How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Trauma Responses

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How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Trauma Responses

When you decide to open your home to a foster child, you are choosing to open your heart to a child who needs it most. The simple fact is that when children are taken into the foster care system, it is always already a traumatic event

Being separated from your parents, perhaps even from your siblings, and moving into a new home will almost inevitably trigger feelings of fear and loss. Children may suffer from guilt and shame in leaving their loved ones behind. They may even blame themselves for being removed from the home.

However, the decision to place a child into foster care is never one to be taken lightly, and it typically follows a painful history of abuse and neglect. Being a foster parent, then, means more than simply loving a child. It also means learning to recognize the signs of trauma and understanding how to help your foster child begin to heal.

Understanding the Effects of Trauma

One of the most important lessons to learn about trauma is that it doesn’t just end with the traumatic event. Its effects can reverberate for a lifetime, impacting the child’s physical and mental health for years to come. 

Sometimes the effects of trauma are not always obvious. Trauma responses in children are often mistaken for other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This is why, before taking a foster child into your home, it is incumbent upon you to become informed about childhood trauma and its diverse and sometimes unpredictable manifestations. Armed with such knowledge, you can create a home and family environment that can help to mitigate those impacts.

A Nurturing Environment

Children who have experienced trauma need love and security above all. For many of these children, healing begins with the experience of having a safe space to retreat to when life and memories become overwhelming. 

This is especially important for children who may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or who may have other sensory processing disorders. A key strategy for helping calm children dealing with the emotional repercussions of trauma, particularly for children with ASD who may have challenges articulating or coping with their feelings, is to create a sensory-friendly room

Use soothing colors, such as soft blues and greens, as well as comforting textures, such as velvet, plush rugs and blankets, and soft leather upholstery. This can provide your little one with a safe haven to retreat to when they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or sensorily overstimulated. 

The Impact on Self-Image

In addition to the risk of depression and anxiety associated with childhood trauma, a growing body of evidence suggests that those who have experienced trauma are also vulnerable to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and the eating disorders often connected with it. 

Children who have suffered neglect and abuse, these studies show, often internalize the abuse, tending to blame themselves rather than the abuser who is likely a parent or another loved one. Unfortunately, however, this tendency can all too easily mutate into self-hatred and a poor self-image, including a negative body image. 

For this reason, you will need to be on guard for signs of body dysmorphia and eating disorders. For instance, if the child fixates on their appearance, especially on a perceived physical flaw, or if they exhibit unhealthy eating behaviors such as emotionally overeating, eating too little, or excusing themselves to the restroom shortly after meals, then there may be a problem that requires care from a trauma-informed counselor.

Even if your foster child is not showing such troubling signs, it’s important to be aware of these vulnerabilities and to work to create an environment that supports a positive body image. The beauty industry, for example, is now increasingly endorsing a healthier and more diverse image of beauty. This is something that your child should see you actively embrace, not only in the way you speak of and treat your own body but also in the images you uphold as beautiful.

The Takeaway

There is nothing more important or more rewarding than opening your heart and home to a child in need. But caring for a foster child means understanding the effects that trauma has likely had on your little one. With the proper tools, information, and support, however, you can help your child heal from the wounds of their past and move forward into the happy and healthy future they deserve.

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Upcoming April Events

AFFEC’s 2nd annual Art Auction

April 19 - May 10, 2021


Spring is such a wonderful season, and this year it is the theme of AFFEC’s upcoming 2nd annual Art Auction. All of the artwork has been created by artists of all ages, from kids to adults! You can have a chance to participate in the auction when it opens the last week of April. Lasting for three weeks, this inspirational and artistic event raises money for A Family For Every Child’s many programs in order to support the amazing work that is being done for foster youth!

Last year raised over $1,200. Would you be willing to help raise money for AFFEC and help us exceed our goal of $3,000?

Learn more about our second annual Art Auction by visiting our website. For more information and to get answers to your questions, feel free to contact Alex Graham at: or 541-343-2856.


Eugene Marathon

April 23 – May 2, 2021


The Eugene Marathon is coming up soon! Although the race won’t be in-person this year, its virtual experience means that participants can run anywhere or follow the markers that point out the regular routes. You can run for free by joining the Run for a Reason program and running for AFFEC! The Run for a Reason program makes it possible to enjoy the Eugene Marathon run while raising money to support foster youth and AFFEC’s many programs at the same time!

You can learn more about Run for a Reason by visiting their webpage. Hoping to raise $50,000 for local and national charities, Run for a Reason provides an excellent fundraising incentive. Fundraising closes the Saturday after the race, and the minimum amounts for fundraising are $250 for the Marathon and Half Marathon, and $100 for the Eugene 5k.

Here’s how you can run for AFFEC! First, you can register as part of the AFFEC team by following this link. Then, AFFEC will get back to you with a registration code for your specific race. Next, you can go out and fundraise, letting others know what you’re doing and the great reason why you’re doing it! Finally, the run will be taking place from April 23 to May 2, so don’t miss out!

Contact Alex Graham at to ask about how you can run for A Family For Every Child!

Hero for a Day

“Don’t forget, you are the hero of your own story.” – Greg Boyle


Although 2020 brought us many challenges, it is the hard times when heroes are able to make the best differences. From firefighters and medical workers to truck drivers and caring neighbors, people have been able to make a difference in the lives of those around them in many caring and heroic ways over the past year. A Family for Every Child wants to help children from the community and the foster care system know that they, too, can be heroes in the world today.

A Family for Every Child is bringing you their virtual Hero for a Day event, premiering on Saturday, March 13th, 2021. These three hours of fun for kids ages 2 to 18 will begin at 12pm via Zoom so that you can participate wherever you are.


Free registration is available now on the AFFEC website. With registration, kids will receive a free Hero kit filled with costume accessories, activity supplies and other fun surprises so that they can fully participate in this exciting event. 


Hero for a Day will be an action-filled afternoon featuring Goshen/Pleasant Hill Fire and Rescue, Eugene Science Center, Cascades Raptor Center, Bricks and Minifigs, Adventure! Children’s Museum, F.E.T.C.H. and more! Kids will be able to see super heroes and community heroes as well as people from a variety of professions. Dog trainers, firefighters and medical workers will be able to share about what they do to help out in the community, and kids will also be able to participate in fun activities, craft projects, LEGO building, and Q & A. 

“My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place—police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces.”

– Sidney Sheldon


The heart behind this event is thanking first responders and community heroes for their daily service for our community. This event also hopes to raise awareness of foster children and the foster care system, and to empower kids to know that they can be heroes. Everyone has the ability to truly make a heroic difference, and we want to show kids that we believe in their potential to do just that.


“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” – Maya Angelou


For more information, contact Alex Graham at or call (541)-343-2856. You can also visit our website to learn more about AFFEC’s Hero for a Day event.


The inspirational hero quotes in this post were found in Stephanie Kirby’s article “50 Hero Quotes to Inspire Everyone to Make a Difference.” Click this link to check out more quotes and be inspired!

Introducing Responsibilities to Your Children


Introducing Responsibility at Appropriate Ages

As a parent, one of the most daunting tasks is preparing your child to be an adult. This requires a forward-thinking attitude, confidence, and an ability to trust and support your kids without doing so in a way that earns you that dreaded “helicopter parent” label.

Here are a few common responsibilities that children are given as well as a suggested time and manner in which to introduce them.

Getting Their First Phone

Smartphones are part of the modern lifestyle. They help with everything from receiving messages to keeping track of the time, the weather, and even your health. Tech titan Bill Gates waited until his kids were 14 years old to get their first smartphones. Even so, in 2016, the average age that a kid got their first smartphone was 10.3 years old

Why the discrepancy? Because the primary factor behind when to give your child a smartphone doesn’t have to do with age. It revolves around maturity. This can be tough, as denying your child their phone can be difficult when all of their friends already have one. 

Nevertheless, it’s important to consider if your child is responsible and trustworthy enough to have full access to the internet, text messaging, and all of the tools that come with a fully-operational phone. If you feel this isn’t the case, you don’t necessarily have to deny them any phone at all. There are kid-friendly phones and apps available that enable you to introduce your child to a smartphone without giving them critical things like unfettered internet or social media access. 

