Saturday, December 21, 2013

What to do the FIRST night!

Ok so a social worker just dropped off a new 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.


  1. Great article! For older kiddos, I refer to night lights as "mini lamps". It helps them feel less childish and/or self-conscious about using them. I also show them that I have one myself that I use occasionally.

  2. I wish more people were as thoughtful as you are about what will positively affect a child, instead of what the adult wants "asap"...Correct; children entering foster care have lost everything, attempting to change their eating habits the first day or week isn't helpful. Love the idea of discussing if the door will be "closed or the lights will be on." Thank you.

  3. When I first entered into foster care, I was vegetarian, and my foster parent would NOT accommodate my diet. I'm glad there are people like you who do what you can for the child.

  4. My (now) son came into my house as my first foster child. Despite classes I was not as prepared as I thought. He came from another foster situation and I did not think of bugs or lice. I did ask him what he liked to eat. He lied to me and told me he was an omnivore and would eat anything. And he did. For the first month. That is when I found out he had lied so that I would like him, and not send him back. He was also uneasy and insecure about offering opinions because he wasn't used to being listened to and heard. I would suggest smaller questions with multiple choice answers rather than open ended ones. Such as, do you like spaghetti or pizza the best? Offer concrete choices to teach them how to better express their needs, and it helps offer the child a sense of control as well as acceptance.

  5. Great insight, we are just beginning our foster training and have a lot to learn. I love the idea of having the rules posted throughout the house, and trying to accomodate their food. We eat out rarely so (without thought) my gut reaction would be to give them the same food my family normal eats, honestly not to be a stickler but just because our kiddos are accustom to our house "food"rules it would never occur to me to offer something more middle of the road. Thanks again

  6. Thank you so much for all of your inputs. I love every idea. My husband and I are getting licensed in April (2017) yeah. First time/first time parents. We are going to adopt them thru foster care. I'll take everything that y'all have said. Thanks again.

  7. This is great stuff! Thanks for the tips.

  8. I've been wanting to be a foster to adopt Mom for a long time but we have animals and someone that part was a headache. Any hints to help?

    1. That's a hard question to answer. Personally I wanted to foster, not adopt. I ended up adopting the first child they sent to me, but it just worked out that way. Any adoption process can be a headache at times, but the joy really overcomes that part of it in the end. I would speak with the Social Workers and find out what you're facing. When I went through the training classes, the families wanting to adopt seemed less open to the need that was out there. No judgement, but fostering with no adoption agenda from the first allowed me and my DS to really get to know one another and for the Social Workers to see we were a really great fit as a family. Good luck to you and God Bless.


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