Children in foster care have special health care needs. Before foster care, most of these children lived with families that suffered from:

  • Drug abuse
  • Mental health problems
  • Poor education
  • Unemployment
  • Violence
  • Poor parenting skills
  • Involvement with the criminal justice system

The experience of living in out-of-home placement usually brings with it feelings of confusion, worry, fear, sadness, and loss of control. While it is impossible to predict all of the health concerns that these children might have, we know they have many more physical, mental, dental, and developmental health concerns than children who are not in foster care.

Ideally, when children enter foster care, they will remain with their familiar child care provider. However, this may not be possible. Sometimes, children enter child care for the first time when they enter foster care. Also, foster parents may have to enroll children in child care almost immediately after placement.

Common Issues for a Child Transitioning into Child Care Include:

  • Increased difficulty transitioning into child care due to the child also having to adjust to foster care placement and being away from the birth parent(s)
  • Lack of knowledge by early education and child care professionals about how to help a child with a history of trauma
  • Difficulty enrolling a child in child care because a lack of health information, sometimes resulting in a change of placement or use of unlicensed child care providers
  • Behavior problems resulting in the child not being allowed to go back to child care
  • Behavior issues that often lead to suspension or expulsion from child care are based on childhood trauma and include:
    • Acting out toward staff or other children
    • Stealing
    • Ruining property
    • Not following rules
    • Not listening to the child care provider

Advice for Foster Parents

Here are some steps foster parents can take to help the child make a successful transition into the child care program:

  • Visit the program with the child, before she begins attending.
  • Inform early education and child care professionals about the need for extra support because the child is getting used to both your home and to child care.
  • Send a transitional object, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, with the child every day; you can even let the child pick what to bring by offering a few choices. Note: To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, children under 1-year should not have any soft bedding or objects in the crib.
  • Let the child know who will be there to pick him up at end of the day.
  • Let the child know that she will be returning to your home at the end of the day.

If you have questions about foster care in Winchester, Fredericksburg, or Harrisonburg, please feel free to contact us today to learn more and to start the process of becoming a foster parent.