How To Explain Foster Care To A Child

Foster care is something that many Australian parents consider, even when they have kids of their own. Fostering children in the family home can have a range of benefits. You’re giving a child who may have had a tough start in life the opportunity to live in a functional family unit with siblings and a loving parent/s. You’re also broadening the experience of your biological children and teaching them about the importance of caring for others.

Welcoming a foster child into the home is a decision for parents to make, but it’s also something your children will be curious about, too.

Explaining foster care to a child requires a little planning, and there are certainly some ways of going about it. Here, the team at Anglicare Victoria, who have seen many families successfully foster children, provide some tips on how to explain foster care to a child.

Be open to questions

Explaining foster care to child is bound to evoke lots of questions in them. It’s good to let your children be curious about foster care and allow them to ask questions at their own pace, rather than overload them with information all at once.

Questions that children often ask about foster care

Children often ask similar types of questions when a parent is explaining foster care to them:

  • Why is the foster child coming here?
    This is probably one of the first questions most parents get asked when explaining foster care to children: why? While the full answer may not be appropriate for young minds to try and grasp, there are many ways to give honest explanations for why you’re deciding to foster a child. Simply put, the foster child needs somewhere to stay while their own parents takes some time to learn how to be a family again. For some parents, describing foster care as a type of ‘babysitting’ can help explain the process to children.
  • How long are they staying here for?
    So, your children understand why a foster child is coming to stay – but, for how long will they be staying? A common question asked by children, its answer should be straightforward: it depends on a lot of things. What’s super important is to explain the reunification process, and that the main goal is for the foster child to be able to return home to their birth parents.
  • How old are they?
    When your child asks how old their new foster sibling is going to be, you have a chance to outline one of the positive aspects of foster care. For example, if the foster child is younger, then you may explain to your child that they’ll be a role model to their new foster sibling: that they’ll be the person their foster sibling looks up to. For older foster siblings, it’s a chance for your children to have a big brother or sister, something by which many young kids are thrilled.

Explain the reunification process

It’s really important to make sure your child understands that their foster sibling won’t be a ‘forever’ sibling, and that one day they’ll return to their family homes. This gives your child the chance to process the idea that there will come a point when their sibling leaves the home. If this is met with sadness from your child, then you can reassure them that there are plenty of ways that you can keep in touch with the foster sibling, and that you’ll always remain connected if both parties are open to it.

Contact your local agency today

Foster caring as a family can be beneficial to all members of the household, including your biological children. If you’ve decided on helping the community in the biggest way possible, Anglicare Victoria can help you start the journey of foster care. Our mission is to empower and support children who’ve had a tough start to life by giving them safe, loving foster homes all over Victoria. If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, contact our Carer Recruitment Team and enquire about applying today.

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