Bringing a new child into your home can be a daunting task, especially if that child has been through the trauma of being removed from their biological family and placed in foster care. It’s important to make these children feel as comfortable and loved as possible, during a time when their worlds have been turned upside down.
Along with taking classes and listening to the advice of other foster parents, there are other ways to prepare your home for these sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent visitors. Here are some tips on how to stay organized and create a therapeutic space to help your foster children begin to heal and feel comfortable in your home.
Stock up on Supplies
Children require a lot of, well, everything. So, it’s a good idea to create a stockpile of food, clothing, medicines and other supplies you might need when a CPS worker brings a new bundle to your doorstep.
Foster children often only come with the clothes on their back and a small garbage bag or sack with their belongings. So, ask your friends and neighbors if they have any gently-used hand-me-downs they can pass along to you when a new child comes to your home. Arrange these clothes in clear storage containers or labeled drawers so that you can have easy access to them when you need them.
It’s a good idea to have a plethora of hygiene and grooming items available when a new foster child comes to your home. Items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and soap can be expensive if you wait until you need them to buy, so, watch for sales at your local grocery stores and big box stores to find out when necessary items will be cheaper to buy in bulk.
Having a stockpile of over-the-counter medicines can also come in handy when you have a gassy baby, a feverish toddler, or a tween with an upset stomach. Buying these ahead of time will limit the number of times your spouse has to run to the store to purchase infant ibuprofen at midnight.
When a new child enters your life, your world can suddenly become chaotic. Having a list of go-to meals, or having a freezer full of make-ahead-meals can make the transition easier. Here is a list of 20 Make-Ahead Meals to Keep You Sane.
Make Them Feel Welcome
When a child enters foster care, they have to leave everything they know and create a new life. This can be scary to say the least, and it is your job as a foster parent to make the transition as smooth as possible.
One way to make them feel welcome is to create a book they can look at when they arrive at your home. It can have pictures of your family, some information about them, and pictures of things in the house they need to know about, like the hamper and the bathroom. Jasmine from Fostercareqanda.com created a simple welcome book to give the foster children she cares for a sense of how her family operates, and how happy they are to have them there.
Another great way to welcome a child into your home is to prepare a basket of goodies and comfort items that will not only let them know that they are loved, but will also allow them to have something they can claim as their own. These adorable comfort kits from Double the Batch come complete with stuffed animals, coloring books, puzzles, glow sticks for those scary first nights in a new place, and some special snacks.
The gesture doesn’t have to be big and fancy. It just has to be something that says you’re glad they are there.
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Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects.