The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

The holidays can be hard for kids in foster care. While many of us look forward to the holidays….shopping, comfort food, family traditions….this can be a reminder for kids in foster care that they are not with their parents and siblings. Try to be mindful that this can be a grieving time for kids, and can cause a variety of feelings, which can be expressed in a variety of different ways. Some kids have the language and enough emotional maturity to be able to put words to how they are feeling. Many more do not yet have these skills, and may just act anxious, sad, irritable or may act out with behaviors. You may see more tantrums, small things may “set them off,” and this can be very confusing when you are viewing this is as such a wonderful season.

We wanted to share some ideas and tips to help you navigate this time of year. We combed the internet and here are some of the best tips we could find:

  • Try to include your foster child’s family in any way possible. Can they make them things, get them presents, call them on Christmas morning, share a special meal?  In what ways can a foster family work to make the holiday special for the child(ren) and their parents even if they are not with their biological family for the actual day.
  • When having large gatherings, be aware that you are going to be introducing your foster children to more strangers, this could cause some children to be uncomfortable so make sure to take that into consideration.
  • Along with this, family gatherings also could bring on many questions from other adults. Make sure the conversations stay positive about the biological family, kids will hear adults talking and this can be difficult if the conversation is not positive.
  • Remember that the details of the children’s case should not be shared with all of your extended family. Be careful about other family members posting pictures of your foster children on social media. Remind them we cannot do this without “hearting” out their face.
  • Hold an open conversation about what the holidays are like in your home.  Let them know what to expect. Not knowing can create anxiety and remember everything may be new and strange to them.
  • Have a preparatory conversation with family and friends. Help them understand that this may be a hard time for the kids.
  • Arrange for them to meet your extended family in advance, if possible. Again, this will help reduce anxiety about not knowing to expect and meeting lots of strange new people.
  • Plan ahead for presents. Talk to the agency, they likely have a plan for ensuring your child gets presents, but their biological family may also have presents for them.
  • Make space for their own beliefs and traditions. Remember not all families have the same traditions around the holidays. They may have a special food that they enjoy, ask about that and try to include something that is “just for them” if you can.
  • Give your foster child some space. We all need time and space sometimes just to reset when we are feeling off. Kids need that space too.

Here are some links to additional resources. Feel free to reach out to your workers if you have any questions or concerns about your child. Wishing you a joyous season of giving and a peaceful holiday break!

Foster Family Tips for the Holiday Season - YouTube
How to help foster children during the holidays - Fairfax CASA

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* Important Notice *

Earlier this year, Samaritas was under investigation by the state for allegations of abuse in our emergency shelter in Grand Rapids. We opened this shelter 26 months earlier for children from Central America crossing the border fleeing from horrible condition; we were asked to take in Afghan youth when there was no other place for them to go after the crisis in Afghanistan occurred. We accepted 19 youth in response to this request and our long-term commitment to help youth to the greatest extent possible at the time of their greatest need. Samaritas was one of several similar emergency shelters across the country asked to take in these refugee youth.

Due to the severe level of trauma they had endured, many of them required intensive therapy and counseling. As a result of the growing concern we had for the depth and breadth of those needs of the youth and the safety of our team, we made the decision to work with our referring partners to move the youth to other programs where they could access the higher level of trauma-informed care, supervision, and medical attention that they required. Due to state and federal oversight of our programs, we are unable to share specific details of the investigation but we were cleared of any abuse allegations by the state and all youth were transferred to appropriate residential placements where they could receive the care they needed. Samaritas continues to be a state and federal leader in refugee resettlement, including refugee foster care.


Please Contact:
Joe DiBenedetto
Lambert & Co.
(516) 637-0597

Matt Friedman
Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications
(248) 762-1430