Handling Their Finances

The way that you handle money can make or break your lifestyle. As such, it’s an essential part of preparing a child for their future. 

Nevertheless, you don’t want to simply hand over the user ID and password for your online bank portal or your E*TRADE account and then leave your kids to figure things out in real-time. It’s important to introduce money concepts slowly, starting at a young age. 

For instance, when your kids are in elementary and middle school, you can begin giving them small jobs that they can use to earn an allowance. This helps them begin to understand concepts like bringing in an income as well as saving and spending their money. If you would like to teach your child a higher degree of responsibility with their money, there are debit cards made specifically for kids that can receive regular allowance, allow you to give bonuses for extra chores, help them to save up for specific items, and more.

Once your child is in high school, you can increase the stakes over time. For instance, you can:

  • Help them establish their budget as their income and expenses increase.
  • Open up a credit card with your child as an authorized user before they turn 18 so that they can learn to handle credit with you by their side.
  • Explain to them how to set aside cash for taxes and save up money for a car or college.

Finances are best introduced by slowly increasing your child’s involvement and responsibilities throughout their young lives. This way, they can be more prepared for adult experiences like getting their first job.

Landing Their First Job

Most Americans agree that a child is ready for their first job around 15 to 16 years old. Much like a smartphone, though, you should consider your child’s maturity level, as well as their current time commitments and work load.

It is a parent’s duty to shepherd their child into their first job with support and advice. This will allow them to handle a myriad of different responsibilities, from showing up on time to being a team player, managing work-life balance, and maintaining commitments. 

Being Responsible for Your Child’s Responsibilities

Responsibilities are a critical part of the maturation process — for adults and children alike. Part of your parenting journey revolves around the ability to take ownership over the job of introducing responsibilities to your children at the right ages.

So make a list of responsibilities, like those listed above, that you want to teach your child. Then consider when each one should be introduced, so that you’re ready to handle each item when the time comes.

 Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

The LifeBook Program


One of A Family For Every Child’s many programs is the Lifebook Program, which provides special photo album scrapbooks that are put together for foster children.

Life Books and Welcome Books

A LifeBook is a meaningful collection of pictures and memorabilia designed for foster children. These scrapbooks are typically made of 8.5 x 11 pages that are compiled in an album or binder after being decorated with pictures and mementos from the child’s life. These scrapbooks are able to explain the story of the child’s birth, information about their birth parents, and the reason for their separation. The pages also include important moments of their life and adoption.

A Welcome Book is a wonderful resource that helps introduce an adopted child to their new family. These scrapbooks, which are usually made of 8 x 8 pages, help the newly adopted child become familiar with the things they will encounter as a part of this family. The family is able to introduce themselves to the adopted child through this album by including information and pictures about family members, relatives, pets, the kid’s bedroom, the house, and their school.

These books are a free resource for parents or caseworkers who would like to put one together for a foster child. When a caseworker or parent requests a book, a Lifebook co-coordinator gathers together a collection of pages that have been made by volunteers. The pages are hand-selected according to the personality and preferences of the child. The pages are then mailed off to the parent or caseworker who puts the pages together with pictures before giving the book to the child.


These special photo album scrapbooks can make a unique impact on the children who receive them. They have the ability to explain hard things to the child, such as how they entered the foster program and into an adopted family. It is an opportunity to give the child information about their birth parents that they may otherwise not know. These scrapbooks can also help the child understand and become comfortable with the vocabulary associated with the foster program and adoption. Because most of the children receiving these books don’t have many pictures of themselves, these scrapbooks can give the child a special sense of security, stability and a positive identity.

Best of all, these scrapbooks are visible reminders of the important events in a child’s life and provide special memories that they can always look back on. In preserving these life stories, they also provide a wonderful way for a found family to acknowledge and honor the life that the child has had before coming into their home. Space is left at the end of the book to allow the child to look forward to a future of making new memories with their found family.

