The transition into a foster home is a major event for any child. It is your job, as their temporary primary carer, to ensure that this is handled well. This should mean that your top priority is to make a foster child feel comfortable by using all of your experience, training, and intuition. Here are some ways this goal can be achieved.
One Thing at a Time
It is a great motto for any parent, but it is even more applicable in a foster care setting. Take one thing at a time, and make sure your foster child knows exactly what you are doing and why. Things are likely to be overwhelming, especially in the early days. Therefore, breaking it down into hour by hour, day by day, or even task by task is a great way to keep moving forward.
Every foster child must have their own private bedroom where they can retreat to as needed and have alone time. You will be required to set this up properly with everything that they may need before they arrive in your home. This means finding a comfortable, good quality bed and mattress that has fresh linen. It also means making sure the walls are clean and neutral, and there are things like drawers for storage. Show them their bedroom straight away but let them explore it on their own. There is a good chance that they will need to have some quiet thinking space before they are ready to engage.
Be an Open Book
Be prepared for a lack of communication in the early days buttry to remain an open book regardless. Just because a child isn’t ready to speak, doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice in there waiting to come out. You can never read their minds, but you can anticipate their needs. They will be feeling out of place, and in need of boundaries, routines, and general structure. Make sure they know they can come to you with anything and provide something like a pen and paper in case they feel more confident writing things down. Talk freely about routines and expectations, but in a gentle way that is governed by nurture above all else.
Show Them What’s on Your Doorstep
It is often the case that a child is moved out of their immediate area and into a foster home somewhere different. Even if it is just twenty minutes away from what they are used to, this is an opportunity to show them what’s on their new doorstep. Whether you are fostering in Doncaster or anywhere else, there is plenty to see and loads of enriching activities that suit a range of ages from toddlers to teens. Get out and about as soon as possible and start building some trust and a sense of security in their environment.
Making your foster child feel comfortable is non-negotiable. Only you can tell what needs to happen, and it will be entirely dependent on who walks through your door. Adapt to their needs and remain neutral at all times until they begin to show engagement.