Protecting and Nurturing Children

Normally, the bonding between mother and child and the child’s attachment, love and commitment to the entire family provides a nurturing environment for healthy development. Attachment is defined as an affectionate and emotional tie between two people that continues indefinitely over time, even if distances separate people. Children’s identities are forged in their families. Each learns the family’s language and vocabulary, preferences

in food, feelings about other people and ways of handling problems. Feeling protected and nurtured within their families allows children to push forward and explore new things, while still secure and connected to their family foundations. Children lose the personal foundation for growth and development, however shaky, when the bond with mother and the attachment to family is broken by entering out-of-home care. A misconception is that children placed in out-of-home care feel relieved and, perhaps, grateful to be leaving an abusive or neglectful family situation, when in reality most children remain very attached to siblings, extended family and parents, even those who have abused or neglected them. Children often see their family’s behavior as normal.

Even children who are aware that their own family may live differently from other families often find their family’s behavior reassuring because it is predictable. Leaving a predictable situation and the only family you have ever known and being given the message that your family is bad may seem worse to a child than enduring abuse or neglect at home. Being part of a family identified as having problems that result in his or her removal from the home may lead the child to question his or her own adequacy and worth.

The impact on a child’s life of being separated from the family depends on:

  • Age when they entered out-of-home care
  • Types and number of losses and separations they have experienced
  • Their personal capacity to cope with the situation
  • Help and support they receive at the time

Getting all available information about the child is very important to understanding his or her feelings and helping the child adjust to their new resource family and obtain the services needed.

Continue to Ways to Integrate a Child into the Resource Home