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Prevention of RAD in Foster Children

Can Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) be prevented in foster care children? Part 2

The prevention of RAD in Foster Children is debatable and studies are limited in RAD children. RAD studies should be done in order to prevent the causes of this preventable disorder when possible.


Prevention of RAD in Foster Children

I'm not sure about the prevention of RAD, but there are things that could be done that would prevent the increased risk. First of all, there could be fewer moves. Why would "we" move the children so many times? I know there are valid reasons to move children.

Child Protective Services move children because of parental abuse and neglect. I have a whole video and blog dedicated to the subject.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKreT-bjeXM&t=27s

  • https://impressingminds.com/why-are-children-in-foster-care/

Prevention of RAD in Foster Children is not a reality

Children being taken into foster care need some safeguards to be created. A few safeguards could eliminate the child from being moved so many times and potentially preventing reactive attachment disorder. Proper training on Reactive Attachment disorder for foster parents (and some child protective service workers) would help! I am not talking about the simple training that foster parents attend - a few zoom meetings do not qualify for adequate preparation for taking a young, traumatized stranger into your home.


I am talking about a real training that would make the reality of foster parenting come to life. The day in and day out of life as a foster parent should be explained. The real-deal, behind the scenes problems, bio-issues, court concerns, emotional roller coaster, and burdensome weight that is heaved upon us should be explored more realistically. A more valuable training would be beneficial.


A mentor program would help to teach and train on the "job". This program would entail a parent assisting with the daily life issues that arise with foster parenting - support. When you want to talk to someone about an issue regarding a foster care issue, you would have a few numbers of foster parents you could contact - perhaps from your same agency. A specific person to relieve you when necessary would be assigned to you if you did not have one chosen upon signing up to foster. It would be a friendly agreement to have a respite provider. Monthly or bimonthly respite for the weekend would be the norm. Weekend trips to a respite provider would be much better than the burnout of the foster parents. These respite providers would also be provided respite by you when needed. A partnership would ensue.

Respite family provider

Support for RAD in Foster Children's Parents

If you are a foster parent, you need support. If you have RAD in foster children, you need more support. Proper support from an agency as well as other parents could create more resistance to give up when the going gets tough in parenting some difficult foster children. These children from hard places, as Karen Purvis, Ph.D. calls them, need more parenting skills than your own bio-parenting skills. Love is not enough. You will wear out. You need major support.


https://impressingminds.com/professional-foster-parenting/ This post talks about support for foster parents. If I had support from an agency or a group of parents, I may have recognized RAD well before my child was 10 years old.


Before 3 years old...

My boy moved many times before he came to our home. I do not even know at what time or age he went into state custody. He moved to a father's house and grandparent's home - that is what I heard from a worker anyway. I got so much information without any official documentation on the reason he was taken. The moves were so much on an infant, toddler, child.


Attachment theory

Attachment theory is explained by a mother lovingly connecting with her child as he cries for his needs to be met. This theory explains that a cycle of needs is met by a mother; then the infant learns to trust. Infant and mother bond with eye contact, loving expressions, and mimicking.

Attachment Theory

When the infant does not get his needs met properly a disconnect becomes present in the infant's mind. This disconnect says the world is not safe; I can't trust caregivers. My needs are never met! I don't trust adults. I can't trust my mother. RAD in children can develop. RAD in foster children can occur worse if these children are subsequently taken by the state.


Orphanages are places where infant needs go unmet. Often these orphanages are overcrowded and these children do not get enough attention. They have no one responding to their needs, the things they learn, or expressions. Google search orphanages in Europe or Asia and see some of the conditions.

RAD in foster children

Parental Neglect

If children were in their original home while neglect is occurring, then Reactive Attachment Disorder is caused in the bio homes. However, if after forming bonds with the parents, the child is removed, they do have the ability to form bonds with the next care-taker. Their sense of trust and needs being met is intact. See the graphic above to explain the cycle of trust. A short video on neglect is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF3j5UVCSCA


Foster care removals occur for lots of reasons; I'm not saying they are invalid or shaming anyone for moving a child. We have had a few to be moved.


Our three-year-old boy came and had a lot of issues. I did not recognize the RAD symptoms. I knew there were a lot of moves for him. His older sister is fine and does not suffer from RAD even though she had the same number of moves. We have normal adoption issues but nothing severe. There must be more factors than just moves. Her attachment cycle must have been intact. We can speculate on these things but will never know


Do you think Reactive Attachment Disorder could be prevented in foster care with the system the way it is? I do not think so.


Foster care changes

In order to make significant changes to our foster care system, we need stronger education on the real-life of foster parents, more respite, and planning the foster care moves that are only necessary.


When a child does move, there should also be some closure to their move and former life with a biological parent or a foster parent. I have heard horror stories of foster kids getting moved and then not seeing or hearing from that foster parent again. One foster parent friend was very distraught and wanted to quit serving as a foster care parent after the child abruptly moved away. She had been emotionally hurt - painfully pulled away - from a child that she had bonded to. How much more would the child be hurt?


Other Solutions

How can we as foster parents educate ourselves on the reality of foster care and prepare for the long-haul with these children? I would hope that we would not pick up the phone and call for a child to be picked up when the honeymoon is over. When the kids begin acting out, it is not time to give up and send them on. We should do everything in our power to keep them with us, safe and secure... Well, as safe and secure as a foster child can feel. I'm planning more posts on creating solutions to these issues. Stay tuned. Share!!!


Let me know in the comments what you think would decrease the moves in foster care; therefore, reduce the chances of a child being diagnosed with RAD.

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Impressing Minds is about creating value in the mind of a child through the foster parents. Imagine the mind of a child being made of play-doh, and you are about to make a permanent impression. What type of impression will you make? I will encourage you to make a soft, lasting, affirmative impression in their mind by giving tools to get started fostering, accomplishing a great foster care home, and serving the children in your care. I offer support to you and others fostering. An important element of Impressing Minds is the support that others have given to those in need.

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