Halloween is exciting for kids — costumes, candy, in-school parties, trick-or-treating, and more! However, this holiday could be full of triggers for children in foster care and may cause discomfort. To help your children in foster care feel supported and seen — and boost excitement around the holiday — use this holiday as an opportunity to partner with their bio parents.
6 Ways the Foster and Bio Parents Can Partner this Halloween Season
Check-in with bio parents about allergies and candy preferences.
In a perfect world, all kids can safely eat all Halloween candy, but that’s sometimes not the case. As a foster parent, check in with bio parents to discover any allergies you should be aware of. You can also ask bio parents if the children have any candy favorites so you can surprise them with a uniquely chosen treat they can enjoy for the holiday!
Confirm any existing triggers.
Halloween is loaded with fun costumes and yummy candy, but you’ll find just as many scary costumes and decorations meant to spook children. This can be incredibly daunting for a child deeply impacted by trauma.
Check in with the bio parents to find out if their children have any fears or other triggers that could be activated on Halloween, such as fear of spiders, ghosts, the dark, strangers, etc., and avoid these things when possible.
Discuss family/cultural traditions/celebrations with bio parents.
Your child in care may come from a family that celebrates Halloween in a specific way due to family or cultural reasons, and it’s important to honor these traditions if possible. Consult with the bio parents before Halloween and confirm if any Halloween traditions are in place.
If so, maintain those traditions and invite bio parents to participate in creating an exciting yet familiar atmosphere for the kiddo to enjoy.
Find out which neighborhoods the family typically trick-or-treats in.
Ask the bio parents if the child has favorite or preferred neighborhoods or organizations where they spent their Halloweens in the past. You could invite the bio parents to trick-or-treat with you and the children on Halloween in these preferred locations.
If such places do not exist, you can map out a neighborhood or find a few Halloween events that would be easily accessible for you and the bio parents to attend together.
Take photos of the kiddos in their costumes to share with their bio families.
If the bio parents are unable to spend time with their children on this spooky, fun holiday, be sure to take photos of the kiddos in their special costumes to send to their bio parents and arrange a follow-up phone call after the holiday is over for the children and bio parents to share exciting details about their experience!
Have a backup plan ready.
If you learn from the bio parents that Halloween will trigger the child too deeply, come up with an alternative plan that allows your child to celebrate the holiday safely. This could mean attending a family-friendly event at a church or youth center, handing out candy at home rather than visiting a stranger’s house for trick-or-treating, or simply watching a kid-friendly Halloween movie together that evening.