Foster carers are committed to providing love, care, and support when children need it the most. There are many reasons why children enter the foster system, and new carers need to be ready to deal with any unique needs a foster child may have. With this in mind, we’ve put together a series of tips for new foster carers.
Get to Know Your Foster Children
Every foster child is unique, which is why it’s essential to start getting to know them as soon as possible. If you’re registered with an agency like Fosterplus, your social worker may have certain information including hobbies, interests, and any specific needs.
When a new foster child arrives, you will have plenty of opportunities to have meaningful conversations, which will give you a deeper understanding of their personality. If your foster child does not feel comfortable talking at first, you can provide them with a ‘thoughts and feelings box’ in their room, which you can read through to gain insights.
Be Patient and Understanding
Many foster children have been through a lot, and arriving at your home is just another turbulent experience. While your foster children are settling in, you have to have patience to allow them to work through their emotions. Additionally, you need to have a high level of empathy, which means viewing the world through their eyes.
Create a Stable and Safe Environment
Foster children will likely have experienced instability at home and may have felt unsafe at times. When you open your doors to a foster child, you need to make sure the environment feels secure, safe, and stable. There are many ways to do this including setting clear expectations, establishing a routine, and showing up for them.
Lean on Your Support Network
You may be on the front line as a foster carer, but you’re never alone in your efforts to provide for children in need. To start with, you will have a foster agency at your disposal, which can help by offering additional training and resources. As well as this, you can rely on your close relatives and friends, whether they’re on the other end of the phone for a chat or available to grab a coffee.
Take Care of Your Own Needs
Your first priority may be to provide care for foster children, but that doesn’t mean it should come at the expense of your own health and well-being. Find the time for self-care by writing it into the schedule. This can be as simple as taking a hot bath while your partner holds down the fort. The most important thing to remember is that looking after yourself is never selfish; it’s essential for being the best foster carer you can be.
Choosing to answer that calling and become a foster carer is a big move, but it will be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make. Following the tips above will help you be an effective foster carer, but it’s also important to do your own research and learn everything you can about the role.