Helping a foster child feel settled in that all-important first week is one of the most crucial roles for a foster carer. If this bit goes right, it sets the stage for the rest of the placement to move forward more positively. So, when it comes to making them welcome and preparing the house, what are the most important things to remember? Read on to find out the answers.
Understand Your Role
The first thing you must do as a foster carer is know what your role demands of you. When you understand the assignment, you can adapt and respond accordingly. Check out all the information from your agency and don’t be afraid to go on official sites like fosterplus.co.uk for the how-tos and tips.
Be Gentle and Neutral
Above all else, stay neutral. Neutrality will be your biggest asset in this situation, and it will be greatly appreciated on the part of the foster child too. Don’t come on too strong, and keep things calm in the ‘getting to know one another’ period.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Interaction
Holding a conversation as a young child or teenager is difficult in the best of circumstances, never mind when they are being put in a new home to stay for an unknown amount of time. They are bound to withdraw and maybe even disassociate, so don’t feel that they are being rude if they don’t use their words all that often. You can talk as you would normally, but even if they choose not to answer much, give them the space to find their voice in their own time.
Let Them Take the Lead
It is your job to pick up on body language, non-verbal cues, and the vibe in the air when it comes to your foster child or children. This will enable you to empower them to take the lead with the initial meet and greet and the few days that follow. If they need space, it won’t be too difficult to tell. Keep in mind that anxieties will be running high, and make sure everything is low-key and led by them.
Take Care of All the Basics
Any foster child coming into your home will need a few basic things to help them get set up properly. They may be arriving at your door with multiple suitcases, or they could turn up with just a backpack. Regardless of what clothes they bring, or toiletries and general essentials, you have to keep a backup in the house just in case. The last thing you need is a child who doesn’t have their baseline needs taking care of so try to purchase things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, underwear, and soft touches like a blanket before they get there to ensure nothing goes wrong in this department.
Helping your foster child settle in is a big task, but one that is easy enough if you dedicate the right headspace and resources. Make your home as welcoming as it can be without putting on too much pressure on them to engage, and let things play out naturally. One day at a time is the best strategy!