The first step to creating a happy and healthy home for your new child is ensuring you have a comfortable, child-friendly space for them. There are certain household standards that must be met in order to qualify to become a resource family; we’ve put together a quick, easy guide to help you get started in creating the perfect space for your child’s success.
Though standards vary by state, there are some expectations for foster homes found across the board. First and foremost, all homes must be large enough to allow adequate space for living, eating, studying, and playing. To qualify, there also must be a working telephone, appliances, sufficient heating, lighting, and ventilation, as well as a working bathroom with hot and cold running water.
Additionally, the home must have enough bedrooms for all family members, and space has to be large enough to give each child “adequate space for his or her safety, privacy, and comfort.” It is important to note that children of the opposite sex who are over the age of 6 need separate sleeping rooms with good quality, age appropriate beds.
Finally, the home needs to have appropriate safeguards against potential hazards — this is especially important for younger children who may be unfamiliar with the dangers of certain objects or appliances.
In addition to just meeting the needed qualifications for fostering, there are extra measures you can take simply to make your home feel more special and welcoming for everyone.
Remember that the children joining your home are most likely feeling anxious coming into a new, unfamiliar space and situation; adding in certain elements that create a greater sense of comfort or familiarity may help tremendously in their adjustment to your home.
Take, for example, a nightlight. Most children are probably not packing nightlights on their journey, but unfortunately, they may not be ready to sleep in the dark. By setting up a nightlight in their new bedroom, you can provide your child with a brighter, better sense of safety.
Another great addition you can incorporate is allowing your child to choose their own bedding options. Tactile comfort is a huge factor in creating a comfortable space. Some may prefer jersey material over cotton, or if they get cold easily, they may prefer flannel sheets. Even just the liberty to pick out their own set of sheets may make all the difference to them, as it allows them to make the space their own.
For older children, designating an independent space dedicated to studying demonstrates the immense value of education and learning. It also grants them a sense of freedom to pursue their own interests, whether it be writing, drawing, reading, or simply working in privacy. Everyone enjoys independence and personal space — by creating an area that is all their own, you may just be teaching these kids that they are valued as individuals.
A further step you can take in making your home more inviting for your child is making sure they have their own space in communal areas. In the bathroom, designate a section for storing their personal items and toiletries (having an extra toothbrush on hand is also a great idea). In other areas, like the kitchen, have a shelf for their special snacks or favorite dishes.
While it’s important to give your child personal space, be mindful not to make them feel ostracized in these common spaces either — they have spots specially designated for them, but they are welcome everywhere. Sometimes just by showing them that there is a physical space for their things in your home, you can show them there is room in your life for them.