Resources to help you foster

Access by birth parents |  ADHDAging out | Allowance rates | Attachment Disorders | Autism | Babies with addictions | Behaving “badly” | Behaviour trigger – holidays | Biological siblings Books | CYF Practice Policies | Fetal Alcohol Syndrome | Fostering teenagers | Gay couples | Group family homesSchool holiday camps | IRD Tax credits | Life Books | Male foster carer support | Mentoring kids | Positive disciplineShame & guilt | Sudden Infant Death Syndrome | Transitioning between placements | Web links

Russell Wills, Children’s Commissioner in May 2011 stressed the importance of  supporting a foster parent in learning about their child’s behaviour and how to manage it:

“Children in CYF care are the most vulnerable. We know that of the children taken into care something like 80 per cent have psychological or untreated health problems. We also know they have very high rates of failure of placement. They burn out their carer, move onto another carer who doesn’t cope with their behaviour and they burn out too. Each one of those [moves] is incredibly damaging to that child.

What we know is that if you support the first carer really, really well, with an intensive education about why a kid behaved the way they did and how that can be managed, and intensive support to look after them and regular respite – then the kid starts to come right. They improve. They become less work and you can maintain the placement.”

Access by birth parents to children in foster care

Reuniting with biological parents can in some instances be beneficial and at other times detrimental to the lives of children placed in foster care. This page will be developed to provide advice and insights into this often problematic area.

For day reunions with biological parents, one foster carer takes her young family to a local playground and the biological parents are invited to meet them there. If the child’s biological parents don’t turn up, the child is engaged in play and it’s not such a dissappointment.

Foster parents have offered these suggestions that have worked for them.  Be discerning, not every one may apply to your situation.

  • If you haven’t already, continue to talk openly with your kids about their biological parents.
  • If you haven’t already, read some of the literature, the sense of loss and gain for the child.
  • Be open to meeting the birth-parents. Consider that your fostered child will probably want to meet his/her birth-parents. Do you want to do that with him/her now, when they’re a little older– or do you want them to do it by themselves when they’re 18-22? What signals does it send if you don’t aim to do it if you can?
  • A big part of the foster carer’s job is supporting the relationship between children and their biological parents.
  • “If kids don’t see their parents they can start to fairytale them. They’ll start to think ‘if my mum was here that wouldn’t happen’, or ‘she wouldn’t do this’. They become someone who could rescue them rather than the reality.
  •  “Kids need to know where they come from. I’m aware that pretty terrible things happen, but a lot of the time that’s all the parents know.
  •  “Even when parents disappoint the kids, I say to them ‘she’s still your mum and she loves you,’ because they do love them – sometimes they are just not capable.”

Access visits will likely provoke questions from a child. Children need realistic ways of understanding what happened that nonetheless open up more hopeful perspectives. A child might ask, for example, “Why did the police come?” A response might be: “Because it’s their job to get help for children when their parents can’t protect them.” Or a child might wonder, “Why couldn’t my parents protect me?” It might be because, “They love you very much, but they had a big problem with drugs. Drugs can make you do things that hurt people, no matter how much you love them.”

Biological parents have rights until the kids are 18, no matter what kind of parents they’ve been.

A child’s pull towards reuniting with biological parents is strong, giving rise to the phrase that blood will always find blood.  However for many children the reality is that blood doesn’t always find blood, and blood isn’t always best.

Some birth parents unfortunately see foster care parents as “the enemies,” but this is a misconception. The foster carer’s purpose is to “take care of the children” until the birth parents do what they need to do to regain custody or until the birth parents’ rights are terminated.

Does your child find it a little daunting to go to visits with their mum or dad or other family? Much of the time birth families find these visits really difficult too. It’s not easy to chat when you’re not sure what’s been happening for each other recently. A carer has a great tip for us. Put a kete on a hook on the child’s door and when they draw a picture or write a story or pick up an  interesting leaf etc pop those things in the kete. Then when the child goes along for their visit there is plenty to talk about!

Have you a strategy you can share here, to help your fellow foster carers? Email it to

Aging out of foster care in New Zealand

When children in foster care turn 17, many of them will “age out” of the foster care system. That means some will find themselves abruptly without the financial, material and emotional support of the state as they navigate into adulthood — a tricky enough transition for more fortunate young adults who have the full support of concerned parents and extended families. Being too old for foster care, but not quite ready to support yourself is common.   Care Café is a network for young people that have experienced the care system in New Zealand. It has been developed with the input of youth who are currently in care and those that have left care. This network has been developed to provide a chance for young people to learn about the care system, connect with other young people with similar experiences and share their views with care providers and policy makers. The network is provided with the support of Child Youth and Family and Dingwall Trust. Care Café offers this downloadable Leaving Care and Additional Guardianship Information Sheet 09

“Who Cares” Video about Kiwi youth leaving care

Dingwall Trust in partnership with Desire Tree Productions have produced a video highlighting the issues for young people transitioning from foster care to independent living in New Zealand. This mini documentary features interviews with young people that have left foster care and experienced the transition to independent living as well as professionals in the care sector.

Check out this Dingwall Trust video below and visit the Care Cafe website.

17 year old Damyon New from Christchurch interviewed on TV 20/20 on Sept 20th 2012

Turning 17 is normally a pretty exciting time for a young person – the time of life when it’s all about friends, fun and parties. However for kids who grow up under the care of Child Youth and Family turning 17 can spell the end of stability.

With no family and state care no longer available, many end up homeless. It’s something of a hidden issue in New Zealand, but a guy called Damyon New is trying to change that. Damyon tells 20/20’s Hannah Ockelford how he plans to give others like him a roof over their head. Click to watch

US studies show that when foster youth are on their own at 18, they are much more likely to face homelessness, joblessness, pregnancy or imprisonment than the general population. Those statistics decrease for young adults who remain in assistance programs such as transitional housing assistance. Youth with extended support past 18 were found to be twice more likely to complete a college degree than those without it.

In their Sep 2012 News, Social Services Providers Aotearoa Inc featured two in depth views on aging out. SSPA News Aging Out feature articles   a USA website offers a downloadable Transition Toolkit.

Overseas there are programmes to extend ‘aging out’. From April 2012 Foster youth in Michigan, USA can tap into service until they are 21 under a long-awaited Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care program. The initiative allows foster children to voluntarily remain under state care until age 21. But they also have to meet certain conditions by remaining in school or in job training, working 80 hours per month, unless they are unable to do so because of a documented medical condition.

These are young people for whom we – and by this I mean all of civil society – have taken responsibility. They have been removed from their homes primarily because they could no longer live there safely. Some are fortunate enough to find a permanent, loving home where they can thrive. But others are not: they grow up in foster care or group homes.

Every year young people who live in foster homes or group homes turn 17 and “age out” of the system. Overnight, crucial support vanishes. Gone is the financial support paid to their foster parents or group homes on their behalf. Gone is any consistent, responsible adult presence or guidance.

These youth face incredibly long odds if they have to try and succeed on their own during their late teens and early 20s. The label “former foster youth” makes it hard for them to get jobs or rent accommodation. For many, there is a high risk of becoming homeless. We know these young people have a low rate of entry to tertiary education, and even if they get there, many do not complete their courses.

It is both compassionate and less expensive for taxpayers to ensure that young adults who grew up in foster care have some basic support during this crucial formative period.

Can any reader suggest further resources on this subject?

Allowance rates

Child Youth and Family publish a fact sheet showing the foster care allowance rates (also known as board rates), along with clothing, Christmas and birthday allowances. More

Attachment disorders of children in foster care

Attachment is the deep and lasting connection established between a child and caregiver in the first few years of life. It profoundly affects your child’s development and his or her ability to express emotions and develop relationships. A child with insecure attachment or an attachment disorder doesn’t have the skills necessary to build meaningful relationships. However, with the right tools, and a healthy dose of time, effort, patience, and love, it is possible to treat and repair attachment difficulties. Between 50% and 80% of children placed in Foster Care have attachment disorder symptoms.

Attachment facilitating parenting is grounded in attachment theory and is based on a set of principles. Many foster parents find their children’s behaviours strange, frightening, disturbing, and upsetting. They often don’t understand why their child behaves as the child does; “after all, my child is now safe, doesn’t he get it?” It can be difficult to appreciate the depth and pervasiveness of the damage caused by earlier maltreatment.

Therapeutic parenting relies of helping parents understand what is causing the child’s behaviours. Looking deeper in order to understand what is motivating the child. All behaviour is adaptive and functional; however sometimes the behaviours that were adaptive in one environment are ill-suited for the new home. If your first parents were neglectful, unreliable, and inconsistent so that you were often hungry and left alone for long periods of time, hoarding food, gorging, and going to “anyone” for help is adaptive. When that child is placed in a foster or adoptive home with caring, responsive, sensitive parents, that same behaviour is no longer adaptive.

Parenting a child with an attachment disorder: What you need to know

  • Parenting a child with insecure attachment or reactive attachment disorder can be exhausting, frustrating, and emotionally trying. It is hard to put your best parenting foot forward without the reassurance of a loving connection with your child. Sometimes you may wonder if your efforts are worth it, but be assured that they are. With time, patience, and concerted effort, attachment disorders can be repaired. The key is to remain calm, yet firm as you interact with your child. This will teach your child that he or she is safe and can trust you.
  • Have realistic expectations. Helping your child with an attachment disorder may be a long road. Focus on making small steps forward and celebrate every sign of success.
  • Patience is essential. The process may not be as rapid as you like, and you can expect bumps along the way. But by remaining patient and focusing on small improvements, you create an atmosphere of safety for your child.
  • Foster a sense of humour and joy. Joy and humour go a long way toward repairing attachment problems and energizing you even in the midst of hard work. Find at least a couple of people or activities that help you laugh and feel good.
  • Take care of yourself and manage stress. Reduce other demands on your time and make time for yourself. Rest, good nutrition, and parenting breaks help you relax and recharge your batteries so you can give your attention to your child.
  • Find support and ask for help. Rely on friends, family, community resources, and respite care (if available). Try to ask for help before you really need it to avoid getting stressed to a breaking point. You may also want to consider joining a support group for parents.
  • Stay positive and hopeful. Be sensitive to the fact that children pick up on feelings. If they sense you’re discouraged, it will be discouraging to them. When you are feeling down, turn to others for reassurance.

Reactive Attachment Disorder in fostered children

Click to read a moving story from someone with RAD

Reactive attachment disorder: Tips for making your fostered child feel safe and secure

By Helouise Steenkamp

Safety is the core issue for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder and other attachment problems. They are distant and distrustful because they feel unsafe in the world. They keep their guard up to protect themselves, but it also prevents them from accepting love and support. So before anything else, it is essential to build up your child’s sense of security. You can accomplish this by establishing clear expectations and rules of behavior, and by responding consistently so your child knows what to expect when he or she acts a certain way and—even more importantly—knows that no matter what happens, you can be counted on.

Set limits and boundaries. Consistent, loving boundaries make the world seem more predictable and less scary to children with attachment problems such as reactive attachment disorder. It’s important that they understand what behavior is expected of them, what is and isn’t acceptable, and what the consequences will be if they disregard the rules. This also teaches them that they have more control over what happens to them than they think.

Take charge, yet remain calm when your child is upset or misbehaving. Remember that “bad” behavior means that your child doesn’t know how to handle what he or she is feeling and needs your help. By staying calm, you show your child that the feeling is manageable. If he or she is being purposefully defiant, follow through with the pre-established consequences in a cool, matter-of-fact manner. But never discipline a child with an attachment disorder when you’re in an emotionally-charged state. This makes the child feel more unsafe and may even reinforce the bad behavior, since it’s clear it pushes your buttons.

Be immediately available to reconnect following a conflict. Conflict can be especially disturbing for children with insecure attachment or attachment disorders. After a conflict or tantrum where you’ve had to discipline your child, be ready to reconnect as soon as he or she is ready. This reinforces your consistency and love, and will help your child develop a trust that you’ll be there through thick and thin.

Own up to mistakes and initiate repair. When you let frustration or anger get the best of you or you do something you realise is insensitive, quickly address the mistake. Your willingness to take responsibility and make amends can strengthen the attachment bond. Children with reactive attachment disorder or other attachment problems need to learn that although you may not be perfect, they will be loved, no matter what.

Try to maintain predictable routines and schedules. A child with an attachment disorder won’t instinctively rely on loved ones, and may feel threatened by transition and inconsistency—for example when traveling or during school holidays. A familiar routine or schedule can provide comfort during times of change.

Repairing reactive attachment disorders: Tips for helping your fostered child feel loved

A child who has not bonded early in life will have a hard time accepting love, especially physical expressions of love. But you can help them learn to accept your love with time, consistency, and repetition. Trust and security come from seeing loving actions, hearing reassuring words, and feeling comforted over and over again.

Find things that feel good to your child. If possible, show your child love through rocking, cuddling, and holding—attachment experiences he or she missed out on earlier. But always be respectful of what feels comfortable and good to your child. In cases of previous abuse and trauma, you may have to go very slowly because your child may be very resistant to physical touch.

Respond to your child’s emotional age. Children with attachment disorders often act like younger children, both socially and emotionally. You may need to treat them as though they were much younger, using more non-verbal methods of soothing and comforting.