Volunteer Opportunities 

Volunteers can help out with the Lifebook program in several ways:

Donations of scrapbooking supplies are welcome. Some supplies such as stamps or punches cannot be used, but other items such as paper, stickers and adhesives are welcome and needed.

Because these scrapbooks are a free resource to parents and caseworkers, monetary donations are also welcome. These monetary donations can ensure that a parent or caseworker will not have to pay for postage when the scrapbook pages get shipped. If you are interested in making a cash donation, please make sure that you designate the donation for the Life and Welcome Books so that it can be sure to be used for this purpose.

Volunteers can also be involved in helping make the scrapbook pages. To get involved and to find out how to deliver the pages to AFFEC, you can contact a Lifebook Co-Coordinator. These pages do not need to be elaborate, as they need to have room for pictures and the kids’ own personalization. The scrapbook pages are created in a variety of categories including: babies, girls and boys, brothers and sisters, grandparents, parents, birthdays, holidays, seasons, school, sports, pets, faith, new rooms or places in a house, friends and more.

More Information

For more information, follow these links to learn more about:

The Lifebook Program

Ways to donate to this program

How to request a Lifebook


You can also contact a LifeBook Co-Coordinator:

 Gail VanGundy

 Lifebook Co-Coordinator

 541-525-3500 (call or text)

It’s Not Just COVID-19: Keeping Your Kids Healthy This Winter


Let’s face it: Parenting has always been scary. But it’s especially so when you’re trying to keep your little ones safe in the face of a pandemic. You’d do anything to protect them. But while the world’s attention may be focused on COVID-19, there are other, perhaps even more significant health threats, parents need to guard against.


It might come as a surprise, but COVID-19 and the seasonal flu share some similarities. Both are infections that can easily be spread through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and even breathing and speaking near others. 

As frightening as COVID-19 may be, it seems to be the seasonal flu that poses the greatest risk to children in particular, especially those under 5. While children are by no means immune to the coronavirus or its severest complications, they appear to be far less susceptible to the worst impacts of the disease than are adults. 

For the flu, though, children don’t seem to enjoy such protections, which is why an annual flu shot is strongly recommended for almost all children. For children six months and older, the flu shot is generally safe and effective, not only protecting them from potentially life-threatening flu but also possibly adding a layer of protection against the coronavirus.

Common Viral Infections

Every parent knows that children are little Petri dishes on two feet. Several common childhood viruses can pose particular threats to your child. Luckily, modern medicine has given us quite a few effective means of preventing many of them: vaccinations and antibiotics.

Measles, chickenpox, and viral meningitis are especially worrying both because of their severity and because of their easy community spread. A single outbreak in a school or amusement parks, for instance, can rapidly infect dozens or even hundreds of children. 

The good news is that there are safe and effective vaccines to prevent many of these illnesses, particularly measles and chickenpox. The bad news is that, in the face of the national lockdowns and widespread fears of the coronavirus, many parents are delaying or even skipping life-saving childhood immunizations entirely.

This is a dangerous situation because these viral infections can’t just be cured with a simple antibiotic. In fact, antibiotics are not effective for viruses at all. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. That common misconception has not only led to overprescription of antibiotics but also the emergence of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, such as MRSA.  

For viral infections though, there are few therapies, other than a handful of antiviral medications, that can be used to treat the symptoms. This is what makes prevention so crucial, from ensuring that your children are up to date on all their vaccinations, including the annual flu shot to practicing impeccable hygiene. This means washing your hands often and keeping surfaces sanitized in order to prevent the proliferation of microbes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends handwashing as one of the most important means of preventing the spread of COVID. This goes for most other infections.

Healthy Mind, Heart, and Body

Protecting your children’s health, though, is about more than trying to shield them from infection. It’s also about protecting their hearts and minds in this frightening time. So even as you and your little ones are wearing your masks, social distancing, washing your hands, and getting your vaccines and other essential care, don’t forget emotional care

If the pandemic is scary for you, imagine how much more so it is for young ones. Remember that they’re taking their cues from you. Model calm and teach your children how to manage stress and anxiety, but let your children know it’s okay and normal to be scared, to have worries and questions. 

