First Night In a New Foster Home

This article was written in collaboration with current and former youth in foster care who are involved in our Youth Educational Success (YES) program.

For youth in foster care, the first night in a new home can be full of uncertainty. Whether this is their first placement or fifth, there is a lot of unknowns when you’re placed with a new foster family. As foster parents, it’s helpful if you can try to ease some of these fears. Foster parents need to be patient and understanding, but this is especially true when a placement is new to their family. Here are a few thoughts that youth in foster care might be thinking as they meet you for the first time:

Question: Will they keep me safe?

Being safe is the first step to health and healing. As a foster parent, your verbal and even non-verbal cues will help the youth in foster care determine the answer to this question. 

"I don't know or understand the house rules."

Every house has its own rules and preferences, and it’s important to have those communicated early on. We recommend setting a time to discuss the house rules. That way, nobody can get in trouble for not knowing. Additionally, having an open discussion and allowing input on age-appropriate rules can help to establish a sense of ownership and belonging within your home.

"I'm concerned that I won't feel comfortable here."

An important characteristic for any foster parent, is to be open-minded. Showing that you’re willing to accept who they are as an individual (such as their interests and sexual orientation,) will make great strides in building a respectful relationship between you and the child in your care.

"I don't know this family."

When a youth in foster care is placed into your home, they’ve likely had little say in the placement. The main things they know about you is your name and where you live. Take some time within the first few days to share with them a little about yourself, and your family. This helps to create a sense of familiarity and can help you both find common interests.

"Will they help me?"

One of the best thing a foster parent can do is be an advocate, and to teach the youth in your care to be able to advocate for themselves. 

Are you interested in becoming a foster parent, but want to learn more before making the phone call? You might want to check out some of our other foster care-related blog posts. 

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