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GROW Training Overview

How it Works

Once you've begun working with an agency and have had your initial home visit, you will be referred by your worker to attend GROW training.

GROW stands for: 
Grow culturally responsive relationships
Recognize children’s developmental needs and the impact of trauma
Obtain information and resources
Work in partnership with families to support healthy relationships

While attending training, you will be able to enjoy the company of and build relationships with other individuals and families pursuing licensure with various agencies in your area. The focused foster, adoptive, and kinship/relative panels will also create further opportunity for asking questions directly related to your licensure track and to deepen those relationships you built during training to ensure a solid support system as you begin or continue welcoming youth into your home.

Training is held over the course of about 20-25 total hours and consists of a combination of lectures and group discussions on topics such as attachment and relationships, diversity, and the developmental needs of children in foster care. You will also receive a more in depth overview of the licensure process as well as relevant policies and procedures.

Training is also a great opportunity for learning about local resources and getting connected to them!


If you've attended GROW training already and are interested in revisiting any of the videos or other resources that were covered during training, this is the place for you! While the handouts and resources can all be found in your parent manual, we have created PDF's of each resource so they can be accessed here individually as well. Everything here is divided by module and the hyperlinks will either redirect you to a new page or download the PDF's onto your device.

**Note: This page is still undergoing updates and does not yet have all resources listed. Check back periodically to see if what you're looking for has been posted! All videos are currently listed below by section. Additional resources and handouts coming soon!


Why Foster or Adopt?

A Birth Parent's Perspective on Foster Care


Child and Adolescent Development

Over 90% of brain growth occurs in early childhood! Learn more in this video called Experiences Build Brain Architecture, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

Let's take a closer look at how parents can build a supportive and attuned relationship in the early years to foster optimal development with something called "serve and return". Learn more in this video called Serve and Return Interactions Shapes Brain Circuitry, Center for Developing Child at Harvard University…

The release of hormones in the brain impacts neuroplasticity and creates a wonderful window of opportunity for parents to "actively shape complex neural networks" that will carry the adolescent into adulthood. Learn more in this video called Dan Siegel, The Adolescent Brain (Random Acts of Kindness)

Free play creates a space where a child can take the lead and this helps build a child’s imagination, creativity, planning, and problem-solving skills, which are key to executive functioning. Learn more in this video called Playing Together:

Structured play is a different type of play and helps children and youth learn to take turns, plan, problem solve, and regulate their emotions. Learn more in this video called Connecting with Older Youth:

Another relationship-based parenting strategy that helps promote executive functioning is having conversations or talking with your child throughout the day. Reading a book is also a great way to connect with your child and build language skills. This video called Reading Together features an adoptive mother reading her child’s favorite book to him:

Emotional regulation is a complex process and involves multiple aspects and the first is being aware of your own emotions and the second is managing these emotions and finally responding to an emotional experience. Learn more about the different aspects of emotional regulation and concrete strategies in this video with the Cookie Monster: This next video reinforces children's ability to regulate and connects this ability to later academic outcomes:

Online safety is really important given children and youth’s widespread access to devices, social media, and apps. This short video describes how you can set up YouTube in a way that promotes safety:


Attachment and Relationships

In order to support a secure attachment, the caregiver should try to understand what need the child is expressing and address that need: Is it a safe have need or a secure base need? The caregiver should also take charge when necessary, which means setting appropriate limits to keep the child and others safe. This circle continues as the very young child grows and matures.

Let's hear from a foster/adoptive dad and his son talk about their experience of secure base and safe haven during adolescence:

At the heart of the Circle of Security is the art of Being-With. This capacity includes knowing what gets in the way, something we call shark music.

Limit setting is necessary in parenting but limit setting must be accompanied by relationship. Let's hear from a foster/adoptive dad and son talk about their experiences with limit setting:

Foster parents also need to be aware of the developmental needs/age of the child or youth, which dictates the amount of information and detail they can handle and understand. Listen to the words of Fred Rogers who tells us how important it is to tell the truth about what to expect so that children can learn to trust that what we say is true.

Let's hear from a birth parent about keeping connections with foster families after reunification:

Stereotypes about foster parents, birth parents, and children in foster care:

Although kinship parents may already have relationships with families, they may need to develop new understandings of those relationships when they begin their parenting role. Let's hear from a kinship parent who describes that they had to transition to a new role when they became a kinship parent and that new role included holding a different perspective of their family members.

This is The Story of the O's, which was created to help therapists think about their work with families. However, we think that the story can also translate to foster parents' experiences. As you watch the story, imagine that the round, shiny O is the foster parent (though we should note, no one is a perfectly round O, we all have bumps and scratches!). You are brought in to support the Big O and the little o.

