Caring for children who were abused, neglected, or abandoned

Kinship care is an admirable task, but it can be challenging.

This informational series is courtesy of Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services.

For countless reasons children, many end up in the care of foster parents and/or kinship providers. Often times, these children have been through a lot, which can make providing support difficult at times. Officials with Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services is providing a few guidelines and bits of advice for those fulfilling this role and stepping in to help children in need.

The following information is courtesy of the Ohio Resource Guide for Kinship Care providers. 

Losing a parent is hard on any child and so are too many changes as research indicates children thrive on routine and regularity. So, because of a variety of circumstances, the children in the care of foster parents and/or kinship providers may have been hurt physically or emotionally In addition to physical abuse or neglect, children who have suffered a loss seem to share several common mental health issues. Experts indicate, however, each child’s creation or response to the loss depends on:

  • The significance of the loss.
  • Whether the loss is temporary or permanent.
  • Inherent coping abilities of the child.
  • Availability of supports.
  • Age and cognitive abilities of the child (at the time of the loss and the present time).

Experts note that while some children react in extreme ways, others respond mildly or even not at all and one child may be affected in one area while one child may is affected in another area. This can be a complicated situation to face. Below is a list of common mental health issues that may affect the children in your care.


When a child has been separated from significant figures in their lives, their emotional response is one of grief and mourning. There are five identifiable stages of grief: shock/denial, anger/rage, bargaining, depression, and resolution/understanding.


Officials note that many children who have experienced a loss feel that they have no control over their lives. Consequently, they may try to regain control by being orderly, compulsive, routine-focused, or planning ahead. Other youth may demonstrate their need for control via power struggles with authority figures, truancy, defiance, substance abuse, or tantrums.


Having at least two sets of parents creates a conflict for the child. The child may feel that closeness and love for one set of parents may be an act of disloyalty toward the other set of parents.

Rejection/Fear of Abandonment

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the child’s loss, officials note the child may feel that s/he was rejected and abandoned by the birth family. To avoid the risk of that happening again, some children may not allow themselves to get close to others, or they may react by continually seeking acceptance and approval from those around them.


The perception of being rejected is a direct blow to a child’s self-esteem. They may feel unwanted and that something is wrong with them. School performance and self-confidence may suffer.


This is a particularly crucial issue for children who have had multiple moves during their young lives. Separations at an early age may make it difficult for them to trust and become attached to their new caregivers.


The lack of information and secrecy that often surrounds a child’s history and birth family makes it difficult for the child to establish his/her identity, a major task of adolescent development, according to experts. The child may find this issue confusing, frustrating, and scary.

Officials add that not all children will experience problems with the above-listed issues. Som many face minor difficulties at the different developmental stages. Officials note these issues may be successfully handled by the caregiver or with help from a professional. It is recommended that caregivers experiencing these issues find supportive services that can address each child’s specific needs.

For more information on mental health services in your county, please call your information and referral service.

The complete Ohio Resource Guide can be found here.


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