Becoming a foster parent is an exciting and rewarding experience that makes a lasting difference to a child’s life. As rewarding as it is, welcoming someone into your home can be challenging. The process can leave you feeling anxious, excited, and nervous, and there are also practical considerations to keep in mind.
Getting your home ready for foster care
The main practical consideration is getting your home ready for the new member of the family. It’s a good idea to think about this as soon as you start the application process, so you’re not rushing to get everything sorted at the last minute. Here are some tips to make getting your home ready for foster care easier.
Clean and organise the home
You don’t have to redecorate your home before becoming a foster carer, but it’s important that you clean and organise things. A cluttered space can leave the impression that your foster child is moving into a disorderly and chaotic home. This can cause them to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
On the other hand, a clean and organised home feels more open and welcoming, and can even indicate that you are comfortable with them spending time in the rest of the house and not just in their bedroom. Decluttering involves removing all unnecessary items from the home, or stowing them to create additional space.
Organising your home can give your foster child a sense of freedom, because they know they can find what they need without having to ask for help. It can also reinforce the feeling that they are a member of the home and not a guest who is living with you for a while.
Do be careful not to make your home so organised that your foster child is fearful of touching anything. This fear stems from them not wanting to disorganise your neat structure. They might think you will be annoyed if they remove something from its place, but this should not be the case.
The last part of getting the home organised is making sure all fire and smoke alarms are functional. If you are expecting a young child, it’s also worth checking that the baby monitor is working correctly and to baby-proof the house to avoid accidents.
Create a safe and welcoming bedroom
Many foster kids arrive in foster homes overwhelmed, scared, and feeling intimidated. It is therefore not surprising that many of them spend a lot of time in their bedrooms in the first few days or weeks after arriving.
A welcoming bedroom allows you to show them they are safe, loved, and cared for in your home. The bedroom should be a place where they feel safe and secure, as well as where they can spend some time alone if they need to during the transition period.
Creating a welcoming bedroom is critical as having a safe space for foster kids is one of the most important requirements for those interested in fostering in the UK. We will look at making your home safe in more detail below.
The first step in creating a pleasant bedroom is decorating it. Calming, neutral and soft tones work well, but make sure you match the decoration to the age and needs of your foster child(ren). Do remember to use gender-neutral colours instead of blue and pink on the walls. Gender-neutral colours never look out of place, and they ensure you can reuse the bedroom when your foster child leaves.
Another essential part of making the bedroom or bedroom space feel like theirs is providing private storage spaces. Under-bed storage solutions work well for these situations, but you can always provide shelves or a space in the wardrobe if one is available. Younger kids might also be happy with some colouring books and toys, while older kids might need a TV, game console or even a computer.
Create a welcome kit
Many foster parents create a welcome kit that is presented to welcome their foster child to the home. Such a kit contains essentials like soap, a hairbrush, a toothbrush, and other items that they will find useful.
You may need to adjust the welcome kit a little bit depending on the child’s gender and age. Think about what they might need from the first day, and include those items. You can also ask them what additional items they need once they arrive.
Depending on their age and gender, you can also include books, games and toys that can provide some distraction while they get settled in.
Lock up harmful or dangerous items
Every parent knows kids can be a danger to themselves and others. This is especially true for younger kids who are more curious and do not yet understand how dangerous some items in the house can be. Foster parents have to take special care to ensure their homes are safe for their biological and foster kids.
Safety starts with locking away any items that might be harmful or dangerous to your kids. This includes medications, cleaning supplies and chemicals. You should store these high up or as far away as possible from the reach of your children. Using a special cabinet for both is also a great idea, and you can install one in a few hours if you don’t already have one.
Learn as much as you can
If your foster agency allows it, it’s also a good idea to learn as much as possible about the foster kid(s) to be placed in your care. Ask your assigned social worker to gather information that would be useful to have from the first day.
Getting your home ready for foster care in advance can help make a great first impression and make your foster child feel loved, welcome and cared for from the minute they step into your home. You can do most of the preparation in advance and then make adjustments as you get to know your foster child better.