How can you prepare a room for foster care? Use these tips to help you get ready to welcome a foster child into your home.
Before we adopted our daughter, my husband and I were foster parents to two amazing kids.
To become foster parents, we had to go through classes and have a home study done to become officially licensed.
From when we started the foster classes to opening our home, it was about four months.
During this time, I worked hard to get our home ready, specifically the room prepared, for foster care.
After you go through the classes and get your licence to be foster parents, you can get a call anytime asking you to take placement of a child.
You want to try and be as prepared as possible by creating a space and having necessary items available.
When a child goes into foster care, it is heartbreaking.
As foster parents, we need to create the most comfortable and welcoming space as possible.
This was my focus when preparing a bedroom for foster care in our home.
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You will not have everything needed right away (thank goodness for 24 hour Walmart!), but you can create a safe and welcoming room for foster care.
Use these tips to prepare a bedroom in your home for foster care.
1. choose a theme
This can be as simple a a color palate or a specific them like farm animals.
We painted the room with neutral colors and included a few woodland animal prints.
Make the room feel warm and welcoming, but don’t go overboard with something specific like a character such as Mickey Mouse.
After your placement, you can add specific characters based on the children’s likes and even let them pick out a few things for their new room.
2. Add wall Art
Pick out some fun and age appropriate wall art to go in the room.
Bare walls are cold and uninviting, and adding design to the walls will help the room to feel warm and cozy.
Even if you are licensed for children ranging from infants to teenagers, choose art for any age. Uplifting quotes work great in any room.
Once you get to know the child, you can and probably will change it. Again, you can let them pick out pictures or posters for their room based on their interests.
Also, if the child comes with items or pictures from home, let them put them up.
And anything your foster placements pick out for their room, let them take those things when they return home.
Many children come with little to no possessions, so giving them choice and ownership possible is powerful.
3. Meet the Requirements
Before we had the room completely set up, the social worker checked for these basic requirements so we could become licensed.
The room must have a door and a window.
Clothing storage (a dresser or closet), typically one for each child.
Heat and air condition. This may also depend on your state. For example, if you live in a northern state, you may not be required to have air conditioning.
Remember, these requirements may vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your local requirements.
4. get a pack and play
If you are open to sibling sets, even if you have a crib, get a pack and play in the event you need a crib for two children.
This is not a long term solution for little ones, but in the case of an immediate placement, you can use it until you get another crib set up for the little one.
Of course, check with your licensing agency to see if this is acceptable.
Also, in some states, children under 2 can stay in the room with the foster parents. If you take placement of a newborn, you may want a place to let them sleep nearby.
5. Have bedding options
Even if you have a beautiful matching mattress set, you can have blanket or sheet options available.
When you get a placement, allow them to choose their bedding. This will give them a small sense of control in their world that is falling apart.
For example, let them pick blue, white, or polka dot sheets.
It may seem unimportant and simple, but allowing a child who has been removed from their home choice at this time can provide comfort.
6. items to prepare
In addition to visually getting the room ready, there are a few things you will want to have prepared before your first placement arrives.
- waterproof mattress covers
I always doubled up on sheets and mattress covers on our kid’s beds.
To do this, layer mattress cover, sheet, mattress cover, sheet.
This is great when accidents happen in the middle of the night, you strip off the top layer, and everyone can go right back to sleep.
- Night Light
You may or may not need one depending on your child, but they are inexpensive so good to have on hand.
Even for an older child, they can be placed in a welcome basket or drawer in their room, so they can use one if needed without feeling embarrassed.
Also consider using fairy lights for an older child or teen.
- A Variety of Toys
No, you don’t need to go buy a toy for every age group that may come into your care.
But you can have a few popular items on hand, such as play dough, toy cars, and dolls.
As we prepared for a placement, we went to a local kids consignment sale and stocked up.
We totally went overboard, but the toys were in great condition and the prices were amazing.
And we had plenty to keep our two toddlers busy for a while.
Search for Moms of Multiples or other kids consignment sales in your area.
- self-Care Items
Items you should keep in stock.
- tooth brushes and toothpaste
- baby wash
- hair detangler
- brushes and combs
- diapers (small pack in every other size) and wipes
- Comfort Items
Some children will arrive with nothing. It’s nice to have a few comfort items available for them to choose from if they wish.
Make a basket or drawer in the room with lovies, small blankets, and stuffed animals, so they can find one they like.
- Keepsake Box
You may not need this right away, but some children may come with pictures or a few items from their home that they want to keep, but may not want to put on display.
Having a safe and secure place they can keep their items will help them to feel more comfortable in a new place.
Photo boxes are great for this and can be found in fun prints. You can have some available for the kids to choose from as they get settled.
What about clothing?
Clothing is tricky because there are so many unknowns when getting a placement. Even if you are only open to toddlers, a 3 year old may be in 18 month clothes or 5T clothes.
We had a few sets of gender neutral pajamas in a variety of sizes in case we needed something at the last minute.
Then after you get your placement, you can go the next day to get them the right size and style of clothing.
As you prepare the room for your foster placement, the most important thing to remember is to make it welcoming. Make it a room where you would want to spend your days.
How do you plan to prepare for your future foster placements?
I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!