One of the hardest parts about fostering children is that they come with varying needs. Some kids have developmental delays, some may be autistic, and others may have medical issues like asthma or diabetes. It can be difficult to know how to best meet a foster child’s needs when you’re not sure what their specific diagnosis is. The following tips can help you to better care for a foster child with special needs.
1. Learn Everything You Can
Many foster children have been through trauma, and this has the potential to affect their development or behavior in some way. Many of these children may be diagnosed with something like attention deficit disorder, reactive attachment disorder, anxiety disorders, and/or mood disorders. Knowing what these conditions are can help you to better care for your foster child and interact with them, especially if they have a tendency towards acting out or failing in school.
2. Understand the Law
A person suffering from one of any number of special needs is entitled by law to the same educational opportunities as other children within the foster care system. In order to make sure that your child with special needs gets the support they are entitled to, you should learn everything you can about the laws which govern their process of education.
3. Meet Your Foster Child’s Needs as Best You Can
Many children in the foster care system have been through trauma and abuse, so it is important to be sensitive when caring for them. Even if you do not have the education or training to meet a foster child’s special needs, it is possible that social services can make arrangements for you to get what help you need. Additionally, some schools will provide a volunteer tutor or aide as needed.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Your foster child’s needs are likely to change at some point, and this may be difficult for you or your family to handle. Don’t hesitate to call social services if you feel that they aren’t meeting the special needs of your foster kids. These professionals will work with you to come up with a plan which will make sure that your child gets the care and support they deserve.
5. Keep Your Foster Child’s Needs in Mind When Enrolling Them in Activities
Many children need special attention when it comes to activities outside of school, such as sports teams or church groups. If you want to give your foster child an opportunity to enjoy these experiences, work with social services and the child’s therapist to create a schedule that allows them to participate.
6. Remember That You’re Not Alone
There are support groups out there for parents of children with special needs. If you find it hard to understand or care for your foster child, you may want to reach out for help through one of these groups in order to avoid feelings of isolation.
7. Contact Your Local Foster Care Agency or Adoption Agency
If you have any additional questions, don’t be afraid to get in contact with us. Most of them have a technical assistance department that can help answer your specific concerns about caring for someone with special needs. You may also want to check with your local department of social services if you aren’t sure about how to care for a foster child with special needs.