Advice for New Foster Parents: 6 Tips for Opening Your Home

Becoming a foster parent is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s important to be well-prepared. Learn six of our top tips in this article.

Opening your home to kids in foster care is an incredibly rewarding experience. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of changing a child’s life by providing loving foster care as foster parents.

While it's tough to be completely prepared for anything life sends your way, your skill development sessions as a foster parent that led you to this big moment have helped you get started. As a foster care partner, we have more advice to share from our perspective of supporting new foster parents.

Below, we've highlighted six of our top tips for how to become a successful foster parent — and how to prepare for this next stage of life.

1. Be Flexible and Open to Change

Becoming a foster parent involves big changes to your daily routine.

When you went through your skill building sessions to become a foster parent, you learned that big changes come with the territory. It might be surprising just how big these changes can be.

  • You might have imagined that kids would adapt to their new foster family right away — but this may come slowly, and it requires trust and time.
  • Foster families that adapt to the needs of children in care can have an easier time adjusting to any growing pains that come with learning about each other.
  • While it’s important to understand how much adjustment may be needed, you should also know that these changes can be managed positively.
  • Building the right support systems with the help of partners like Sevita can make the changes easier for new foster parents.

2. Be Patient

Easier said than done, we know.

  • A person getting support services like foster care may be living with trauma,  complex medical needs, or behavioral challenges.
  • The best thing you can do for kids in foster care as a new foster parent is to be patient as they explore this phase of life with you.
  • Don't rush the process: let them know you're there for them as part of their new support network.

Patience is an extremely important character trait for all parents, but especially for foster parents.  As a foster parent, you are caring for a child or teen who's had a tough start in life. They may not have had the level of structure or support you are giving them.

3. Build Structure

  • Children in care may be living with behavioral challenges that need more support.
  • Patience is important here, but creating structure, routine, and healthy boundaries can help a child grow and thrive.
  • Many children who enter foster care have led unpredictable lives up to this point — they never know what to expect next.
  • Giving a child structure and a set routine can help kids in foster care feel more secure. Let them know what you have planned as a foster family.

One great way to create structure as a new foster parent is to develop specific rituals as part of your daily or weekly routines. This can be as simple as a trip to the park every Sunday or as big as a family outing every month.

Communicate with each child to see what would make them feel seen, special, and loved, and bring that into the rituals you develop as a family.

4. Set Reasonable Rules

As a part of building structure, setting rules helps children understand what’s expected of them. Setting healthy and reasonable rules can have a positive impact on the mental health of a child in foster care.

  • Be sure to communicate every rule clearly — even if it seems obvious to you.
  • Without clear direction or rules from the start, a child may not understand what is expected of them in certain situations.
  • Be firm but fair with the rules: this helps provide a foundation for healthy and joyful living later in life.

5. Reach Out to Support Groups

The old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” may be outdated, but the core idea holds — it's okay (and encouraged!) to ask for help.

  • Foster parents with Sevita have a dedicated care coordinator as part of their support network. Reach out to your coordinator any time for help and a listening ear.
  • You can also join dedicated support groups for foster parents to help you navigate the challenges that come with foster care.

A good support system will share your goal to help kids thrive and build bright futures.

6. Build a Community

Building community for yourself and the foster child in your home is crucial. Just as you are stepping up to care for the needs of this new child, you need your community to help care for you, and the foster child, too.

  • While creating rituals as a foster family is a healthy part of structure, children also need their own support structures outside of the family.
  • Sometimes this can look like getting involved in a sport, club, or other activity an individual used to enjoy.
  • Work with your coordinator to find appropriate safe spaces that can help kids feel seen, welcomed, and loved beyond opening your home.

For some kids in foster care, building this sense of community support with activities and communities they're already familiar with can help make the move to foster care easier for the child and help them adjust to their new surroundings.

Learn More About Foster Parenting in Our Upcoming Webinar 

Looking for more information on foster parenting?

If so, our upcoming webinar can help point you in the right direction.

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today!

Foster parents are independent contractors and not employees of Sevita.

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