MERRILLVILLE, Ind., May 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Horrifying news stories of foster care abuse and system-wide failures prompted psychologist Dr. Kalyani Gopal to turn 25 years of work into words. "The Supportive Foster Parent" (Friesen Press; 2011) is a "What to Expect"-style book for parents who raise other people's children and the agencies who help them.
"Nearly two-thirds of fostering adults give up because they are unprepared to face the challenges and stress of parenting," Gopal said. "When these children are abandoned they hit the streets. Between 16-25 percent of homeless young people are 'graduates' of the foster care system."
Dr. Gopal believes the basis for many of these children's problems are attachment disorders and displacement trauma which can't be treated with prescription drugs.
"Surprisingly, attachment disorders are rarely addressed by treatment providers and are hardly ever addressed during foster parent training sessions," she said. "Forty percent of American children have insecure attachment. The rate doubles for kids in foster care. This leads to emotional issues like acting out which, in turn, causes failures in placement. It puts tremendous stress on the foster family."
Gopal contends that the system and parenting will improve by paying more attention to the fundamental issue of attachment. As someone who speaks with foster parents daily, Dr. Gopal penned the book using the same straightforward language that helps her client families easily understand otherwise complex issues. Her approach improves family bonding, reduces attrition and suggests coping mechanisms to help retain foster families.
A few steps parents and agencies can take to begin turning the foster abuse epidemic around are:
- Never speak ill of the biological family -- no matter how harsh the child's circumstances. Facilitate sibling contact.
- Find resources like churches and positive community activities similar to the child's biological home.
- Be open to receiving guidance and help from caseworkers and providers.
- Don't take anything the child says personally as it's usually their hurt talking.
- Show empathy and warmth but provide clear rules and expectations. Don't punish the child as you would your own. It does not work. Losing their family was punishment enough.
Kalyani Gopal Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and Clinic Director of the Mid-America Psychological and Counseling Service. During a 25-year career working with foster families, Gopal has seen over 40,000 foster families both in her clinic and in workshops and trainings. With this book she hopes to provide empathic training solutions to reduce attrition rates for foster parents.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to a nonprofit organization to help high risk teens.
For more information, visit http://www.thesupportivefosterparent.com
Media website: http://www.thesupportivefosterparent.com/media.html
Quotes from foster children:
Contact: Dr. Kalyani Gopal, 219-769-8626 or 219-736-1000, email: [email protected]
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SOURCE Dr. Kalyani Gopal