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What To Do When Your Foster Child Runs Away

if your foster child does run away, I suggest reading the teen novel "Pictures of Hollis Woods". It will enlighten you to many foster children's minds and help you realize that running away is often a habit and a defense mechinism for foster children. It doesn't mean you did anything wrong. And it doesn't mean they did either. But how can you help prevent your child from running away again?

Do not scold your child for running away: When your child does come home, do not be mad at them. Although it may be hard to keep your temper when you are worried and angry- opt to tune into your relieved emotions instead. Don't get mad. It will only reinforce your child's behavior by letting them know they got a reaction.

Talk about it: Once your child is safe and home, sit them down and talk about it. Ask them questions such as "Why did you run away", "Have you run away before?", "Where did you go?", and "Did I do something wrong?".

Listen to what they have to say: Listen without judgement to what they say. Let them be open and discuss their issues with you. Let them know that you understand why they ran away. But also let them know that you worry about them, and you want to find other ways they can deal with emotions rather than running away.

Ask them about places they'd like to run away to: Ask them if they could run away to anywhere- where would they go, and why? This can open up a lot of insight into your child's dreams of the future or positive memories of the past- which can create a positive discussion that helps work through emotions involved in running away.

Talk to them about times they've run away before: If your child has run away before, discuss why they've run away. Maybe they've had bad past experiences with foster parents- and they're afraid those experiences will happen again. No matter the reasons they ran away before- always ensure them that they don't need to run away here- they can come to you when they have problems.

Find alternative ways for them to 'run away': There are many safer ways to 'run away' and when your child feels the need to be independent and alone- that's okay. But there are some steps they can take to help all of you stay safe.

Let me know you need to 'leave' and where you're going: Before your child runs away next time, tell them to write a note of where they are going. Have them choose a public place like a library or local food joint. This will give them a way to get away, but also give you a way to find them if they don't come home in an appropriate amount of time. Let them know you'll give them their 'alone time', but if you start to worry- you will come and check up on them.

We can go to a hotel room for a night: Yep, it may sound a bit dramatic, but it works. Sometimes your child doesn't want away from you- they just want out of the house. So let them know that on nights when they just can't stand being home, that you're open to go and stay at a local hotel for a night. It's a safe way to get away together. Opt not to make this into a habit and limit it to once every one or two months.

Things To Teach Your Teenage Foster Child

Many teen foster children will leave foster care when they are 18. This can mean a variety of things. But often times it means they will be thrown out into the real world without any one there to fall back on in case they hit a rough patch. And simple tasks can be so hard when you've never been taught how to do them. If you have a teen in foster care, in your home, I really cannot stress enough how important it is to take the time and teach your kiddo how to do these things. They will make a world of difference later on.


 


How to do laundry: It's a basic thing all kids need to know, but kids in foster care often don't have the chance to learn this simple chore. Show them the basics- like how to separate whites, lights, and darks. When to use bleach. How to measure detergent. And how to clear a dryer vent. All these little things can make a huge difference later on.

How to manage a bank account: I'll admit, I am not good at keeping track of my finances. But I try. And every kid should learn how to budget and how to manage basic bank information. By opening a small bank account for your child, showing them how to manage a checkbook, and teaching them how to move money from their checking to savings is helping prepare them for the real world in a way that may just help them budget rent each month.

How to do taxes: If you don't mind sharing your annual income with your child, involve them when you do your own taxes. If not print extra tax forms, and borrow a 'practice W4' online. Show your kid the basics of doing taxes. They may not remember everything, but you'll give them the tools to know where to start and how to maneuver the often confusing chore of filing taxes.

How to apply for a job: Applying for your first job is so scary! Now imagine, if you turned 18 in the foster are system and were expected to apply for your first job without anyone there to help you out. It would be really scary, wouldn't it? So have your kid practice. Bring home a few applications for them. Walk them through how to fill them out, how to dress for an interview, do mock interviews, and even let them get a small part time job. These are such important life skills that no kid should have to learn the second they turn 18.

How to write a resume: Applications can only go so far. Resumes help people look professional in the work place. And their a necessary skill your kid will need to learn in order to begin to succeed in life. So give them the basics, and help them create a few different resumes for their 'dream job' positions. Not only will you be teaching them something important, you'll be giving them the tools to achieve their career-oriented dreams.

