Advocating for your foster child is a necessary task, but one that can be difficult. Experiencing trauma has a lasting effect on the brain’s ability to learn, and many foster children have gone through some type of traumatic experience. This means that the child may need special accommodations in school to be successful. As the foster parent, it is your responsibility to make sure the child is getting the necessary education. Here are four things a foster parent needs to do to be the best possible advocate.
Identify what your foster child needs
The first step in advocating for your foster child is learning what exactly it is they need. This starts in the home. Learn what it is that makes your child feel safe and cared for. Once you know what makes your child feel safe, share that with their teacher and the school administrators. This will help them create a learning environment that they can thrive in. A safe brain is one that is much more capable of learning.
Be the team leader
Being an advocate for your child means you need to be in frequent communication with the other members of their team. You will need to email or meet regularly to discuss things like classroom behavior, homework, and other things that directly impact the child’s day. If possible, try to have the majority of communication done by email, so there is a documented paper trail. This comes in handy if you need to seek changes in service, additional support for the child or further evaluations. If your child’s school is unwilling or unable to provide the services your child requires, inquire in writing about what community resources would help meet the need.
Your foster child will benefit from having the school experience feel as normal as possible. To provide this, sign your child up for extra-curricular activities and take part in community events. Whether it’s joining the soccer team or learning an instrument in the band, these experiences will help give your child a well-rounded education. If you’re able, volunteer in your child’s classroom, so they have a familiar face. If your child has a friend in the classroom, try to organize play dates outside of school so they can form a strong bond with the friend. All of this helps you build your child’s social and emotional skills.
You may think you know what is best for your child, but that may not always be the case. Your child’s educational team may sometimes have your child’s best interest in mind, but that may not align with what you feel is best. With any suggestion made, take the time to read and learn more about it to see if it’s something that will fit for your child. Speak with your team about how they plan to implement this change. Brainstorm with your teacher about what classroom management techniques can be used to the aid of your child. Listen to their suggestions and be sure to consider them thoroughly before making the final decision.