Equipping foster parents with the tools and resources needed to support vulnerable children
The NVFS Foster Care team has trained prospective foster parents for years and provided them with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to support the children in their homes successfully. The team knows from experience — and research confirms — that at the core of a successful placement is a committed, well-trained foster parent.
In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foundation selected the Fairfax County Department of Family Services as a pilot site for testing a new trauma-focused foster parent training curriculum called ARC Reflections. ARC (Attachment, Regulation and Competency) is a practice model for foster families working with children and teens who have experienced trauma. The ARC curriculum is designed to help foster parents:
- get a better understanding of how traumatic stress affects children on many levels,
- increase their ability to regulate their own emotions, and
- use a variety of tools to improve their parenting skills.
It also honors them as on-the-ground professionals, puts their expertise and commitment front and center, and makes them true partners in the effort to help foster children and teens thrive.
NVFS is excited to partner with other Northern Virginia-based treatment foster care (TFC) agencies to offer ARC training to its foster families. In weekly, two-hour sessions, foster parents will gain a better understanding of the trauma the children in their care may have experienced, how that affects their brain development/function and behavior, and how to cultivate strong connections with foster children. The training also addresses the challenges of foster parenting and provides tools for practicing self-care so that parents are equipped to handle any situation that may arise.
“The overall feedback from agency staff and foster parents has been very positive,” Keith Wong, Fairfax County program manager for Foster Care and Adoption, Resource and Support, told The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “We are planning to train every single Fairfax foster parent.”
Veteran NVFS foster parent Annette Lee is also a co-trainer in this model and provides a foster parent perspective.
“I think it’s good to establish skills to help foster families connect with and help the children thrive in foster care,” Lee shared.
“This is an innovative way to train foster parents,” added Nita Lescher, NVFS Treatment Foster Care program manager. “It’s an incredibly hard job, and anything we can do to provide tools and resources is extremely beneficial. It makes the placements more successful and ensures that children have the support they need.”