The foster care system is constantly seeking out people who are willing to provide shelter for children in need, however long or temporary it may be. Foster parents are required to go through trainings and will encounter many home visits so that child welfare agencies can properly assist and guide families that are new to foster care. If you’ve already decided that this is something you wish to be involved in and are just waiting to take in your first foster child, there are many things you can do aside from attending classes and talking to social workers to better prepare yourself before receiving the call for a placement.
Have a Family Discussion
Becoming a foster parent isn’t a decision that only one person in a family can make. It’s important that all members of the immediate family, including spouses and children, be in agreement and excited about the plan. It’s only natural for the flow of your household to shift to accommodate your foster care placement, impacting marital relationships and other children already in the home. Being as open and honest about the situation as possible before welcoming someone new into your home helps to get everyone used to the idea.
Research Day Care Facilities
Some foster families are able to have a parent stay home with the children, while others must continue to work full or part time. Whether you will require child care for most of the day or only for a couple hours after school, it’s essential that you find a place that is accepting of foster children and will be able to positively deal with any physical or mental disabilities they may need help with. It might involve extra research to find just the right facility where you feel comfortable leaving the child.
Adjust For Appropriate Space and Safety
When it comes to things like childproofing your living space and yard, purchasing basic necessities and setting up a room, there can be a lot to remember, especially if you’ve never had children of your own. Make certain ahead of time that your home and yard are in accordance with state safety regulations to save time and money.
Though there aren’t generally rules regarding a foster child having to have their own room, you will need to make sure there are enough empty beds for every child you take in and adequate personal space for their belongings. Even if your placement isn’t an infant, don’t expect them to always come with enough clothing, toiletries or toys and be ready to go make purchases at a moment’s notice.
Look Into Support Groups
A lot of things can change when someone new begins living in your home. You may experience behaviors you’ve never dealt with before and you may need assistance navigating through your interactions with the foster care system. No one will know how you’re feeling or give you better advice than others who have been or are going through the same things. There are plenty of support groups that foster parents can connect with, and finding ones local to your area before you receive your placement can go a long way in helping you remain patient and understanding in tough situations.
Supporting a child in need and getting involved in foster care is one of the most rewarding things a person can do in their lifetime. If you decide it’s right for you, take the appropriate steps to prepare so you and the child may have a successful and satisfying experience.
Tiffany Olson is a full-time blogger who loves to write on anything family or parenting related. She also enjoys connecting with others through guest blogging and social media. When she's not busy writing or researching you will usually find her reading, cooking or taking a nap.