The New Arrival – First Day
By Jamie B.
Today is a big day for you and your fostering family, you will have been busy, readying the home and the people within it for the introduction of this new foster child. You would have been given enough information about the child from your social worker to make most of the arrangements in the home before the child arrives.
The child’s Placement Plan will have the facts and day to day details and expectations for the child and no matter how well you have prepared, the sound of the car pulling up or the knock on the door will always make you feel a little anxious. Now a moment to consider the child, a child who is worrying about what you are like, what you will expect from them, the other children, What will the new school expectations be like? What if they get something wrong, say something wrong?
These are just a few examples of thoughts that may well be swirling in the mind of a child on the day of arrival. You may well have heard an age old saying “It’s the small things in life that make the biggest difference”, well this rings true and many people who have gone through the fostering system will testify to this, all those small things you will do for your own child that makes them feel happy, comfortable, safe and belonging.
It is often a very worthwhile exercise to take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of the child. What things made you feel comfortable at their age and made you at ease within your surroundings?
First of all, a smile and a wide open door will be a terrific greeting for any child, familial warmth and closeness will go a long way so if all household members are there it would be extremely beneficial.
A household tour – If you have children at home already, perhaps including them with this will help the newcomer feel more at ease. We appreciate that there is a possibility that not all household members will be able to be present, perhaps a few funny stories relating to any persons absent, will bring a little more comfort prior to their impending introductions.
Talk about the town – Have a chat and highlight all the things the child his able to do locally, you can ascertain some of their interests this way too, perhaps some mutual points of interest will also be established.
Bedroom – Offers a terrific ending place for the household tour, you may well wish to offer the Child some time alone to unpack or just to gather their thoughts and try and digest what has already gone before. Depending when the child arrives, make them aware of meal times, suggest perhaps a movie or a game with the family. This could also be a good time to establish what breakfast food the child prefers.
“Our Children left letters on the dressing table, they were there waiting for the child’s arrival. We knew that nerves would be a factor on both sides, so the children left a letter each, with a picture detailing their names and interests and welcoming the child. It was fantastic”-
Mr & Mrs Brown, Southwest
Following the first night, naturally the first morning will follow and in the event nothing was decided for breakfast, options would be great, Cereal, Fruit, Eggs and Bacon….. Perhaps an enticing aroma will entice them down on their own!! Over breakfast is a great time to revisit the local offerings in your town and ask what they like to do. Be prepared for the child to opt to remain at home, there has been much to take in, so a little time to relax and digest the night and mornings events is a great option too.
The First night is always the toughest one, much like your first day at school or at a new job perhaps, The child does not know you nor you the child. The best foster carers take ownership of this new situation so that everyone understands what needs to be done so there is little confusion for the child, so share your house rules and ask questions, Are they Hungry? Would they like anything? Shall we do something?
Engagement is key, open ended questions will encourage the child to engage in conversation, unlocking numerous other doors. Throughout remain a foster carer, who works with everyone involved in the child’s life, with a smile, an open heart, and a professional attitude.
You care, let them see it.
You Can Foster – Jamie B