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
- 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.
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.
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.