Let's hear an adoptive parent talk about her responses to her child connecting with his birth family:

Let's hear about an experience developing a co-parenting relationship with a birth family:

Co-parenting is not always easy and it requires that you adapt your expectations of parenting and remain open to learning from the child in your care and their birth family. This is true even in kinship placements where you, as a kinship caregiver, already know the child and their birth family. Let's listen to a kinship parent describe how her role as a co-parent changed over time:

In order to develop an authentic connection with a birth parent, we need to be able to draw upon empathy to understand their experiences.

It's important to hear from a birth parent about their experience of parenting time so that we can maintain empathy during some of the more challenging moments.

Let's listen to some other suggestions about ways to support parenting time:

The relationship you create with a birth parent can have lasting impacts:

Allyson, a foster and adoptive mother, can provide some insight into how to support sibling relationships:

Let's watch a video where a foster/adoptive parent, Margaret, and her adult son, Alex, describe their experiences of preparation for Alex's arrival:

When considering whether to have contact with your adopted child's birth family, it is important to consider issues of safety: physical, emotional, and psychological safety. You should never force contact between a child and their birth family and there may be times when such contact is determined to be unsafe; however, you should try to remain open to the potential. The needs for contact may change over time as the child develops and matures and the circumstances of the birth family may change as well, which is why it is important to keep open lines of communication with your child about such contact.

An adoptive parent shares their experience of maintaining connections with birth families after adoption:

Supporting a child's grieving process will allow them the opportunity to have new relationships. Learn more about how a heart can grow with Sesame Street:

Let's hear from a former foster care youth describe in his own words what he needed from his adoptive family:


Systems, Policies, and Advocacy

MARE Adoption Navigator Video: Get to know the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) Adoption Navigator program! 

Prudent Parent Standards Video: This video discusses what the Prudent Parenting Standards are and can be used to complete your Prudent Parenting worksheet that needs to be sent back to your worker in order to complete your licensure:

Kinship Parents Have Unique Needs: In this video, a child welfare professional and kinship parent discusses the importance of gaining support through a variety of ways:

Let's hear some advice from an adoptive parent about seeking out resources for adoptive children:

PARC (Post Adoption Resource Center) provides post-adoptive parents with information about a variety of services and resources for which adoptive families are eligible:

These videos feature kinship, foster, and adoptive parents speaking about their experience advocating for services for the children in their care

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that a child should have an educational advocate when the birth parent is not able to act in this role. Additionally, IDEA protects the rights of children to receive the services designated in their IEP () which is a legal document. You can ask your worker for a referral to an Educational Planner. Every county has one and they serve as an expert in special education services. The Michigan Alliance for Families is also another organization that can help you advocate. Learn more in this video called Michigan Alliance for Families "Problem Solving":


Toxic Stress, Trauma, and Trauma Informed Parenting

Toxic stress occurs when there are multiple stressors that are impacting a child's life and these stressors are enduring and overwhelm the child's ability to cope.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and the current Surgeon General of the State of California, provides a great explanation of the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study and why it is important:

Human Trafficking & Minors: Under the law, the involvement of any minor in commercial sex is human trafficking whether or not force, coercion, or fraud was used. This is also true for labor trafficking. The current Michigan laws recognize that a minor involved in commercial sex or forced labor is bein maltreated rather than participating in a criminal act. CPS is involved in such cases.

Brain development occurs in stages with each stage of development building upon a previous stage. Exposure to chronic stress or trauma can alter the brain development with impacts extending long after the stressors or trauma exposure have ended, including reduced volume in the hippocampus, corpus callosum, cerebellum, and smaller prefrontal cortex.

"The Window of Tolerance is a psychological term, first coined by Dan Siegel to describe the 'window' of arousal in which a person can stay calm and connected. In this optimal state, the person is able to regulate and integrate the information coming in via the senses, as well as thoughts and emotions of their inner world. Outside of the window, a person becomes dysregulated, and the fight/flight/freeze response is activated."

This children's book (Once I Was Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen) describes the many ways that a child might respond to trauma:

Let's hear from a former foster care youth describe his experience of having his adoptive mother help him return to social engagement and the way in which their relationship grew stronger as a result:

Let's listen to a foster parent describe some of the emotional responses to goodbye's for children in foster care:

Let's hear from a foster parent about parenting an infant or toddler exposed to trauma:

Let's hear from a former foster care youth with some advice for foster parents about parenting youth impacted by trauma:

As much as negative experiences can impact brain development, positive experiences have an equally powerful effect on brain development. This is hopeful news as you consider that the relationship you offer an infant/child/youth can have a life long positive impact on their brain development.…

Your parenting journey should include some additional training once you have an infant/child/youth in your care and such training will be guided by the needs of that particular child. A "cookbook approach" does not work when we consider the multitude of unique circumstances that can be encountered in parenting. However, above all else, the relationship is key and that is a universal element of all parenting.

