In many ways, offering foster care for children with disabilities is very similar to welcoming a typical foster child. By learning more about the child’s disability and needs, you can be sure that you offer them the best possible experience.
Your training period is over and your first placement call has just arrived – now what? Properly preparing your home and family to provide foster care for children with disabilities and learning as much about the child as possible can help everyone adjust quickly.
Get Ready to Welcome a Foster Child with Special Needs
A foster child with disabilities may require you to do extra research and to learn more about their needs when you welcome them into your home.
- Ask a lot of questions.
Any time you welcome a foster child into your home, you need to ask a lot of questions to gain a full understanding of that child’s needs and background. Learning more about their history helps you create a safe haven for them and provides insight into what they have experienced.
- Rely on the caseworker.
A child with an intellectual, developmental, or physical disability may have a more extensive medical history to learn and you may have a significant amount of information to read in a short period of time. The caseworker should be able to answer many of your questions.
The more information you have, the easier you can make the transition on your new foster child.
Do Some Research
If you have time, read online about the specific disabilities and conditions your foster child is coping with. Doing some research can help you understand what they are experiencing and get a better handle on their needs.
Kids with sensory issues may have specific triggers and aversions that you need to be aware of; learning more about these types of disabilities can help you help them settle into a new environment.
Research can help you discover:
- Medical needs: Children in foster care may have lifelong illnesses or chronic conditions that need specialized care or equipment. You’ll need to have a good understanding of what to expect and what care they will need on a regular basis.
- Developmental delays: A child with a developmental delay may not “act their age” and may not be able to meet the same milestones you are familiar with from watching your neurotypical children grow. In addition, a child with a developmental delay may be enrolled in a variety of therapy programs and have a home sensory diet and routine to follow. Learning about these needs can help you provide everything the child needs to thrive in your home.
- Emotional disorders: A child with an emotional disorder needs an advocate – someone who will understand and help him cope with the world around him. This foster child needs structure, routine and a good understanding of the rules of your home; they also require more supervision than other special needs children in many cases.
On Arrival Day
You may not get much advance notice, but do your best to prepare your Little Rock home ahead of time and make sure the room you’ve chosen is welcoming.
- Greet your new foster child at the car and introduce yourself; the first impression you make will have a big impact on how the child sees you and how the first few days go.
- Provide a tour of the home so the child knows where everything is and is introduced to every member of the family, even babies and pets.
In many ways, welcoming a special needs child to your home is very similar to welcoming a typical foster care child. You’ll need to do more initial research and may need to modify your home and routines to help the child adapt. A loving home is the best environment for a child with special needs, so by setting up a safe and welcoming space, you are creating a haven for the child and ensuring they have the care they need to thrive.
To learn more about working with a child with special needs and our disability services for children, contact Integrity, Inc. We are here to help you and your foster child navigate those first few days and weeks of foster care.