Following approval, foster carers will welcome their first fostered child into their home. This can be a daunting and exciting time for all involved. The Fostering Network has resources, helplines and an online community that can help prepare and support foster carers through this momentous time.
Even if lots has been done to prepare everyone for living together, it is likely that children will feel isolated, bewildered and confused when they first move in, with feelings and emotions they cannot understand or put into words. The move may be distressing, and foster carers need to help them feel safe and secure.
Preparing for their stay
Ideally, every placement should be planned with an opportunity for introductions with the foster family before the children move in. Foster carers should be able to meet the child’s parents beforehand. This can help to establish a good relationship from the start.
Children new to a foster family will need information about the house rules. Many fostering households have a family book which sets out how the family operates. It can include things like bedtimes, mealtimes, the kind of food everyone in the family likes or dislikes and the activities and hobbies they enjoy.
Foster families must also be clear about behaviour expectations and what the consequences will be if these are not met
Having a room of their own is a requirement for children aged over three, unless otherwise agreed within their care plan. Like all children and young people, they need privacy and respect, for themselves and possessions that are important to them, such as letters or birthday cards.
Children also need to feel safe, to know that no one is allowed to hurt them. Foster carers will need to consider this and will usually draw up house ‘policies’ to make sure that everyone in the home knows the rules and guidelines. Such ‘safer caring’ policies can also protect foster carers from the risks of their action being misunderstood.
For an example of how this would work in practice, you can read Angela and Simon's account of welcoming a new foster child into their home here.
How we can help foster carers
The Fostering Network can provide Safer Caring courses tailored to meet your service’s needs. Contact our training team for more information.
Our member helplines provide confidential, independent and impartial advice for foster carers in the UK.
Our online community
Our members also have exclusive access to our online community where you can log in to share your experience and get advice from other foster carers. The community is a safe and secure area to discuss topics including being a foster carer and looking after a child, as well as advice on finances.