Welcoming a new foster child into your home isn’t just about opening the door – we suggest in this article how to make your Foster Child feel at home.
You’ll need to treat him or her just as you would any other child, while taking into consideration any trauma or feelings of neglect.
The child may immediately warm to you but in many cases, it can take some time to forge that bond.
However, there are things you can do to make the home environment feel more welcoming to the new addition to your family.
The first impression of a new home is going to form a lasting memory for your child, thus it is important to have certain things ready for their arrival.
Whether you’ve waited a long time for this day or you’re part of an emergency placement scenario, there are simple yet effective things you can do to ease the transition for your child.
First Steps – How to Make Your Foster Child Feel at Home
We’ll take you through a step-by-step chronological process here, complete with potential points of interest.
Before the Introductions
Once you know you’ll be receiving a foster child into your care, it’s time to take some steps to get the home ready for them.
If the child is young, this will include certain safety measures as well.
For example, you’ll want to lock up or place cleaning supplies and other chemicals out of reach, and childproof any easily accessible electrical outlets in the home.
Go from room to room in the house and make a checklist of any maintenance issues you may need to deal with, such as exposed wiring or other hazards.
You want the home environment to feel as warm, safe, and inviting as possible.
Next, get in touch with the child’s caseworker.
The caseworker can help you find out more about the child, such as interests, likes, and dislikes.
This can help you craft a personalized environment for them, one in which they feel welcome and secure.
This is an especially important consideration when it comes to the child’s room.
It’s a new place to call their own, where they will spend time on their own as they grow more comfortable in the new environment.
For some children, their own room at a foster home is the first they’ve known, so it’s important to create a space they’ll enjoy.
Ask the caseworker what the child’s interests are and consider creating a room with visuals and items that reflect those interests.
The child may not show it, but he or she will appreciate the extra time spent making a space for them.
It’s a good idea to get to know some of their favorite foods, too, so you can create a nice welcome home meal for them that you know they’ll appreciate.
The First Meeting
When your child arrives at the house, be a smiling, happy, and welcoming presence.
Kneeling to meet their eye-line may relieve some tension, and you can give them a few options as to how to address you after the initial greetings.
Introduce the child to the rest of the family if applicable and see if they’re open to hand-holding if they are younger.
Next, show the child around their new home, explaining that your home is their home now too, so they can feel like part of the family, free to use appliances like the TV or computer, etc.
It’s a good idea to end the tour in their new room.
If possible, ask the caseworker for your child what his or her interests and likes are, and try to craft a room according to those tastes.
Choose neutral colors that are calm and comforting, and provide some nice, comfortable clothing for the child as well.
Other things you can do after the meeting include a gift basket with some of their favorite items and a welcome book that includes family photos, names, and other things that will help the child acclimate.
This is a great opportunity for the child to add their own details at their leisure, too.
And while it’s important to break the ice and let the child know they can come to you for anything, don’t force the issue.
It may take time for them to open up and be ready to talk.
Keeping these things in mind will ensure a much smoother transition for the whole family.
McKenzie Brower is a contributing writer and media specialist for Youth Villages. She regularly produces content for a variety of Child Care blogs, with an emphasis on adoption and foster care.