And then show your children how to deal with those emotions. Give them a safe, calm space. Perhaps provide older children with a journal where they can freely express their fears and frustrations. Above all, don’t forget to give yourself the same gift, because to take care of them, you also have to take care of yourself.

The Takeaway

In the last few months, COVID-19 has come to dominate our world. But when it comes to keeping our children healthy, there are other threats we must keep in mind. Fortunately, as parents, we’re far from powerless. The key is not to let the fear of the virus distract you from the many different kinds of care your child needs and deserves.

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Teaching Your Child Mindfulness


Mindfulness has become a bit of a ‘buzzword’ in the mental health community. But, it’s for a good reason. It is a technique that is used to help with everything from anxiety to overwhelming stress. It can be especially helpful when it comes to easing the anxiety of children who may have gone through some type of trauma or stressful situation. 

One of the strategies of self-regulation that counselors use is promoting self-awareness. Mindfulness and self-regulation are closely related in that regard, as the practice allows your child to stop, breathe, and focus on the present moment rather than the past or future. 

Teaching your child how to be more mindful in their everyday lives shows them that their mental health is important and should be taken care of. It is a valuable life lesson that they can take with them well into adulthood to better manage stress or anything the world might throw their way. 

Why is Mindfulness Important? 

Up to 80% of children in the foster system have mental health conditions of some kind. Even after getting adopted, children can still deal with mental health issues for years to come. In some cases, things like counseling or therapy are the best options. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can help your child with at home that will allow them to better manage some of their symptoms. 

That’s why mindfulness is so important. 

Because mindfulness focuses on the present, it can allow your child to let go of the things in the past that hurt them or that they might be scared of. There are both physical and mental benefits of practicing mindfulness. Some of the physical benefits include: 

Reduced symptoms of stress

Reduced pain

Reduced sleep issues

Reduced gastrointestinal problems

From a mental or emotional standpoint, mindfulness can help your child to practice more self-control, become more adaptable, and improve their mental clarity. It is a technique that can and should be used in moments that feel too overwhelming to handle. 

Techniques You Can Teach Your Child

Simply put, mindfulness is about focusing on breathing and the present moment in the world around you. When you are practicing mindfulness, everything from the past and future goes away. 

One way to express this to your child is to tell them to imagine their thoughts as clouds floating above them. The clouds can pass through freely (meaning, it’s okay to let those thoughts come in), but you cannot hang onto them. The thoughts eventually disappear. The result is typically a more relaxed state where worries of the past or future don’t feel so overwhelming. 

Belly breathing is another great mindfulness technique. You can begin by having your child take a moment to notice their breath, its pace, what it feels like. Then, have them lay down and place one hand on their chest and one on their belly. As they inhale, they want to fill up their belly like a balloon and as they exhale they can allow the balloon to deflate. Since our breath often tends to stay up in our chest, this way of breathing may feel counterintuitive. However, it is shown to trigger a relaxation response in the body.

If your child has mastered this technique, you can encourage them to practice counting while they breathe: in through the nose for 4, hold for 4, and slowly let the air out of their belly and chest for 8. 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is another engaging mindfulness activity to practice. Take turns naming five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.

Lastly, there are tons of free guided meditations you can access online! Taking some time out of the day to listen to one of these together is a great way to encourage regular mindfulness.

Creating the Best Environment

While the practice of mindfulness can be done anywhere, it’s a good idea to set your child up for success with the right environment. For example, studies have shown that being out in nature can improve mental health and reduce stress. Or, you can bring nature into your home by creating a special spot or room for relaxation. Adding plants to any room in your house can promote mental health by: 

Increasing creativity

Boosting focus

Strengthening memory

Decreasing stress and anxiety

Boosting mood

Having a specific area where your child can close their eyes, focus on their breathing, and stay in tune with the present can make the practice of mindfulness easier for them. It only takes a few minutes a day to get into the mindfulness mindset, and it is a skill that will be helpful to them throughout their lives. So, share the importance of mindfulness with your child and guide them through the best techniques to make it a habit.


