A mother holding a small foster child who once experienced trauma and is kissing his forehead while sitting on the ground of their home in Springfield, IL.

Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma

When a child experiences any level of trauma, there are significant impacts that can result in emotional and behavioral decline. As a trained and dedicated foster parent, it can be challenging to support your child through their recovery process, especially if you are unsure of how to respond to their needs. CASA of Sangamon County is the top resource for foster parents in Springfield, IL that are needing assistance parenting their trauma-responsive foster child. Our experts have put together some tips and information on how to have a positive parenting experience for both you and your foster child.

Understanding Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can take many forms, from physical abuse and emotional neglect to devastating events like a car accident or natural disaster that leaves a child parentless. These experiences can have a profound impact on a child’s sense of safety and security, and they can lead to long-term effects on their mental health and overall well-being. When parenting your foster child, it’s important to keep in mind this child has suffered from trauma in order to prevent further harm.

CASA of Sangamon County advocates help educate foster parents about how to be consistent caregivers to a traumatized or neglected child. We are here to help the child move forward and find healing. Without a safe and loving environment to heal, trauma can begin to have permanent damage on the child as they grow older. To have a positive impact on a child who has experienced trauma, it’s important to understand their circumstances and be the stable adult they need.

Identify & Eliminate Triggers

One of the most critical steps in supporting a child who has experienced trauma is to identify and eliminate any triggers in and outside of your home. A trigger is anything that reminds the child of their traumatic experience and causes them to feel anxious or scared. Triggers can be different for every child, but some common examples include:

  • Loud noises
  • Specific smells
  • Arguing
  • Certain situations
  • Specific objects

Once you have identified your foster child’s triggers, it is essential to create a safe and supportive environment that avoids or minimizes exposure to any emotionally harmful situation.

At CASA of Sangamon County, we work with foster caregivers to identify and eliminate any triggers in a child’s environment to ensure a long-lasting and positive impact for the child. Contact us at 217.522.2241 to learn more about foster parenting opportunities in Springfield, IL.

Caregiver Qualities To Help A Child Recover from Trauma

As a caregiver, there are several qualities that you can cultivate to help your foster child recover from trauma. CASA of Sangamon County has a strict process when working with foster parents and is eager to monitor these households to ensure a good fit for the child. We recommend trained individuals that possess the following qualities to help a child recover from trauma:

  1. Patience: Recovery from trauma is a gradual process, and it may take time for your foster child to feel comfortable and safe again. Patience is key in supporting your child through this process, as it may require repetition, gentle encouragement, and consistent reassurance.
  2. Empathy: Children who have experienced trauma may feel isolated or alone. It is essential to show empathy and compassion for your child’s experiences, even if you do not fully understand them.
  3. Consistency: Children who have experienced trauma may struggle with trust and consistency. By providing a consistent routine and structure, you can help your child feel safe and secure.
  4. Active Listening: Listening to your child’s concerns and fears is critical in helping them feel heard and supported. Active listening involves giving your full attention, asking open-ended questions, and responding with empathy and understanding.
  5. Self-Care: As a caregiver, it is essential to prioritize your own self-care needs. Taking care of your own physical and emotional health can help you stay grounded and be more effective in supporting your child.

How a CASA Advocate Can Help

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer who advocates for the best interests of children who have experienced trauma and are involved in the court system. A CASA advocate can provide valuable support and resources for both the child and their caregiver, from consistent advocacy to ensure their well-being and protection to emotional support and monitoring during their abuse, neglect, or trauma case. CASA of Sangamon County is an experienced and certified organization that helps children and foster parents navigate the court system while providing resources and consistent support every step of the way. Parenting a child who has experienced trauma can be challenging, but with the right tools and support, it is possible to help your foster child heal.

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