A 4KIDS Family's Thoughts on EPIC

Date: May 19, 2021 l Author: Daniela Bolla, BSW

The Glashower family first began fostering with 4KIDS in 2018. They had previously been therapeutic foster parents while living in Virginia, and it was there that they developed both a heart to keep siblings together and a passion for trauma-informed care. As a 4KIDS Foster Family, they have cared for a total of 10 children (all sibling groups), and just recently adopted a little brother and sister!

Below, we asked them about their experience being foster parents through 4KIDS and implementing EPIC techniques into their parenting.

1. What made you decide to foster again when you moved to South Florida?

It was actually our teenage daughter Emma who got us back into fostering. She was 12 at the time that we heard a message at our church here in South Florida about foster care, and she was the one who said to us afterwards, “Mom and dad, it’s time.” She knew it was our family’s calling and that we weren’t finished helping kids in need. I am really grateful she had us spring back into action, because the amount of support we have received through 4KIDS is on an entirely different level compared to what we had experienced before.

2. Where did your passion for keeping siblings together in foster care come from?

When my [foster mother’s] parent’s divorced, it could have been a situation where my siblings and I got split up between our mom and dad, but instead we got to stay together. I think that was really crucial for our processing and healing. When you take the classes to become a foster parent with 4KIDS, they talk about all these connections that get taken away from the kids when they are removed from their home and placed in foster care (i.e. their parents, teachers, pets, and neighborhood friends). We felt that if we could keep them from losing one less person, especially a sibling who knows what they’re going through, then that was something that we wanted to do.

3. What were the biggest things you took away from EPIC Training?

One thing they did a great job of explaining in the training is how kids who have experienced trauma think differently. We walked away with a better understanding of how oftentimes, our foster or adoptive child’s natural age is not necessarily the age they are developmentally. Because of this, we need to address this specific child in a way that is better fitting for their “mental age.”

Another takeaway we had was learning how a nutrient-rich diet plays a critical role in lessening our children’s behaviors. When our kids are properly hydrated and we limit the amount of refined sugar in their diet, it improves their overall mood and ability to stay calm. We’ve even been able to teach other adults this too, like our adoptive son's teacher, for example. Whenever she rewarded him in the classroom with candy, he would go on to his aftercare program and often have meltdowns. But thanks to EPIC Training, we were able to show his teacher better ways to celebrate him in the classroom. Instead of candy, she started giving him stickers whenever he did something well and he would add each one to his folder. In time, his folder was full of stickers that reminded him of his achievements and motivated him to make more good decisions!

4. How is EPIC Training different than other trainings you’ve attended as foster parents?

The trainings we took in Virginia were strictly from a clinical standpoint. It explained a lot of college-level concepts without much practical application. EPIC, however, explains the clinical side of things and then moves it into a very relational space. You learn how trauma impacts brain development but also ways to apply these concepts practically as a parent. Once we were set up with a 4KIDS Therapist, our appreciation for EPIC deepened even more. I can now ask our therapist, “I understand why my child’s behavior is happening but I’m out of ideas for how to deal with it, can you help me brainstorm different techniques?”

EPIC Training is free and open to anyone who wants to learn more about how to best connect with kids using a trauma-informed approach. If you would like to get more information or register for an upcoming training, please visit 4KIDS.us/EPIC/Training.