Welcoming your first foster child into your home is an exciting and memorable time. But it can also be natural to worry about getting everything right! If you’re a first-time foster parent, our helpful checklist will share everything you need to know to make sure your home is safe and welcoming for your new foster child.
First steps for preparing to look after a foster child for the first time
If you’re fostering for the first time, you may have a lot of questions to determine whether fostering is the right career path for you.
When you decide to become a foster parent, you’ll need to meet the key fostering requirements like making sure you have the space to look after a child. You also need to be over the age of 21, be in good health and have infinite leave to remain in the UK. For more information on who can foster, and the fostering process read our helpful guide.
Top tips to get your home ready for a foster child
Making your home a safe space will depend on the age of your foster child. Certain safety measures such as installing smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and keeping any dangerous items away from your foster child are universal safety measures. But for young children, there’ll be more precautions you’ll need to take, including;
- Installing stair or safety gates: Stair gates are a good way to deter your foster child from playing on the stairs which can be dangerous.
- Cover electric sockets: Safety plugs are a good option to stop your foster child from poking their fingers or objects into the socket, which could result in electrocution.
- Secure furniture: Make sure any tall or heavy furniture is properly secured, this might be done by bracketing furniture such as a chest of drawers to the wall to ensure they don’t topple over.
- Cover sharp edges: Use corner guards on the corners of doors and tables to prevent injury.
- Remove choking hazards: Make sure that any small objects like coins, pins and batteries are safely locked up and out of reach.
- Remove medicines: Similarly, to choking hazards, make sure that medicines are locked away from the reach of your foster child.
For older foster children or teenagers, there’ll be fewer physical safety measures, but you may want to establish rules for social media and internet activity to make sure they are not accessing any inappropriate content. This is something that’s covered in our ongoing support and training, so don’t worry if it’s something that’s new to you.
Making your home welcoming
There are several actions you can take to make sure your foster child feels welcome, especially after the first few days or weeks after moving in.
- Make sure your home is clean and tidy: A clean and tidy home will help make your foster child feel like they are in a settled environment whereas a messy home can feel chaotic.
- Prepare your foster child’s bedroom: Make your foster child’s bedroom a welcoming and safe place with clean, soft bedding. Include some personal touches if you can, like books, decorations, and age-appropriate toys.
- Stock up on the essentials: Get a good choice of food options for the first few days. Especially if you’re not sure what your foster child’s preferences are. It’s also a good idea to grab some toiletries like a new toothbrush, shampoo, body wash and face wipes. You might also want to grab some comfy clothes and pyjamas for them to feel at home.
Top tips to help your foster child settle in
Connecting with your foster child
Once your home is ready, it’s important for you to interact with your foster child to make them feel at ease. Some of the easiest ways to do this include;
- Give a tour of your house: Give your foster child a relaxed tour of your home, making sure to point out ways to make themselves at home. For example, you could show them where spare towels and blankets are kept and where they can grab snacks or drinks.
- Get to know their interests: Ask and find out about any hobbies or interests they have. Do they have a favourite band, do they support a particular sports team, or do they enjoy playing Fortnite?
- Include them in family activities: Make sure your foster child feels involved, invite them to join in on walks or movie nights, but also give them space if they don’t want to participate.
If you’re ready to start your foster care journey, you might be wondering how long it takes to become a foster carer, or if it’s something that you can do as a career. To learn more about the benefits of fostering with Excel or talk to a member of our helpful team today.