The First Day of Foster Care – All you need to know
Imagine your feelings when you are waiting for a looked after child to be brought to your home, you might be nervous, scared and anxious to say the least and these are the feelings when you are sitting in your own home. Now take a second to be that child and imagine how that child must be feeling. Imagine how much is expected from the child, they are expected to adjust, to settle, to do well at school, to understand their situation and to listen. I want you to think of all the little day to day things you may do for children you have cared for, whether this be your own children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces. It is the little things which can often go a long way. I’d like to now take you through the journey of a child from the moment they arrive to the next day and what you can do to make this as easy and as comfortable them, first and foremost as a foster carer do not lose sight of the child.
The Journey Starts…
I want you to close your eyes and imagine you are a child who is on their way to a foster carer’s home for the first time, what would make you feel more at ease,
Here are few suggestions:
- Welcome the child with a smile and your door wide open
- Prepare your family and be ready to welcome a new member of the family, have everyone who lives in the house at home, so the child can meet all family members at one time, don’t forget to make sure names are said loud and clear!
- Give the child a walking tour around the home,
- Ensure that the fostering bedroom is ready with clean sheets, and fresh towels, let the child know they can make the room their own and perhaps indicate you can go shopping for posters and duvet covers of their choice
- Find out about local leisure centres and activities, have a plan ready and maybe let the child know all the exciting things that they can do if they want to.
- Check if the child or young person has eaten or would like to eat, ask the child what they like to eat and make something anyway and invite the child to eat, this could be chips, a sandwich something that might be seen as common that children like.
- Depending on what time the child arrives you could be offering the child to have a bath and watch a film. If the child arrives in the day have some options ready.
- The child might even want space to unpack and reflect in which case dependent on the age of the child allow them time to take it all in.
- Have extra night clothes available for the age group that you are approved for and a spare toothbrush ready Depending on the child’s age let them know about the next day as what they want for breakfast, show them the kitchen and what they can help themselves to in the event they might wake up before you.
What about tomorrow…
Wake up extra early so you are up before the child, make a breakfast often the smell of cooked food can entice a child to come downstairs and see what is happening!
Have options let the child know the different things they can do and let them pick one, the child might want to chill at home so give them this option too!
Food for thought…
The first night will be harder than the rest as the child does not know you, and you don’t know the child. Remember you’re the adult and focus on the child. Don’t assume ask the child, involve the child, would you like to? Shall we? Using open ended questions is the best way forward and to evoke conversation.
Keep your Smile on, A smile is a light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. Denis Waitley