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Help For Hundreds of NH Foster Families

March 7, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. - According to the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), between 700 and 800 children live in foster homes in New Hampshire. Many studies point to a correlation between economic stress and increased substance abuse, neglect and abuse in families - the primary reasons children are removed and placed in temporary and sometimes permanent homes.

The transition can be difficult for both kids and foster parents, according to Jennifer Guillemette, director of the New Hampshire Foster & Adoptive Parent Association (NH FAPA). She says teens and young children can act out in a variety of ways.

"You may see kicking, hitting, biting; you may see real withdrawing behaviors where they're having a hard time processing their emotions and want to be with their birth family, when they're missing their birth family."

Gullemette, a foster parent herself, says it's important for foster parents to remember not to place their own expectations on the child.

"We're working with the child to hear what they want and what they're used to, encouraging kids to be involved in school activities or extracurricular activities as they are comfortable, really listening to what they want."

Guillemette says providing a stable home for foster kids has been a rewarding experience for her entire family. In addition to raising her own biological children, she and her husband have fostered several teenage girls over the years.

"We've maintained connections with those girls as they've gotten older and gone to college and gone on to do other things. They're still very connected with our family and always have a home to come home to, which is nice for them."

Many resources are available in New Hampshire to help foster parents deal with parenting a child who could come from a turbulent background, she says, as well as plenty of support groups for the children. In addition to reaching out to DCYF social workers to connect people to assistance, she says her organization can also refer families to resources around the state.

More information is available at www.nhfapa.org.


Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH