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How to Prepare Your Home for the Arrival of a New Foster Child

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

How to Prepare Your Home for the Arrival of a New Foster Child

Getting the news that a new foster child is going to enter your home is always exciting. It gives you an incredible opportunity to have a powerful impact on that child’s life. That starts by making them feel as “at home” as possible. 

If you’ve never had a foster child in your home before, the task of preparing your home can feel a little daunting at first. But, don’t let it worry you. By focusing on making your space inviting, safe, and fun, you can create the ideal environment for the child (no matter their age), and help them to feel welcome right away. 

As a foster parent, it’s okay to need a little help and advice sometimes. The more you’re willing to learn about what you can do, the better. With that in mind, let’s cover a few simple ways you can prepare your home for the arrival of a new foster child.

Keep Things Clean and Organized

When a foster child first walks into your home, your goal should be to make them as comfortable as possible. That’s easier when your home is decluttered and organized. A messy house could make them feel stressed and as though they’re walking into a situation where they aren’t welcome. 

Keep in mind, however, that a clean house doesn’t mean there should be a “no touching” policy in place. Don’t make things so stark and perfect that the child feels like they can’t interact with things or move about freely. You should let them know where things are, so they have easy access to items they can play with. Setting up organized play areas can also make a big difference in how comfortable they feel. Consider transforming your basement into a playroom by: 

  • Putting away any potentially dangerous items
  • Securing furnishings
  • Adding cushions to the floor
  • Decluttering items to create a more open space

Most importantly, make sure the child’s bedroom is a clean, organized, and welcoming space for them. When they see that it’s decluttered, they’ll feel like it’s a place of their own, rather than a room they’re “invading” with a lot of stuff in it. It’s so important for foster children to have their own little safe haven within a home, giving them time to get used to things. A clean room makes that easier.

Make Safety a Priority

Preparing your home for a new foster child doesn’t just mean changing the layout or cleaning things up. It means adjusting things to fit the needs of that child. If they’re younger, for example, that might mean locking up any medications, cleaning supplies, or other potentially harmful substances they could get into. 

It also means learning about them and any extra steps you might need to take to keep them safe and comfortable. For example, if they have food allergies, make sure you know about them ahead of time. Having a basket or bowl of “safe snacks’ in the kitchen will let them know they can grab something freely whenever they’re hungry without worrying about it. You can also adjust the meals you make accordingly. 

Improving the safety of other areas of your life can also make a difference. For example, if you’ll be driving the child to school and extracurricular activities, make sure your car is well-maintained and has a few essentials in it, in case of emergency. Some of the most practical safety supplies include: 

  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • First aid kit
  • A blanket
  • Water
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Winter gear

Having a doctor or nurse practitioner at the ready should also be a priority. Many foster children don’t have regular doctors they visit. Being able to take them to a family nurse practitioner if they get sick can ensure they’ll stay healthy and safe under your watch.

Be Yourself

At the end of the day, don’t stress too much about over-preparing for a new foster child. If you truly want them to feel at home in your care, be yourself and make sure they know that when they’re with you, they’re part of the family. 

By making a few adjustments in your home, whether it’s adding more safety measures or setting up special play areas, you’ll create a welcoming environment for a child who truly needs it. That will go a long way in helping them feel like they belong – and that’s what really matters.


Author's Bio

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

A Home For The Holidays 2020

Thank you all!

For 2020, A Home for the Holidays went virtual!

With 2020 being the bizarre and unprecedented year that it has been, the annual A Home for the Holidays Gala & Auction went online and so many of our friends and supporters and adoption families went online and showed up for the kids and their community. 

We want to give a HUGE thank you to Robb Holloway and Sid Voorhees for running the show and making the hour-long broadcast such a delight. We also thank Dave at Zion Ideas Productions for producing the show and making this all possible. And we thank the Boy Scouts of Eugene for hosting our small team and giving us the space to run the show. 

We want to thank this year's A Home for the Holidays sponsors for continuing to support us and show up for our youth. We also want to thank every business and person who contributed items and time to our auction. Even through these troubling times, so many of you were able to support us and our mission, and we couldn't be more grateful.

Stay tuned for a full wrap up and see how this year turned out. We also have Giving Tuesday coming up on December 1st, a day meant to give back to your community and support the causes you love. 

Program Success Spotlight Stories

Children's Champion Award 2020

Mentor Program

The Mentor Process
Sports Mentor

Mentor Program Mission Statement

The mission of A Family For Every Child's Mentor Program is to unite foster care and at-risk youth in our community with enthusiastic, dedicated, and caring adults who can provide friendship and encouragement while supporting them through life’s various transitions, instilling independence and ultimately building long lasting bonds.

