You’ve done all the paperwork, you’ve passed the assessment, gone through the training, and planned the million and one things you want to be ready – and then the call comes: there’s a foster child that’s perfect for your family!
What do you do next? In this article, we take you through 5 things you should know to feel confident saying ‘yes!’ to your first foster placement.
1. What to buy for foster care
Having a foster child in your home means that you will have more mouths to feed, and more minds to entertain! Stock up on pantry staples, as well as age-appropriate games and films – but be aware that you may not know your foster child’s age or interests until very close to their arrival.
It’s also a good idea to stock up on essential medicines and first aid supplies: a thermometer, lice treatments, fever reducing medicine, painkillers, plasters, etc.
2. Prepare your foster child’s space
Get the bedroom organised for a new arrival – see our article for six tips on preparing a bedroom for your foster child.
Don’t forget to include essential toiletries, like a toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner. It’s also a good idea to have a small selection of clothing basics in various sizes, and some spare towels.
3. Don’t forget safety!
Consider the age of your foster child – do you need to do any baby-proofing or rearranging of furniture and other household items? Lock away valuables, chemicals, and medicines, and don’t forget common household items that could be dangerous, like cleaning products and hair dye. Number padlocks are handy as you can’t lose the keys!
4. Time to get things in order
Have a good tidy up to clear away clutter, and pack away any items that you wouldn’t want to get broken or go missing. Remember that foster children come from difficult backgrounds and may be prone to acting out, so tucking these items away will help keep them safe.
The fostering standards guidelines state that homes must be warm, be adequately furnished and is maintained to a good standard of cleanliness. Look at your living space with fresh eyes: is there room for everyone in your household to gather comfortably? Will the child feel at home? Will they have room to play and relax?
5. Get the family ready
Gather the other members of your household e.g. your partner, children, or lodgers and discuss what to expect and how you plan to handle common situations, like privacy, bathroom sharing or meal schedules. You’ll have had discussions like these throughout your assessment, but it’s good to go over expectations once more before your foster child arrives.
When preparing for your first foster care placement, it’s important to remember that whilst it might be exciting for you, it’s a scary time for the child! With patience, kindness and showing that you offer safety, a wonderful relationship will begin to evolve.