Foster Friendly Language: Do’s and Don’ts for Businesses

Becoming a Foster Friendly® Business is so much more than offering a discount. What may seem like a small act directly impacts foster families and our state’s most vulnerable kids. The generosity of companies shows local foster parents they are seen and valued, alleviates stress and reduces burnout.

As businesses join the Foster Friendly® App, we share trauma-informed tips on interacting with foster families who visit their locations. Understanding nuances of interacting with foster families not only shows compassion, but creates an inclusive environment for all customers.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to help guide your interactions:

6 Tips for Communicating with Foster Families

  1. Avoid Stigmatizing Kids:
    • If needed, address youth as “kids in foster care” NOT “foster kids.” This acknowledges their current situation without defining them. Use this terminology in both digital and in-person communication when sharing about your Foster Friendly® Business.
  2. Treat Everyone Equally:
    • If you identify foster parents and kids in their care, be sure to treat them the same as every other customer. Avoid inquiring about the children’s personal circumstances or assuming the worst about their biological parents.
  3. Assist Separated Kids:
    • If a child appears separated from a guardian, gently ask if they need help finding their “grown-up.” This inclusive term avoids potential trigger words: “mom,” “dad,” or “parent.” This terminology is preferred when interacting with any kids in need.
  4. Kids are kids:
    • Make comments that make all kids feel included in their current family unit. Do not make any assumptions on foster or adoptive children. Never ask guardians to identify their “real/biological kids” and kids in care.
  5. Address Issues Privately:
    • If there is an issue that needs to be addressed with the foster parents (such as redeeming their Foster Friendly® Discount), do so privately. This maintains the family’s dignity and prevents any unnecessary embarrassment.
  6. Maintain Physical Boundaries:
    • Fist bumps or high-fives may be a fun and respectful way to thank children for visiting your store. Do not force interactions without explicit permission. This includes hugs, touching hair, or any other physical interaction..

Supporting foster families involves sensitivity, respect, and understanding. If you’d like more information about becoming trauma-informed, we invite you to explore our 1-hour and 6-hour courses.

About the Foster Friendly® App

The Foster Friendly® App connects nearly 3,400 foster parents across Tennessee with exclusive offers and community resources from partners dedicated to supporting kids in care and those who embrace them. By downloading the app, foster and kinship parents receive instant access to a statewide network of support.

The exclusive discounts and services found on the app alleviate financial pressures and feelings of isolation, allowing families to keep their homes open longer and best serve those placed in their care.

The app is available for Apple and Android users.

Download our Free Guide

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