In recognition of both National Foster Care Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, the Children’s Bureau (CB) hosted a virtual event on Wednesday, May 11, at 5:00pm ET, to discuss the “intersection of family separation, trauma, and triumph.” Panelists were:

  • Aysha E. Schomburg, Associate Commissioner, CB
  • Nicole Childers, foster care lived experience and executive editor at NBC News
  • Thema Bryant, Ph.D., president-elect, American Psychological Association

The event focused on childhood trauma, the impact it has on children and adults, and the overlap with the foster care system. Ms. Childers shared at length about her personal experience with trauma and her time in foster care, tracing the impact of childhood abuse through her personal and professional life. Dr. Bryant brought insight from the medical and science fields, speaking about the broader understanding of complex trauma and toxic stress and how it can interrupt a child’s sense of self and have long-lasting emotional and physical effects. She noted that a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can increase vulnerability for future trauma, but that a caring adult can make a huge difference in the life of a child.

Commissioner Schomburg highlighted that there is typically trauma that leads to family separation, but also that removing a child from their parents or caregivers can be traumatic itself. Dr. Bryant added that children are also sometimes abused within the child welfare system, resulting in ongoing trauma. She emphasized that “just because it’s better, that doesn’t mean that it’s good.”

The panel ended with a discussion on healing and hope, with panelists sharing affirmations for foster youth and those who care for them.