How to Help a Foster Child Feel Welcome in Your Home
RISE Services Inc. believes everyone deserves to live in a nurturing and supportive family environment. That is why we work with foster families to provide loving and stable homes for children in the foster care system, and we also license families to foster children and adults with developmental disabilities. If you are considering becoming a foster parent or are already expecting your first foster child, here are some tips to help that child feel welcome in your home:
Be patient: The earliest stages of fostering a child can be a major adjustment period for both of you. This may be the child’s first time in foster care, or the child could have several experiences in the foster care system and may be wary of this latest arrangement. In either case, don’t build your expectations too high. Be patient, and let the newness of the situation wear off before pushing too hard.
Introductions: Be welcoming, but take your cue from the child. If he or she seems social and upbeat, a warm greeting is in order. If the child is scared, take it slower. For children who seem indifferent or angry, it is best to give them some space and talk to your support specialist about what could be bothering them. Children from abusive situations might be more reluctant to express emotions at first. With smaller children, you can get down to their eye level, but don’t insist on a child calling you Mom or Dad right away. Find out what feels comfortable and build from there.
Prepare the basics: You might not have much time to prepare in an emergency placement. Try to keep a few basic necessities on hand so the child feels welcome. Stock school supplies, food, and items for personal care. If you have time to get more things ready, ask your caseworker about clothing needs and special food requirements. Have a room that is decorated in an age-appropriate manner, but make sure the child knows that it can be personalized to his or her preferences as well.
Other children: Bringing a new child into an existing family environment can cause some hurdles. Talk to your family members about what will happen, and involve them in welcoming the foster child. Try not to spend so much time focusing on your foster child that you fail to notice problems with your other children.
Creating Strong Foster Families in Arizona
Foster children need stability, structure, and love during this difficult time. RISE Arizona trains, licenses, and provides ongoing support to foster adoptive families through every step of the journey. We provide Family Support Specialists who make home visits, offer 24/7 emergency support, and aid in advocating for any services your foster children may need. In Mesa, we have a foster parent support group that meets the second Wednesday of the month. Contact RISE at 480-497-1889 to learn about the foster care and adoption services we provide in Arizona.