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.

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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.


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)

Teaching Your Child Mindfulness


Mindfulness has become a bit of a ‘buzzword’ in the mental health community. But, it’s for a good reason. It is a technique that is used to help with everything from anxiety to overwhelming stress. It can be especially helpful when it comes to easing the anxiety of children who may have gone through some type of trauma or stressful situation. 

One of the strategies of self-regulation that counselors use is promoting self-awareness. Mindfulness and self-regulation are closely related in that regard, as the practice allows your child to stop, breathe, and focus on the present moment rather than the past or future. 

Teaching your child how to be more mindful in their everyday lives shows them that their mental health is important and should be taken care of. It is a valuable life lesson that they can take with them well into adulthood to better manage stress or anything the world might throw their way. 

Why is Mindfulness Important? 

Up to 80% of children in the foster system have mental health conditions of some kind. Even after getting adopted, children can still deal with mental health issues for years to come. In some cases, things like counseling or therapy are the best options. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can help your child with at home that will allow them to better manage some of their symptoms. 

That’s why mindfulness is so important. 

Because mindfulness focuses on the present, it can allow your child to let go of the things in the past that hurt them or that they might be scared of. There are both physical and mental benefits of practicing mindfulness. Some of the physical benefits include: 

Reduced symptoms of stress

Reduced pain

Reduced sleep issues

Reduced gastrointestinal problems

From a mental or emotional standpoint, mindfulness can help your child to practice more self-control, become more adaptable, and improve their mental clarity. It is a technique that can and should be used in moments that feel too overwhelming to handle. 

Techniques You Can Teach Your Child

Simply put, mindfulness is about focusing on breathing and the present moment in the world around you. When you are practicing mindfulness, everything from the past and future goes away. 

One way to express this to your child is to tell them to imagine their thoughts as clouds floating above them. The clouds can pass through freely (meaning, it’s okay to let those thoughts come in), but you cannot hang onto them. The thoughts eventually disappear. The result is typically a more relaxed state where worries of the past or future don’t feel so overwhelming. 

Belly breathing is another great mindfulness technique. You can begin by having your child take a moment to notice their breath, its pace, what it feels like. Then, have them lay down and place one hand on their chest and one on their belly. As they inhale, they want to fill up their belly like a balloon and as they exhale they can allow the balloon to deflate. Since our breath often tends to stay up in our chest, this way of breathing may feel counterintuitive. However, it is shown to trigger a relaxation response in the body.

If your child has mastered this technique, you can encourage them to practice counting while they breathe: in through the nose for 4, hold for 4, and slowly let the air out of their belly and chest for 8. 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is another engaging mindfulness activity to practice. Take turns naming five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.

Lastly, there are tons of free guided meditations you can access online! Taking some time out of the day to listen to one of these together is a great way to encourage regular mindfulness.

Creating the Best Environment

While the practice of mindfulness can be done anywhere, it’s a good idea to set your child up for success with the right environment. For example, studies have shown that being out in nature can improve mental health and reduce stress. Or, you can bring nature into your home by creating a special spot or room for relaxation. Adding plants to any room in your house can promote mental health by: 

Increasing creativity

Boosting focus

Strengthening memory

Decreasing stress and anxiety

Boosting mood

Having a specific area where your child can close their eyes, focus on their breathing, and stay in tune with the present can make the practice of mindfulness easier for them. It only takes a few minutes a day to get into the mindfulness mindset, and it is a skill that will be helpful to them throughout their lives. So, share the importance of mindfulness with your child and guide them through the best techniques to make it a habit.


Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn 


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Special Needs Adoption Coalition

The Special Needs Adoption Coalition (SNAC) of Oregon is facilitated by Boys & Girls Aid through a contract with the State of Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS). An adoption is usually considered “special needs” if the child is over eight years old, part of a sibling group, has some physical, mental or emotional disabilities, or is part of an ethnic minority.

SNAC is comprised of 14 private adoption agencies who work with DHS to locate potential adoptive families for foster children in state custody. The agencies each have their own fee structure and fees are partially reimbursed through the State of Oregon.

A Family for Every Child Adoption Agency is different than many existing agencies because is focuses entirely on “special needs” adoptions. Most of these children are over 6 years old, part of a sibling group, have some physical, mental or emotional disabilities, or are part of an ethnic minority. Unless they find their forever families soon, these children will likely spend the rest of their childhood in multiple foster care placements.

Of special concern are children at risk of “aging–out” of foster care. Once these children reach 18, their foster families and the State of Oregon no longer have to give them assistance. Left to fend for themselves, these hardest to place children have been in the system the longest and because they lack the family support system that most young adults take for granted, they face a higher risk of dropping out of school, homelessness, poverty, and young parenthood. They do not have any more time to wait! We know, from working with many families over the last several years, we have a role to play in bridging the gap between really wonderful families and really wonderful children!

