Sunday, February 11, 2018


A reader asks;

"Can you do a post on what to do to prepare for foster kids? We have an emergency clothing supply, some nappies of various sizes, toys and toiletries. Do we wait until the child arrives before buying things, that way they have some choice and input? What about soft toys and cuddly rugs or comfort blankets? Thank you ❤️ We are doing short term and long term foster care - ages 3-10 yrs."


How exciting for you. We all remember those tremendous days and nights when every phone call might be the one with our first placement!

Ages 3-10 are important, can be rewarding and demanding in equal measure, on behalf of everyone, thank you for all you are set to do. You are wonderful!

Sounds like you're well prepared already. It's great to have back-up gear in reserve; but it's worth stressing that in my experience you usually get several hours notice that a child might be heading your way, after all it's your final decision yes or no, and unless it's a middle-of-the-night emergency (very rare), you'll get some background on the child before they arrive and in time for a quick dash to the supermarket if there's anything in particular they like/need.

Tesco superstores are fantastic for foster carers, they're open crazy hours and you can get everything and anything, just about. 

The information you get usually lists the child's food preferences and other key needs. If not you can ask their social worker, they will have some idea. I always find the local authority social workers care beyond words for the child they are bringing into fostering.

The first meal under your roof is a very important occasion. If you can, serve something they are known to like, and if possible put the food in the middle of the table and encourage them to help themselves so they can control the portion size and skip anything they hate.

They usually arrive with some stuff, often in bin liners, which is awful for them. Blue Sky try to make sure this doesn't happen, but chaotic families are often low on luggage...
A few clothes and some toys, hopefully a favourite cuddly toy. Find out, make sure the child has their favourite thingy for bed.

You might not need to merely provide them a toothbrush, you might need to show them how to use it...

Here's one tip of my own I recommend;

We found out a child was coming to us whose story was as bad as we'd ever come across. She liked pasta so I was alright there. We ALWAYS have a spare bag of pasta and a couple of jars of sauce at the back of the larder. She loved dogs, though had never had one. The social worker had spotted her love of a TV cartoon about a dog. Here I got simply lucky; it was a dog that one of my own kids had liked enough to get a cuddly version for Christmas, but it hadn't clicked and joined the horde of other semi-loved soft toys on top of the wardrobe.

I decided I'd square it with my own child later and went and snaffled the toy dog. I parcelled it up in wrapping paper I managed to find and had it sat on the kitchen table on arrival.

I can't express in words how utterly fantastic is the moment a foster child arrives in your home. The anticipation. The phone call goes;
"We'll be with you about four o'clock..." 

And you simply watch the clock as the moments tick by. Your Blue Sky social worker turns up ahead (they like to be there). The car pulls up. The social worker opens the car door and a frazzled youngster gets out, eyes darting at your house. Who lives here? What are they like? Is my life going from bad to worse?

I always drop to the ground to say my first hello to a new foster child eye-to-eye. I wear stockinged feet, because I'm at home, and ask the child to take off their footwear, because it makes a statement; this is now their home too.
And it's a HOME not a house.

I handed the child her present, which I said was to welcome her. She opened it. Her social worker told me later she didn't think the child had ever had a present before. The child looked up at me and asked 'How did you know I like Schznozzle?' 

Oooo! Good question. Don't want to make her feel climbed all over, but want her to know she's among people who will make every effort to be good to her. I went with;
"A little bird told me."

Long story short; I now always wrap something up to give every new child on arrival. Might be nothing more than a box of Heroes. The point is it's THEIRS. To play with/eat/use as THEY want to. A possession. 

They are in a strange house where everyone else seems to own everything, they have no traction, even the stuff they come with is probably hand-me-downs or charity shop seconds. 

That box of Heroes is THEIRS and no-one else's. Not only that, the woman who goes slippered in the house and who bent down to say hello...she WRAPPED IT UP for me.

And you're off on the right foot. 

Don't get thinking there ain't plenty of wrong feet a'coming though. This is fostering after all.

It wouldn't be the joy it is without the hassle. 

So well done yourselves for giving it your best.

A box of Heroes, that's what you are!


  1. Thanks! Great post and answer to the question. When the kids arrive with their own things, do you wash them straight away? Or leave it until a few days? Im a bit concerned about drug residue, but dont want to take the only familiar things away from a child who's world has just been turned upside down.

  2. Good question. Each according to the specific situation. It depends on what the child needs to wear the next morning. If you can get a full wash and dry of everything done overnight in time for first thing that might be best. The child almost certainly won't have pyjamas in the literal sense. May be used to not getting undressed into bedclothes at all.
    The best bit of advice I've ever heard from Blue Sky was when they told me to "Use my common sense".