Coordinating Culture & Care


When a child enters out-of-home care, there are so many questions and so many things on the to-do list. Ensuring that the child is safe, that he or she has the clothing and hygiene products that are needed, and adjusting to a routine take precedence for all involved. However, understanding the culture a child in foster care is coming from when he or she is placed with a foster parent, is an integral part of welcoming that child into your care, making him or her feel safe, and helping lay the foundation of a successful transition.

Illustration of a cute city on the riverIn each of our family lives, there are likely hundreds of little habits or rituals that occur every day without us even thinking about it; they are what make up our family’s “cultural norm.” Children who come into foster care have these same kind of customs, routines, and traditions that were part of the cultural norm in their family of origin. Now, having arrived in your home and with your family, they are faced with having to learn a whole new family culture and figuring out how they fit into it.

Getting to know more about a new child’s culture can help you, as a foster parent, understand the child much better. While you learn about and work in ways to honor the child’s experiences, preferences, and routines, you can also teach him or her about your home, your own family’s culture, the values that are important to you, and the customs you honor. You might ask questions such as:

  • “How does your family celebrate holidays/birthdays?”
  • “How are household chores done at your home?”
  • “What is your favorite dinner?”
  • “What is your bedtime routine like?”

Like in all things that are new or unfamiliar, a new living situation takes time for all to adjust. As foster parents, we know you try very hard to be welcoming and comforting, with a goal of helping children and youth new to your homes make successful transitions. By being flexible and adjusting the culture of your home to accommodate some aspects of the child’s culture, you can give the children or youth in your care time to figure out his or her new surroundings, as well as reduce any possible cultural conflicts.


World Wide Wednesday – February 10, 2016

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

World Wide Wednesday – January 27, 2016

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

World Wide Wednesday – January 20, 2016

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • The January edition of Adoption Advocate is always dedicated to presenting NCFA’s policy priorities for the coming year and related legislation. NCFA rarely endorses specific legislation, but instead prioritizes educating key legislators and policymakers on the policies and practices that will provide essential services and the best possible support for children outside permanent family care, adopted individuals, birth parents, and adoptive families. As we outline our priorities in this article, we will also take the opportunity to mention current pending legislation related to those priorities.
  • How to Adopt from Foster Care
    Every one of the 107,918 children currently waiting in U.S. foster care deserves a stable, loving, permanent home. What about yours?
  • Facts about adopting an older child (above the age of three)

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

Welcome Home Books: Building Connections

Imagine for a moment what it must feel like to move into a new environment, with new surroundings; an unfamiliar mattress, new rules, new routines. Moving into a new home can be a scary and overwhelming experience for youth in foster care.

welcomehomebooks.pngFoster and adoptive parents can help ease some of those fears and anxieties by creating a welcome home book. The less anxiety a child feels, the safer he or she will feel.

Welcome books can be valuable resources for youth of all ages. Welcome home books can help bridge the gap between what is unknown to what will soon become more familiar, comfortable, safe, and secure.

Getting Started
Encourage all family members to participate and contribute in creating a welcome home book. Welcome home books do not have to be an extensive project. Pictures with captions and descriptions are what make up the contents of a welcome home book. A small photo album or a scrapbook with captions would work well, too.

Your creativity will ultimately dictate how detailed and comprehensive your welcome home book ultimately becomes. Be creative and imaginative and most importantly of all, have fun and be expressive!

If you have computer skills, you could create a welcome home book through a free online website, such as If computers are not your strong suit, then perhaps you could put together a hand crafted welcome home book, including pictures of:

  • Family members greeting the child with warm and welcoming messages, such as “Welcome Annisha!” or “We are looking forward to meeting you, Antonio!”
  • The child’s bedroom
  • The family’s dining room
  • Holiday celebrations or family traditions
  • Continue reading

Are you ready? Preparing for placement

You never thought the day would come. While dreaming of fostering or adopting, you slogged through mountains of paperwork, passed the home inspection, and finished your pre-placement training. It seemed endless. vintage tone, teddy bear sitting alone at Railway PlatformBut then the call came — a child needs a home. Suddenly your excitement turns to apprehension. Are you really ready?

