Angels Foster Care
Not Profit of the Week - March 7, 2010
Healthy child development is rooted in the experiences of infancy and early childhood, growth that is mediated for a child through his parents and caregivers. Infants are born ready to learn with brains that have a surplus of neurons, but the neurons interconnect and are pruned over time in response to a child's relationships and experiences.
Consequently, a child's emotional health is directly affected by parenting behaviors during infancy and early childhood. Evidence accepted by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows healthy development during infancy and early childhood depends on the continuous presence of a responsive, nurturing caregiver who recognizes a child's needs and responds to them in an appropriate and predictable manner. Good parenting promotes secure attachment, cognitive development, and emotional self-regulation. Sadly, the foster infant population is one of the most vulnerable to cognitive growth delays. Biological or foster parents who are chronically or frequently unresponsive, unpredictably responsive, or harsh toward their infants create an environment that is stressful for the infant or young child. Chronic stress alters neuronal connections in those areas of the brain that are responsible for emotional regulation, attention, and cognition. The outcomes of early, unpredictable, chaotic parenting are predictable: insecure attachment behaviors, hyperactivity, impulsivity, difficulty with transitions, limited cognitive development, dissociation between affect and emotions, easy frustration, etc. The early experience between child and parent is the template for all future relationships.
Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, a private foster family agency, is working to prevent attachment disorders in young foster children. The Angels Foster Care program recruits, trains and certifies high-quality foster homes for infants aged two and under and their siblings up to age five who are entering foster care for the first time. The children are stabilized in one Angels foster home with a full-time parent. Families agree to keep the child until he or she is reunited with a family member, adopted, or another permanent plan is implemented, typically a process that takes 6-18 months.
The role of an Angels foster family is to provide loving support and high-quality medical care, and to facilitate bonding and attachment behaviors in their foster child. Infants benefit by being stabilized in one home upon entry into the foster care system. They develop trust and bond with their foster family, which prevents attachment anomalies. The babies are given the extra attention they need to heal from their previous neglectful and abusive situations.
Angels Foster Care offers a markedly different parenting program than traditional public foster care. The agency recruits foster parents from non-traditional demographic segments and requires that each parent pass a psychological screening test before becoming certified. A county foster home may accept up to six foster children in addition to any other children in the home, and does not require a stay-at-home parent. The Angels foster program allows only one foster child per family and requires a full-time parent. Angels Foster Care social workers manage each case within the program and carry a maximum of 20 cases. Since its inception is 2006, Angels has placed 66 children in Santa Barbara County foster homes.
Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara
3905 State Street, #7-115
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
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