Changes You Might Need to Make to Your Home as a Long-term Foster Carer

Foster care by parents

Becoming a long-term foster carer is an incredibly rewarding experience. Opening your home to children in need provides stability, care and an environment for them to thrive. However, it also requires making some practical changes to your living arrangements in order to meet the needs of a foster child. This article explores some of the key adjustments to consider.

Make Space

Foster children need a private space, so an additional bedroom is essential. Your local foster care agency will likely have regulations about the size and facilities for foster care accommodation when you are long-term fostering. This may require rearranging existing rooms or converting another space like a study into a bedroom. Ensure you have adequate storage space for belongings. Also, consider areas for the child to play, do homework and perhaps display accomplishments or possessions.

A couple doing small child foster care

Childproof Your Home

Your home needs to be safe for the child, free from hazards and secure. Conduct a home assessment to determine any risks. Consider installing safety gates, window locks, smoke detectors, cupboard locks and covers on sharp corners. Store any hazardous or breakable items securely out of reach. Make sure all medications, cleaning products, chemicals, etc., are locked away. Have a first aid kit on hand with emergency contact details. Be vigilant with electrical items and heating sources.

Establish Daily Routines

Creating set routines provides comfort, security and structure for a child adjusting to a major life transition. Work with the care agency and child to implement consistent daily schedules around mealtimes, home learning, chores, bedtimes, etc. Visual aids like picture timetables can assist some children. Build in dedicated one-on-one time and opportunities for shared activities or leisure time. Adjust expectations at first and allow the child to settle at their own pace.

Prepare for Specific Needs

Do your research on the needs of the prospective child and set up your home accordingly. This could involve buying special equipment for disabilities, getting to grips with any medical requirements, or seeking training to handle behavioural or psychological issues. Learn about helpful communication methods, potential triggers to avoid, calming strategies and overall ways to provide empathetic support for that child. Ensure your home is accessible for any mobility needs.

Make the Space Feel Like Home

Personalise the child’s bedroom to welcome them and help them claim the space as their own. Allow them to choose decorations, soft furnishings, storage solutions and layout within reason and budget. Provide new bedding and plenty of play resources. Let them display special possessions. Also, designate communal storage for shared toys, games and craft supplies for fostering fun bonding time together. Photographs of family and friends can provide comfort. Ensure there is internet access for schoolwork, entertainment and communication needs.

Home like environment of foster care
Credits: Photo by Ron Lach :

Regularly review your home environment, safety provisions, care routines and relationship dynamics to see where adjustments could improve the quality of care. Be responsive as the child’s needs change over time. With some forethought, patience and unconditional support, small changes around the home can make a world of difference to a foster child.

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