Following are some tips to help you prepare for that magical moment when a new child walks through the door to join your family, whether temporarily, as a foster child, or permanently, as an adopted one.

  • If the placement decision isn’t urgent, consider requesting a pre-placement visit or visits. These could range from an hour or two to an overnight stay. While not possible in urgent situations, these visits allow both the child and your family to test the waters and determine whether this match will be positive for everyone. This might also be an opportunity to connect with your child’s birth family and get a sense of what this relationship will look like.
  • Check in with the other children in your home: what are their feelings now that a new child is coming to stay? Depending on the child, feelings could range from excitement to concerns about how they’ll get along with a new sibling, to fears about receiving less of your attention. Assure your children that you will continue to be the parent they’re counting on. You may also want to review the basics of confidentiality with your children.Father and son with groceries
  • Take stock: is your home ready? A place to lock up medications, fresh linens for the child’s bed, and the home diagram and fire evacuation plan are just a few of the many physical requirements to attend to. Are there special items you need to obtain for the child? Medical equipment, a restricted diet, or other special needs could mean you have extra homework. Having everything on hand will save your family the stress of running errands during those important first few hours after the child arrives.
  • Consider putting together a “welcome home book” for the child. This book serves to bridge the gap between the scary unknown and what will become familiar, safe, and secure. A welcome book could include photos of family members, written greetings using the child’s name, pictures of her new bedroom, and things to see or do in the community or neighborhood. (See our Tip Sheet for more details.)
  • Your licensing or social worker has likely provided you with some information about the child and his situation. Be prepared to ask questions and have conversations with workers about the plan for birth family contact, crisis or safety plans, feedback you provide to determine the child’s Level of Need (the CANS tool), and whether there are any special conditions in the child’s court order that you should be aware of. Practicalities such as medical appointments and school enrollment, upcoming court hearings and visitation arrangements may all bombard you within the first few days of the child’s arrival. You may want to talk with your work to help ensure you are prepared to understand exactly what your role is in each of these important events.

Contact us flat illustration with icons

Have more questions, or just want to talk to someone confidentially? At the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families, we want to support your family and all your hard work as a parent. If you need someone to talk to, referrals to additional resources, or information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, or

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Honoring Your Child’s Racial and Cultural Identity

When adopting a child transracially or transculturally, certain changes within your family may seem obvious in the beginning. However, adopting a child of a different race or culture will require a shift in thinking above and beyond what you may initially think because your child’s experience will differ greatly from your own.

122406133.jpgWe hope the following information may help your family adapt to becoming a transracial family or a transcultural family.

Here are some definitions that most people use when referring to race and culture:

Racial identity is the racial background with which you identify. Many people today have backgrounds from more than one culture or race, and many of these people will pick on that they feel they can relate to the best.

Transracial or transcultural adoption means placing a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group.

Cultural Identity: chosen or adopted culture.

Creating Positive Racial and Cultural Identity
By empowering your children to adapt to your family and your culture, you will be honoring your child’s racial and cultural identity. A child who has been adopted and is a different race will have varying emotional needs.

Your children will be treated as members of your family at home, but may have a different experience in the world at large. It’s these experiences that contribute largely to the development of their identity. They may deal with racism or stereotypes that you or your children have never had to deal with in the past.

This requires preparation and open family communication. Rather than expecting that your child adapts to your family, your family will need to adapt to your child and his or her racial and cultural identity. Your child’s race and culture should become a part of all family members experience and be present throughout your home.

The Impact of Transracial Identity
Adopting transracially impact the entire family. The whole family now becomes transracial—not simply the child. If all family members think about their family unit in this way, it can prevent the child who was adopted from alienated.

Relationships with extended family members and friends may be challenged or even changed when they are asked to accept and respect you as a transracial family.

At school, peers may question your children about why they look different from you or a sibling. Not only will your children need to be prepared for these occurrences, but so will the entire family.

As a family, reflect on your own beliefs, attitudes, and experiences so you can understand the messages that are being sent to your children.