The arrival of foster children in your home can be both an exciting and daunting experience, especially if you’ve never fostered before. This is true for both you and the young person you’ll be looking after. To make the transition as easy as possible, you want to make sure that your house is as prepared as it can be for your new foster child or children.
The agency you’re signed up with will give you plenty of support and guidance on this as the time approaches, but the following advice can help you to get started now. The more you can get ready in advance, the easier the period of adjustment is likely to be.
Get the house safe and tidy
Ensuring that your home is free of clutter before your foster children arrive can help make the space feel more welcoming. Don’t feel as though you need to achieve perfection though, because if your house is too neat, cold and sterile it can actually make kids feel uncomfortable or out of place. Having said that, it’s a good idea to put away anything that’s particularly valuable or sentimental, just in case it gets broken.
When it comes to safety, if you don’t already have kids in the house you might need to make a few adjustments. For example:
- Lock away all medication and chemicals such as cleaning products
- Have a first aid kit at the ready
- Secure all windows and doors
- Check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working
Set up a welcoming spare bedroom
Having a comfortable and private spare bedroom is one of the most important factors for fostering. In fact, agencies such as fosterplus.co.uk make it a requirement if you want to foster a child. This is because it becomes a sort of refuge for kids, where they can play, study, read, or simply take some time out on their own.
In order to create a truly welcoming bedroom for your foster child, consider the following:
- Brighten the room up with fresh paint or suitable decorations
- Add soft furnishings such as cushions and beanbags to help kids feel secure
- If you know a bit about your future foster child, try to incorporate their likes and personality into the room
Stock up on the essentials
There are plenty of supplies you’ll need on hand ready for the arrival of your new foster children. Some items will vary depending on the age and gender of the child, but the list below is a good place to start:
- Basic toiletries such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, shower and bath products, deodorant, baby wipes, diapers and feminine hygiene products
- Child-friendly foods, snacks and drinks
- School supplies such as pencils, pens, highlighters, notebooks and a backpack
- Toys and games, such as cuddly animals, board games, video games, jigsaw puzzles and outdoor sports equipment
- Books – you might like to consider getting some that are specifically written for foster children, in order to help them talk about and cope with difficult topics and life experiences relevant to their situation
Remember, you don’t have to get everything in advance – it might actually be fun to pick out some items like a school backpack or toys together as a way to bond and get to know your new foster child.