// We understand that there is a lot to prepare for when you are thinking about fostering, and not only in regards to the child you will be caring for. It is vital that you prepare your home and family for the new journey you are about to encounter. We have put together some tips that you should consider when making plans to foster.
Make Sure You…
Approach this time with caution and care. You are going to need to be sensitive to everyone involved in the process, including grandparents, partners, and children. You cannot expect the child to abide by your rules and to slip into your routine straight away; do not get frustrated if your day-to-day regime is disrupted. Don’t mention any past ‘parents’ of the child unless they mention them first, as some children will want to forget while some children will want to remember.
Welcome your foster child into your new home. Do everything you can to make the child feel welcome by emphasising that you want them in your home. It is important to make it clear that if they should need anything, all they have to do is ask you. Some people say that a great way to welcome a child is to make a Welcome Book with photos and diagrams of places in your home and rules.
However, research conducted from foster children shows that sitting down and having a conversation is a much better way to make a child feel welcome. Walk around your home and point things out rather than writing them down on a piece of paper.
Make their bedroom their own space. Even if your new foster child will be sharing a room with another child, small gestures can make them feel really comfortable. Buy some age appropriate toys to give them something new of their own, and let your other children show them around. It is important that if you are welcoming a teenager into your home that you don’t have toys from your previous foster child in the bedroom, make sure you have done your research about the child and let this be known to them. If they are young, let them look all over their bedroom, including in drawers and wardrobes in case they are frightened of these places.
This image illustrates a caring and loving statement that can be used when talking to your new foster child about them joining your family. Instead of making them feel ‘different’ because they are living with you, let them know that it actually means that they are loved and cared for.
Make Sure You Don’t…
Expect the child to follow your rules immediately. Although it is important to lay down a few rules when the child first arrives, things such as no eating in the lounge, it is also important that you do not bombard them with lists of things that they should not do. Instead, make the general rules clear but expect them to not always be abided by. In time, you will come to realise what the child is and is not comfortable with, and then you can highlight some rules that may not be being followed. For instance, the child may be scared of knives because of past issues and so might not be happy with laying the table.
Smother the child with affection. Although it is really important to regularly ask your new foster child how they are, you need to find the balance between caring and overprotecting. Always ask the child if they are ok, or if they want anything, making sure that you are involved in their day. If they don’t want to talk about something, don’t push it, and don’t act any different with your new foster child than you do with your own children.
Ignore your birth children. It is important to prepare your birth children for ‘new kids’ coming into the home. Let them know that if they are not happy with anything they can come and talk to you. Letting them know that they should tell you if they have any issues can avoid massive problems in the home and will reassure them that you care. It will also allow you to defuse anything that has upset your children before it gets out of hand.
You need to make sure that they are still as important to you as they always have been, but let them know that your attention may not always be on them from now on. It is much better to tell your birth children the truth when it comes to these things that you still love them but your time will be used to spend with other children too.
If you are thinking about fostering and would like some advice or support, visit Foster Plus, a fostering service who help children needing a welcoming, supportive and caring environment to live in.