Program Goals

Since the Mentor Program’s inception in 2007, the vision of the program has been to connect youth with positive members of their community to build friendships and have role models who:

  • Provide youth with support and guidance
  • Provide the youth with someone to call and hang out  "just because."
  • Provide a potentially permanent bond for the youth.
  • Teach independent living/life skills, instill creativity, and promote the youth's self esteem.

Who We Serve

A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program serves Oregon youth in Lane County, the greater Portland area, and other areas of Western Oregon. We serve children who are at risk and in need of permanent connections due to being in foster care or have been exposed to experience that could hinder their full potential.

How Do I Refer My Youth?

Parents, caseworkers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents... almost anyone can refer a youth! A pillar of our program is that all youth participation is voluntary -- every youth in our program is in it because they want to be and no youth shall ever be forced to have a mentor. Know a youth who needs mentor?

What Does A Mentor Do?

There aren’t any typical mentor matches as we don’t have typical youth or mentors. The beauty of A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program is that it allows for each mentor match to be distinctive. Mentors and youth are matched based upon their mutual interests, not by numbers on a waiting list. Your mentor experience will be as unique as you are! What are your interests? What are your passions? What do you like to do to pass the time? Mentoring is so easy because all you have to do is include your youth in the things you already like to do!

How Do I Become A Mentor?

Becoming a mentor doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Most mentors are matched within six weeks of submitting their application! You’ll find that it’s easier than ever to make a difference in a youth’s life.

The Mentor Process

Sports and Outdoors Mentor Program

Designed for our male youth, the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program makes mentoring more accessible than ever. With a focus on physical activities, lower mentor age requirement and shorter 6 month commitment period, we're breaking down the barriers of male mentoring and creating new possibilities for youth who typically wait longer for their very own mentors

Non Traditional Mentor Program

New for Fall 2019, our NTMP places our Volunteers in specific locations within Lane County. We are kicking off the new program at the Eugene Library and area middle and high schools. Volunteers will be available in the Teen Center  / Family Resource Rooms to meet with youth for homework support, conversation, play a game of cards, etc. It is our belief that organic connections will be made.  After establishing a relationship with a youth for several months, transitioning to our traditional Mentor Program is always an option.

Requirements include:

19 + yrs old / 2-3 hours , once or twice a week

complete Volunteer application including 3 references/ background check

 

Mentor Program

The Mentor Process
Sports Mentor

Mentor Program Mission Statement

The mission of A Family For Every Child's Mentor Program is to unite foster care and at-risk youth in our community with enthusiastic, dedicated, and caring adults who can provide friendship and encouragement while supporting them through life’s various transitions, instilling independence and ultimately building long lasting bonds.

Program Goals

Since the Mentor Program’s inception in 2007, the vision of the program has been to connect youth with positive members of their community to build friendships and have role models who:

  • Provide youth with support and guidance
  • Provide the youth with someone to call and hang out  "just because."
  • Provide a potentially permanent bond for the youth.
  • Teach independent living/life skills, instill creativity, and promote the youth's self esteem.

Who We Serve

A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program currently serves youth in Lane County Oregon. We have temporarly suspended the program in the greater Portland area and other areas of Western Oregon for the time being. We serve children who are at risk and in need of permanent connections due to being in foster care or have been exposed to experience that could hinder their full potential.

How Do I Refer My Youth?

Parents, caseworkers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents... almost anyone can refer a youth! A pillar of our program is that all youth participation is voluntary -- every youth in our program is in it because they want to be and no youth shall ever be forced to have a mentor. Know a youth who needs mentor?

What Does A Mentor Do?

There aren’t any typical mentor matches as we don’t have typical youth or mentors. The beauty of A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program is that it allows for each mentor match to be distinctive. Mentors and youth are matched based upon their mutual interests, not by numbers on a waiting list. Your mentor experience will be as unique as you are! What are your interests? What are your passions? What do you like to do to pass the time? Mentoring is so easy because all you have to do is include your youth in the things you already like to do!

How Do I Become A Mentor?

Becoming a mentor doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Most mentors are matched within six weeks of submitting their application! You’ll find that it’s easier than ever to make a difference in a youth’s life.

