If you’re a new foster carer anxiously awaiting your first foster placement, stop worrying! Seriously, you’re not alone. We have seen thousands of foster carers start with new foster placements for the first time, and by now, we’ve seen enough to know that you’ll probably be experiencing a mix of excitement, fear of the unknown, and plenty of nervous energy. But believe us, this is completely normal.
While you’re waiting for your new addition to the family, check out the below tips for foster parents. We hope that they will provide you with all the advice you need, and some peace of mind.
1. Have a Solid Support Network in Place
First things first, look into whether or not there are local foster placement support groups in your area. Often, you’ll find that this can be a lifeline within your early stages. There are also so many incredible Facebook groups nowadays. If you search well you’re sure to find many that will provide solid advice for foster parents.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Your friends and family love you, look up to what you’re doing, and want to support you through this new and exciting journey. However, they don’t often know what you’re going to need. The best foster care tip we can give you at this point is – never say no to free food! That’s not even necessarily a tip for foster parents, but a general life lesson.
Seriously though, accept any offers for them to provide meals, and make sure you speak up when you need something! Your friends are not going to mind grabbing diapers and whatever else you need whilst they’re out running errands. Plus, it’s so much better for the little ones in your care if you keep their world small, quiet, and calm during the first few hours or days within your care.
3. Routines Are Your Friend
Let’s face it, the children or young people in foster care, most of the time, are traumatized. They don’t know what to expect next. For this reason, why not narrate your day? This tip for foster parents taking on new foster placements is helpful as it will allow them to know your schedule and what is planned, ultimately keeping them in the loop at all times. You can even use picture charts as a useful tool for toddlers and little ones.
4. Know Which Family Rules are Non-Negotiable
Rules are important in life, especially for young people. Good advice for foster parents that are new to the world of foster placements is to make sure to share your rules with the young people that are about to join your family, and work with them to add any new rules they feel are important. Now, you must ensure you don’t overwhelm them, but you do need to be clear about what you expect from them. Bear in mind, it doesn’t matter how basic you think something is. Remember, your new foster child may have never heard of that rule before.
5. Expect That Meal Times, Bath Times, and Bedtimes will be Tough
It’s in your best interest to try and anticipate all challenges in advance. Use this foster care tip to think about how you’re able to make their new home cosy and inviting. Did you invest in a set of night lights, or maybe a white noise machine if they need it? You will most likely experience some feeding issues at the beginning, however, if you have some healthy snacks on hand, it will go a long way towards building trust and allaying fears.
6. Get Organized Ahead of Time
If you’re opening up your home to a foster placement of more than one child, then you must ensure you get organized. Make a binder for each child, store all of the important paperwork there. You’ll probably be asked for background information a lot, so it’s best that you have it easily accessible.
7. Take Some Time to Nest
For women in the last trimester of their pregnancy, it’s entirely normal for them to feel an argue to prepare for a baby. Some solid advice for foster parents is to look at it in the same way. Clear out any clutter there may be around the house, prepare some easy freezer meals to have on hand, and don’t forget the toys, toothbrushes, and toothpaste!
Of course, there’s no need to panic and rush out to buy everything all in one go. However, for many who shared the same experience, it made them feel like they were doing something during the waiting period.
8. Let the Children Have Some Control
For many young people in foster placements, their world has been turned upside down. In this scenario, the little things matter. Source their favourite snacks, personal care products, and anything else they like. Let them pick their own toothbrush, their own stuffed animal, pick their own meal. Trust us, this can go a long way.
9. Let the Child Know You’re Willing to Talk
Probably one of the best tips for foster parents is this one – let them know you’re there to listen. It’s important to bear in mind that you shouldn’t pressure them, but just let them know that if they would like to talk, you’re all ears. You can instigate some bonding by asking them questions like ‘’How are you feeling?’’, ‘’Is there anything I can get for you?’’ and ‘’What do you like to do for fun?’’ It’s so vital for those in a foster placement to feel seen and heard.
10. Foster Parenting Will be Easier and Harder Than You Think
We promise, you’re going to fall in love with any child that is within your care. Similar to parenting children that are your own flesh and blood, there’s definitely going to be some good days and some bad days. Regardless of how they go, the experience alone is going to change you. Trust us, there is no way to un-see or unlearn the things you’re about to come across – good and bad.
It’s likely that the system will frustrate you, amongst other things, but you’re also going to be awed by the dedication of many social workers you will cross paths with. Foster placements are inevitably bittersweet, but they’re also going to be one of the most re rewarding and challenging experiences of your whole life.
Remember to follow our tips for foster parents to help you through the chaos. And remember that with time, everybody in your household will settle into this new routine and new normal. Just make sure you prepare, and stay organized.
Now all that’s left to say is – welcome to the wonderful world of foster parenting, and we wish you the absolute best of luck with your first ever foster placement!