Saturday, December 21, 2013
What to do the FIRST night!
Ok so a social worker just dropped off a new placement...now what?! You don't know the kids they don't know you, the whole thing can be nerve wracking for all parties involved, regardless of if this is your first placement or hundreth. Here is what I do upon placement that first day:
I always start by asking the kids if they are hungry, even if they say no I ask them what they like to eat. Most of the kids that have come through my door have been used to eating a lot of fast food and junk, go with that for a few days. I tend to write down what they say and ensure them that we will make a trip to the store soon to get what they like. They have lost everything already so trying to change their diet or starting a food battle is not worth it at the beginning. I usually order a pizza or something they like if its dinner time or pull out a kid friendly snack if its late or in between meals. This also allows me to worry about them and not focus on having to make dinner. I give them a short tour of the house, pointing out important things like bathrooms, extra toilet paper, where we keep toys, a place they can keep special things where no one will touch, etc. I don't usually go over rules on the first day/night unless something comes up. We do however have them posted in several areas of the house. I show them where they will sleep and try and give them a special stuffed animal or blanket they can carry. If they came with stuff, I usually ask if they need anything out of it tonight and get that, otherwise I place it in a Rubbermaid container that seals. This way if there are any unwanted bugs, drug residue, or items you do not allow in your house they are contained until we can go through their things together and wash everything.
Speaking of bugs, you're going to want to check for lice in hair and any other critters in the clothes they have on. I hate the idea of having a child come in and me immediately stripping them down and getting them in the tub, it seems a little overwhelming both for me and them. On the other hand you do not want a critter situation taking over the household! You are going to have to use your best judgment here. I generally try and sneak as best a peek as I can as I'm giving them a tour to see if I see any lice. If you think they are able to do a bath/shower without feeling completely overwhelmed, do it! If you think they need a little time to adjust first, you want to try and limit their exposure to the whole house.
At bedtime I will go over getting up to use the bathroom in the night, where extra blankets are located, what to do if they get scared or wake up in the night, where my room is located, and what to expect in the morning. We focus a lot on safety in our house so depending on the situation I will show them that the doors are locked and ensure them that any other safety concerns they may have are met. Depending on the situation you may want to put a non-perishable snack and water bottle in the room. I ask them if they have any questions about the house, what happened at removal, their parents, etc. I ask them if they want to talk about any feelings they are having and if they want to say a prayer together. We usually read together and discuss whether the lights will be on or door closed.