Foster Families - A Solid Support for Children
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Taiwan; 86% of foster children in previous years were under the age of twelve. As for the reasons why these children were placed into the care of foster families? 63% were abused and neglected. 30% were in care due to financial hardship suffered by their families. A further 19% were in care due to parental incarceration. Foster families provide children with the opportunity to experience a stable family life. For some this is a chance to learn that family interaction can be very different to what they were used to. With this in mind, it is crucial to train and prepare new foster families while continuing services for experienced foster families in the system.
Sandy was a fostered child through Christian Salvation Service’s program. From the observations of her social worker, she appeared timid and unhappy with no sparkle in her eyes when she first met her foster mom. As she became more comfortable with her foster mom, she gradually opened up. The last time her social worker saw Sandy, she was running around in her kindergarten, playing actively with the various equipment. She shined like a whole new person! Her social worker walked with Sandy and her foster mom to the nearby park. Sandy was very playful along the way; she played with the water in the little pond or chase the birds along the route. She was so lively and cheerful.
The social worker observed that Sandy was smiling more and more, and discussed her observations. Sandy's foster mom shared her feelings. The foster mother explained that Sandy was more concerned about whether adults were paying attention than about what toys she played with. Furthermore, Sandy liked interacting with people more, and she was concerned about being rejected. Sandy's foster mother shared that to give Sandy a sense of trust and security, she has learned to show more acceptance to her. As her foster mother, she always respect Sandy’s opinion especially checking on her willingness. Being patient, often playing with her, and not leaving her alone are required. Occasionally when Sandy isn't reasonable, her foster mom will take the time to reason with her, or she uses a timeout so that she can understand why her behavior isn't proper. In this way, Sandy calms down and try to understand.
Under this considerate care from her foster mom, Sandy began to play with her foster mom, asks for affection, and even express her feelings directly, saying "Auntie, I like you." She also expressed her needs in a lively and natural way, just like any other child. In kindergarten, Sandy has been responsive to her teachers and participates in all the activities. She is also a caring little helper to her teachers. She gets along well with the other children, they play together, and Sandy looks forward to going to her kindergarten. The fearful look that Sandy displayed when she first arrived at her new home is gone.
Recruiting foster families is a long-term project. There are still many children in need who are waiting for adults to help and care for them. When the idea of fostering is unfamiliar to society, the chances of a child finding a suitable foster home are slim; however, once the society starts to learn about foster care and its benefits, the likelihood of these children finding stable care in a stable family is much increased. Even if the need is only temporary, the experience is still incredibly touching and beneficial for all that is involved. In the month in which we commemorate International Children's Day, let's keep these children in our thoughts and pray for all children. Every child deserves a warm and loving home.