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© Gail Underwood Parker

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Focus on Fostering: Welcoming New Children

For those of you out there who take temporary foster care kids or emergency placements, try this way to welcome and reassure a new child. When you take an infant, the only reassurance you can give is warmth, nurturing, and maybe some duplication of routines. But an older child has practical needs as well as emotional needs. [This is also great if you have been cleared for foster care but do not have a placement yet.]

Prepare a Welcome Book about your home, family, and community.  When your new placement arrives have the Welcome Book waiting on their bed or beside their bed.  Use a three-ring binder and include some of the following items: 

What to include:
--Pictures of family members with their names printed clearly.

--Photo and description of the elementary, middle, or high school your foster kids would  attend. Include pics of playground and/or sports fields.
--Pages with pictures of some of the fun places to go in your area.... bowling alleys, roller rinks, parks, playgrounds, beaches, movie theaters... anyplace fun you may take the kids
--Map of the immediate neighborhood labeling your and nearest neighbor houses with your address and phone#,  plus the closest neighbors' names, phone #s 
--Picture of the church you attend [maybe including the pastor, priest, rabbi]
--Pictures of  frequent visitor friends, neighbors [with names printed]
--Page with channel numbers for local television stations, including common kids channels
Note: The three ring binder lets you choose which pages to include in your Welcome Book depending on the child who is arriving.  [age, gender, interests, concerns, etc.]

Other options:

For young school age kids:  an index card or id folder they can take to school with them that has your names. phone info, address etc., maybe even your pictures
For older kids: include info they can read that includes a welcome message from you, maybe from other kids in the family, include info about crucial family rules, philosophies.
If you have other kids in the family:  
--Take a picture of the whole group holding up a welcome sign, or letters that spell welcome, or waving hi etc. to include in the notebook. [It can also make a great cover!]
--Have different kids do a welcome page of their own, telling a bit about him/herself or making a collage about things they like. [Maybe even a few hints about you or about school?]

Try a Welcome Book, this can help all the strange new things seem a bit safer, and more quickly familiar.Let me know other ideas to include in the Welcome Book.  We're in this together!

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