Whether you have spent years caring for kids or it’s your first time fostering a child, you always want to make sure a foster child feels comfortable and safe in your home. Children of all ages require foster care, and some might stay with you for a day or so, while others need a long-term solution. Every foster child is unique, and it is up to you to make every single child who walks through your door feel welcome. As such, here are a few top tips to help you prepare for a foster child and make them feel at home away from home.
Cultivate a Welcoming Environment
For most people, going home after a long day can feel like bliss. Walking through the doors, you are welcomed with a warm, comforting feeling – these are the emotions you want any foster child staying at your home to feel too. Unfortunately, for many kids, feeling ‘at home’ at a stranger’s place doesn’t come naturally, and it might take time for them to warm to you and your four walls. However, by taking steps to cultivate a welcoming environment, you can help them feel less anxious and happier in your home.
Before the child arrives, give every inch of your property a deep clean, and keep your rooms clutter-free. A cluttered home can give off a chaotic, disorderly vibe, which is the last thing you want a foster child to feel. By regularly cleaning and tidying up, you can also be assured that there are no potential hazards out in the open, such as moldy food in the kitchen or medication lying around on the coffee table.
Obtain Information About Their Interests
As soon as you receive the referral call from a foster care organization, it would help if you attempted to obtain details about the child. Of course, your referral should already have vital information, but it is always a good idea to speak to the referrals officer or the social worker to find out more. Besides essential information – such as any allergies or medical conditions the child might have or accommodations they might need – you should also try to figure out some of their interests and hobbies before they arrive.
Learning about their favorite snacks, most-hated meals, what they like to drink, and also what activities they enjoy can go a long way in making them feel welcome from the start. A great source of information to help you prepare for a child’s arrival are the foster agencies themselves, like Foster Care Associates, which is a large fostering agency within the UK delivering foster care across England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. The FCA and local authorities work closely together so that foster carers and children are matched well.
Prepare Their New Bedroom
You never truly know when a child might arrive. Even if you get a referral call, a child could make an impromptu appearance, which is why it is essential that you prepare their new room as soon as possible. Try to keep everything neutral at first, but once they begin to settle in, you can help make their bedroom their own by offering to go shopping together and decorate it with them, which is also a meaningful relationship-building activity in itself as well.