Parents whose children enter foster care have often experienced serious trauma, including sexual assault, physical abuse or abandonment in childhood, community violence, and domestic violence. Research in NYC has found that more than half of mothers with children in care met the criteria for PTSD. Yet parents are rarely screened or treated for trauma. Learning about trauma–and the feelings of rage, shame, fear and hopelessness that so often come from trauma–can help you find the right supports and build a safer life for yourself and your children.
Interview with Kiran Malpe, clinical director of the Strong Starts Court Initiative in NYC
Planning is really important during stressful times, and there’s a part of our brain that plans, organizes and carries out our tasks. But stress and depression can affect our planning.
The word “stress” minimizes what court-involved families experience, which is “toxic stress.” That’s feeling overwhelmed and having no one to help you.
With toxic stress, parents may have difficulty maintaining routine … Read More
As a child I cried out for help to child protective
services. But the system didn’t help me when I was a child, and it hasn’t
helped me as a parent.
Almost as soon as my older son was born, child
protective services came into my life saying my son needed protection from me,
and it has remained in my life to this day. Instead of helping me, it weakened
my family and left me vulnerable. Because of the system, my child lives with anger
When my oldest daughter went into foster care five years ago, I was 20 and struggling. I’d signed myself out of foster care two years earlier and had been bouncing between youth shelters and my mom’s place.
I went into a shelter after my daughter was born, but a few months later my mother asked me to move in with her. It felt good. My mom had always been emotionally cut off from me. She placed … Read More
Interview by Nancy Fortunato, Jeanette Vega and Robbyne Wiley
Glenn Saxe, a developer of Trauma Systems Therapy and professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, explains how caseworkers can respond to signs of possible trauma.
Q: How can you tell if a parent’s actions are related to past trauma?
A: As a caseworker supervising visits, you may see surprising responses, like a parent getting very withdrawn in certain moments. Over time, you may see … Read More
In my family, chemical dependency and physical abuse were the tools we used to survive. That way of coping has been going strong in my family for decades. The result for my siblings and me was that we were removed and placed in foster care twice—first when I was 5 years old, and then for good when I was 8.
I grew up in the system with a powerful force inside of me: a burning desire … Read More