Supporting Foster Youth During the Holidays
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Holidays can often bring a variety of emotions for kids, including excitement, joy, loss, sadness, and nostalgia. This time of year can be an especially challenging time for children and youth who are in out of home placement and may struggle with the absence of their family, traditions, and routine. Youth in out of home placement may feel excluded from caregiver family traditions, gift-giving, and extended family gatherings, which can lead to feelings of isolation and sadness. As a caregiver, it is incredibly important to recognize the grief, loss, and at times traumatic triggers that are associated with holidays. EVOLVE Family Services has some helpful tips for caregivers to keep in mind as you navigate this season with the child(ren) in your care.
One way to support youth during the holidays is to connect with their family members when feasible and if you’re comfortable. Caregivers can include them in their celebrations. Alternatively, you can plan a fun outdoor activity or excursion with them. There may be events/gatherings within the child’s family network that the foster caregiver can either attend, transport, or advocate for to ensure that kids are still participating in their family traditions that they look forward to. If children are not placed with their siblings, it may be important to include connection during the holidays for a sibling visit or to include them in some of your holiday gatherings.
Foster families can help the children in their home by integrating their birth families’ traditions, religious celebrations, and values. Ask the children in your care about their family traditions or things they look forward to during the holidays, such as baking cookies, watching a holiday movie, preparing a favorite dish, or going on a particular outing.
EVOLVE recognizes that not all families have the financial means to purchase numerous gifts. If gifts are typical for your family and you are in need of additional support, there are holiday drives, donations and sponsorships that you can take part in. EVOLVE hosts a gift drive to help support foster and kinship families during the holiday season. Being mindful of the child’s religious background is important as you are navigating gift giving and traditions.
You can also create new memories together through keepsakes such as making greeting cards, ornaments, and other crafts together. These can be used as gifts for birth families and even each other. Consider attending cultural events that benefit both the child in your care and expand your family’s understanding.
Other Religious and Cultural Holiday Events
Hanukkah Dec. 7 through Dec. 15
Kwanzaa Tue, Dec 26, 2023 – Mon, Jan 1, 2024
Fun Activities to Enjoy Together During the Holiday Season
- Sledding or ice skating, and teaching them how to skate if they don’t know how
- Baking and decorating cookies
- Creating decorations and ornaments
- Making greeting cards and picture frames
- Visiting Santa or finding a Santa Claus that looks like them
- Touring holiday lights displays
- Cooking a holiday meal or a family favorite dish together[HG2]
- Free Family Fun in Minneapolis
- Star Tribune Holiday Cookies
If you need more resources on how to navigate the challenges of holidays with youth in your home, see additional resources below:
Foster Adopt MN – Lets Talk: ‘Twas the Night Before Holiday Break (released TODAY).
Statewide Holiday Programs – Information about Christmas baskets, Christmas clearing bureaus, Christmas meals, holiday adoption programs, holiday gifts/toys and holiday related volunteer opportunities.
Toys and Gift help
Meals and Groceries