Help your child identify emotions and express his or her needs. Children with attachment disorders may not know what they are feeling or how to ask for what they need. Reinforce the idea that all feelings are okay and show them healthy ways to express their emotions.

Listen, talk, and play with your child. Carve out times when you’re able to give your child your full, focused attention in ways that feel comfortable to him or her. It may seem hard to drop everything, eliminate distractions, and just be in the moment, but quality time together provides a great opportunity for your child to open up to you and feel your focused attention and care.

Repairing reactive attachment disorder: Tips for supporting your fostered child’s health

A child’s eating, sleep, and exercise habits are always important, but they’re even more so in kids with attachment problems. Healthy lifestyle habits can go a long way in reducing your child’s stress levels and leveling out mood swings. When children with attachment disorders are relaxed, well-rested, and feeling good, it will be much easier for them to handle life’s challenges.

  • Diet – Make sure your child eats a diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Be sure to skip the sugar and add plenty of good fats – like fish, flax seed, avocados, and olive oil—for optimal brain health.
  • Sleep –If your child is tired during the day, it will be that much harder for them to focus on learning new things. Make their sleep schedule (bedtime and wake time) consistent.
  • Exercise – Exercise or any type of physical activity can be a great antidote to stress, frustration, and pent-up emotion, triggering endorphins to make your child feel good. Physical activity is especially important for the angry child. If your child isn’t naturally active, try some different classes or sports to find something that is appealing.

Any one of these things—food, rest and exercise—can make the difference between a good and a bad day with a child who has an attachment disorder. These basics will help ensure your child’s brain is healthy and ready to connect.

Professional treatment for reactive attachment disorder in fostered children

If your child is suffering from a severe attachment problem, especially reactive attachment disorder, seek professional help. Extra support can make a dramatic and positive change in your child’s life, and the earlier you seek help, the better.

Autism in children in foster care

Here’s a short video of two foster carers discussing their fostered son who has autism:

More about the success of young David who is referred to in the video above

Although not directly related to fostering, Iris writes “If you saw the film, Deliverance, you will recall this scene, a classic. The guy playing the guitar is Ronnie Cox from Portales New Mexico. Watch the autistic boy’s face not his fingers. Read this before viewing video (click on the link below). This is an excerpt of the film “Deliverance”.

When the filming group of the movie stopped at a gas station somewhere, one of the actors started to play a tune of the film on his guitar. When a boy who was watching (an autistic) heard the music, he started to respond with notes from his banjo. They started an incredible dialogue of instruments and the autistic boy expressed himself in probably the only form in which he was prepared to communicate.

This is how this remarkable scene, that was included in the movie, was developed and filmed. Look at the expression of the boy. At first, he seems uncertain and waiting but as the intensity of the music progressed, his lost expression was gone and an expression of pleasure and happiness was recovered; thanks to this guitar player who happened to pass by.

After this magic moment passed, the boy returned into himself leaving this part of his externalized beauty in the film. This truly was a memorable part of the movie.

This scene was not a part of the script until the camera man happened to catch it on film. The family was well paid; and beat poverty by accident. Watch the little boy, especially at the end.  Click here to watch the 4 minute video.

Fostering drug & alcohol addicted babies

Two foster parents discuss fostering drug and alcohol addicted babies. There is no antidote for P, the babies suffer through withdrawal symptoms.


Babies are being born as drug addicts. No medication is available to help meth-addicted newborns cope with withdrawal symptoms. Julie, another foster carer, describes her 15 year experience in fostering 45 babies, mostly from mothers with a history of drug abuse during pregnancy:

“These babies suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms for five to eight months, demanding care that is beyond the capabilities of most mums.” Julie explains: “You just want to hug the babies, but they don’t like being handled. They cry a lot and they’re very restless and agitated. They take a lot of time and hard work to look after, but it’s always worth it in the end.”

3 Dec 2011: A month-long police campaign against methamphetamine in Waikato discovered a mother high on P breastfeeding her baby and many other examples of the impact of the drug on children. Her baby was placed in the care of state-agency Child, Youth and Family.

Detective Inspector Chris Page says children were found in nearly 20 per cent of homes raided by police during the month-long methamphetamine operation called Operation Share.

The operation also discovered a methamphetamine bag and pipe next to baby formula in the kitchen, traces of the drug in the cot of a one-year-old baby and traces in the hair of the baby and an older sibling. Two children, including one with special needs who required regular treatment, were also found living in a P house. END

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder – what is it?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term that describes a range of adverse effects on development when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. This includes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND).

FASD is estimated to occur in at least one out of every 100 live births, though no research has confirmed the prevalence in New Zealand. New Zealand has no specialist diagnostic centres and little research and consequently FASD remains significantly under-recognised and unaddressed.

FASD is linked to primary disabilities, those that are the direct toxic effect on the developing brain and other organs, such as birth defects, cognitive impairment and memory problems and secondary disabilities such as mental health disorders, educational and social failure when learning and functional needs are not adequately addressed. navigate from here for more

Behaving “badly” in fostered youth

Behaving “badly” is one way a fostered child establishes whether a new home is really any safer than the last one, and whether they will be accepted along with all their self-perceived “badness.”

They may be frightened of being alone with themselves until they have accumulated enough new everyday experiences that help them to trust others — and themselves.

Sometimes you love these kids so much it hurts and you feel so helpless, but I will never give up believing in them. It doesn’t make sense sometimes for these kids. What they crave most they push away, to protect themselves from being hurt again.” – Linda Wheeler, Mosgiel

Creativity lets many successful foster families “stay ahead” of their children and have fun at the same time. One couple camped outside in their yard with a boy who came for respite. They figured this would be an enjoyable way to break the ice. It was a chilly night and they shared stories around a fire.

Behaviour triggers in fostered kids – holidays

Excerpts and abridgments from “Four Adopted Siblings, Lots of Stress” by Dr. Joshua Sparrow first printed in The New York Times on Dec. 31, 2010.

Foster children are often triggered during the holidays. It’s important for parents to recognize their child’s behavior as triggers and not simply as misbehavior. This article explains why children are triggered and how parents can help their child to cope.

Here, Dr. Sparrow responds to a reader concerned about helping her adopted children adapt to the stresses of the holiday season.

Q. We adopted a sibling set of four young kids (ages 6, 10, 11, 13) last year; we’ve had them for almost three years, and their behavior issues always escalate during the holidays. This is most likely because they were taken into protective custody the day after Christmas six years ago. We talk to them about what is going to happen, down to the day and time, but they are still easily agitated and anxious. Do you have any suggestions regarding what we can do to ease their fears? Thanks.

A. Dr. Joshua Sparrow responds:

Several readers have written about the challenges their foster and adopted children face during the holidays. Others responded with gratitude for the reassurance about human potential that these families’ stories give.

