The Lauren’s Kids foundation understands one of the most difficult but important challenges facing these extraordinary adults: how to help a foster child who has experienced sexual abuse.
This experience, as unfortunate as it is, means that the caring adults in that child’s life must be properly informed and capable of addressing their needs. Often the child has been affected by sexual abuse prior to entering foster care, making it particularly difficult for foster parents to recognize the signs and relate to the child properly. Without realizing it, they could inadvertently trigger a negative response from him or her that is actually a reflection of long-ago mistreatment.
Lauren’s Kids Trauma Informed Care was created in collaboration with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Council Against Sexual Violence and a trauma informed care expert to support families and organizations that care for abused children, especially those seeking support within the foster care system. The training teaches foster parents how to approach the actions of a child through a trauma informed lens, providing practical ways to correct regressive and even violent or over-sexualized behaviors of a child who has been abused.
The training course uses video interviews, short films, slideshows and regular content quizzes to develop techniques a caregiver can use to help a foster child recover from past trauma and thrive in recovery. This is of utmost importance to families providing foster care because healing can and does happen with proper care, attention and approach.
For example, the Kit features stories of children who have experienced traumatic abuse as a tool to provide insight to foster parents, with the hope that they can be used as a framework to understanding and accepting the child’s history – an important step in the healing process.
- Pay close attention to the child’s behavior and emotions, and be prepared to respond in a way that makes the child feel safe and secure.
- Use supportive responses, such as validating the child’s experience, tolerating the child’s emotions, and managing your own emotional response, to help mitigate the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and help the child’s recovery.
- Avoid situations involving power struggles and coercion, as those often lead to withdrawal and/or aggressive behavior.
- Limit seclusion restraint.
- Try to begin from the child’s point of view and make them an active part of their own recovery
- Understand that therapy is more than just a means to reduce symptoms and problematic behavior; therapy promotes a child’s capacity for self-control, self-reflection, and skill-building.
- Make sure to show respect for the child’s personal space and physical boundaries during recovery; always ask permission to hug and mutually agree on ideal personal boundaries.
Children in foster care have a wide range of needs, both physical and emotional. This training provides useful practices that can be used to help these children recover and thrive. The training only takes about three hours to complete, but the skills and knowledge it passes along will last a lifetime. We are very proud to work with foster parents to help them recognize what their foster children need in order to help them become survivors.
To learn more about Lauren’s Kids and our work to prevent child sexual abuse through education and awareness and help survivors heal with guidance and support, please visit LaurensKids.org. To access this Trauma Informed Care resource, visit LaurensKids.org/education/resourcestrainings.