10 ways to welcome a new foster child into your foster home

So, you’ve decided to step into the world of fostering and welcome a child or young person into your foster home – how can you give them a warm welcome?

The uncertainty that children in foster care face often makes transitions to a new foster placement really challenging for a child or young person. Whether you are fostering short or long term, it’s important to create an environment that allows a child to feel safe, comfortable, and accepted with their new foster family.

To help you welcome a child or young person into your home, our experts have put together 10 tips to help the transition go as smoothly as possible:


1. Create a foster family welcome pack

A welcome pack or folder is a great way to share initial family information with a foster child before they come to you! It will help to familiarise them with their new home, and help them to begin to feel more comfortable with the change.

In the pack, include pictures of your house, garden, and their room. Introduce everyone in your family, including pets, and share the things you like to do as a family.


2. Prepare your foster child’s bedroom

Before they arrive, make your new foster child’s bedroom as cosy as possible with cushions and blankets. Make up a ‘welcome’ package for their room, filled with personal touches such as toiletries, a notebook and pen, cuddly toy and age-appropriate books.

A nightlight is also a good idea, even for older children.


3. Collect your foster child early in the day

If possible, we recommend collecting your new foster child or young person at the beginning of the day – this gives them time to settle into their new home before bedtime.


4. Unpacking

Wait until your foster child is ready before offering to help them unpack their personal belongings. Encourage them to make their room their own, and help them to arrange their room so it’s how they like it.


5. Keep your foster home calm and quiet

Once your foster child has arrived, keep your house as relaxed and quiet as possible to help them to settle in and feel comfortable. Allow them to have some alone time and give them a chance to explore your home. If necessary, be ready to distract them with the TV!


6. Mealtimes

To help with familiarity, offer foods that they like, but be prepared that they may not feel up to eating. Try to be encouraging and relaxed around mealtimes to build trust.


7. Create a routine

A predictable routine will help your new foster child to feel secure, if you know their old routine try to stick to this for the time-being. Consistent mealtimes, bedtimes, and daily activities help to provide stability, and can reduce anxiety during the adjustment period.


8. Respect their belongings

Your foster child or young person may come to you with belongings that appear to have little value or be very worn, tatty, and ill-fitting.

Treat everything they bring like treasure as it may be all they have and hold some sentimental value. Keep any belongings safe even if they can’t wear or use them any longer.


9. Foster family activities

Find out what they enjoy doing! If there’s a particular game, make sure you have it so you can play it together. Allow them to pick out a family activity and get the whole family involved – this empowers them to have a voice in their new foster home, just like all family members should have.


10. Remind yourself of the principles of parenting with PACE

PACE is a way of thinking, feeling, behaving and communicating to help make children and young people feel safe. PACE stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy.

If you need further guidance on how you can incorporate PACE into your fostering, use CATCH’s ‘PACE in practice’ eLearning course as a refresher.

Shoes next to a welcome mat

Welcoming a foster child or young person into your home is an exciting and rewarding experience, and every step you take to ensure they feel safe and welcome with their new foster family will make all the difference.

For more guidance on fostering to help you and your work with foster children,
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