The challenges faced by children who have been separated from their biological parents depend on a range of factors: for example, the age they were when separation and adoption occurred, experiences prior to adoption, contact with biological family members after separation, and the individual strengths and vulnerabilities that each child brings. Although many adopted children fare as well as any others, some will feel the effects of their experiences in different ways at different ages. They will bring their growing abilities to understand and to express these as they revisit their pasts over time.

For children who have been separated from parents after being physically or sexually abused by them, these challenges include the effects of trauma on their developing brains. Children who have been traumatized are often, as one reader says of her adopted children, easily agitated and anxious. Severe and repeated trauma understandably sets young children’s brains on high alert. Fearful of the next threat to their safety, they constantly scan their environments for lurking danger. They are likely to see it when there is none, and to overreact to minor surprises or changes, as if these might be harbingers of more harm to come. The surprises and departures from routines of the holidays — magical for other children — may be overwhelming for some of these children. They may not be ready for magic yet, and instead just want to know what is real.

Reminders of past trauma can trigger fresh flight, fight or freeze responses. Anniversary reactions are another kind of retriggering. These happen when a child behaves as if a traumatic event that occurred at the same time of year in the past is happening all over again. Along with the reminders of holiday symbols and rituals, the short days, crisp air, the distinct quality of the light or even the same warm clothes again can summon traumatic scenes of the past. As a result, children who have been traumatized during past holiday seasons are bound to be on guard again now — without even knowing it.

The first step in helping children who are being traumatized is to establish safety. Whether a child is being beaten or sexually exploited, or is exposed to a mother being battered, the violence of gang fighting, a natural disaster or war, if danger is ongoing, most other efforts to help will be of limited use. After safety has been established, reconnecting children rapidly with familiar and reliable caregivers is perhaps the most effective psychological first aid.

Once they are safe, these children may have trouble believing it. They may need to test out seemingly safer new settings. They’ll have lots of questions, and may need reassurance that they can ask them.

Depending on their ages, children may want to know why: “Why was I hurt? Why was I abandoned? Is it because I was bad?”

Among their questions are those that reveal that, for them, the outside world’s dangers now seem to reside within them: “Was it my fault? Did I deserve this?” Often, this is what abused children have been told. Behaving “badly” is one way of finding out whether a new home is really any safer than the last one, and whether the child will be accepted along with all his “badness.” They may be frightened of being alone with themselves until they have accumulated enough new everyday experiences that help them to trust others — and themselves.

They also need realistic ways of understanding what happened that nonetheless open up more hopeful perspectives. A child might ask, for example, “Why did the police come?” A response might be: “Because it’s their job to get help for children when their parents can’t protect them.” Or a child might wonder, “Why couldn’t my parents protect me?” It might be because, “They love you very much, but they had a big problem with drugs. Drugs can make you do things that hurt people, no matter how much you love them.”

The questions children ask — if they dare to — about what they’ve been through can be overwhelming. Some adults believe that young children won’t remember. Yet even in the first year of life, children experience a broad range of emotions, including happiness, joy, surprise, sadness, anger and fear. Their understanding of themselves and others builds on these first experiences. They may not be able to use words to express these feelings, but their facial expressions and body language do. Children who have been traumatized before they could speak may have more trouble putting these experiences into words, and are more likely to feel them in their bodies and express them with their behavior.

To get their behavior under control, they will need to find words to organize their feelings. They will learn that they can get some control over the feelings when they can control the words. If an adult brings up the traumatic past out of the blue, children may panic, or shut down. But when a child asks, simple, clear information can help: “Yes, it was the day before Christmas when the police came to take you away from your parents.”

Their body language will tell you if they can handle any more. If they nod silently and make eye contact, you might continue. If they turn away, whimper or become agitated, that’s all they can take right now. If you respect their pace, they’ll let you know when they’re ready for more. Slowly, patiently putting words to the experience organizes it, and makes it less scary than when it is shrouded in silence, or when there are no words for the feelings. But children need to know they are in control of these conversations.

Trauma is an experience of losing control, and a violation of expectations. Children expect that parents will take care of them, not hurt them. Very early on, they learn that crying gives them some control, bringing help. All of this is turned upside down with trauma. To heal, children need experiences of mastery and control that are within their reach, for example, control of when and how their painful pasts are addressed. It helps to let them know, “you don’t have to think about that when you don’t want to. When it makes you too upset, we can focus on something else.”

Whether or not foster or adopted children have experienced abuse, they often wonder about where they came from, the meanings of past relationships, and the future of present relationships. This may be true even for children who were adopted very early in life. For many, the most haunting question is, “Why would my adoptive parents stick with me if my biological parents didn’t?”

For children who have lived in multiple foster homes, it is difficult to believe that anybody will care enough to keep them, and too big a risk to hope that anyone would. They often feel convinced that they are too “bad” for any family to want them. They often behave as if they expect to be kicked out again — a poor substitute for some kind of control — and often they are.

Many foster and adoptive parents have found it helpful for their children to tell the story of their lives — where they’ve lived (other foster homes, residential treatment centers), whom they’ve lived with, what happened, and why. Holidays of past years may be chapters in their stories.

Together, parents and children can write these stories, adding drawings and photographs. Children can change and add to their stories as they learn more, and understand differently. Their “life books” can help children find continuity amidst the frequent disruptions of their lives. In these stories, children can make room for people who are no longer present, or with whom contact is currently not permitted, whether it’s biological parents, grandparents, siblings or others. Even at times when contact with some biological family members is not allowed by protective services, it can be helpful for children to figure out a place for them in their stories.

We might wish that children could forget the people who have harmed them. But they can’t, and they are bound to think about them from time to time, especially at the holidays. Helping them tell their stories can help them make sense of what they’ve been through. Their stories can become a place for the sadness, and for the good memories that the bad ones can’t undo. Stories speak from a child’s heart, where everyone who has ever had a strong connection with that child — for better or worse, or both — will always reside.

Biological siblings of fostered children

Here’s a short funny video about an unbeatable retort to a biological sibling brother.

and a story from another family…

The Austin family has fostered 16 children since it started nine years ago. Every time a child leaves, all the family go through a grieving process and often shed a few tears, she said.

Cathy Austin’s 15-year-old daughter Olivia can’t remember a time when the family wasn’t opening its doors to foster children. She was excited to have new kids around at first. Over time, that’s changed to attachment, she said. Even a stay overnight at a friend’s house sometimes reminds her that she’s missing something at home. “Sometimes I feel like I haven’t given them enough attention,” she said.

and a 23 year old, when asked what it was like growing up alongside needy fostered children, said:

“A mixed bag“, Tiffany conceded, “it showed me how to be a good parent,” she said. “There were jealousy moments, but you learn not to be jealous. You learn there are more people in the world than you. I think that’s good.”

