Many families with children own a pet. Animals are great for kids—and kids are great for animals. They mutually benefit from having an in-home playmate. But pets can be downright healing for children and youth in foster care.
Removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect, SoCal’s 35,000 foster youth are often recovering from trauma. As a result, trusting people and forming supportive attachments can be especially difficult for children and youth in foster care.
The great news is that research has shown that foster kids who have the opportunity to enjoy the comforting contact and affection of a pet can then more easily form trusting relationships with other people. Forming trusting relationships—a skill we all need for good cognitive health and social well-being—is a key milestone in overcoming the effects of trauma. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion and empathy. For these reasons many foster care and adoptive families consider getting a therapy or emotional supportpet.
So let’s appreciate our animal friends, and remember that there are vulnerable children in need of their love and support.