tips for welcoming new foster child emergency

Tips for Welcoming a New Foster Child in an Emergency

Welcoming a new foster child into your home can be challenging under normal circumstances. When a child is placed with you in an emergency, with little warning or preparation, it can be especially difficult for everyone involved. However, with compassion, patience and planning, you can help your new foster child feel safe, comforted and cared for during this transitional time. Here are some tips for welcoming a foster child into your home in an emergency placement. 

tips for welcoming new foster child emergency

Prepare Their Space

If possible, take some time to prepare a space for the new child before their arrival. You should already have a spare room prepared with basic furniture like a bed, table and chair, since this is a requirement when fostering with an agency like Make the space comfortable and inviting with clean sheets, blankets, some toys, and books. Make it clear that this area is their personal space. 

Introduce Your Household

Once the child has settled in, gently introduce them to your household and family members. Explain who everyone is and what their relation is. Go over any household rules and routines like mealtimes and bedtimes. Make sure to introduce the child to any pets as well. Keep introductions low-key and don’t overload them with too much information. Answer any questions they may have.

Offer Food and Activities

Children who are scared, nervous, or overwhelmed may not have much of an appetite. Offer small snacks and favourite foods regularly. Prepare meals on schedule and encourage them to join your family for dining times. Provide engaging activities like books, crafts, games or time outdoors. Having a consistent schedule of meals, playtime, schoolwork, and bedtime creates a sense of normalcy. Be patient if they have little interest in food or play at first.

Listen and Reassure

Foster children entering emergency care may have been through trauma. Expect the child to be distressed, afraid, or withdrawn. Listen compassionately if they open up about their feelings or past experiences. Offer reassurance that you are there to keep them safe and care for them. Avoid pressing them to talk before they are ready. Let them know you are available when they want to open up.

Give Them Space and Patience

Some children may isolate themselves, while others may act out. Give them space and time to adjust in their own way. Be patient with anger, tears, tantrums, or challenging behaviours. Respond gently and consistently. Foster children are often coping with loss, uncertainty, and disrupted attachments. With time, support, and stability, the difficult feelings and behaviours usually improve.

Involve Professionals

Inform any therapists or teachers working with the child that they are now in your care. Request information about the child’s history, needs, and challenges to guide your support. Seek counselling referrals if needed. Update professionals regularly on how the child is adjusting. They can provide additional resources and guidance.

Bond Through Routines

Build a bond through simple routines like reading together at bedtime, preparing meals together, or playing games. Engage them in household tasks like folding laundry or setting the table. Building rapport through everyday routines and quality time can help the child trust you and feel like part of the family. Offer praise and encouragement for any participation.

Emergency foster placements bring unique challenges, but also a chance to positively impact a child’s life when they are most vulnerable. With compassion, sensitivity, and care, you can help your new foster child begin to heal and adjust in their transition to your home.

DISCLOSURE – This is a collaborative post.

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