Children enter foster care due to abuse or neglect and just like other children, those who are deaf or hard of hearing may also experience a foster care placement. The number of deaf children in foster care in Washington is not large (approximately 15-20 deaf or hard of hearing children across the state are currently in out-of- home care), but the need for trained caregivers for these children is great. In addition, sometimes children of deaf adults (CODA) enter foster care and request to be placed with a deaf family or a family fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).
Deaf or hard of hearing children and youth need the same things all kids in foster care need; a safe and nurturing foster family (individual or couple) committed to caring for them while their family is in crisis. However, deaf or hard of hearing children need skilled foster families with special abilities in two specific areas:
- Communication skills – understand and are able to communicate through American Sign Language (ASL).
- Advocacy – able to support their access to needed services.
This is the reason Children’s Administration and the Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing are recruiting prospective foster families who are deaf or skilled in ASL. Training and supports are also available to help families connect with the Deaf Community in their area and receive education on child developmental milestones for children with additional challenges. We want to help prospective foster parents of deaf children become knowledgeable of educational, medical, and social services available for children in their care.
Fostering Together is working with Children’s Administration to host an informational event in each region for families interested in providing care for deaf and hard of hearing children. For more information on the next event, please contact your local liaison.
Resources for Caregivers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center (HSDC) is a Western Washington service hub for clients who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have communication disorders. For over 75 years, HSDC has worked to remove obstacles for people with hearing loss, speech challenges, and other communication barriers, empowering them to achieve their full potential. They join direct services with systemic change to create an inclusive and accessible community. Their comprehensive services span the life cycle and include: Early Childhood Learning, Community ASL Classes, Audiology Services, Speech Therapy, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advocacy Services, American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting, and an Assistive Technology Store.
The Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) is available to serve the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, speech disabled and hearing people throughout the State of Washington. The Regional Service Centers also provides information and referral to assist you in locating additional services you may need.
Washington School for the Deaf (WSD) is an educational community and statewide resource committed to ensuring all deaf and hard of hearing students in Washington reach their full potential. Through their Outreach program, they offer statewide services to deaf and hard of hearing students, teachers of the deaf, educators serving the deaf, educational interpreters and families of deaf infants, toddlers and students.
Washington Relay is a free service provided by the Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) ensuring equal communication access to the telephone service for people who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and speech disabled. This service allows hearing callers to communicate with text-telephone (TTY) users and vice versa through specially trained relay operators.
The MOOSE Project The MOOSE Project is a registered charity located in Spokane Washington. Our mission is to provide quality education, support, and resources through the use of both sign language and spoken word not only to those with hearing loss, but all children, families, and the community. We believe that by giving children with and without hearing loss the use of both sign language and spoken word we are giving them the tools they need to build successful relationships, achieve high levels of academic excellence, and the ability to navigate the world around them. All children need language. It is our job to meet that need. We are an award winning, state approved private school offering programming for preschool through first grade students.
National Deaf Center is a technical assistance and dissemination center funded by the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
Northwest School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing in our more than 30 years, countless children have benefited from our school and outreach programs, becoming engaged and successful citizens. Students enjoy small classes with deaf and hard of hearing friends their own age and a highly individualized instructional program that ensures their success. Our commitment is to help deaf students develop the same academic competence as their hearing peers.
Talk and Listen (HSDC) There are a variety of communication and learning options for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some families choose exclusively listening and spoken language, while others choose exclusively sign language, and some choose a combination of spoken and sign language. Parents should choose the communication and educational options that will work best for their unique child and family.
Washington State Hand & Voices was founded on a concept to provide information and support to all families equally across our state. We believe that all children can achieve their highest potential with encouragement and advocacy from their families.For some of us this journey into deafness and hearing loss is brand new and there is much to learn. As a parent-driven organization we understand first-hand the value that comes with learning up to date information, having guidance by experienced parents, and making connections with other families and community members regardless of communication mode.
Washington Sensory Disability Services are here to support the developmental and learning needs of children aged birth to 21 who:
Are deaf or hard of hearing
Are blind or visually impaired
Have a combined hearing loss and visual impairment
You may be a parent wondering where to start, or a birth-to-three professional looking for a family-centered curriculum for that same parent. You may be a teacher who just learned that a student with a sensory disability will join your classroom next week. Or, perhaps you’re a teacher of the visually impaired or the deaf, a speech/ language therapist, or an educational interpreter with a specific question about a learning strategy or assistive technology.