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Mother consoling her crying son.

Source: RuslanDashinsky / Getty

by Starr Allen-Pettway, LMSW, Branch Director, Bethany Christian Services Of Michigan, Madison Heights 

Trauma training gives foster parents tools to both understand what trauma looks like from a child’s perspective and also manage trauma that may be present in a child placed in their care. Trauma-informed parenting is critical in helping a child begin to make sense of the traumatic situations they have experienced and better understand who they are.

Why do foster parents need this training?

Trauma can be played out in many different ways, but the most visible is a child’s behavior. There are times when a child appears perfectly fine until something changes in their environment. A loud noise, a display of affection, or even a change in tone of voice could be a trigger and result in behaviors that the foster parent has never seen or experienced with that child.

The child’s unexpected response can be hard for foster/adoptive parents to understand, especially for parents that have raised biological children and are used to the effectiveness of their own parenting style. They may believe what worked for their kids should work with any kids, and that is simply not true.

Bethany’s goal is to educate, train, and support our foster/adoptive families. We make sure they have the tools they need and are as prepared as they can be to meet the needs of children that have often experienced some form of trauma.

Who provides this training?

We offer this training at our Bethany location in Madison Heights, Michigan. Contact your local Bethany office to see if it is offered near you. The training is facilitated by staff that have been formally trained in trauma and are able to appropriately process and assist parents with understanding their role, how they can help, and what to do when further assistance is needed.

Parents shouldn’t take kids’ behaviors personally. Everyone can and does say things they don’t mean at time, and children are no exception. They may be speaking and responding from a place of fear, hurt, or pain. As an agency, in coordination with foster/adoptive families, we work with children to better understand and support them and help them develop more effective ways to cope with difficult emotions they may have as a result of difficult experiences.

Kids who have experienced abuse, neglect, or deep grief over the loss of their family and everything that is familiar have experienced trauma. As we think about how to attend to others’ needs, Scripture admonishes us to treat others as we would treat Christ (Matthew 25:40). We want to give parents every tool we can to create a stable environment in their home where kids in foster care can feel loved and secure.


Bethany Christian Services

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