One of the hardest things for someone working with displaced children and adolescents to accept is that they cannot help everyone. From a logistical standpoint, the sad fact is that there are too many who are in need with a limited amount of resources which make it impossible to help everyone. But the truth that hits closer to home, the one that no one likes to talk about, is that we are not what everyone needs.
A lot of people believe that the only thing that a child who has been displaced needs is a safe, stable, and loving environment. They believe that once an individual has those things, their emotional or behavioral concerns will magically disappear, and everyone will have the happily-ever-after-roll-credits-fade-to-black-fairy-tale ending. The reality, however, is that there is so much more that goes into developing that relationship and getting that fulfilling outcome and, sometimes, it just does not work.
Similar to other types of relationships, there are times when the personalities of a child and an adult just do not mix. There is no fault involved, nothing that either did or did not do to cause the tension or disfunction—it is simply a matter of being mismatched. And that is a hard fact with which to come to terms.
The feelings of grief and guilt and doubt can be overwhelming for an adult (foster parent, house parent, teacher, etc.) who has tried everything that they know to do but does not see the result they want. The idea that they have let down a child who was in need can be emotionally crippling. And, to an extent, it should be. There should be a motivating factor, the desire to do what is best for that child, that pushes people to do everything that they can and to exhaust all options in order to provide what is needed for that child to be successful.
The balance comes in knowing that, on occasion, what is needed is someone else. Sometimes it is necessary to acknowledge that we are not helping—and, perhaps even hindering—that child in getting what they need. It is extremely important that we recognize when we need to let someone go and, hopefully, help them find the place where they can excel and find their own success.