Receiving a Child in your home

"SAY HELLO" A foster child entering your home for the first time needs to know he or she is welcome. What you say and do during the first contact with the child will set the tone for your future relationship with the child. You and your family will have time to plan for his arrival after the child’s social worker has confirmed the placement with you.

Ideas such as placing a welcome card on the designated bed, or a small bag with fruits, or any "small" gesture, goes a long way. 

A "Hi," "Hello," "I’m glad you’ve come – we’ve been expecting you," or any sincere and spontaneous greeting is what is needed as the child steps through the door. Licensing regulations requires an age and developmentally appropriate orientation of the child's personal rights. (Title 22 Manual of Policies and Procedures)

From there on, much of what you say and do will depend on cues you pick up from the child and his social worker. By the child’s response or lack of response, you will know how ready he is for an interchange with you.

As a parent, you undoubtedly already know quite well about the need to determine a child’s readiness before making other approaches.

The social worker will be supporting your efforts to get acquainted. For the very small child, there may be a special treat: a piece of fruit, a cookie, a cup of juice, or a stuffed animal. If your offer is not accepted, you might try again later. He may not want to eat at all.

Remember that many children are quite upset upon first being placed in a new home. These feelings need to be recognized, understood, and treated with respect and sensitivity.

The younger child may want to see where he sleeps and naps, and might enjoy a special, cuddly toy you have on hand for just those times. He or she will want to meet the family pets as well as his new family members, especially any children close to his own age.

Introductions to relatives, friends, and neighbors should be deferred for a while so as not to overwhelm the child. Here again, your determination of the foster child’s readiness should be your guide. 

he older child should be encouraged to participate in a conference with you and the social worker so that both he and the worker understand your household routines and standards, the child's personal rights, rules for seeing friends and dating, family plans and activities, and the household responsibilities which he will be expected to share.

A meeting with social worker and the older child is helpful in which you discuss house rules, behavioral expectations, and other logistics. 

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