About safe sex: As awkward as this conversation may be- it's one that many foster kids never receive. They're tossed around from home to home. Some foster parents assume that the kids have already been talked to about it. Others just don't feel like it's their place to do so. But all teens need to be educated on safe sex- and why it's important. Find a technique for you and try to educate your teen on STDs, pregnancy prevention, and how waiting for the 'right person' is a lot better than sharing yourself with a lot of the 'wrong people'.

How to cook basic meals: Could you imagine having never cooked a meal as a child? It's not uncommon with foster kids- who's birth parents may not have had much food to cook, and foster parents may have done all the cooking for them. INVOLVE your child in meal time. Show them the basics of measuring, following recipes, cooking meats, and using an oven. It could spare their stomach later on.

How to drive: Many different states (and counties) have different regulations on foster children acquiring a drivers license or even a learner's permit. If you can, push your social worker to help your child acquire a learner's permit. And help teach them the ropes. If you can't get them a learner's permit, try teaching them other driving lessons. You can still teach them the meaning of road signs, appropriate road rules, and the basics of how to drive a car. It's a skill many kids need to learn, and unfortunately not all foster kids get to. But do your best to offer them the right education in driving.

Basic child care: Many children in foster care don't necessarily grow up with the best examples of parenting. But that doesn't mean they themselves won't make amazing parents. Make an effort to teach your foster child appropriate child-care. Things like water safety, fire safety, how to hold an infant, child-safety tips, and nurturing techniques.


Do you also have younger children in your home? Visit my Things To Teach Your Elementary-Aged Foster Child article to read my list more-appropriate for younger kids.

Questions To Ask Your Foster Child To Get Gift Ideas


Buying your first few holiday gifts for a foster child can be difficult (especially if you've only known them a month or two!). But a few simple questions can open up a lot gift ideas. Here's a list of a few fun little questions to ask your child- and how to use their answers to buy personalized gifts for them!

What's your favorite color?
Purchase items for their room (bedding, pillows, rugs etc), new clothes, accessories, and room decor in this color. You could also buy them a matching set of school supplies in their favorite color. Camp accessories for their summer camp. Or for girls- jewelry and hair accessories.

What's your favorite hobby?
Purchase items that coordinate with the hobby. Do they like a certain sport? Buy them some equipment. Do they like science? A science kit would make a great gift. Writing? A notebook and pencils- maybe even a type-writer or writing desk. Get creative. Find out what your kid enjoys doing, and then find items that coordinate with that activity.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Again this is a great way to get ideas. It goes closely with hobbies and you take the same basic approach? Video games? Why not buy them a new one? Doing hair and make-up? Get them new hair care items and a make-up set.

Do you have a favorite sport/ Do you have a favorite team?
This one tends to work better for boys- but sports oriented girls would like these ideas as well. You can either buy them their own sports equipment, a ticket to a game of their favorite team, or sports memorabilia items for their room.

What kinds of gifts do you like?
This isn't necessarily asking "What do you want for your birthday?", but it's giving your child a way to let you know the kinds of things they enjoy receiving as presents.

April Foster Parent Bucket List

Plant Flower Seeds: April is springtime month all across the US and it's the perfect time to plant seeds together! Many perrenial lower seeds typically grow in all parts of the US and are a great way to teach your kids about nature.

Vollunteer At A Local Animal Shelter: Take a day this month to vollunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue group. Help walk and socialize animals. Clean kennel areas. Food and water pets. And play with the furry creatures! It's a great way to teach your child proper animal care and the importance of vollunteering.

Make A Blanket-Fort: It sounds like a silly idea, but blanket forts can be fun for kids of all ages. For teens and tweens challenge them to make it the best and most awesome fort ever. With younger kids- simply allow their imagination to run wild.

Bake A Dessert Together: Teach baking skills tastefully, by baking a dessert together. Taking 15 to 20 minutes to bake cookies or cupcakes is a great way to teach your kid how to follow recipe instructions- and add a bit of a sweet something' to their dinner.

Adopt A Houseplant: Visit a local greenhouse or nursery, and let your child pick out a house plant to keep. It's a kind way to teach them responsibility. Plants like spider plants and aloe are intrigueing to kids- but also very easy to keep alive.