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So you’ve decided to become a foster parent. Congratulations! You’re about to embark on a wonderful journey! But first: it’s time to get your house ready!

You don’t always get a lot of lead time when a placement needs to be made, so it’s good to be prepared, should the time come. You foster child is likely coming from a place of great transition, so making your home as comfortable and welcoming as possible will go a long way toward making them feel safe and secure.

First, be ready with the supplies. Depending on their situation, foster children don’t always have a lot of belongings. It’s a good idea to have at least a few essentials waiting for them when they arrive. A toothbrush, some toiletries, and a few clothing items (in varying sizes and genders) is a great place to start.

If you want to go the extra mile, put together a basket of goodies for your foster child. Their own cozy blanket, some age-appropriate toys and book, and other fun items are great ways to make them feel at home and cared for.

You can create another special welcome token by putting together a book of photos of the family, and let the foster child know you want to add new photos with them, too. Again, as foster children don’t often come with personal belongings, a memento like this can be very meaningful.

If you’re able to provide the foster child with their own room, get it ready before they arrive. Knowing that they have a comfy place to come home to that is all there own will mean so much to the foster child. You can decorate it yourself, or let them pick out a few things to help make it personalized for them. Let them know they are free to rearrange or organize it however they want.

Keep your fridge stocked with extra goodies and treats, and be ready for that extra belly you have to feed! Once they arrive, a great way to bond and learn more about your foster child is to ask them about their favorite foods. Have a special meal to welcome them to the house, and maybe have a special night of the week where they get to pick what’s on the menu for dinner.

Put together a binder with important information: family contact information, where the adults work, names of family members, house rules, etc. This is a great way for the foster child to learn about the house and your family.

Make sure the rest of the home is warm and inviting, too. Organize and clean the common areas to make sure your foster child knows they are welcome in the whole house. They should be able to feel comfortable hanging out as if it was their own home.

It can take time for foster children to fully settle into a new space and new family. Taking these first preparatory steps, though, will help the child know they are welcome and wanted in the home. This will help the foster child feel safe and at ease in their new surroundings.