How to Prepare for First Placement: Tips for Foster Parents

foster parents hands holding a little red heart

As a new foster parent, you likely have questions about how to prepare for your first placement.

This is an exciting moment! Since you've reached this point, you've met the requirements set by state/United States laws and are ready to foster. There are just a few more steps you can take to make the placement process a smooth one.

Here are some tips for Virginia foster parents.

Build Your Support Network

As you begin prepping for your foster home journey, you'll want a group of people you can go to for help. Chances are high that you'll have questions or need help and clarification. Before placement, please make sure you create a good support network.

Having others around you during this time is essential to help you through. You'll want family members, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, social workers, etc., even if you only need to talk to them about your situation. It's also a good idea to talk to other foster parents.

Don't be afraid to ask for assistance! Many parents wish they had asked for help when they started fostering, and it's often one of the first pieces of advice they'll give you. Even if you think you can handle it yourself, saying "yes" when someone offers their help will take some of the load off of you.

Plus, a child's mental health links to their parents'. A recent study found that one in fourteen children who reported a parent having poor mental health were more likely to experience mental, emotional, or physical issues themselves.

Taking care of your mental health is crucial as a parent. You need to be at your best to keep up with your kids, which means taking time for yourself and accepting help when offered.

Preparing Your Children for Life as a Foster Family

Opening your home to children in foster care and adoption is an adjustment for everyone in the family, including your kids at home. You must prepare them for what to expect and check on them.

Adjustments might come easy for some children in group homes, while others might take longer to get used to the new situation. Listen to their questions, give them some books on fostering, or talk to them about the child welfare process. The more your children know what to expect, the easier it will be for them to adjust to being away from their biological parents.

If your kids are young, they may need to learn more about sharing. Tell them about their new role to help them feel like they're a part of the process. Including them can help your kids feel more connected and involved.

If your children are older, you can tell them about what you've learned in foster parent training. Talk to them early to give them plenty of time to adjust to the news.

What to Buy to Prepare for Fostering?

It's exciting to think about welcoming a new child into your home. However, going overboard and buying everything simultaneously to fit them at home is also easy.

Please start with the basics and let your foster child decide once they arrive. For example, they can tell you their favorite color or themes they like. That way, you can shop with them and make their room more personal.

Here are the basics:

  • A bed per child
  • Dresser or storage
  • Shelves or places for belongings
  • A comfortable chair
  • Toys and books
  • Toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.)
  • A dimmable night light

It's best to start with neutral decor; let your foster child choose the colors and patterns they like. Depending on their age, you should spruce up the space with nightlights, dimmable lamps, and soft stuffed animals.

How to Prepare for Your First Placement: Tips for VA Foster Parents

In addition to the steps above, we've put together some advice on fostering children for new parents. These are quick and practical tips you can refer back to as you prepare for the big day.

First, remember to be both realistic and flexible. When you prepare your kids, you may have to answer some tough questions. Children may also need help understanding the situation, and they might feel left out or neglected.

Teach them how to be empathetic and how to understand the situation. Remind them that they can be good teachers and role models.

Another tip is to continue learning beyond your training. Pick up books on foster parenting, trauma, the foster care system, etc. Find a few podcasts or YouTube channels or connect with other foster parents.

Parenting is a journey, and you'll constantly spend your time learning what works and what doesn't.

As a foster parent, there will be times when you'll need to adjust your plans or schedule, sometimes at the last minute. That means you must learn to be flexible as well. You should make time for school events and spend more time with your family.

It can sometimes feel hectic, but learning to go with the flow is vital. Take a deep breath and remember: you've got this.

Finally, could you find out if there are any last-minute preparations you need to make before the big day? You may need to childproof your house, buy a few items for their bedroom, etc. Most importantly, ensure you're ready to welcome the new children into your home.

Preparing for Your First Placement

If you're wondering how to prepare for your first placement, you can use these tips to ensure the process goes smoothly. Remember, this is an exciting time, and you've worked to prepare for this moment.

If you want more advice on fostering or taking the next step, contact our FosterVA team. We'll gladly tell you more about the process, what fostering entails, and more.

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