Books about fostering children

There are books for sale on fostering at Skylight’s website and The Book Depository which has free delivery worldwide and a currency setting you can set to New Zealand dollars.

If you want to change the world, tell a child a story. If you need proof of the supreme value of reading to children, there is a body of academic work so vast it would take you years to wade through. The upshot is: children who are read to and are told stories have a substantial edge – in just about every possible way – over those who aren’t.

The reason is that their most powerful tool for absorbing, organising and retaining information about the world has been fed and nurtured: their imagination.

New Zealand literacy expert Jill Eggleton quotes research that if a child can recite eight rhymes off by heart by the age of four, they will be among the best readers at school.

Jill also quotes research showing children need to hear 1,000 stories read aloud before they will become readers themselves.

How do I help my fostered child who has ADHD?

Ans: Resource material from The Brainary may help, here’s some:

The ADHD Workbook for Teens Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D. – Published January 2011. Approx $57.13

Symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, can strike at any time-during class, when you’re listening to a friend’s story, while doing homework, and did we mention during class? You might find it difficult to pay attention and sit still when your impulses are constantly tempting you to do the opposite. In The ADHD Workbook for Teens, you’ll learn simple skills you can use to confidently handle school, make and keep friends, and organise and finish every project you start.

Lara Honos-Webb, PH.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in the San Fransisco Bay Area. She is Author of The Gift of ADHD, The Gift of ADHD Activity Book, The Gift of Adult ADD, and Listening to Depression.

The ADHD Workbook for Kids – Helping Children Gain Self-Confidence, Social Skills & Self-Control. Price: $49.95

All kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) want to manage their symptoms in order to get along better with others, build confidence, and succeed in school, but most don’t have the skills they need to get their impulsive behaviour under control. The ADHD Workbook for Kids offers a simple way to help children with ADHD learn these critical skills in just ten minutes a day.

This workbook includes more than forty activities for kids developed by child psychologist Lawrence Shapiro that can help your child with ADHD handle everyday tasks, make friends, and build self-esteem while he or she learns to overcome the most challenging aspects of the disorder.

The Quiet Mind – Harnessing ADHD – Includes CD-ROM.  Price: $76.95

The Quiet Mind- Photo-Based Therapeutic Activities for Anxiety, ADD/ADHD and more: -For Children, Teens and Adults -Easy and Ready To Use Activities -Includes Book and CD -Scientifically Developed and Tested

The Quiet Mind series, offers a creative and solution-oriented method for overcoming a variety of behavioural and emotional hurdles. Although grounded in cognitive behavioural therapy, the Quiet Mind series uses a holistic approach. Whether you are personally challenged with attention issues or hyperactivity, or you are a professional therapist, a parent, a caretaker, or an educator QuietMind: Harnessing ADD/ADHD will add to your repertoire of techniques to help enhance attention skills and more effectively help bring on a sense of calm, sharpen focus, and rein in hyperactivity.

Helping Kids and Teens with ADHD in School – A Workbook for Classroom Support and Managing Transitions. Price: $50.95

Young people with ADHD can struggle to develop the skills they need to adapt to new situations and establish greater independence. This fun and interactive workbook is aimed at actively engaging young people with ADHD and supporting them as they negotiate the pitfalls of growing-up, and the transition to secondary or high school.

Each chapter focuses on a different key issue affecting children with ADHD around the time of school transition, such as organisation, friendships and stress. If left unaddressed, these difficulties can contribute to low self-esteem, behavioural problems and poor academic achievement. Using tried-and-tested strategies and top tips, this fully-photocopiable workbook will help adults to work collaboratively with young people to learn, test strategies, set goals and develop comprehensive support plans around individual needs.

Qu: Where can I learn about CYF foster care practice policies?

Ans:   for answers to questions such as:

Qu: How often must my CYF care giver social worker visit?

Ans: Every caregiver will have a caregiver social worker allocated to them to provide practical and emotional support. It is the caregiver social worker’s responsibility to engage with the caregiver, to visit at an early stage in the placement, and make contact with the caregiver every 8 weeks thereafter. There must be face to face contact with the caregiver every six months, as a minimum.

Qu: How often must my child’s CYF social worker visit?

Ans: The social worker will meet or make phone contact with the caregiver every 8 weeks, irrespective of whether that coincides with a visit to the child/young person.

Contact with the caregiver will focus on discussing the progress of the child/young person’s case plan, the caregiver’s responsibilities under that plan and matters relating to the provision of care to the child/young person.

During these contacts, the child/young person’s social worker will also check that routine matters, such as board payments, clothing issues, contact with family and any other needs are being addressed.

Do you have trouble getting hold of your Social Worker? If this is the case then you can call 0508 CARER (0508 227 377) and they will then make sure you are spoken to by your Social Worker and if they are not available then someone else will talk to you.

Transitioning between foster care placements

The best way to limit the impact of a child’s placement change is to ensure there is a clear and well-planned transition so that everyone is aware of what is going on …click here to go to the CYF practice centre policies and put the key word ‘transitioning’ into the search box in the upper right hand corner

Fostering teenage children – young adults

For the third year running L’Oreal has sponsored and hosted an ‘Explore Your Future’ workshop for teenage children in foster care. Teenagers hear from inspirational speakers like Ron Mark, musicians and sports celebrities.

They taught us that sometimes in life things don’t always go as planned but it’s what you want to make of life that will influence your result. Aim high, put in the work and you will get a better result. The rest of this testimonial is a must-read click here

Foster parents recommend rewarding experience

By Neelima Choahan, The Courier, Ballarat, Australia 7 April – republished with permission

FOSTERING teenagers is a rewarding experience that Monique and Graeme Ford would recommend to everyone.

The Blowhard residents have fostered four youngsters aged 11 to 14 since August 2010. Currently the parents of three are looking after a 14-year-old boy.

We thought our kids had a very privileged life so decided we all had something to give back to somebody that needed it,” Ms Ford said. “Our own children are older – 21, 20, 17 – so we thought teenagers would be good for them too.”

Being at a dairy farm was also a plus. Mr Ford said the outdoors lifestyle offered a lot of space for healing for the kids who had gone through a lot. “They like being on the farm,” Mr Ford said. “We bond over the jobs. There is plenty of open spaces, we have got motor bikes, they can play sport. “It is a good outdoor lifestyle.” However, like most people, the Fords also had their own doubts about bringing adolescents into their family.

“We had fears of alcohol and smoking and how it would influence our own children,” Ms Ford said. “We hadn’t had to deal with it so we were worried about how we would handle it if the situation arose.” However both say the experience has been all good. “It is very rewarding but there are challenges along the way,” Ms Ford said. “We have enjoyed it and it has made our children certainly aware of the need for fostering.”

