NH DCYF Caregiver Pre-Service Training

The NH DCYF Caregiver Pre-Service Training is a requirement for individuals who have initiated the process to become a licensed foster caregiver in the state of NH. This training provides essential information about how caregivers can support children and youth in their care. The training has been adapted from the research-based and nationally recognized National Training and Development Curriculum (NTDC) for Foster and Adoptive Parents. In partnership with the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) the content includes real NH experience, stories, NH specific information and resources. The courses are built within a cohort model to provide a support network as you continue to learn and grow as a caregiver. As a cohort, you will engage with the same group of peers throughout your initial training.

Participants have their choice of three different cohort schedules to choose from. The training will be online using a learning management system referred to as Canvas and using Zoom to facilitate class times. When registering, make sure to select the option that works best for you. When reviewing the options, the hours describe the times you will need to be available to participate in a live Zoom class. Below is an example of these three different options:

NH DCYF partners and children for decoration only
Options Weeks to Complete
Wednesday nights 6-9 pm  7 weeks to complete
Tuesday/Thursday nights 5:30 - 8:30 pm 3.5 weeks to complete
Saturdays 9 am -to 4 pm 3.5 weeks to complete

Training consists of:

  • Two self-paced modules (1 hour each)
  • Seven live Zoom classes (3 hours each)
  • This means the graphic above demonstrates different cohort model options with specific Zoom times
  • For example, if selecting the Wednesday night option, you will be meeting seven consecutive Wednesdays from 6:00-9:00 pm
  • The Saturday option will cover the equivalent of two classes (9:00 am-4:00 pm to include lunchtime)
  • The total training hours to complete this course is 23 hours
  • We recommend when enrolling for a cohort that you make every attempt to remain in that cohort and attend each of the classes. We do know there may be extenuating circumstances, and we will work with you to do our best to accommodate your situation.
  • *Register separately for the Pre-Service Caregiver Basic Medications Overview (scroll down for details)

The course becomes available a few days before the first scheduled Zoom class. It is encouraged to access the course, once available, to review course material, complete the caregiver self-assessment, and prepare for your first Zoom class.

Below is a description of the topics/themes covered during the NH DCYF Caregiver Pre-Service Training Cohort:

Overview of the Child Welfare System

This self-paced module provides an overview to introduce participants to the child welfare system in NH. Learners will become acquainted with the key players in the child welfare system to better learn their roles. This theme introduces caregivers to various reasons children may come to the attention of DCYF and highlights relevant child welfare history.  

Reunification: The Primary Permanency Goal & Foster Care: A Means to Support Families

Zoom class #1 introduces reunification as the primary permanency goal for children in care. Participants will discuss various permanency options and the role of caregivers in supporting reunification. Permanency will be examined through the child’s perspective. Additionally, this theme discusses concurrent planning and supporting children who are unable to be reunified with their families. The next topic considers the child welfare experience from the perspective of the child’s birth parents. It is important for caregivers to demonstrate compassion for children’s birth parents and recognize the challenges families may be facing. This theme explores strategies to nurture children’s relationship with their birth parents, such as integrating and maintaining on-going communication and connection between parents and children. Participants will examine potential challenges in partnering with families and discuss how to support children before and after visits with their families.  

Attachment & Child Development

Zoom class #2 discusses the importance of attachment relationships for children and caregivers who are fostering or adopting. It is important for caregivers to recognize the impact fractured attachments have on children’s ability to connect and develop health relationships. Participants will learn strategies to develop healthy attachment bonds, foster trust, and support children’s sense of connectedness and belonging. This theme emphasizes the significance of recognizing and honoring children’s primary attachment to their families.  The next topic provides an overview of child development. Participants will examine expected developmental milestones and discuss development expectations within various domains. This theme also explores disrupted child development and provides information on recognizing signs of developmental delays. Participants will learn effective ways to meet children’s developmental needs at different stages of development.  

Separation, Grief, and Loss & Maintaining Children’s Connections

Zoom class #3 examines the impact of separation and ambiguous loss that children in care experience. Caregivers will explore different ways children grieve over time and identify strategies to help children express and cope with their grief and loss. This theme discusses loss and fractured attachments with birth family members and emphasizes the importance of maintaining essential relationships. Additionally, the separation, grief, and loss experienced by other members of the foster/adoption network is addressed. The next topic discusses the importance of integrating and maintaining ongoing communication and connection between children in care and their siblings, families, and communities. It’s important for caregivers to understand sibling dynamics and the importance of sibling bonds. This theme discusses how caregivers can navigate and support visits with siblings and family members. Caregivers will identify strategies to keep children connected to their communities (e.g., schools, churches, friends, sports teams) and understand their role in maintaining these connections.  

