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Welcoming a new foster child into your family

This is it. Your family are now approved as foster parents, and you may all be feeling both nervous and excited in preparation for welcoming a new child into your home.

October 19 2022 - 4 min read

5 Things to think about when welcoming a foster child into your family

Fostering is often fabulous. In fact you may be surprised to learn that children who foster quite often become foster parents themselves! But alongside some of the great bits it can also be a huge change for you and we want you to have thought about these before you start. Here are some of the things to know and what to do about them:

Share Your Feelings & Keep an Open Mind 

During this time both you and your parents can be a little apprehensive. The excitement of a new guest coming into your home, and the uncertainty of not knowing how long they may stay or what they may be like can be stressful.

We highly recommend that you remember to keep an open mind and talk to your parents - this is just as much of an experience for you as it is for them.

You might find it helpful to write out simple questions that you would like answering such as how long will they be staying with us? Do they have any siblings? What school will they be going to? You may find that not all of these questions will have a detailed answer, however, we know that your parents are wonderful and that they will do their very best to reassure you and answer any questions you might have.

Things Might Change – But It’s Ok Not to Be Ok 

Having somebody new stay with your family means that things are probably going to change. Sometimes these will be good changes and sometimes you may not be very happy about the changes at first.

One of the biggest changes is that you will have to share not just your toys and/or belongings, but also your parent/s, family and possibly your friends. This can be difficult.

Sometimes fostered children can need a lot of attention, and this could leave you feeling a bit left out. If this is the case, speak to your parent/s about it. Don’t forget that just because your parent/s are taking time looking after another child, this doesn’t mean that they care about you any less.

The most obvious change is that you will need to share your home and some of your belongings. You can talk as a family about how best to do this.

Understanding Rules & Boundaries 

Rules are going to change; this is because foster parents have to follow certain rules set by Fostering Services. There are good reasons for these changes although it may seem sometimes unfair or maybe they don't make sense to you. For example, you may find that you are now expected to knock on the bedroom door before entering, something that you've never had to do before, however this is important to ensure that there are boundaries and that everybody has a safe space.

Another rule could be the way that you dress within your home, you might have to wear a dressing gown instead of just walking around in your night clothes. Again, this is to ensure that everybody feels comfortable in the home – children who come to stay may not be used to things that seem normal to your family, or it may upset them.

Ask your parent/s what rules will change before you start fostering, and ask them to explain anything you are unhappy about.

Things Are Going to Annoy You 

From annoying little habits to behaviour, there will be things that you don't like and you may find yourself getting annoyed.

The first thing is to remember that is it ok to feel this way. 

We recommend that you talk to somebody and although it's easier said than done, try and keep your cool and remember that a foster child's behaviour is sometimes a result of them being upset or frustrated or maybe homesick.

If you're finding things difficult to cope with, or you're feeling uncomfortable, you should talk to somebody.

It is important to remember that children in foster care are all different, just like you are different from your friends, brothers or sisters, or cousins. Some might be difficult to live with, others you will get on with well.

Your family is going to get bigger! 

The most exciting part of your parents fostering is that you will gain companionship and friendship from the new children that you welcome.

You will get to meet lots of new people, and it can be fun to have other people in the house.

Yes, you may have different likes and hobbies, but it’s great you’ll have someone new to share your childhood and make fun memories with. You’ll be playing a key role in helping them to adjust to their new environment, and helping to make a positive difference to their life.

You’ll also have access to a whole host of fun new activities and opportunities organised by the FCA teams.

Remember it is important that you always feel you can talk to someone who understands.

Always consider speaking to your parent/s about anything that is bothering you. After all, they are living in the same house and will probably understand what you are going through. You could also speak to someone else within the family, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.

Your family’s Supervising Social Worker, who works for FCA, will visit you all to check everything’s going okay. Their job is to support your family through fostering.

They should speak to you during their visits. If something is bothering you, you should talk to them about it.