Foster Carer’s House Rules
Foster carers provide young children in the care system a fantastic resource, which at times can be challenging and demanding for all, who live in the foster home. In our homes we have ‘unspoken rules’ which the family members all know and are well acquainted with. This is because growing up in a family; a child is able to learn from their parents and other family members, family values such as respect, honesty, care and love. Once a young person has these values instilled, a family can function quite well without direct and overt house rules.
This is not the case for some of the children and young people who come into foster care, as they may have grown and developed with distorted family values such as, dishonesty, disrespect and non-caring family norms, which can then make it very difficult to function within a fostering family. The dynamics and expectations may be completely alien to a young person, so they may need some help and guidance with the everyday rules and expectations of the household.
Foster carers may also need to adapt their current household rules and expectations, to the individual needs of different foster children. A four year old foster child will have very different needs to say a fourteen year old child and there may be gender differences, ability needs and differences etc.
Foster carers need to consider in their planning of placements possible house rules and expectations which they may have and children being fostered in the home may not be aware of.
They may include:
Bedtimes for children and teenagers; don’t butt in when people are talking to each other;
don’t wear shoes in the house;
don’t take food from someone else’s plate; don’t take food from the kitchen without asking;
don’t stomp around the house, slamming doors; don’t jump on the furniture; don’t talk with your mouth full;
always try to sat please and thank you; no drinking alcohol or smoking inside or outside of the house; make your bed every morning;
only adults answer the front door;
only adults answer the phone;
switch off lights when you leave the room;
wash hand before meals;
everyone helps with the chores of the house;
This is not an exhaustive list and some foster carers would not agree to using some of the ground rules in the list, but it’s about thinking what works within your family, considering what ‘unspoken rule’ that family may have in place already.
Ideally ground rules are there to help people get along with each other and for possible safety reasons as well. A foster carer pinning a list of ground rules up on the wall for everyone is a good way a new foster child in the home to see what the expectations in the household are. This will help with their settling in and hopefully their future development in the home.
Author – Dan