Case Workers and Foster Parents:
Reaching Infants Who Have Experienced Trauma, Toxic Stress, and Traumatic Separation
The brain undergoes its most rapid development during the first three years of life, making infancy and early childhood a period of both great vulnerability and opportunity. Young children in foster care have often suffered from environments that do not nurture brain development and many of these children have experienced exposure to trauma, toxic stress and/or traumatic separation. Case Workers and foster parents, therefore, represent a strategic workforce and group to engage in an effort to ensure that all children – including our most vulnerable – receive abundant language nutrition.
- Infants are the largest and fastest growing population group of system-involved children and the majority of infants enter the system within the first three months of life.
- Infants in foster care are at risk for attachment disruption, but research shows that adult-child language-rich interactions can foster parent-child attachment.
- Only 50 percent of children in foster care will receive a high school diploma, 32 points below the nationwide high school graduation rate.
TWMB has developed Talk With Me Baby: Foster Parent Curriculum, which can be incorporated into a state’s program to train foster parents as well as case workers. The curriculum and supplemental materials will prepare the case workers to integrate language nutrition messaging and coaching into their interactions with biological parents and foster parents. In addition, foster parents will understand to importance of delivering language nutrition to the infants in their care and will be encouraged to act as language nutrition coaches for biological parents. By engaging the case workers and foster parents who care for these children, TWMB is able to reach this vulnerable and growing population of infants.