A foster child coming into a new home is a stressful yet exhilarating experience for the child and the foster family. To get this relationship off to the right start is extremely important for everyone involved. Parents can take some steps recommended by BCFS Health and Human Services RSD to welcome a foster child with warmth and security.
- Greet them Calmly
Many foster kids feel overwhelmed on their first day at a new home. Parents and their families can make this transition easier by greeting the foster child warmly but quietly. This means giving offering a tour of the home and doing introductions, but also giving the child some alone time if needed.
- Put them on the Family Wall
Parents often put family photos on the wall to remind them of favorite moments. They can include foster kids in this tradition by taking their photo after they arrive and putting the picture in a nice frame.
- Help them Get Settled
If the foster child is willing to accept help, then the parents and their own kids can unpack suitcases, hang clothes, and setup personal effects. A foster child will feel better when they’re not living out of a suitcase and have their toiletry set and other items that make them feel welcome.
- Integrate their Accomplishments
Many refrigerators are adorned with report cards, achievement ribbons, and artwork from kids of all ages. Foster parents can include their foster child’s achievements on the fridge to give them a sense of pride and togetherness.
- Make Lasagna, Burgers, or Pickup Sushi
Many kids are picky eaters, but foster kids in a new home might be hesitant to speak up about their picky habits. Discuss food preferences with the foster child and work together to create those meals or provide desired snacks.
- Offer some Goodies
RSD recommends parents offer foster kids a simple welcome basket to make them feel at home. These baskets could include some candy, a small toy, a blanket, and some books. It gives the child some ownership over their things and can aid in the foster transition.
- Engage in their Interests
Parents can talk to their caseworker to learn more about the foster child before they arrive. Perhaps they have a favorite soccer team, or they love Marvel movies, which gives the parent an opportunity to buy a soccer jersey or some movie posters as a welcoming gift.
- Talk to them About Names
A recommended initial conversation with a new foster child should determine how they wan to be addressed. Maybe they have a preferred nickname or would rather parents not describe them as a “foster child” but instead use other phrasing.