What is Normalcy? Normalcy in foster care is defined as the ability for a normal life as possible for a child in foster care; the state of being usual, typical, or expected. Normalcy for children is engaging them in normal, age and maturity-appropriate experiences and activities. This promotes healthy child development.
Why is normalcy for children important? Children who have experienced abuse and neglect and have been removed from their homes and placed in foster homes is “not normal.” While foster care may be a safer and healthier place for these children, promoting normalcy is a true challenge for some foster children. Giving foster children the freedom to act like children can encourage the development of strengths and interests.
Normalcy for children in foster care includes children or teens’ participation in school activities- band, athletics/ sports, choir, etc., completing homework, hangouts with friends, getting a job, getting a driver’s license, and graduating high school. Normalcy also refers to foster children’s relationships- establishing friendships and healthy relationships with adults, not feeling stigmatized or singled out, or being treated differently because of a child’s foster care status. In addition, biological and foster children who are living in the same home but who are treated differently from each other evoke strong emotions from children in foster care.
Foster children in care may have a negative association with attending school. That may have been their only safe place before their removal. They may have bad memories of attending previous schools. While they are in care, we hope to turn their association with school into a positive and help heal their emotional wounds.
Teens who have permanency goals to age out of care are under huge stressors and barriers. The statistics are stacked against them: 20% of children who age out of care will become homeless, 7 out of 10 girls who are out become pregnant before the age of 21, only 1 of 2 children who age out will have gainful employment by age 24, and only 3% of children who age out of care will graduate college.
All children want is to feel loved and to feel like they fit in. Foster children want to go to their first day of school with the same supplies their peers have. They want the same brand of shoes, clothes, and supplies. Letting these children pick out their own clothes, shoes, and backpacks gives children a voice and to feel heard and confident. All children need confidence and self-esteem to be successful. Our goals are to set these children up for success, and providing school supplies helps with that, and it also takes the burden off their foster families.