What Survival Looks Like at Home: "This booklet tells you about the four different survival states that I swing between: Freeze, Flight, Fight, and Submit"…


Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Parent Wellbeing

Mindfulness Activities
Note: It's absolutely normal for your mind to wander - especially for those of you who are new to mindfulness activities. When this happens, simply take note of where your mind is wandering and gently bring it back.

  • Calming Meditation: Waves on the Water (Willey, 2017)
    This meditation is about practicing to stay focused. Originally you would be listening to it, but the text is provided here for you to reflect on/revisit. Read it twice and try to imagine waves on the water. To get ready, sit tall in your chair and place your hands in your lap and your feet flat on the floor. If it's being read to you, you may enjoy closing your eyes and, before you start, take one deep breath.
    • "Imagine that you are standing in front of a lake.
      The water is flat and calm like glass.
      You have a stone in your hand, and you throw it in the water.
      When it lands, it makes little waves on the water.
      In your mind, watch the little waves as they go farther and farther out, getting smaller and smaller.
      Watch the lake in your mind until it gets totally calm and flat again.
      Take a long breath in, and let it all the way out."
  • Energizing and Deep Breathing Meditation: 1-2-3 Clap! (Willey, 2017)
    This meditation is creating energy. For this meditation, find a space to stand or sit (based on your comfort/preference) with enough space to open and spread out your arms.
    • "Open your arms out really wide.
      Count one, two, three...and clap your hands one time!
      Rub your hands together and make some energy.
      Put your hands on your belly. Take a long breath in and let it all out.
      Open your arms our really wide again.
      Count one, two, three...and clap your hands one more time!
      Rub those hands together, faster this time. Make some energy!
      Put your hands over your heart.
      Take a long breath and let it all the way out!"
  • Alternative Yoga Activity:
    For this yoga activity, you can stay seated in your chair or stand up. We are going to practice a basic yoga pose called 'Mountain Pose', so you will need enough space to open your arms out sideways.
    • Standing or sitting tall with feet together take a moment to make sure your shoulders are relaxed, your weight is evenly distributed through your soles or seat, and arms are at your sides. Next, take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips and hold for three full breaths.

It can be difficult to set boundaries with yourself or others. To explore these barriers, let's watch a video of a child welfare professional and kinship parent on her parenting mindset and the difficulty of setting boundaries with family:

Let's hear from a foster and adoptive parent about the emotional experience of being a foster parent:

Let's watch a video of a foster parent offering some suggestions about self-care and seeking support:

Without a doubt, it takes a village to be a foster, adoptive, or kinship parent! Let's watch a video with a kinship parent and child welfare professional exploring the value of connecting with others and seeking support:


Diversity and Inclusion

Implicit bias can involve unconscious assumptions about groups based on race, ethnicity, gender identities, sexual orientation, age, ability/disability, economic situation, or any other factor. EVERYONE has biases but most people do not intend to cause harm to others. However, if we do not become aware of our implicit biases through learning, empathy, and understanding, we will continue to make harmful assumptions.…

Let's watch this video to hear about how implicit biases can impact children. Please note, this study was conducted with teachers, but it is important to remember that we ALL have implicit biases, and they can occur in every setting even when we have the best intentions.

Let's hear from a foster and adoptive parent who is a tribal member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames describe her commitment to supporting Native American families:

It is important to keep children in mind as we talk about these complex topics. This video allows us to hear children's voices regarding the ways in which race, ethnicity, and culture can be the focus of discrimination:

This video explores the power of messages about racial identity:

A family's experience and advice to those considering adopting transracially:

Let's watch a short video clip with Joshua, a former foster care youth, who talks about his experiences transitioning into a transracial foster/adoptive home. Joshua acknowledges the racial identity differences and his awareness that there is always a sense of "being different" for children in foster care. Joshua will also provide us with some advice on ways to help support a youth transitioning into your home.

Research has indicated that by the time a girl reaches the age of 12, the daily care of her hair provides 4,380 opportunities for interaction. That's a lot! This video features a stylist that helps transracial families with haircare:

I Love My Hair, Sesame Street:

Defining LGBTQIA+:

  • L: Lesbian
  • G: Gay
  • B: Bisexual
  • T: Transgender
  • Q: Questioning or Queer
  • I: Intersex
  • A: Asexual or Aromantic
  • +: Other Identities

    Two-Spirited or Two-Spirit is an umbrella term, rooted in Native American and Indigenous communities' histories, that recognized people who identify with both the female and male spirits or genders and may have same sex relationships.

    It is essential to revisit history so that we remember that sexual orientation and gender identities are not new. Rather, people have often been forced to hide or deny their identities due to discrimination and violence. You have an opportunity to provide a home and a relationship where a child/youth does not have to hide or deny any part of themselves and where children and youth can be accepted and appreciated for who they are, inclusive of all of their identities.