A Family for Every Child Adoption Agency commits to supporting Oregon children and potential parents, throughout the United States, in their search for each other. A Family for Every Child Adoptions partners with DHS and other SNAC agencies to provide families with home studies and updates. We also provide committee representation in Oregon for out-of-state families who have been identified as a prospective match by the Department of Human Services. A Family for Every Child Adoption Agency guides prospective parents through the process of a special needs adoption at all stages!

Other Special Needs Adoption Coalition Member Agencies (SNAC)

A Family for Every Child

A Family For Every Child (AFFEC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to finding permanent and loving adoptive families for waiting foster children. To accomplish our mission, we focus on finding loving and permanent families for children who the Oregon foster care system considers “hard to place.”
1675 W 11th Ave
Eugene, OR 97402
Phone: 541-343-0295
Counties Served:
All Oregon Counties, All Washington Counties

Adoption Options, Inc.

18008 NW 61st Ave.
Ridgefield, WA 98642
Phone: 503-655-9470
Counties Served:
Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Hood River, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill.

Adoptions of Southern Oregon, Inc.

10 Crater Lake Ave.
Medford, OR 97405
Phone: 541-772-3284
Counties served:
Coos, Curry, Deshutes, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake and Lane

All God’s Children International

3308 NE Peerless Place
Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 800-214-6719

Bethany Christian Services

5319 SW Westgate Dr., #117
Portland, OR 97221
Phone: 503-200-5748
Counties Served:
Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deshutes, Hood River, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill

Boys & Girls Aid

Boys & Girls Aid began in 1885 and remains as the oldest adoption and child welfare agency in Oregon. Over 17,000 adoptions have been completed since the agency was founded. We are a non-profit organization licensed to provide adoption services in Oregon and Washington. Boys & Girls Aid is a founding member of the Child Welfare League of America. As one of the few Oregon agencies accredited by them, we are held to a higher standard than the State of Oregon’s licensing requirements.
018 SW Boundary Ct.
Portland, OR 97239
Phone: 1-503-542-2392
Counties Served:
Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Marion, Multnomah, Linn, Lane, Polk, Washington, Yamhill

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities has had a passion and commitment for helping to find loving homes for waiting children in Oregon for more than 20 years. As an agency, we have been involved in the field of adoption since 1903. We serve prospective adoptive SNAC families in the Portland tri-county area and work with families in outlying areas on a case by case basis. Our adoption staff consist of masters-level counselors and social workers, many of whom who are licensed in the State of Oregon. We also have native Spanish-speaking professionals on staff who assist prospective adoptive parents and/or birth parents.
2740 SE Powell Blvd, #7
Portland, OR 97202
Phone: 503-238-5196
Counties Served:
Greater Portland and Willamette Valley

Christian Family Adoption

Founded in 1958, Christian Family Adoptions is a nonprofit adoption agency licensed in Oregon and Washington. CFA provides a full range of services to children and families, with the goal of changing the world, one child at a time. CFA has been contracting with Oregon and Washington for over 12 years to place foster children in permanent homes. CFA’s other services include placing infants in adoptive homes and conducting home studies, and post placement supervision, for international and independent adoptions. CFA is a member of the Coalition of Oregon Adoption Agencies which meets monthly to discuss changes in legislature, current trends, policies, licensure and other adoption related issues.
6040 SE Belmont St.
Portland, OR 97215
Phone: 503-232-1211
Counties Served:
Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill

HOLT International Children’s Services, Inc.

9320 SW Barbur Blvd., Suite 280
Portland, OR 97219
Phone: 503-244-2440
Counties Served:
Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deshutes, Douglas, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Washington, and Yamhill

Red Thistle Adoptions

PO Box 5428
Salem, OR 97304
Phone: 503-508-9251
Counties served:
All counties in the state of Oregon

Tree of Life

5816 SE Powell Blvd, Suite A
Portland, OR 97206
Phone: 503-244-7374
Counties Served:
All counties in the state of Oregon

World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP)

WACAP is a non-profit, domestic and international adoption agency established in 1976. We have placed over 9,600 children in loving homes across the United States and provided humanitarian aid to more than 200,000 children worldwide. WACAP’s domestic special needs adoptions with our US Kids program works with private and public agencies to find permanent adoptive homes for children, of all ages and races, who have entered the child welfare system, as well as provide adoption training and support. Fees are highly subsidized.
PO Box 88948
Seattle, WA 98138
Phone: 206-575-4550
Counties Served:
All counties in the state of Oregon

Additional Forms

Our mission is to find loving, permanent families for waiting foster children. As a non-profit our work takes hundreds of volunteer hours, without these amazing people our work would not be a success! We value each and every one of our volunteers and cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful contribution of your time!

Forms for Photographers and Family Finding

You will need to print, sign and return the specific forms to us by Fax 541-343-2866, Scan and Email or by mail to 1675 West 11th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon 97402.


Family Finding


Links to other Sites

A Family for Every Child Links

Experience after adoption:

Eugene Activites

Prom Dresses for Foster Girls Josephine’s Closet is an Oregon non-profit created to collect and distribute gently-used and new prom and other formal dresses to girls in need in Lane County, Oregon.

For further information, contact Lisa Christon, , or call 541-682-4702