Ms Ford said it was great to see the youngsters blossom along the way. “It is heartening to see the children feel they belong and become a part of the family,” she said. “And it is nice to be able to show a teenager that there is a different way of life and that there are people that care.”

“There is a stereotype about teenagers that they are going to be hard to manage but really they are still just kids who need love and nurturing,” “They need someone to believe in them.” END

Brainwave Trust discussions about the Teenage Brain: Fostering Kids recommends attending Brainwave Trust discussions in your region about the Teenage Brain. Until as recently as early this decade scientists believed that the brain was fully mature by the age of 10-12. Recent findings however show a second major period of development – great changes to the parts of the brain that are responsible for self-control, judgment, emotions and organization. These don’t occur until the period between puberty and adulthood and are probably not complete until around 25, particularly in young men. This is not a surprise to parents of teenagers and helps to explain the poor decision-making, recklessness and emotional outbursts which characterise the teenage years.

My husband and I had been married 10 years and had not had any children. That was our whole reason to start fostering. They started sending us teenagers and I thought, ‘This is my niche,” – Lisa Sanchez, foster parent

“I beseech anyone who has similar strengths, and a bond with a teen, to go for it. The rewards are incalculable.”

The story below featured in a mothering blog and is abbreviated.

“A boy we know boy just turned 16, and he is the light of his foster parents’ lives. Legally, I cannot give identifying information, but I can sketch out his story. I am hoping someday he will be strong enough to help his parents write the book of their lives.

5 years ago, the mother ran into a kid in the community (in a shelter where she was volunteering), and he was a wreck. Angry, violent, huge for 11.5 years old, using drugs, sexually active and fully in puberty, in and out of group homes, shelters, streets, etc. He never smiled with adults, trusted no one, and looked doomed. He was refusing to go to any school, and was in behavioural schools at that point. No decent attachment to any adult.

Long and short, he and the woman became friends, and very soon after another reunion with his biological mother broke down, a social worker saw that he was becoming attached to this woman. She approached the woman, happily married, 40, and happily childless by choice, about fostering. In shock, the woman spoke with her very reluctant husband. After many tears, therapy, and foster care training the boy moved in to their fairly perfect, ordered home.

He tried like hell to break them- tantrums, screaming, ruining trips, depression/threats of self harm, pounding doors off hinges, refusing to go to school, saying how he hated them and wanted to leave, etc.

They responded with love, understanding, and surreal patience. (Remember, no kids of their own, mid 40’s, and happened to be atheists).

Today, this beautiful young man is happy, confident, handsome, in a healthy loving relationship with a very nice teen girl, attending regular schools, has friends, talents, a future and a very strong bond with the couple (who adore him).

Recipe: Unconditional love. No threat, ever, that he would have to go. Never, ever, yelled back to, called names, responded to with anger in any way. Trust. Never hid, locked up, anything. Two people with money, resources, lots of higher education (psychology helps) time, patience. Hugged and held hands whenever he wanted, which is still very often.

He is their everything, and he probably would have been dead by now. He is beyond a success story. As I said, they are unable to ‘come out”, but they, and I, beseech anyone who has similar strengths, and a bond with a teen, to go for it. The rewards are incalculable.”

Gay couples fostering children

Here is an excerpt from an article titled Time for prejudice to be cast aside for good, published in the Wanganui Chronicle Tuesday, June 5, 2012 Click for link to full article

…. It is only over the last year or so that I have become certain on this issue. I used to wonder if there was a justification in opposing adoption for gay couples on the grounds that the child would be subjected to bullying and abuse from their peers.

The first problem with that view is that it’s not even likely that this abuse would occur to a great degree in today’s world. I know in my year group we are now in a position where only the most crude and primitive students would subject another to that sort of treatment. I would certainly hope that there would be clear condemnation from the rest of our student body in reaction. Society has moved to a point where this sort of mindless homophobia and harassment is no longer a common part of life for youth.

That’s not to say that it would be a perfect life for a child. The homophobic jokes that continue to be uttered daily, the use of words like gay and fag as substitutes for stupid and idiot, the clear lack of comfort for some people with the idea of two men or two women loving each other; these would all make life as a child growing up rather tough.

But the crucial point is that when we are talking about adoption, the situation is already a long way from ideal for these children. We’re talking about children who face very limited and often very suboptimal options anyway; for some, it is getting shifted from foster home to foster home with no stability. Adoption agencies and the appropriate bodies have the ability to weigh these factors against the difficulties of growing up with the prejudices that will inevitably come from a minority in society towards a child with gay parents. Legalising gay adoption does not mean that children must go to gay parents; it just means that at the point at which they can give a child the best upbringing compared to the alternatives, they can be utilised as that option.

The broader reason why gay adoption should be legalised is one of how we react to prejudicial individuals in society. Do we appease their beliefs in policy, or do we fight them? We should not devise policy which reacts to the small minds of bigots who can’t get over the notion that some people have a different sexuality to themselves, but rather we should, as a society, proactively oppose those people and devise policy which reflects that. It would have been easy to say that blacks in America should not have been able to adopt 50 years ago because their children might get bullied for having parents who were subjected to racial discrimination; we now look back on that view as utterly repugnant. In 50 years time, we too will be repulsed by the sentiments of those who consider gay couples somehow less human or less fit to bring up children.

…and here is an excerpt from an editorial in The Listener 2 June 2012 challenging us to consider ‘the tyranny of the majority’ …. “It seems inconceivable to us now that women were once considered unfit to vote … and  … as recently as the 1960s and 70s, polls showed over 70% of Americans were opposed to interracial marriage.”

Can we do better than group family homes?

In May 2011 Colin, a Board Member of Fostering Kids spoke about these:

There are differing views on Family Homes and these excerpts from the UK put the case for retaining these.

  • An abused teenager who was rejected by 15 foster families has written to the British prime minister begging him to intervene and stop the closure of children’s homes. “I am worried and scared about my home being taken away from me,” he wrote.
  • “I come from a background of physical and emotional neglect and have had 15 foster placements before settling [in a children’s home] and in my view there is a need for consistent residential care.
  • “I have made lots of attachments with the staff and while I am aware the homes are closing due to money I think this is not a good enough reason for me to be taken away and moved to another placement, making it my 17th move which will upset me more.”
  • Social workers, independent care workers and charities are deeply concerned that closing homes could leave many children being “shifted from pillar to post” with no permanent home.

School Holiday Camps for fostered children

Free KidzaCool Camps: Families need to apply direct to camps for application forms: numbers are listed below: Please book in plenty of time for the next school holidays. Tell them the number of children wanting to go when you ask for the forms. click on main menu on KidzaCool Camps. Download application forms. Ages 5-12 years, but applications for a sibling group can include 13-14 year old siblings should the caregiver want to have to have a full break.

