New foster carers have a lot to navigate. That is why it helps to have some handy tips in your pocket for when you’re unsure about which direction to move in. For anyone in the position of beginning their first placement, it is useful to have a clear strategy you can adapt to the circumstances. Here are five that can be used for any foster carer in this position.
Decide on your placement type preference
Working in foster care means you have different options when it comes to what style of placement you want to take on. Short-term fostering, as explained here by orangegrovefostercare.co.uk, is a short-term solution for a child in need until they are moved on to a compatible family or go back home. There is also long-term foster care where the child stays with you for an extended period or until they are old enough to move out on their own. You can also sign up to be a respite carer where you provide support to main carers and open your home for foster children on a respite break basis.
Stay open minded
Fostering is a demanding role. It will push you to your limits on some days and make you jump for joy on others. That is why it’s really helpful to keep an open mind. This child coming into your home has more than likely come from a traumatic background, or else they would not have been removed from their family environment. This equals adverse behaviour, anxiety, backlash, and more for foster carers. It’s all there to navigate and it’s your job to not judge, remain neutral, and nurture wherever you are able to.
It’s all in the Prep
Above all else, make sure the practical arrangements are all taken care of. Set up the bedroom for the foster child and ensure all the basics are accounted for like a bed, clean mattress, toiletries, and towels. They might not have much to bring along, so factor this in as well. Make sure there is food in the kitchen and a fully working bathroom. It will be helpful to make a map of the house for them to help the child find their feet without having to ask if they don’t feel ready to use their voice.
Reach out to other Carers
There are lots of other carers in your local area who all meet up and communicate with one another. This is invaluable support and might be the difference between a placement working and one that falls apart. They could have a lot more experience than you, and have fresh insight into difficult behaviours to try out as well.
Take things Slow
Building trust with someone who has a trauma background or who has been through difficult times is not an easy task. However, it is achievable with patience, time, and understanding. This, above all else, is what you must offer the child as their carer. Taking things slow will build a more meaningful impact in the long run.
Foster carers need strategies to lean on, especially for their first placement! It is a learning curve filled with adventure and reciprocal rewards.
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