Back to news

How can foster carers support a child who has experienced abuse?

OBF Abuse

There are many reasons why a child or young person might end up in foster care. Sadly, abuse and neglect are the most common causes, with 66% of children in foster care due to these reasons.*

Whether a child has suffered physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, trauma at a young age can lead to a variety of trust issues and mental health problems. Foster carers are highly likely to come across such trauma, and those considering fostering should be aware of the implications of this, especially when it comes to emergency fostering and therapeutic-led fostering.

By providing a safe and loving home environment, foster carers can make a profound difference in young people’s lives. Transforming the futures of children in need can be incredibly rewarding. However, fostering is not without its challenges. Hearing about cases of abuse and neglect can be upsetting. It’s also important to understand that childhood trauma can lead to behavioural issues for some.

This is why we ensure our foster carers have access to 24/7 support. All Olive Branch foster carers also receive in-depth training on a variety of issues, such as caring for children who have been abused.

In this blog, we explore compassionate ways in which foster carers can support a child or young person who has experienced abuse.

1. Create a safe and stable home environment 

The primary concern for a child who has experienced abuse is ensuring they feel safe. This goes beyond physical safety to include emotional security. Establishing a daily routine can help create a sense of normalcy and stability, which in turn can reduce feelings of anxiety. You might also want to gently set out boundaries and expectations, as well as reassuring the child or young person that they are safe in your home. 


2. Work on building trust 

Trust is not easily given by children who have been abused. Be patient and allow them to build trust at their own pace. Listen to their concerns and validate their feelings without judgment. Be there for them consistently, whether it’s attending school events or simply being home at the same time each day, as this reinforces a sense of security. Try not to make promises you can’t keep, but show you are reliable. 


3. Encourage open communication

Encourage the child to express their feelings and thoughts, by listening actively and empathetically. Sometimes, young people may not have the words to describe their emotions, so be patient and supportive. Recognise that communication is not always verbal, and pay attention to body language and other forms of expression. 


4. Educate yourself about trauma

Educating yourself about childhood trauma and abuse is arguably one of the best ways you can help, as it will help you understand the impacts abuse can have and what to look out for. At Olive Branch Fostering, we offer a range of training, and our team are always on hand for guidance and support.


5. Promote self-esteem and empowerment

Celebrate achievements, no matter how small, as positive reinforcement helps build self-esteem and encourages positive behaviour. You might want to consider giving the child simple choices, like what to wear or what to do, while being careful not to overwhelm them. This can create a sense of control and empowerment. 


Supporting a child who has experienced abuse requires patience, compassion, and a deep commitment to their well-being. It can be an emotionally taxing journey at times, so it’s important foster carers have a support system in place. We’re committed to helping foster families to thrive, which is why we ensure our carers are fully supported every step of the way.

If you’d like to find out more about fostering in the North West, get in touch with our friendly fostering advisors today.


*Department for Education / NSPCC


Fostering insights


  • Foster Carer

Date published

25 June 2024

Ready to talk about fostering?

Get in touch with us today for a friendly chat

Contact Us