Now that you have thought about things that make it more likely for a child to be abused or neglected, think next about those children who have already been abused or neglected. Here are some problems children have after they are abused or neglected. How do you think abuse and neglect cause these problems?
• Slow physical development.
• Slow development of language skills.
• Slow social and emotional development.
• Learning problems.
• Poor coordination.
• Problems getting along with other children.
Next, you can quickly check to see if your foster child is having significant behavior and adjustment problems. Here’s how.
Does the youngster seem to be getting along well or do you see behavior or other problems that concern you? Trust your good judgement and experience. Think about your foster child and answer Yes or No to these questions. The questions you answer “No” show you where the problems are.
Is your foster child:
1. In good health and not often ill?
2. Usually energetic and interested in what is going on in his or her world?
3. Normally relaxed and comfortable with him/herself?
4. Self-confident in most situations?
5. Eating regularly in normal amounts?
6. Staying away from alcohol or other drugs?
7. Happy and in a good mood most of the time?
8. Well-behaved most of the time?
9. Managing his or her anger and temper responsibly?
10. Feeling successful most of the time?
11. Responsible and dependable most of the time?
12. Dealing well with most day-to-day stresses and pressures?
13. Making and keeping friends his or her age?
14. Involved with friends who you know and approve of?
15. Going to school regularly?
16. Doing well in school?
17. Finishing homework and other assignments on time?
18. Cooperating with teachers and others at school?
19. Involved in school activities and projects?
20. Talking with you and other adults about his or her activities, friends, and problems?
Now that you have answered the questions, how do you decide if your foster child has problems that need extra help? If you answered Yes to each question, your foster child is doing fine. If not, the child’s problems need extra attention. Talk first with the child to see what he or she thinks and feels about the problems. Also, talk about the problems with the youngster’s caseworker, case manager, or doctor.
Foster children have the normal issues and difficulties most children have but also have additional risks that result from being abused and neglected. These issues are compounded by the children being removed from the home and family they have always known. Being placed in your home, the home of a stranger, only adds to their trauma. But if you are up to the challenge and opportunity, Their lives will improve and their futures will be much brighter, as will yours.
Good luck and thank you for caring, for making a difference, for assuring safety, permanence and long-term well-being for a child.