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Tips on Becoming a Foster Parent
For Child Care providers
Type: For Child Care providers   Skills: Professional DevelopmentSocial & Emotional Skills
Here are some additional strategies to help make welcoming a foster child easier on you and your kids. Tips on Becoming a Foster Parent
What We Learn
Let foster children express their feelings.

Follow the foster child’s lead as to whether they want to discuss their life experiences.

Speak with your biological children beforehand to inform them of the challenges the foster child might be facing.
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At first, young foster children may have trouble adjusting to a new environment. That doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t adjust or can’t do it in a smooth manner. Transition is the key. They will miss their parents and their home. It’s up to the foster parents to let them feel free to talk about that stuff. Let them share their feelings. Let them draw or send a letter. Allow foster children to get their emotions out; otherwise they’ll act it out.

Foster children have to feel safe and know that it’s OK to express their feelings. They’re going to be angry and sad and worried about their siblings. There are a lot of issues for them. Pretending everything is normal is OK, but don’t think that they don’t know what’s going on.

Before your foster child arrives, you can let your biological kids know that we’re going to have someone here who will miss their parents. You have to educate them and ask them how they would feel in that situation.

Your biological kids may want to ask your foster child a lot of questions about their birth home or life experiences. While that may be OK, you really need to follow the foster child’s lead. If they’re not open to discussing it, tread very lightly. Often times, foster kids are already in mental health treatment, so you should ask their physician or therapist for some guidance.

You should discuss with your biological kids about confidentiality. Ask your kids, “How would you want this handled? Would you want everyone in school to talk about you?” Tell your kids you have to be respectful to that child. Unfortunately in the 0 to 5 age group, the kids can’t verbalize a lot. So they will show how they’re feeling through their behavior. That’s when you tell your kids, “When Bobby’s having a tantrum it is helpful when we all step back. Let him know it’s OK, and we’ll work things through.”

Biological children often feel the need to be protective of their parents since the foster children are doing things they couldn’t do. That’s when you tell your kids, “just because he’s screaming and acting out, it’s something he needs to do to get through this situation.” But if the child’s behavior becomes extreme, it might be time for a mental health expert to intervene.
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