By KYLEE RYERS
You’ve been thinking about becoming a foster parent for quite some time. You’ve gone through the extensive training, earned as much as you could about mentoring and welcoming a teen into your home. Now, you’ve received a call that there’s a youth ready to enter into temporary care with your family. It’s perfectly understandable that you’d be beyond excited open up your home to a child once. But before they come to your home, there are a few things you should do to prepare your home and make the transition period as comfortable as possible for you and the child.
Babyproof your home — regardless of age
If you are welcoming a young child into your family, you will probably know that you should be babyproofing your home. But you also need to take certain precautions with older children. You shouldn’t assume that the child will be familiar with the dangers of regular household items like certain appliances and heavy objects.
A child who has spent his or her earliest years in your home might know better than to stick things in electric sockets or touch dirty surfaces because you’ve been telling him or her not to do so for years. However, a child entering your foster care might not have had the same training.
Babyproofing includes giving your home a thorough clean, locking up cleaning supplies and other toxic substances, securing heavy appliances, placing safety gates around staircases, and placing safety caps on all outlets.
Keep your child’s new room simple
It’s totally normal to want to fill a child’s room with toys and bright decorations, but you may risk overstimulating him or her. The child might be accustomed to a sparsely decorated environment. Instead of getting carried away, opt for just a few toys and muted colors, and work from there once he or she gets settled in.
Move a bed into your the child’s room
Any child will likely have trouble sleeping in a new environment, and this certainly holds true for many who are used to sleeping in a room with other children. To make the child’s transition smoother, you can, for very young children, move their crib to your bedroom or for older boys and girls, place a daybed into his or her room. Then, after the youngster has settled in, you can go back to your normal sleeping arrangements.
Expect the unexpected, but do your homework
Make the most of this time to prepare yourselves. Try joining workshops and training sessions specially designed for foster parents. And even before placement day, start researching about services like support groups and family counseling. Nebraska Children’s Home Society offers programs and services that provide families with accessible education and support. Fostering will always be full of surprises, but there’s no such thing as overpreparation when it comes to being a foster parent.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402.659.9996.