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn 


How to Talk With Your Child About the Pandemic and Ease Their Fears


It’s normal to feel uncertain, confused, and even scared by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC has even released a list of people/groups who respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis. That list includes children and teens. 

Even if you, yourself, are feeling uncertain and scared, it’s important to talk to your child about their fears regarding the pandemic. Talking to your children about their health can (and should) start at a young age, no matter the state of the world, using appropriate language for that age. By having open communication about their health and starting those conversations early, you can encourage them to make lasting healthy habits. 

It’s also important to talk to them about the state of the world. Children may see things on television or hear things from other people and get scared. As their parent, knowing how to appropriately discuss what is happening can ease those fears and keep them safe at the same time. 

So, how can you talk with your child about the pandemic? 

Making Sure Your Child Understands What’s Going On

It’s easy for the ever-changing situation surrounding this pandemic to be confusing and scary for adults. So, imagine how your child might feel if they’re only getting bits and pieces of information. 

Making sure they have the right information can help to alleviate those fears. Again, using age-appropriate language is key, but don’t be afraid to tell your child about some of the realities that are happening. Let them know that it is okay for them to feel a certain way, because everyone responds to COVID-19 in their own way

For children, things like social isolation and not seeing their friends can be especially difficult, so it’s important to talk to them about why those measures are being put in place. You can also discuss how the pandemic is impacting other people, including senior citizens, children in foster care, businesses, and in-person events. You may be able to turn your child’s fears into motivation and find ways you can serve your community as a family. 

Keeping Them Safe

In addition to understanding what the pandemic is, your child needs to know how to stay safe and healthy during this time. 

Currently, most states have different rules and orders in place regarding the safety of children, and as the school year draws nearer, districts are already taking extra precautions. Some are opening virtually, while others are doing a combination of eLearning and in-person. Some schools, however, are opening fully in-person. Whether your child is school-age or not, it’s important that they know how to stay safe. So, before they go to school, preschool, or a playgroup, be sure they know how to: 

Wear a mask

Wash their hands

Practice proper hygiene when sneezing/coughing

Social distancing is difficult for children, but it’s still a good idea to teach your child that practice, as well. When you tell them it is about their health and wellbeing and that you want to keep them safe, they will be more likely to listen and feel less worried about possibly getting sick. 

Ways to Adapt to a “New Normal” 

One of the best ways to ease some of your child’s uncertainties and fears is to keep things as normal as possible. That might feel next to impossible right now. But, there are ways in which you can ease your child’s anxiety that can be done safely, either from the comfort of your own home or outside. Some of those techniques include: 

Giving them a “safe space” within the house when they feel scared

Encouraging them to write their feelings in a journal

Continuing to “talk it out” if they are worried or confused

Getting outside and exercising with your child is also a great way to assuage some of their fears while making sure they stay physically healthy, too. Most kids love being outside and staying active. So, whether you’re cycling around the neighborhood or going to their favorite park, letting your child be your “workout buddy” will have benefits for both of you. Plus, it can provide a welcome distraction to the uncertainty we seem to be living in. 

Keep talking to your child, and be ready to answer the hard questions. By offering consistent reassurance, you can help to keep your child healthy mentally healthy and limit their fears. 


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn 

Benefits For a Child in Foster Care


If you’re fostering a child, you may be wondering if they are eligible for any additional assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits for both people with disabilities and dependent children living with adults on Social Security, disability, or retirement. If your family meets eligibility criteria, you may receive additional payments to cover medical expenses, childcare, housing costs, and any other daily living needs for your foster child.

Foster Children With Disabilities

If your foster child has a disability like autism, vision loss, cerebral palsy, or many other disabilities, they may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits. SSI benefits are awarded to people of all ages, but there are strict financial limitations that come along with SSI. If you or your spouse earns a decent living, a foster child will not be eligible for SSI benefits even with the most severe disabilities.

The smaller your family, the lower your income limit will be for SSI benefits for a child. A family of five could earn up to $58,000 per year, but a single parent could only make $39,000 before taxes and still qualify. You can view a chart on the SSA’s website to determine if your child will qualify based on your income.

