A National Training for Foster and Adoptive Parents
The Imprint is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program, a group of 12 former foster youth who have completed congressional internships.
The annual program is overseen by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that raises awareness about the needs of children without families. Each of the participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C.
Today we highlight the recommendation from Gianna Bottom, a senior at Illinois State University.
Bottom proposes that Congress mandate and fund the Children’s Bureau to develop a national, standardized training “to be required of all adoptive parents and foster parents.” Among the topics she would include in the training are coping mechanisms, de-escalation techniques, first aid and intervention techniques related to youth mental health.
A panel of mental health experts would continue to update this training, and foster parents would need to take a refresher version of it yearly.
Bottom writes that research suggests that as many as 80% of foster youth experience mental health problems, far more than the national average for all children. Meanwhile, she argues, the absence of federal standards on how caregivers are trained leads to disparate requirements from one state to the next.
In Their Own Words
“I became untrusting of people and developed mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. I lacked access to the mental health services and supports I knew I needed. While my adoptive parents tried to help me, they did not have the training to enable them to know how best to handle and support an older child with this level of trauma.”