Maunu Children’s Health Camp, Whangarei, Phone: 09 437 9050 – Pakuranga Children’s Health Camp, Auckland, Phone: 09 534 4017 – Princess of Wales Children’s Health Camp, Rotorua, Phone: 07 345 9097 – Te Kainga Whaiora Children’s Village, Gisborne, Phone: 06 867 5614 – Otaki Children’s Health Camp, Otaki, Phone: 06 364 8069 – Glenelg Children’s Health Camp, Christchurch, Phone: 03 332 2541 – Roxburgh Children’s Health Camp, Roxburgh, Phone: 03 446 8119

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS)

SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome or cot death. It is also sometimes referred to as Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) It is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of a baby during sleep. In New Zealand it is the main cause of death of babies. more

Am I entitled to IRD Tax credits?

Ans: You may be entitled to ‘Working for Families Tax Credits’ at the end of the tax year on 31st March.

Ask your local CYF site to print out the children you fostered in the financial year. IRD need either the children’s IRD number or the CYF print out to prove the identity of the children you had.

Go to the right hand side of the  page for information about tax credits or see

The children we look after as foster, whānau/kin or as grandparents all count towards the dependent children that have lived with you for any part of this year for the ‘working for family’s tax credits’ purposes – even when only very short term.

Life Books for children in foster care

Many foster and adoptive parents have found it helpful for their children to tell the story of their lives — where they’ve lived (other foster homes, residential treatment centers), whom they’ve lived with, what happened, and why.

Together, parents and children can write these stories, adding drawings and photographs. Children can change and add to their stories as they learn more, and understand differently. Their “life books” can help children find continuity amidst the frequent disruptions of their lives. In these stories, children can make room for people who are no longer present, or with whom contact is currently not permitted, whether it’s biological parents, grandparents, siblings or others. Even at times when contact with some biological family members is not allowed for child protection reasons, it can be helpful for children to figure out a place for them in their stories.

Cathy makes small photo albums and writes the stories of the young children’s lives to share with their families. “In some cases, I’m the only one who knows these stories of what they did when they were six months old,” she said. “I have to share that.”

Support for male foster carers

The Fostering Network Wales has produced a guide aimed at helping fostering services engage more effectively with male foster carers. Men Are Good Foster Carers Too raises the issues that male foster carers face as well as providing information on how to support them. Click for more

Mentoring kids in foster care

Kids in Foster Care Do Much Better Under Approach Developed by CU School of Medicine

By Staff Editor, 3 Jul 2012. Reprinted with permission.

Kids in foster care who receive mentoring and training in skills such as anger management, healthy communication, and problem solving are less likely to move foster homes or to be placed in a residential treatment center, and more likely to reunify with their biological families, according to a study by University of Colorado School of Medicine researchers.

Many programs nationwide have tried to help children in foster care achieve better placement outcomes by working with parents and making system-wide changes. This study, published in Pediatrics, focused on something new — improving child well-being.

These latest results are especially powerful and promising because there are few evidence-based programs for children in foster care.

Starting in 2002, researchers evaluated what happened when foster kids, aged 9-11, in two Colorado counties, were given nine months of mentoring and skills training in areas such as feelings identification, healthy coping, and cultural identity.

Results for approximately 50 children who received mentoring and skills training were compared to about the same number who received typical community and social services.

Children in the prevention program had 44 percent fewer placement changes and were 82 percent more likely to avoid placement in a residential treatment center. They were also twice as likely to have reunified with their families a year after the program ended.

“Focusing on child well-being is a major push nationally within the child welfare field. This study demonstrates the positive impacts that can result from such a focus,” says Heather Taussig, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the CU School of Medicine. Taussig also directs this program, called Fostering Healthy Futures, at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect in collaboration with her child welfare partners.

“A decade of work and analysis shows that well-designed and supervised mentoring programs can be effective for high-risk youth,” Taussig says. More importantly, she adds, it’s an indication that children are achieving a higher quality of life. Indeed, another published finding from this study demonstrated that children who received the prevention program had fewer mental health problems and were less likely to receive therapy six months after the program ended.

The fostered children in the study cannot comment because of confidentiality, but one former fostered child who volunteers with this program says this kind of help is crucial.

“children in foster care battle so many obstacles,” says Tracy Rivera. “Anything we can do to reduce those challenges and improve emotional well being benefits them and all of us. The education and skills kids get in the Fostering Healthy Futures program is preparing them for successful lives.

“I wish I had been a part of FHF. There was not the awareness or a program like this for me when I was growing up, which made for many painful transitions and insecurities in my life as a young adult.”

Positive discipline in fostering families

Click here for a comprehensive document about positive parenting

Shame and guilt felt by fostered children

Children in foster care often feel guilt and shame when they have to be taken away from their biological family. This is a huge emotional burden. This articulate teenager movingly describes it:

Families exist to nurture (fill the needs of) their members. Many adults were raised as children in low-nurture environments. Fostered children particularly so. Shame and guilt usually occur together and amplify each other.

Shame and guilt feel similar, but have different causes and are healed differently. Both begin in early childhood. Small children can feel “bad me” (shame) even before they have language. The way that parents react to young kids includes smiling or scowling, praise or criticism, and loving, harsh, or no touching.

Research suggests babies learn to interpret their caregivers’ facial expressions, voice tones, and body language well before they can understand adult speech. So a weary, annoyed, frustrated, overloaded (or shamed) parent can unintentionally promote their egocentric young child feeling “I’m bad!” without any words.

Unless parents have the attitude “mistakes are normal, helpful learning experiences,” they can unintentionally foster their child’s perception that breaking the adult rules is “bad” (causes pain).

So unless small kids steadily perceive their adults to be clearly delighted with them despite the kids’ clumsiness, moods, messes, demands, and mistakes, the seeds of shame (low self esteem) and guilt are sown soon after birth.

Unless family adults are steadily committed to minimizing these powerful emotions, they’re apt to flourish – specially in low-nurture homes, neighbourhoods, and schools. Without intentional intervention, shame and guilts will migrate into adulthood and frequently stress young women and men and their relationships.

Once uplifted and safe, children may have trouble believing it. They may need to test out seemingly safer new settings. They’ll have lots of questions, and may need reassurance that they can ask them.

Depending on their ages, children may want to know why: “Why was I hurt? Why was I abandoned? Is it because I was bad?”

Among their questions are those that reveal that, for them, the outside world’s dangers now seem to reside within them: “Was it my fault? Did I deserve this?” Often, this is what abused children have been told.

Behaving “badly” is one way of finding out whether a new home is really any safer than the last one, and whether the child will be accepted along with all his “badness.” They may be frightened of being alone with themselves until they have accumulated enough new everyday experiences that help them to trust others — and themselves.