If You’re On Disability or Retirement

If you’re currently receiving benefits from the SSA, you likely already know about auxiliary benefits. Auxiliary benefits are awarded to people who are on Social Security who have dependent family members who could use supplemental income. There is no household income limit for auxiliary benefits, but there are strict criteria that must be met in order for a foster child to qualify.

First off, a foster child must be under age 18 and have been living with you for at least one year to be eligible. Additionally, one of the following criteria must be true for your child to be eligible for benefits under your account:

The child’s parents are deceased
The child’s parents are both disabled
You legally adopt your foster child

This unfortunately means that it can be very challenging for foster children to qualify for auxiliary benefits if the parents are still in the picture, but it is a good option for many families that do meet the eligibility criteria.

Starting An Application

If you’re applying for SSI benefits on behalf of a foster child or if you’re trying to add a foster child to your own beneficiary records, you’ll need to do so in person at your closest Social Security office. To make an appointment to apply in person, call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213. Once you receive your benefits, you can focus on what’s really important: your foster child’s well being.

Helpful Resources



SSI Income For Children:

SSA Offices:

Supporting Our Communities: How to assist foster kids during the pandemic


Over the course of this year, COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. Virtually no corner of the world will be left untouched by this experience. Yet, its impact varies dramatically, even in our own country. The coronavirus has highlighted many inequalities across the U.S., as disenfranchised communities struggle to deal with the consequences of the virus both physically and economically. Among these hard hit groups are our children currently in the foster care system. 

The coronavirus has drastically slowed down the process of transitioning children out of foster care and into forever families. A shutdown of government offices and facilities along with the modification of certain aspects of the foster/adoption process such as homestudies, family visits, and traveling across state has caused huge delays and left many children waiting in limbo. Although not everyone is in a position to foster or adopt at this time, there are still a number of ways to provide support for children facing further hardship due to the pandemic.

My NeighbOR

My NeighbOR is a collaboration between Every Child Oregon and the DHS. It aims to provide community goods and services to foster families and youth in foster care. This team has created an emergency response system which reaches out into the community for requests, donations, and delivery drivers. 

On their website, you will find ways to provide supplies, purchase a gift card, or give funds to help meet the needs of foster families across the state. My NeighbOR is also looking for community members who are willing to follow their safety precautions and assist in delivering these items to waiting families. By the end of March, more than 440 donors had stepped up to help. My NeighbOR was able to set up 44 drop-off/pick-up sites but more is still to be done. If you or someone you know is interested and able to help support My NeighbOR, click here to learn more.

One Simple Wish

One Simple Wish provides an easy and personal way to send support to children in the foster care system nationwide. Their website features hundreds of “wishes” submitted on behalf of foster children that you can grant with just the click of a button. The site provides the name of the wisher, what they would like, why, and how much it will cost. Options vary from a remote control car to a brand new bike. They can be as low as a 5 dollar gift to as much as you’re able to give. 

To help, you can look through these wishes to find something that will bring joy to a deserving child during this challenging moment in their life. You can also go straight to their page titled COVID-19 Response to donate to their coronavirus fund. This fund provides things like laptops and other educational tools for remote learning, groceries, gas cards, medical supplies not covered by insurance, and so much more.

With Love

Since 2013, With Love has been working in Portland and the surrounding area to provide foster children age 0-6 with resources that will help meet their needs. They aim to create a nurturing hopeful environment during what is an incredibly tumultuous time in these children's lives. Items such as diapers, car seats, clothes, and toys are delivered to over 120 foster families each month and they are looking to provide even more support during the current pandemic

With Love is encouraging community members to help in a handful of ways. In order to make every dollar count, they buy many of their items in bulk and always appreciate any amount of financial contribution. You can also find their Amazon registry and choose which items you would like to send to waiting foster families. Lastly, With Love accepts gift cards, which can be a huge help to a number of families. Even if you find yourself unable to donate presently, there is a simple way to provide support for With Love and all the lives they touch: spread the word! Post on Facebook, tell a friend, write a tweet. Getting the word out there can be just as important as any donation.