A Tool for Conversations

When using the books as a teaching tool for those outside of the foster care community, allow for conversation and processing that encourages empathy and understanding.

Give children permission to talk about foster care. Let them know:

  • It is okay to talk about their situation and ask questions.

  • It is okay to not see situations in the same way as others or as the character in the book.

  • You will try to do a good job of listening.

  • You are a safe person to talk to with about any topic.

  • Their social worker/therapist is also available to talk through difficult topics.

If you are using this book with a child who sees a therapist, you may want to inform the therapist that you are using it at home—and perhaps provide a copy for the therapist as well.

Children's Reactions

Children in foster care face many difficult challenges. They may express a range of emotions while reading one of these books because the story has triggered something from their past. Some children may want to read the book on their own or have you read it over and over again. Other children may wish to put the book aside for a while. These are all appropriate responses.

Some common emotional responses may include:

  • Relief and a sense of well-being

  • Happiness

  • Sadness about specific events

  • Anger for the many losses they have experienced

  • Confusion because of misunderstanding or misinterpretations

  • Guilt, if they blame themselves for the challenges in their lives

  • Shame about the fact they are in foster care

  • Longing for a particular person or place

  • A sense of loss for people, places, possessions or anything else familiar to them

Regardless of their response, it is important that you validate their feelings and emotions. Responding in a compassionate way will help the child work through the variety of emotions they may feel. Some children may want to talk it out. Some may need to draw a picture of their reaction or use some other form of expression.

The goal is to focus on the fact that many people in their lives care about them and are there to help them. Remind them that they are loved and valued and precious in the sight of God and many others in their community of support.



Common Questions Children May Ask 

Children in foster care often have many questions: When can I go home? Why am I here? Why can’t I live with my mommy or daddy? When will I see my parents? Am I safe? These questions can feel overwhelming. When talking to children about foster care, we recommend the following:

  • Use simple, age-appropriate language.

  • Be honest and straightforward (in an age-appropriate way).

  • Use pictures and images to help explain things to younger children. For example, you could look up images of judges and caseworkers on the Internet to help children understand the different people involved in foster care and their roles.

  • Validate all their feelings.

  • Do not villainize their birth parents.

Here are some examples of frequently asked questions and responses:

Q. Why can’t I live with my mommy and/or daddy?

A. That is a great question! It’s a mommy and daddy’s job to keep their kids safe and healthy. Sometimes mommies and daddies don’t have the skills they need to keep their children safe and healthy. So they need to learn more about how to do that. That’s what your mommy and daddy are doing right now. They are learning how to be better parents. So while your mommy and daddy learn how to be better parents, you’ll live here with us. We get to love and take care of you for as long as you need. And you’ll have visits with your parents, and your caseworker will be there, too. You can talk to us about anything—your feelings, your parents and your family. You can ask us any questions you have, and we’ll try our best to answer them.

Simpler Answer: Right now your mommy and/or daddy need to learn how to be better parents so that they can keep you safe and healthy. While they do that, you’ll live here with us. We get to love and care for you.

Q. Who is helping my parents?

A. Lots of different people are helping your parents. For example, your caseworker, the judge, and the therapist are all helping your parents get better.

Q. When can I go home?

A. That is a great question. I do not know the answer to that. The Judge makes that decision. Your parents visit her/him every few months and s/he makes sure they are doing what they need to do.