Gender Identity and Pronouns: We all have expectations of what our pronouns are and it is important to ask a child/youth what their pronouns are. Learn more with this video!

In providing support, you can work towards becoming an ally for your child. An ally is a heterosexual or cisgender person that listens without judgement; believes people who identify as LGBTQIA+ should be treated with acceptance, fairness, and mutual respect; and finally, supports groups, programs, policies, and local, state, and federal laws that promote equal rights and gender equality. This video from the Storyboard Project features a resilient youth, who identifies as gay, speaking about his experiences growing up in foster care in Texas.


Child & Adolescent Mental Health and Special Needs

Although mental health is a state of wellbeing, there are myths about it. Let's take a minute and complete this online quiz from the CDC:

Although mental health is an integral part of our wellbeing, the word "mental health" still carries a stigma, which can impact a person's access and willingness to get needed services. Let's explore this in a video:

Although more rare, there are some genetic conditions that can impact a child's development and/or range of functioning. Let's hear from a foster/adoptive parent explore her strengths-based perspective of her son's developmental disorders:

Let's listen to Margaret and Alex talk about their relationship and the importance of seeing the whole child and not letting a diagnosis define the child:

Let's watch a video of a birth parent outlining her experiences in an IECMH treatment program while her son was in care:

Understanding Diagnosis & Interventions: Your mental health professional should discuss the intervention, its length, and the evidence with you. However, it can also be helpful to read about the intervention and its evidence on your own. So where can you get this information?

Crisis Resources: These are crisis hotlines that can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Adolescents or parents can call, and the worker on the phone can help you process warning signs and identify short and long-term solutions. Additional online resources can be found in the Child Mental Health section of your Parent Manual as well.

Some teens may use illegal substances a few times, while others become dependent on them and use them on a regular basis despite problems. Let's find out why teens and young adults are more at risk of dependency and learn why addiction is often referred to as a brain disease:

Substance Use Resources: This is a national hotline and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Adolescents or parents can call, and the worker on the phone can help you process signs and identify short and long-term solutions. There are additional online resources that you can reference in the Child Mental Health section in your Parent Manual as well.



We will end this portion of the training with some words form a birth parent, Amiyah. Amiya says, "He got everything he needed," because everyone was working together to support this young child's needs. This says so much about the power of relationships and connections. When a birth parent feels connected to you; the relationship between you, the child, and the child's birth parents are all positively impacted. We hope that you can continue to access support from each other and from other fellow foster, adoptive, and kinship parents to increase your own sense of connection to a community of caregivers working to strengthen relationship experiences for all infants, children, and adolescents.


Foster Parent Panel

Let's listen to a foster/adoptive parent share his parenting advice about the importance of patience, forgiveness, and understanding:

There are requirements regarding the frequency of parenting time that are specific to certain age ranges. These requirements are established to ensure that children can maintain connections with their birth families. Keep in mind that these requirements reflect the minimum number of visits. Let's hear now from a foster/adoptive parent talk about how she supported the child in her care to continue a relationship with their birth parent:

Let's listen to a child welfare professional and adoptive dad talk about his journey in engaging and finding supports:

When you get a call from the Foster Care worker about a potential placement, it can be helpful to have some questions ready. While you're welcome to come up with your own, some possible options might include:

  • What is the child's name, birthdate, known race, religion, and gender identities?
  • What are the child/youth's interests (ex. reading, drawing, basketball)?
  • Does the child/youth have any siblings?
  • What school does the child attend? Do they like school?
  • Does the child have medical needs? Any known food or environmental allergies? Are they prescribed medication?
  • Do they have special eating needs? For an infant, what type/brand of formula do they drink?
  • Does the child have any special needs at bedtime?


Adoptive Parent Panel

You all have your own unique reasons for wanting to become licensed to adopt. Let's hear from an adoptive parent about their reasons and see if anything resonates with you: 

Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE): MARE is not a placement agency; rather, MARE connects potential adoptive parents with agencies and can also help adoption workers find families to be matched with children awaiting adoption. MARE supports recruitment of adoptive parents.

We discussed in the Attachment & Relationships module how important it is to connect a child with their birth family. We want to provide another opportunity now to talk about how to support a child's connection with their birth family. Let's listen to an adoptive parent, Margaret, and her son talk about their experience:

Let's watch a video of an adoptive mom and her son discuss the importance of using supports and being open about the struggles that happen:


Kinship/Relative Caregiver Panel

Let's watch a video where a kinship parent talks about some of her experiences of loss related to kinship care:

Let's watch a video with a kinship parent who explores some of the unique challenges of providing kinship care and how her shift in mindset impacted the care she was providing:

Let's hear from Cassandra about when it's important to seek help: