Jul 19, 2018
A day in the life of a foster parent can hold many challenges and rewards. Foster children can have special needs, come from a history of violence or drug abuse in the home, or recently faced the loss of one or more parents. Sometimes there are no extended family members to care for these children, and they are left with no resources except those of the foster care system. These children face some of the same challenges other kids face, but very often they face serious challenges other children, and some adults, cannot fathom. These children need more than just shelter from the elements, they need understanding, patience, love, acceptance, and security.
When preparing your home for a foster child, one of the first things you’ll want to do is be sure everyone, especially other children, are on board with the idea. If you have biological children of your own, they need to know they won’t be taking second place to the new member of the household. Getting them involved in preparing your house to receive a new child can help them feel they are a part of the process. Preparation doesn’t have to be extensive, but there should be an appropriate bed, closet or dresser, age-appropriate toys, and if possible, a separate room for the new arrival. If you can get information on the foster child’s food preferences and have things they enjoy available, it can help make the foster child feel more welcome.
When you first bring your foster child home, show them their room and what you have prepared for them. Don’t overdo it; allow them to pick some decorations and items they like to personalize their new room. You may or may not receive a reaction; don’t press for one. The child will likely be feeling a bit scared and possibly overwhelmed with all the changes. It can be a good idea to pack away any breakable items, or fragile items of sentimental value. Let him or her know that they are welcome, go over your house rules, and give them a tour of the home. It may be a good idea to have a written copy of the house rules, your family’s daily schedule, and cell phone numbers for the adults in the home. You can post this on the wall of their room, write it on a white board, or put together a binder with other important information and photos of your house and family. Let the child know you look forward to adding photos of them to your family album.
When it comes to activities, include your foster child in all your family activities and ask for their input as to their favorite things to do. Your family may love board games, but your foster child may love video games. Find a way to include the child in both activities and try doing new things together to discover other activities your whole family can enjoy. You may discover a new activity that everyone will come to love.
At some point, you may be required to return your foster child to their biological family. This can be an emotional time for everyone, and younger children may not comprehend the reasons the family dynamic must change. It’s important to remain calm and supportive during this process. Even if you are not allowed to maintain contact with the child once they leave your home, you should be able to stay in touch with their social worker and possibly receive updates on how the child is doing.
Being a foster parent requires dedication and commitment and is not a decision to be made lightly. The impact of being in the foster system is life changing for all involved, and becoming a foster parent is a commitment of time, resources, support, emotions, and care. Becoming a foster parent is an opportunity to provide stability, love, and support for a child and family in a time of great need, often at a turning point for both the child and the family. If you think you may wish to become a foster parent in the Colorado foster care system, we encourage you to first educate yourself on the requirements.
Kid’s Crossing is a private, non-profit, 501c3 Child Placement Agency licensed by the State of Colorado providing resources and training for foster parents. Our agency was founded by foster parents, for foster parents, and we understand the heart, commitment, and dedication required to foster a child. For more information on Colorado foster care and/or becoming a foster parent in Colorado Springs, call Kid’s Crossing at (719) 632-4569.