Kit Coyote: A Brave Pup Helps Children Cope with Transition Into Foster Care
How does a child feel when entering foster care?
Kit Coyote: A Brave Pup is an engaging new children’s picture book that addresses this topic. Written by former journalist and foster parent Rosemary Zibart and illustrated by Sandi Wright, the book validates the confusion and mixed feelings a child may have when entering foster care and is an excellent resource not only for children going into foster care, but the social workers and other adults who care for them.
Roxana Torrico Meruvia, MSW, is a senior practice associate for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and an expert in foster care. She said the book not only is beneficial in that it can help children and adult readers better understand the foster care experience, but that it does an excellent job of reinforcing an important message.
“Reading this book with a child can encourage dialogue, help adults better understand the child’s perspective and can help the child understand their experience through the characters in the book,” says Torrico Meruvia. “But what also struck me is that the safety message came through loud and clear. Regardless of what an individual child is going through, the book emphasizes that parents never stop loving children and that the goal of foster care is to keep a child safe.”
Told from a child’s point of view with animals depicting the characters—including “Kathy Rabbit” the social worker who first comes to Kit Coyote’s home with “Officer Bear” to check on Kit’s welfare— the story shows how Kit learns to adjust to new situations, comes to trust helpful adults, expresses his feelings and begins to believe in himself.
More Than a Story—a Powerful Resource
According to 2016 federal data, the number of children and youth in foster care has risen for the third year in a row—and substance abuse has played a significant role in this increase. This data shows that from 2012-2015, the percentage of removals where parental substance use was a contributing factor increased 13 percent, which is the largest percent increase compared to any other circumstance that triggers a child’s removal from the home.
Children’s books on foster care that are engaging, like Kit Coyote, can be useful tools for social workers and others working with young children in the child welfare system, says Torrico Meruvia.
“There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States at any given time,” says Torrico Meruvia. “We need to continue to build a strong workforce that can manage these very hard and complex situations and help these children, as well as develop more books and resources. On face value, Kit Coyote is a children’s picture book. But in fact, it can be used as a powerful resource that can help children cope and help adults better understand what a child is going through.”
Tips on How to Make the Most of Kit Coyote
Torrico Meruvia suggests reading the book alone before sharing it with a child. Next, think of the child’s individual situation and anticipate questions the child might ask and answers you will give. It helps to be prepared, as questions a child might ask can be challenging, such as
- Do my parents love me?
- Why can’t I live with them?
- When can I see parents?
- Will I ever see my friends again?
- Where will I go to school?
For More Information
- Rosemary Zibart
- To order Kit Coyote, a Brave Pup: Zproductions505@gmail.com
- NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Child Welfare
- Read “Workforce Proves Critical in Child Welfare Outcomes”
- NASW’s HelpStartsHere.org