Supporting the Relationship Between Foster Youth and their Caregivers
“This program addresses real and relevant issues and facilitates openings for families to talk about topics that can be hard to approach.” - Comment from a foster caregiver
Researchers from the University of Washington are working in collaboration with Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families and the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence to find ways to help cultivate and support the relationship between foster teens and their caregivers. They adapted the parenting program Staying Connected with Your Teen, and created Connecting as a resource for youth in care and their foster or relative caregivers. Your family may be eligible to take part in this unique study.
What Do Families Do?
Families will be randomly assigned to two different groups. One group will be asked to take surveys and complete the Connecting program, while the other will only take surveys. The first group will also receive weekly calls from a family consultant to support them through the program. The Connecting program contains 10 chapters with 2 accompanying DVDs. Each chapter takes approximately 1 hour per week to complete. The program is designed to be interactive and is full of activities and topics for discussion for families.
All participants will be asked to complete 4 surveys each, over the span of 2 years. Each survey will take approximately 45-60 minutes and can be done on the web or by phone. Each caregiver and teen will receive between $20--$40 per survey. Caregivers are also eligible for continuing education credit.
What are the Connecting activities?
Here is a list of some of the activities you would be asked to do together:
- Share information about themselves, like their favorite foods and favorite things to do.
- Watch and talk about videos of kids who were in foster care.
- Talk about important people in each of their lives.
- Share what they're both excited, and worried about.
- Learn and talk about how different people know when they are angry and how they show it.
- Talk about family expectations and rules.
What We’ve Already Learned
- 100% of respondents said they were satisfied with the program.
- Youth in the program reported that they felt there was less conflict within their family.
- Caregivers and youth reported higher levels of communication and trust after going through the Connecting program.
What Do Families Have to Say About Connecting?
“We learned things about each other that we didn’t know, and that helped us communicate more.”
“The examples and videos related to our situation, and made us feel like we’re not alone.”
“Foster families come in blind—we need more tools like this!”
“This is an awesome program that ALL families should do!”
“Things are night and day different from where we were a year ago. This helped guide us through it.”