Supporting Children’s Social and Cultural Identities & Caring for a Child with a History of Sexual Trauma

Zoom class #4 invites caregivers to consider their own contexts and experiences through a self-reflection of social and cultural identities. Participants will discuss how their experiences and identities inform their viewpoints and perspectives and will consider the influence this has on caring for children and youth. This course considers how children may have different identities and lived experiences than their caregivers and discusses ways caregivers can demonstrate acceptance, support, and respect for children and their birth families. Participants will examine socially determined challenges and barriers that children and families may experience and explore the importance of advocating for children in their care. The next topic provides caregivers with an introduction to the potential indicators that children may have experienced sexual abuse. Caregivers will gain an increased awareness of how sexual trauma can impact and interrupt children’s sexual development. This theme will discuss unique challenges associated with caring for a child who has experienced sexual abuse and provide caregivers with strategies to promote safety and a healing environment for children in their care. It is important for caregivers to recognize potential risk factors, including re-victimization, human trafficking, and re-enactment behaviors that children may experience as a result of their sexual trauma. These risk factors and strategies to address and prevent them will be discussed.  

Expanding Your Parenting Paradigm

This self-paced module helps participants understand why traditional parenting is not effective for children who have experienced separation, loss, or trauma. The theme helps identify caregiver strengths, as well as the need to adapt caregiver techniques to support children in care. Furthermore, this theme increases awareness of changes to parenting values and beliefs that may be necessary. Characteristics for successfully caring for children who have experienced separation, loss or trauma are identified and discussed. 

Zoom class #5 discusses how chaos, threat, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences can alter the developing brain. The theme also examines how trauma can influence the way children think, feel, and act. Participants will increase their understanding of the major stress responses individuals use to cope with perceived and actual threats and recognize the reasons and symptoms children exhibit. Participants will explore and identify survival skills and coping strategies that result in a complex range of behaviors.  The next topic introduces participants to trauma-informed strategies, such as the three Rs (Regulate, Relate, Reason). Trauma support resources for children are described. Participants will recognize the importance of discovering fun and enjoyable activities to engage in with children and examine the foundational importance of connections and relationships. This theme discusses ways caregivers can promote healthy behaviors by being proactive vs. reactive. Additionally, a caregiver’s own self-regulation is discussed.  

The Impact of Substance Use & Mental Health Considerations

Zoom class #6 introduces caregivers to how substance use can affect children and families. Participants will learn the science of substance use and addiction to better understand how and why individuals may experience substance use disorders. The theme discusses recovery and treatment options available and acknowledges recovery may not always be a straightforward process. The impacts of substance use on children and entire family systems is discussed, as well as how to recognize various substances, their effects, and common places they may be found. The next topic provides caregivers with a basic understanding of mental health disorders and conditions that may commonly occur during childhood. This theme emphasizes the importance of recognizing that not all “survival” behaviors or symptoms of grief are connected with mental health disorders. Participants will explore commonly administered psychotropic medications and examine how to promote and advocate for adequate and appropriate access to mental health care services for children in their care. 

Creating a Stable, Nurturing, and Safe Home Environment & Accessing Services and Supports

Zoom class #7 emphasizes the importance of children feeling both physically and psychologically safe. Caregivers will explore how to create a home environment that promotes feelings of safety. This theme examines how children’s observed behaviors may be in response to their sense of safety. Guidelines for setting boundaries and establishing consistent and predictable routines for children will be discussed. The last topic normalizes the need for caregivers to seek out and ask for services for children/youth in their care. Caregivers will recognize the importance of advocating for services that children in their care need and deserve. The theme discusses the significance of developing a support network inclusive of school, community supports, friends, and healthcare providers. This theme encourages caregivers to embrace lifelong learning and continual learning to enhance and further develop their caregiving capacities. 

*Pre-Service Caregiver Basic Medications Overview (register separately)

In addition to the Cohort topics/themes described below, participants must enroll separately for the above course. This is a 2-hour instructor led, self-paced online course that will take approximately one week to complete. This course provides prospective foster and adoptive parents with a basic overview of administering and monitoring children’s medications. Topics include developing an understanding of safe storage and disposal of medications, examining how to safely administer medications, and identifying and responding to side effects and/or adverse reactions. Important resources and contacts will be provided.