Welcome to FosterTalk’s monthly Foster Care Blog by Foster Carer, Lisa Scott.
This month, Lisa shares her experiences of welcoming new foster children into her home.
Welcoming foster children into our home is a major part of our role as foster carers and the start of the child’s journey with us, so it’s important to make it memorable.
We have all had that call from the Placements Team and raced around turning a bedroom pink or blue only for the child not to be placed with us, or the reverse when the child arrives on your doorstep with a black bin liner (which I absolutely detest) within an hour of agreeing to the placement.
As a family we try to all be available to greet them as they arrive, albeit daunting it’s important. We buy and sign a welcome card so they can remember all our names.
The animal welcome is next, checking they are okay with animals and as our dogs especially show unconditional love, it’s not long before they are cuddling up on the dog bed with them and collecting eggs from the chickens.
A snack and drink are next on the agenda and showing them where these are kept too, so they never worry about being hungry. Older children we will ask if they want to be added to our ‘who’s for dinner’ WhatsApp group.
I try and put myself in the child’s shoes and as an adult I would find it hard moving in with a new family, however difficult their home life has been – it’s all they know. One of my foster son’s quoted “they teach you STRANGER-DANGER then dump you with a load of strangers!”
Next on the list, I briefly run through Fire Safety, showing them where we keep the fire drill and explain what to do in the event of the smoke alarm sounding, unless its Sunday morning when I cook a big breakfast!
Then most importantly showing them their bedroom (their safe place) along with the bathroom and which room is ours in case they need us in the night. I also explain to them at this time that they will be expected to knock before entering anybody else’s room and must not enter on their own if the room is empty.
I purposely choose not to lay down too many house rules or boundaries initially, it works better for us to slowly introduce these as time goes by. A seven-year-old boy came to us for respite and on showing him his bedroom he immediately removed his bed linen and made a bed on the floor under the window. I didn’t comment but referred to his placement plan which revealed why he felt safer on the floor. He stayed with us for two weeks and I left his little bed on the floor as that’s where he felt safe and content.
While the child is unpacking, I take the opportunity to ensure that all the necessary paperwork is in place with the social worker – checking through the placement plan, risk assessment, contact arrangements also the delegated authority forms are signed.
Taking the time to review and update the ‘Safer Caring Plan’ in case there is anything relevant that I need to know before the social workers leave and ensuring that I have the emergency out of hours numbers are important too.
Every child is different and placed in foster care for various reasons. It may be short/long term or just respite but I think first impressions count for them and to make the transition from their family home as easy as possible.
Until next month, take care for now
Lisa has worked at FosterTalk for over 4 years and is currently in our Memberships team.
There’s not much Lisa doesn’t know about fostering and running a very busy household.
She’s been married for 25 years, has been fostering for 9 years.
With 3 birth children, an 18-year-old and 22-year-old twins as well as 2 foster children on Staying Put agreements and 1 Supported Lodgings, we’d say she’s very experienced in living with young people, experiencing the daily issues they face and providing the support they need to progress through life.