by Donna McBride, Program Administrator/Public Information Officer, CASA Unit of Pinal County Juvenile Court
“Home is where the heart” is has certainly held true over the past year. Now that 2020 is behind us and spring is closing in, our personal spaces may need some sprucing up.
We often look around at the house to see what looks inviting to guests. A front porch complete with new plants or a fresh coat of paint. But what if we looked at it from the eyes of a child. A foster child.
As scary as it was for a child to be removed from their home due to abuse and neglect, it can just be as scary to walk into a new home with strangers. The environment can set the tone for how the child adapts. They probably won’t even pay mind to the fresh plants, bright colors or clean house.
So how does someone dealing with foster children make their home inviting?
Every child is different, including the reason for them being in foster care. But there are important steps people can take to help them adapt to their new surroundings. And whether it is temporarily or permanent, it can help them survive the next chapter in their young lives.
- Create a space that is their own, such as a bedroom. Let them pick out paint colors, hang up pictures, posters. Even let them pick out new sheets and comforter. Some children will arrive with nothing or very little. But if they do, help them unpack and hang up their clothes. Give them space to call their own.
- When someone shows up unexpectedly, we usually have some things on hand to make them feel welcome. The same goes for a foster child. School supplies, snacks, personal care items, etc. Having a new toothbrush of their own can make all the difference.
- Family meal time is hard to come by nowadays. But they are important. Try to plan meals around food the new household member likes. Even let them help with shopping and cooking. Some of the best conversations have been shared around the counter as dinner is being made. Encourage them to have a voice, just like everyone else.
- Remember how proud you were when you brought home art work, report cards and other items that ended up on the refrigerator? Recognition is a big part of feeling validated. Even taking some fun photos as a family can be crucial to making your home “their home.”
- Most of us have special items from our childhood. A stuffed animal, a book, even a blanket. Foster children may not. Make sure they have their own things and that they understand those items will always be theirs. Something like a movie ticket stub may seem like trash to us, but it can symbolize a fond memory for them.
- Remember those dreaded chores? Most of us had them and we survived. Foster children should be included in chores so they feel a part of the family. They need to know they are not a guest, but a part of the family.
Deciding to become a foster parent is a difficult decision. And it should be. These children need special attention. But the rewards of helping your home become “their home” will be gratifying, adding memories to both the child and your home.
No amount of paint or fresh flowers will add the same value to your home as when you open your door and heart to a foster child.
To find out more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) contact www.casaofpinalcounty.org or 520-866-7076.
Requirements for becoming a foster parent
- Be over the age of 21.
- Be able to appropriately care for children.
- Be able to pass a criminal background check and receive a fingerprint clearance card.
- Successfully complete a home study and a Life Safety Inspection to show the home is safe for children.
- Pass a medical physical and receive a doctor’s certificate that says you are healthy enough to care for someone else’s children.
If you are interested in foster care or adoption please call (877) KIDS-NEED-U (1-877-543-7633).