How to Help: Tips and Resources for Foster Parents and Children During the COVID-19 Outbreak | Amara

How to Help: Tips and Resources for Foster Parents and Children During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Updated 4/15/20

We are all grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and the ever-changing nature of the situation we find ourselves in. For our foster parents, we know it may be difficult to talk with children for whom you’re caring to address their potential fears or anxiety about this crisis. As well, navigating the days and weeks ahead with school closures across the Puget Sound brings its own set of challenges. Amara is here to support you as you support the children in your home and will continue to do all we can to champion the wellbeing of our children and families.

One way we can help is by sharing these resources on coping during and after a crisis. Children often mirror the reactions of the adults around them. You can help by modeling calm behavior. That said, we know that times like these often bring stress, anxiety, and frustration for adults as well. These are common reactions and we hope the information here, along with ongoing support from your Foster Care Specialist (and self-care) will be of some comfort as we navigate this time together.

If you have other ideas or resources to share, please share on our family Facebook page or with your Foster Care Specialist who can distribute them to others. This is a great time to join our Facebook page if you haven’t already as it’s a wonderful resource for connecting with other families.

General Tips and Resources for Helping Children Cope During the COVID-19 Outbreak and Crisis Guidance:

  1. Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with Coronavirus Disease 2019.  During times of stress, children and teens may have more trouble with their behavior, concentration, and attention. Parents and caregivers can offer extra patience, care, and love.
  2. Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource. The National Association of School Psychologists has put together this excellent resource that offers guidelines on everything from how to protect kids from COVID-19 to monitoring media coverage of the crisis.
  3. Helping Children and Teens Cope With Anxiety About COVID-19. Seattle Children’s Hospital offers this excellent guide on how caregivers can help children and teens cope with the situation.
  4. Educational Resources for Foster Parents. Katie Lewis is part of an Amara family, as well as an education professor at the University of Washington. The COVID-19 school closures spurred Katie to create this resource to help foster parents support their kids’ learning now and to offer a space for discussion and collaboration.
  5.  Washington State Department of Health Parent and Caretaker Resources. The DOH has put together an extensive set of resources, Q&As, and more to help parents and caregivers protect the health of their children while also caring for their mental health and wellbeing.  
  6. Tips for Parents and Caregivers on Media Coverage of Traumatic Events. Media can help inform and educate about crises but it can also stoke fears, increase anxiety, and promote misinformation. This guide offers ideas for how to talk with kids about what they’re seeing in the media about the outbreak, offering time away from the media coverage, and clearing up misunderstandings that may arise from the media coverage.
  7. Paying Attention to Anti-Asian Racism and Discrimination. We all have a role to play to ensure we are actively combating misinformation, bias, and stigma related to COVID-19 that will harm people further and foment fear.
  8. Parent Tips for Helping School-Age Children After a Disaster. Children whose schools close due to a crisis may have a hard time dealing with the lack of routine or not seeing their friends. Parents and caregivers can give children opportunities to talk about their feelings and provide structure at home through mealtimes and bedtimes. This guide, while created for post-disaster, may offer some tips for how to support children.
  9. After a Crisis: How Young Children Heal. You can download this thorough guide to help young children, toddlers, and preschoolers to heal after a traumatic event.

Helpful Information For Foster Parents on How to Support Family Visits:

  1. Supporting Virtual Family Time Visits – An Opportunity for Kindness. Read former Amara foster parent Katie Biron’s thoughts on how foster parents can support family time while still abiding by public health guidance.
  2. Partnering to Support Virtual Visits. Written in partnership with parent Jason Bragg, this post offers concrete tips for how to set up virtual visits!

How to Address Equity As We Confront COVID-19:

  1. Talking about COVID-19: A Call for Racial, Economic, and Health Equity. We need to step up our advocacy for those who are most vulnerable in this crisis. Read more.
  2. Countering COVID-19 Stigma and Racism: Tips for Parents and Caregivers. People who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) are currently being subjected to racism related to the COVID-19 virus. It is important that parents and caregivers help children identify harmful language and behavior and encourage children to stop it.

We haven’t forgotten you – the caregiver. One of the most important things you can do right now is to take time for self-care whenever it’s possible. The fact sheet, Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks provides some wonderful guidance on recognizing the signs of stress in yourself and how to relieve that stress and get help, when you need to.

*On Monday, April 20th we will be launching a Virtual Activity Program designed to provide the children in our foster parents’ care with live, instructor-led activities via Zoom. This free service will include a variety of online activities facilitated by Amara Staff and Volunteers. If you are a current foster family and are interested please reach out to virtualactivities@amaraputskidsfirst.org.

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