Waiting for a foster child can feel like a long, frustrating, confusing, and never-ending time. You’ve gone through the hassle and preparation that came with your home study. You are finally licensed. And now you are wondering, what to do while you are waiting for a foster child placement.
Here are 14 tips for preparing yourself, your family, and your home for the eventual placement!
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Research Doctors That Will Take the State Insurance
I have found that finding medical and mental health resources can be pretty challenging. Do your homework now and line up a pediatrician, eye doctor, dentist, counselor, and maybe even look into occupational therapists or other specialists like psychotherapists. Create a document with contact info so that you have it all ready to go.
I have created a free Foster Care Resource Form that you can download in the Parenting Resource Library. It is a great resource for helping you find and track all of the resources you will need! And getting this filled out while you are waiting for a foster child is the perfect use of time! Make sure to download it now to get started!
Go on as Many Dates with Your Significant Other as You Can
Once the wait is over and you have a new foster child in your home, you will have less time, energy, and availability to focus on each other. Plus, finding a babysitter or respite care provider can be so much work!
Getting your house organized and ready to go can be really helpful when the call finally comes. If you have clothes, supplies, etc. get them organized by size, gender, and need. Make sure they are clean and ready to go. There is nothing worse than having to sort through a bin of clothes and do loads of laundry when a new placement shows up with just the clothes on their backs.
I also love to put together a few first night kits. Here’s what I have in mine:
toothpaste (my son does really well with this one – the tubes are hard for him to work without making a huge mess.)
If you are planning on having babies or toddlers you may also want to include a pacifier and a bottle.
Spend Time With Your Bio-Children One-on-One
Make a concerted effort to really fill up their “buckets.” Spend as much one-on-one time as you can with them. Take them on special outings, spend extra time reading to them, playing with them, etc.
Once you are done waiting for your foster child, you will do your best to balance out your time and attention. But, to be honest, those first few weeks are tough! There are so many appointments, meetings, and needs to be met that your bio-children can easily feel left behind and forgotten.
Prepare your bio-kids for this by talking about expectations but also by really giving them lots of extra time and attention right now!
If you haven’t already figured it out, the paperwork will be a major hassle and require time that you would rather spend elsewhere. Get ahead of the game by organizing your paperwork.
Print out your medication logs and have them ready by your locked medicine storage.
Print out any other forms that you will need to fill out regularly.
Also, print out some of the emergency forms like injury reports so that you don’t have to go hunting for those when you need one.
This time around I have a new system that I am excited to try out. I found these handy nurses style clipboards on Amazon and have a copy of all of the paperwork I may need for each child inside the compartment and then have the medication log and a pen attached to the front.
I am keeping them in my medication locker (which was also a great find from Ikea!)
If you are still wondering what to do while waiting for a foster child, then let me encourage you to spend some me time!
When your new placement comes, you are going to be busy, stretched thin, stressed, frustrated by the lack of communication from the state, etc.
Spend time taking care of yourself now while you can. Get a massage, take a long bath, go for walks, spend time journaling, fully enjoy your hobbies, etc.
Find a Supportive Friend Who Has Also Had to Wait for a Foster Child to Hash out Feelings
There are so many mixed emotions that you may need to process. The excitement over this next chapter in your family. The grief for the children and their birth families. The stress over timing and planning. And the list goes on. Finding someone who gets it is so helpful!
If you don’t know anyone locally that has gone through this process, research local non-profits that may host support group meetings or find resources in online groups.
Cook Your Favorite Meals
Here’s the thing, when your new placement comes, you may be eating a lot of mac and cheese and chicken nuggets for a while. Enjoy cooking things that you like right now while you have that freedom and time!
Go Out to Eat or on Family Outings
Foster children often come with sensory and behavior issues that can make some of these outings tougher.
If you have been wanting to take the kids to Disneyland or go check out an art museum or even just eat out at your favorite, loud restaurant, do it now. There will be time to do this with your new additions as well, but it may be a way down the road. Life will, most likely, look different.
Spend Time Focusing on The Birth Family
Spend time praying, meditating or journaling for the birth family. They are in a rough place right now and can use all of the love and grace-filled good energy you can send them.
Go Out with Friends
Again, time and freedom will be limited soon. Take this opportunity to do lunch, do coffee, go to a movie, get your nails painted, etc.
Research Your Local Schools and Daycares.
Again, make a document with contact details. Figure out enrollment procedures. Find daycares that may have openings. (Or find out if you can get on the list.)
You can use the Free Foster Care Resource List Template that I created to include this info along with your medical info. Download the free template in the Parenting Resources Library.
Make a Simple Freezer Meal or Two
Having these stocked away can be a lifesaver for putting together a quick dinner on busy nights. You will have social workers swinging by, your agency worker checking in, and countless appointments to get to.
Stock up on Medicine and Supplies
The trauma and stress of being removed and/or coming into a new placement often lowers immune systems – expect a cold or two in the coming months. Stock up on children’s and adult’s Tylenol, cold meds, thermometer, etc.
Work on Lining up Babysitters and/or Respite Providers.
Have them go through the background checks and training now. This is a pain in the rear but having them set up and ready to go will help to lower your stress around planning for the uncertainty of timing, providing care on a moment’s notice, and fitting your new kiddos into your current busy schedule.
What to Do While You Wait For Your Foster Placement
I hope you find this list helpful. This in-between time is such an interesting moment. Right now it can feel interminable, unsettling, full of excitement/anticipation, and even confusing and frustrating.
Once that placement comes, this moment will flit away and you will hardly remember it. (Which seems strange considering how big of a moment it feels right now.) Take the time to prepare, rest, and enjoy.
Sending you love and light as you move along the process of caring for these amazing little ones.