A Guidebook for Raising Foster Children

Article excerpt

McNair-Blatt, S. (2000). A Guidebook for Raising Foster Children. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey. 218 pages. ISBN: 0-89789-653-X. Price: $39.95.

McNair-Blatt offers a practical guidebook for raising foster children. She focuses entirely on the foster parents as the target audience, with 17 chapters full of practical advice. Her tone is practical, and the sections are easy to read and well organized. Every chapter includes 15 to 20 descriptive subheadings, each with 4 to 6 paragraphs pertaining to the topic.

Chapter 3, for example, examines foster children as part of a foster family. Subheadings include normal family functioning, fitting a foster child into your family, older foster parents, your relatives and foster children, when foster parents argue with each other, getting mad at a foster child, children fighting in the home, the quiet child, family activities, chores, latchkey children, divorce and foster families, learning the art of conversation at home, gay foster parents, television, and pets and foster children.

Each brief subsection offers short description, direct advice, and tips. An example excerpted from chapter 3 under the subheading "Learning the Art of Conversation," the author begins as follows:

Many households are not quiet, so the first step towards a conversation is to turn off the television and turn on the telephone answering machine. Then, once it is quiet, you need to help teach a foster child learn how to engage in a family conversation. Foster parents should start be being good listeners. Settle back in a chair, have a look of interest, and respond occasionally with short questions.. . . Conversations may involve you telling about events of your day, and these stories may also have a lesson. If your boss criticizes you and you are feeling bad about that, discuss it with the child ... be sure to share the happy moments of your day such as standing in the sun during lunch break. Ask the child to share similar happy moments. (p. 33)

The remaining chapters include topics such as welcoming new foster children; dealing with the foster child's biological family; abuse and neglect; raising children of certain ages (e.g., infants, school age, adolescents); and addressing abnormal behavior, juvenile delinquency, and health-related problems in foster children.

Foster care agencies conducting training for foster parents, new and experienced foster families, and others who care for foster children would find this book a valuable resource. The unique contribution of this guidebook is the practical advice and easy-to-use reference format, making it user-friendly. When referenced by foster family audiences or trainers of foster families, this guidebook would be a useful and recommended resource. …