. Sharon’s advocacy and programs aim to illuminate the challenges these children face, inspiring a community response that brings real hope and change. By engaging with resources like childwelfare.gov and supporting organizations like CASA, each of us can contribute to a brighter holiday season for foster children.