2005 Jordan Institute
10, No. 3
Strategies for Agencies and Workers
Agencies wishing to enhance mental health and educational outcomes for the children they serve should do all they can to improve the stability of foster placements (Pecora et al., 2005). To do this they should consider the following:
- Give caregivers full information. Foster parents’ role as emotional stabilizers is critical; their influence upon the child is far reaching (Friedman, 2003). Complete information will help them advocate for the child and provide support.
- Build a crisis support plan that really works. Ask caregivers questions such as “What would you need if the child had a terrible day and nothing you could do would make him calm down? What would you need to feel safe?” (Pitonyak, 2002).
- Increase availability of respite services to give foster parents a break; provide timely crisis intervention services to prevent disruption (Pecora et al., 2005).
- Provide specialized training to therapists who work with children and youth to enable them to properly assess and treat PTSD, depression, and other disorders (Pecora et al., 2005).
- Provide education and training for frontline staff and supervisors on trauma assessment, evidence-based trauma treatment, and the importance of traumatic reminders.
- Provide training and regular meetings to foster parents and other caregivers of children with PTSD; emphasize the child’s ability to recover and heal (Pitonyak, 2002).
- Use a child trauma profile instrument in the assessment and interview process so workers have a complete understanding of the child’s trauma history.
- Given the higher rate of unmet mental health needs among children of color—African American and Hispanic children are least likely to receive services, and they need to display more pathology to be referred for mental health services (BPNP, 2003)—agencies should make a special effort to integrate culturally responsive mental health services with foster care programs (Pecora et al., 2005).
References for this and other articles in this issue