Fostering children comes with many rewards, but before you accept a foster child into your life, you need to make sure your home is ready. A foster home needs to be a safe and welcoming environment for children of all ages. The more welcoming your home is, the faster your foster child will settle in and feel secure. Here is a guide to the things you should do before your foster child arrives.
Prepare a Bedroom
Agencies like Orange Grove Foster Care are always looking for people who can provide a secure home for children and young people. If you have a spare room and want to make a difference to a child’s life, it’s a great start.
A foster child needs their own bedroom, a space where they can feel safe and comfortable. Many foster kids haven’t had much security in their lives, so being given a private bedroom will help them settle in.
Prepare the room according to the age of the child or make it age-neutral if you are providing short-term foster care or emergency respite care. The room should be bright and cheerful, with a comfortable bed, somewhere for their clothes, and a desk for homework. If the placement is long-term, wait until the child has settled in and then let them choose the colours and bedding they want. This will help them feel like they have some autonomy in their life.
Have Clothes and Other Essentials Ready
Your foster child may come with nothing apart from the clothes they are wearing, so have essentials ready. These include sets of clothes, underwear, coats, pyjamas, a toothbrush, etc. Buy a few games and books for different ages, and have a range of food in the cupboards and fridge to suit all tastes.
Tidy Up and Spring Clean
Untidy homes tend to look rather chaotic, which might make a child feel insecure. Your home doesn’t need to be so clean and tidy that it looks sterile, but it should be free of mess and clutter and clean in key areas like the kitchen and bathroom. A lot of foster kids have been removed from homes where parents left them living in squalor, so a tidy, clean home is a good way to show them things are going to be different going forward.
Pay close attention to safety issues in your home.
- Put socket covers on electrical outlets and make sure cables are not within easy reach of toddlers and babies.
- Fit a stairgate to protect younger children.
- Lock away medications and anything poisonous.
- Fit smoke and CO alarms.
- Check all windows have locks and doors are secure.
- Gardens need to be secure too, with lockable gates for younger kids.
- If you have any window blinds fitted, check cords are not dangling down, as they are a major choking hazard.
If you are fostering younger children, it is sensible to remove valuable and sentimental items, so they don’t get damaged. Your home should feel like a place where a child can play and have fun, not a museum.