— Skylight Trust

All children deserve to be safe and nurtured. "Foster" means to take care of and to help to grow and develop.

What is a Foster Family? 

A family that takes a child into their home and takes care of them. A Foster carer may or may not be relatives of the child, but they are acting as parents to that child while they are living with them.

When a child must leave their known home, they are likely to go through a period of grieving before they can look towards the future with hope, again. There can be four stages in this grieving process.

Shock - they may appear aimless, quite agreeable but somewhat disconnected. This may last for a few days or longer.

Protest - they may be angry, showing this in different ways. For example, fighting, destroying things (often their own things), self-harming, toileting regression, running back to a familiar place.

This is a difficult time for everyone. You can try to encourage them to talk about how they feel. It is very important that they can express their feelings.

Despair/hopelessness - they may appear not to care about anything, become depressed, disorganised, quiet and have no interest in doing anything, with anyone. Some children may exhibit such behaviours as wetting, inability to feed themselves, headbanging, or rocking.

This is very painful - try to be accepting and understanding of their behaviour and encourage them to express how they are feeling.

Recovery - can only begin once the first three stages are complete and this can happen quite suddenly.

It is important to give foster children an understanding of their history, culture, whakapapa and where appropriate connection to wider whānau to help them form their identity and sense of belonging.

When your foster child leaves your home, they may go through all the stages of grieving again. This will partly depend on how long they have been with you and where they are going. It will be easier for everyone if the transition to the new home, or family home, can be made slowly and there is good communication with everyone involved.

As the foster carer, you may also grieve when your foster child leaves you. Allow yourself time to grieve. It is only natural to feel sadness and loss.

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

Request a Pack Library

Online Shop

Our online shop features Skylight's own publications and other specialist titles from New Zealand and around the world. Search titles, keywords or category headings by clicking the shop button.