Qu: What websites might help me foster well?

While the web is a rich source of information, the inclusion of a link or resource should not be taken as endorsement or approval by the management or board of Fostering Kids.  Footsteps provide and focus on REAL education at home for pre-schoolers.

Kids Who Foster KWF says it aims to raise awareness of the importance of including birth children in the decision to foster and to support children whose parents are Foster Carers, and to raise awareness of the integral but sometimes overlooked role played by Sons and Daughters. BAAF describes itself as the leading membership organisation in the UK for those concerned with fostering, adoption and children in care, and the leading UK charity working for children separated from their birth families.  CREATE Foundation, formerly the Australian Association of Young People in Care (AYPIC) is the peak body representing the voices of all children and young people in out-of-home care.   The National Foster Parent Association is the USA “National Voice of Foster Parents” representing thousands of foster families through state and local foster parent affiliates in most of the 50 states and U.S. territories. They also have forums for foster parents at, the Lower South Support Coordinator for Fostering Kids writes: I’ve heard Dave Ziegler speak and read his books which are like a bible for Care Givers. His workshops are not cheap but worth every cent. He’s speaking in New Zealand in October 2011. provide practical, emotional and educational support to 14,000 vulnerable inner-city London children whose parents are unable to care for them due to their own practical and emotional challenges.  Keynote speaker at 2011 IFCO Conference Derek Clark. Derek spent 13 years in the foster care cope with adversity and overcoming hardship. To hear Derek’s story and songs go his website.  He is most complimentary about foster carers and how they helped turn his life around. descibes itself as New Zealand’s leading and most dynamic provider of day long, professional development training for professionals working with children and young people. Australian Fostercare Association, a membership based voluntary organisation supporting and representing the voices of foster carers, their families and the children they care for throughout Australia.  The Fostering Network is the leading charity for foster care in the UK. Valuable free resources for carers.  and  We have three branches, Auckland which look after Cape Reinga down to North of Taupo, Wellington which look after South of Taupo to Wellington and Christchurch which looks after the entire South Island. Of course we can’t support every single CYFS centre so we do our best to provide to the local centres around our division – Sept 2011 information provided.  Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust, a New Zealand non-profit charitable Trust established to support Grandparents/kin who are raising Grandchildren/whanau children. Excellent newsletter you can sign up to.   offers specialist information about the different ways change, loss, trauma and grief can affect children, young people, adults and their families and friends.  They offer ways to deal with those effects, and ways to best support people of all ages facing tough times. Assist with any query you have relating to the use of alcohol and other drugs, from legal issues to the effects of a specific drug, along with ways to minimize the risks of using drugs. We serve children and young people through recognising the importance of their families and whānau and offering integrated services, within Barnardos and in community partnerships. Our set core values that define us as an organisation and the way we work is Integrity, Respect for Others, Success and Passion.  We are a national organisation set up as a charitable trust. Our aim is to raise public awareness about the amazing new findings in brain research, which emphasise the importance of early experiences on infant brain development and to educate about the important implications of this knowledge. Campaign For Action on Family Violence NZ’s current focus is on what friends and whānau can do to help people living in violent situations whether they are the violent person or the victim – not just in a crisis but in everyday situations. Child Matters is dedicated to preventing harm to children in New Zealand. We provide guidance, advice, education and support to those in a position to act to protect children. Preventing child abuse is everyone’s responsibility. Child Youth and Families help families help themselves. We believe all children belong in families that will love and nurture them. We team up with many different groups and people so that families have the support they need to help their children thrive. A practice and policy resource, predominantly for Child, Youth and Family but it is a great help that this is made available to all interested parties. Citizens Advice Bureaux has identified the values and principles that drive us and which sit at the forefront of how we consciously do things and how we interact with our clients, stakeholders, partners, and each other. Families Commission provides a voice for New Zealand families and whānau. We speak out for all families to promote a better understanding of family issues and needs among government agencies and the wider community. Family and Community Services (FACS) manages and funds over 35 programmes and services that support families and communities. Such as Early intervention services, Positive parenting, Family violence prevention services, Connected services, Whānau Ora and Youth intervention services.  Jigsaw puts the protection and well-being of New Zealand’s children first. Our vision is: Spark the dream – thriving children and flourishing families. Jigsaw stands against: child abuse and neglect, violence towards women and all forms of violence within the home. The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand’s work focuses on making mental health everybody’s business. What we do is diverse and expansive, with campaigns and services that cover all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. Youth Helpline’s vision is to create communities which relate to the needs of young people, respond to them, and support them to achieve their potential. NetSafe promotes cybersafety by educating and supporting individuals, organisations, and industry, on a range of cybersafety issues.  The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse is the national centre for collating and disseminating information about domestic and family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand. We provide information and resources for people working towards the elimination of family violence.  New Zealand Police is the lead agency responsible for reducing crime and enhancing community safety. Policing services 24 hours a day and operate from more than 400 community-based police stations around the country. We operate by land, sea and air.  The Office of the Children’s Commissioner advocates for the best interests of all children and young people in New Zealand. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner looks to ensure all of their rights are respected and upheld.  The Parenting Place, home of Parents Inc and the Toolbox Parenting Programme to carers parenting children not born to them Parent to Parent is a support and information network for parents of children with special needs. Support is provided voluntarily by Trained Support Parents who have a child with the same or similar needs. The Problem Gambling Foundation’s mission is building healthy communities together, free from gambling harm. The Foundation is committed to health promotion that contributes to safer gambling practices through community education and the development of regulations and standards. We provide a caring, professional service. We are committed to providing universal access to services for all children and families regardless of ethnicity, location or ability to pay. This is at the heart of who we are and is essential to provide a positive environment for parents. Safekids New Zealand is the national child injury prevention service, and a service of Starship Children’s Health.Their goal is to reduce the incidence and severity of unintentional injuries to children in New Zealand aged 0 – 14 years. SKIP’s vision is for all children in New Zealand to be raised in a positive way by parents and caregivers who feel confident about managing children’s behaviour as part of a loving, nurturing relationship. We provide support, information and parenting strategies for parents and caregivers of 0-5 year olds. Victim Support is a community organisation that helps people hurt by crime and other trauma. We provide emotional and practical support, information, financial assistance, referral to other support services and advocacy for victims’ rights. Women’s Refuge helps with Liberating women, children, families and whānau from family violence through the provision of quality services and social commentary. At Women’s Refuge, we provide any of the support and information you need when you are dealing with violence in your life. YouthLaw Tino Rangatiratanga Taitamariki is a community law centre for children and young people throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand. The site provides information about how the law can help you to overcome issues that may be affecting you, this site will encourage you to learn more about your rights.