Fostering a child is a rewarding experience that can be transformational to the life of a young person, but it can be daunting. In this guide, we’ll run through our top tips for becoming a foster parent for the first time, including how to choose an agency, the questions you should ask and how to prepare your home.
Choose the Right Agency
Before you even think about becoming a foster parent, it’s vital that you choose the right agency who can support you at every step of your journey. Fostering is a big decision, so it’s not something that you should rush into. A good agency is one that provides ongoing support – this could include offering a dedicated social worker, 1-2-1 assistance and a 24/7 helpline for the times you feel overwhelmed. If you’re considering fostering in Essex, then a great option is Orange Grove Foster Care, who can give you the best advice at every stage of your journey.
Ask the Right Questions
It’s an exciting moment when you’re matched with a child who might become the newest member of your family. However, this is the most important moment for you to ask the right questions and ensure that your home is perfect for the child in question. Some of the key things to learn include:
- What is the child’s history?
Understanding why the child is in the foster care system is vital if you want to support them in the best way possible, as this might influence the type of ongoing support that they need to thrive.
- Have they had any previous placements?
Many children in the foster care system unfortunately move through a number of placements before they find the perfect home to settle into. Understanding more about the child’s previous placements will give you a clearer understanding of anything that might affect your ability to properly care for them.
- Do they have any medical issues?
Sometimes, a foster child might have an ongoing or existing medical condition that requires continued support. This could be mental or physical, so ask questions about the type of medical care they could need after they move into your home.
- Do they have any triggers or behaviours that you should know about?
Children in the foster care system often face disruption and unexpected changes to their routine, which can impact the way in which they handle certain situations. While this is something that can be improved with time, and definitely shouldn’t affect your decision to foster, having an understanding of their triggers and learned behaviours will help you to keep both them and the other members of your family safe.
Once you have more knowledge around the child’s suitability for your family, you can spend time getting to know them, and check that they feel confident and comfortable around you.
Prepare Your Home
If all parties involved agree that the child would be a suitable addition to your family, then it’s time to prepare to welcome them into your home. Speak with your new foster child to understand what they like and dislike, and use this to create a cosy, welcoming space. This will help them to settle in as quickly as possible and build trust from day one.
Fostering for the first time can be scary, but with the right support on hand and a proactive approach, you’ll find it to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. By choosing the best agency, asking the right questions and setting up the perfect home environment, you’ll find yourself welcoming the newest member of your family with open arms.