Normalcy for youth in foster care is key 

By Megan DeBoer

A person doesn’t need to give birth in order to be a parent – there is much more to it. Love, care and support are key to raising a child. Most foster parents are familiar with these qualities.

Although foster parents aren’t biologically related to all the children they raise, they believe the kids in foster care truly are family. However, creating a safe place for children is easier said than done.

The 3,145 Nebraskan children living in out-of-home care require a home-like setting to maintain “normalcy.” Normalcy focuses on ensuring children in foster care are “able to participate in age-and developmentally-appropriate activities and experiences that are essential to the development of children and youth,” according to “Letting Kids Be Kids: Nebraska’s Implementation of the Strengthening Families Act.”

Childhood should be full of fun and enriching experiences, such as playing sports or adventuring at summer camp. These activities allow children to develop long-lasting relationships and social capital with peers, adults and their communities. While many take these ventures for granted, faced with a myriad of barriers preventing them from experiencing these “normal” childhood experiences are youth in foster care.

Hobbies and activities that promote normalcy are crucial during a youth’s complicated search for self-identity. These experiences help children discover their interests and introduce healthy means of taking risks. More importantly, with support and adult supervision, these experiences allow children to learn from their mistakes in a safe environment.  Studies show that these fulfilling activities and relationships are vital to a child’s development as they transition to adult roles, responsibilities and explore new things.

While foster parents present their children with normalcy, NFPAN takes care of the parents. As the only nonprofit solely committed to assisting foster parents, NFPAN provides a safe space to network, communicate and support one another. In NFPAN’s monthly meetings, foster parents are encouraged to voice shared concerns in a supportive environment and communicate with representatives from each of Omaha’s metro agencies. With shared resources, collaboration and strategic partnerships, NFPAN connects parents with the tools for successful foster parenting.

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