Setting goals and celebrations for children in Foster Care

Setting goals and celebrations for children in Foster Care

How to set goals for celebrations and holidays

Being realistic with goal setting for children in Foster Care

The holiday season can bring many people feelings of joy and comfort. It can be used as a way for people to relax and spend quality time with their loved ones. However, the holidays can also bring feelings of grief, depression, and loneliness. This is especially true for children in foster care or adoption in the United States.

Current and incoming foster kids in social services carry a lot of trauma and grief. This can come from their past experiences with their birth parents. The holiday season could increase those negative feelings. (For more information on this topic, check out our last blog post, Holidays and Starting New traditions with Your Foster Child).

Setting goals for success during this time can create positive memories for the children to remember fondly. Also, teaching your foster children how to set realistic goals is an excellent tool for them to have in their personal and professional lives.

So, what do they have to look forward to in the upcoming year? How can you help them to be as optimistic as they can be? How does setting effective goals help the whole foster family have a better holiday season?

Setting realistic goals as a family unit can be a fun bonding experience. Achieving goals together can also be a happy and proud experience for the whole family. Below are goal-setting tips to prepare for the holiday season and the new year.

Keep doing what you've been doing: Keep up the consistency of being a great, supportive, and loving foster parent. You're choosing to take your time to read through these blogs. Learning to be a better foster parent means you're already setting your child up for success.

Foster children need consistency and trust. Even if the world turns to chaos, as long as you're still doing your job, they will thrive and appreciate you for it.

Have them set new and realistic goals: ​Sit down with your family and explain the benefits of developing and documenting goals. Let them know that in the short term, they will feel proud and confident. It will also be a huge relief, like the feeling they may get when they complete their daily chores. In the long term, they will be learning an important life skill that can set them up for success.

Then, help them create some goals for themselves. Writing their goals down will help them keep track of them. Start with setting small goals, then gradually add big goals to the list. Here are some examples of personal goals that can be set for the holiday season:

  • Attend a community event (church, volunteering, etc.)
  • Learn to make a cultural dish
  • Spend an electronic-free evening with your family
  • Write a letter to a relative who lives far away


Remind them of your role​: Your role is to be a parent and provide a safe space where they will thrive and grow. Open a line of communication by asking your child if they feel you've done that thus far.

If they say you have, express to them your desire to keep that up during the holidays, even if things get busy and stressful. Be clear in your intention to keep that up in the new year as well. You can use the time to reflect on positive memories between you two. You can also use the time to set goals for the new year to create more of those memories.

If they say no, then open the door for dialogue. It is essential not to be offended and respond too aggressively or defensively. Your foster child needs to know that they can be open and honest with you without being met with hostility. Take the time to set smart goals with yourself on how to better provide for your child.

Celebrate something positive/successful in their lives​: Find something that your foster child has accomplished and have a small celebration for them. Show them that it's important to feel proud of themselves when they achieve something or complete a goal.

This will let them know that you see them working hard. Encouraging them will increase the relationship between you. It also improves their confidence and shows them that you are safe for them to lean on.

I am a Home Study Specialist at Extra Special Parents (ESP), a Virginia-based licensed foster care treatment agency. In my ESP role, I have two tasks:

1: I train potential foster parents and guide them as they navigate the road to certification to become licensed foster parents.

2: I conduct home studies of likely foster parents, which is critical to the road to certification. 

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