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November/December  2013 

The holidays can be a difficult time for children and youth in foster care.  We must be mindful that our youth can be overcome with great sadness when they think about their loved ones who are not with them every day, and this sadness can be intensified during a time when the rest of us are celebrating our relationships with friends and family members.  


We encourage you to preserve the goodness of families.  We believe that even in families where abuse and neglect have been part of the familial experience, there are good moments that we must preserve.  For some children and youth in foster care, their memories are the only fragments that remain of their birth family. The holiday season is a great time to encourage foster children and youth to tell their stories, and for us to listen to and validate their experiences.  


We also must recognize the experiences of loss and grief that birth families face when separated from their children over the holidays.  Birth family members need our support and understanding as well during this time.   


We've included a special holiday activity below that you could share with your clients, whether they be children, adolescents, foster parents, adoptive parents, or birth parents.  Perhaps your own family would benefit from it as well, as most of us over the next few weeks will find ourselves thinking of someone we wish were here with us.


Wishing wellness for you and yours, 


Quick Tips and Resources for Supporting Foster Children, Resource Parents and Birth Families During the Holiday Season

There are many resources available to help guide our work with children, youth and families during the holiday season.  Some of our favorites are described below. 


The Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin shares some solid foundational tips for holiday related issues facing children in foster care. Click here to read.


FosterClub is a national network for young people in foster care.  The work of FosterClub highlights the stories and voices of youth who are or have been in foster care.  We can learn so much from our youths' experiences, and the publication Helping Young People in Foster Care Through the Holidays

provides many good lessons for us.


Adoption Resources of Wisconsin in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families have produced a great tip sheet resource for foster families to help during the holidays.  Check it out here.


 Featured Activity: Holiday Remembrances

For the families celebrating Christmas, one way to help honor the loved ones of children who are separated from their families is to create a small tree decorated with framed photos of parents, siblings, and others who might be important to the child.  


Ornament sized pictures frames can be found at larger department stores or craft stores and dollar stores and they work well for this project.  If pictures are not available, a special ornament can be created representing loved ones as well.  The time spent while preparing the ornaments and decorating the tree together provides a perfect context in which to share stories and memories.  Remember to allow the time and space to respond to the expressions of feeling using the 7 Skill Elements.

Book Recommendation

Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she's sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true? This festive tale is perfectly complemented by beloved Barbara Cooney's luminous illustrations, filled with the warm glow of the Christmas spirit. (Description courtesy of Amazon.com)



Do you have a favorite resource or tip that you'd like to share?  Send it to us at steph@darlahenry.org.  We would love to bring your ideas into the work of the 3-5-7 Model!  Remember to follow us on Facebook and share your ideas there with there us as well. 



2012 Darla L. Henry & Associates
P.O. Box 4847 Harrisburg, Pa 17111-0847
dhenry@darlahenry.org   |   717-919-6286