Had a good question from one of our foster carers waiting on their first placement as to what shall we do as a family to help the foster child settle in for the first few days.
The social worker that is assigned to you will help you plan once you know who’s coming to you. Every foster child has different needs and is unique, so their needs are unknown to you. But one thing you do know is who you are and you know your home; your place is a safe haven for the foster child that has been approved.
I think it is important to carry on with your routines as normal but with a few tweaks as you are looking after an extra child, who is frightened and lonely. Maybe tweaking a few things would help the child settle in better.
Its natural instincts to be aware of the child to make them feel at home and she will become the new focal point while at the same time the family avoiding making her feel under the microscope so they don’t feel uncomfortable.
Another thing to remember is to make sure the other members of the family feel loved and get the attention to, as you dont want them to feel less loved than before this could have a negative impact on your children and could cause issues where settling in for the foster child becomes more difficult.
Generally in the beginning you have the honeymoon period where the child will put their best foot forward so you can get to know the best side of the child. As soon as the child feels more comfortable and they feel they can trust you then their true self will come to show. They can be themselves around you
As for things to do to help the child settle in it really depends on the child you will be getting and you can really start planning once you start to recieve information on the new child. Other things to consider is the shape of your home, how many people living with you etc.
One of my good friends who I work with decided to foster a child, their placement was a teenager girl, who started off really sweet for the first couple of weeks, but when she became herself the balance within the house shifted.
The foster parents are two really laidback and gentle adults, the child was a bit more full-on. The social worker explained due to the trauma and past experiences the child had previously face they afraid of an uncontrollable world, so in order to feel secure, they sought to control some things. The foster parents reclaimed the authority, and the foster child eased off a bit and gradually gave up the responsibility trying to control everything around her.
Not only did they do that but with time the parents figured out the right approach for looking after handling the child so they can help them get over trauma and insecurities or worries. the child can try to live a content life at the household knowing they don’t have to worry about things and live a life of a teenager.
The most important thing to take is understanding your own household, the child is someone that comes into your household and it is important to have a firm understanding of your household so you can bring them into the routine and make adjustments where need be.
But equally important is understanding the new child, this can be more challenging.
There is no way of telling how the foster child will be after the honeymoon period. But what we can do is do our best for the child with changing as little as possible within our house. Only after a couple of weeks have passed will you know what the foster child is dealing with as all children are unique and have different difficulties. That’s when we might try doing somethings differently but all dependant on the child’s needs
what we do is to do our best for the child from day one without changing much in our house and home. Not until after the first few weeks, which is when we know what the child is dealing with; that’s when we might try doing some things differently, depending on the child’s needs. We never compromise our own children’s needs, or the needs of any of the other foster children we might have.
We do compromise our own needs though, where necessary, sometimes a lot.
Giving up the right things for our foster children is what makes the job worthwhile.