The Mentor Process

Sports and Outdoors Mentor Program

Designed for our male youth, the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program makes mentoring more accessible than ever. With a focus on physical activities, lower mentor age requirement and shorter 6 month commitment period, we're breaking down the barriers of male mentoring and creating new possibilities for youth who typically wait longer for their very own mentors

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One of A Family For Every Child’s many programs is the Lifebook Program, which provides special photo album scrapbooks that are put together for foster children.

Life Books and Welcome Books

A LifeBook is a meaningful collection of pictures and memorabilia designed for foster children. These scrapbooks are typically made of 8.5 x 11 pages that are compiled in an album or binder after being decorated with pictures and mementos from the child’s life. These scrapbooks are able to explain the story of the child’s birth, information about their birth parents, and the reason for their separation. The pages also include important moments of their life and adoption.

A Welcome Book is a wonderful resource that helps introduce an adopted child to their new family. These scrapbooks, which are usually made of 8 x 8 pages, help the newly adopted child become familiar with the things they will encounter as a part of this family. The family is able to introduce themselves to the adopted child through this album by including information and pictures about family members, relatives, pets, the kid’s bedroom, the house, and their school.

Impacts

These special photo album scrapbooks can make a unique impact on the children who receive them. They have the ability to explain hard things to the child, such as how they entered the foster program and into an adopted family. It is an opportunity to give the child information about their birth parents that they may otherwise not know. These scrapbooks can also help the child understand and become comfortable with the vocabulary associated with the foster program and adoption. Because most of the children receiving these books don’t have many pictures of themselves, these scrapbooks can give the child a special sense of security, stability and a positive identity.

 

Best of all, these scrapbooks are visible reminders of the important events in a child’s life and provide special memories that they can always look back on. In preserving these life stories, they also provide a wonderful way for a found family to acknowledge and honor the life that the child has had before coming into their home. Space is left at the end of the book to allow the child to look forward to a future of making new memories with their found family.

Volunteer Opportunities

These books are a free resource for parents or caseworkers who would like to put one together for a foster child. When a caseworker or parent requests a book, a Lifebook co-coordinator gathers together a collection of pages that have been made by volunteers. The pages are hand-selected according to the personality and preferences of the child. The pages are then mailed off to the parent or caseworker who puts the pages together with pictures before giving the book to the child. 

Volunteers can help out with the Lifebook program in several ways:

Donations of scrapbooking supplies are welcome. Some supplies such as stamps or punches cannot be used, but other items such as paper, stickers and adhesives are welcome and needed.

Because these scrapbooks are a free resource to parents and caseworkers, monetary donations are also welcome. These monetary donations can ensure that a parent or caseworker will not have to pay for postage when the scrapbook pages get shipped. If you are interested in making a cash donation, please make sure that you designate the donation for the Life and Welcome Books so that it can be sure to be used for this purpose.

Volunteers can also be involved in helping make the scrapbook pages. To get involved and to find out how to deliver the pages to AFFEC, you can contact a Lifebook Co-Coordinator. These pages do not need to be elaborate, as they need to have room for pictures and the kids’ own personalization. The scrapbook pages are created in a variety of categories including: babies, girls and boys, brothers and sisters, grandparents, parents, birthdays, holidays, seasons, school, sports, pets, faith, new rooms or places in a house, friends and more.

More Information

For more information, follow these links to learn more about:

 

The Lifebook Program

Ways to donate to this program

How to request a Lifebook

 

You can also contact a LifeBook Co-Coordinator:

Gail VanGundy

Lifebook Co-Coordinator

541-525-3500 (call or text)

 

Lifebook@afamilyforeverychild.org

Adoption Agency | By State

A Family for Every Child is currently licensed for Adoption in the following states, with plans to expand in the future! Don't see your state? Email us and we can help you find resources!

Oregon Adoption Agency

An Oregon Adoption Agency Since 2008!

A Family For Every Child (AFFEC), a non profit organization, began with its founder Christy Obie-Barrett, a mother of 12 children – 9 of which are adopted. Christy wanted to make a difference in the lives of more children and found a way through non profits. In January 2006, AFFEC was created to help find permanent homes for many of Oregon’s waiting children with special focus on special needs/hard to place children.

In 2008, A Family for Every Child became licensed as an adoption agency in the State of Oregon, beginning the next stage of our journey!

As an adoption agency, A Family for Every Child has developed our own systems and applications to optimize the adoption process, making it easier for everyone involved! We pride ourselves in completing home studies faster and more affordably (We only charge what it costs us!) than traditional adoption agencies. Families who choose our agency can expect transparency and collaboration throughout the home study process!