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Fostering a Child: 3 Ways to Prepare

>> Sep 16, 2021

Foster parents

After the paperwork has been completed and the background checks are over, you’re now (almost) ready to welcome a new child into your home. You’ve both gone through a rollercoaster of emotions that comes with the fostering process, so it’s important that the child feels welcome, safe, and comfortable when they arrive. The first impression along with the first few months can make a big impact on their stay, so it’s crucial you start off strong. Here are a few tips to consider as you prepare to bring your foster child home.

Create a safe and welcoming space

Welcoming a foster child into your home is the perfect reason to tie up all the loose ends that you may have put off for a while. Before moving forward with the fostering process, you need to meet the housing standards for foster homes; this means ensuring your home complies with all state and local zoning, building, fire, and safety codes, and making sure all medications, chemicals, tools, and weapons are safely stored away from the child. Depending on your home’s condition, you may also need to install handrails on stairs, update smoke detectors, and add safety glass to your windows. 

Along with these safety precautions, you should do your best to make the child feel comfortable in your home by giving them their own space where they feel safe. If you already have children of your own, try to give your foster child their own separate bedroom for privacy. This may mean renovating unused basement or attic space to turn into a bedroom or recreation room, or even making an addition onto your home to give them their own bedroom and bathroom. 

This might seem like a lot of effort, but these upgrades can make all the difference in helping your foster child feel safe, secure, and welcomed in their new environment. That being said, making home improvements can add up quickly, especially if you’re repairing major safety features and building a new bedroom from scratch. If you’re concerned about the costs, consider using a home equity loan for assistance. Once you’re approved, you receive a single lump payment with a fixed interest rate, which can ease the burden on your wallet as you’re preparing a welcoming environment for your foster child.

Have a support system in place

As a foster parent, you play such a pivotal role in a child’s life. The ability to provide comfort, safety, and stability in their lives when they need it most is truly remarkable. Not only are you giving a child love, support, and guidance, but you’re also willingly dedicating your time and energy for another life aside from your own. 

That said, there are a lot of ups and downs that come with fostering a child, which is why it’s both acceptable and encouraged that you have a support system in place. Support groups are a great way to connect with other foster parents who are going through the same experiences, and are also a great resource for advice. 

Join local parenting groups on Facebook and get involved in your foster child’s school to find a supportive network and to research different clubs and activities they can participate in. As a foster parent, it’s important to make sure your child gets acclimated to their new environment, so try to set up social events they can attend and encourage them to join a sports team to help them feel supported socially. 

Focus on building a relationship

The last step of preparation before your foster child arrives is to remind yourself of the importance of building a strong relationship with the child and welcoming them into your foster family. Children in foster care are in desperate need of authentic relationships filled with open communication, honesty, willingness to listen, and a true understanding of permanency that they will carry with them into adulthood. 

It’s imperative that you create an environment where the child feels seen and known, which is a direct result of a strong relationship. Take the time to listen to their feelings and concerns, and get to know them by participating in activities they enjoy and including them in family time. Try to make them feel comfortable around your family, and take them grocery shopping to see what foods and snacks they like. You can even invite them to cook one of their favorite meals together to bond and strengthen your relationship. Quality time is not only essential but extremely impactful. 

Once you’re more comfortable with each other, you can include your foster child in larger family responsibilities like collective goals and chores. Ensure they are treated the same as other children in your household, and celebrate their accomplishments with as much excitement as others in your family. This will help your foster child feel more connected with you, and foster a caring relationship. 

At the end of the day, know that no matter how much you prepare for fostering a child, the kindness in your heart will make the most impact. As long as you treat them with compassion, respect, and empathy, you’ll be set up for success. 

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