We’ve all been to baby showers and seen a pregnant mom open up boxes of tiny baby clothes and blankets. We’ve seen all the pre-made registry options at Buy-Buy Baby or Target and Amazon. But foster parents usually don’t get a baby shower. Even if they did, what would they put on their registry? The needs are different. They don’t need maternity clothes or a breast pump. They may not even need baby items at all. What if they are accepting toddlers, school age children, or teens?
My favorite new trend is the Home Study Shower or Foster Care Shower. Friends come together to celebrate the new foster parents-to-be and help them prepare for whatever is coming their way. Yes, foster parents do get paid, but that’s not the point. Yes, we know that children are in foster care due to sad circumstances and that is not what we are celebrating. A Home Study Shower celebrates the hope of reconciliation, the joy of a safe space (for a week, a year, or forever), and the beauty of a family.
So here are the things that every foster home needs whether waiting for newborns, toddlers, or teens and anything in between.
Foster homes have to meet certain licensing requirements. This often requires families to invest money into ensuring their home meets state guidelines. They may need a fire extinguisher (one for every floor of the house), smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, outlet plugs, and baby proofing equipment.
There is lots of paperwork in foster care. There are so many things to keep track of with each child that comes and goes. Ideas: Foster care binder, file box, accordion folders, notepads, calendars, memo boards, whiteboard markers.
You never know when you’re going to need some bandaids. Having a first aid kit in each car and each floor of the home comes in handy when you’re on the go with a bunch of kiddos.
Whether kids are going to daycare or school or even just transporting to visits, they will need to have something to carry their stuff in. For families expecting a baby, that may be a diaper bag. For older kids, families may want to have a variety of backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, art supplies.
Kids get sick! That’s just how it goes. But foster families are tasked with keeping any type of medication up and out of reach of children. A locked medicine box is one way families can meet this requirement. Families will also need medicine, thermometer, etc.
Documenting life for kids in foster care is important. This is a way that they can stay connected to their birth family and also feel like they belong in their new home. Can you imagine living in a place where there were no photos of you? No evidence that you lived there? So families may want to have photo albums, gift cards to get photos printed, Shutterly gift cards, photo frames, etc.
We’ve got a great list of books for foster parents and kids in foster care over on Pinterest.
We all know the basics- sheets, pillow, blanket. Lots of towels and washrags. Waterproof mattress and pillow covers come in handy. But it is so important that each kid feels like they have some ownership of their own space- a special blanket or pillowcase, stuffed animals. Something that is their own for however long they are there and then they can bring it with them to their new home.
Kids eat A LOT! Of course snacks differ with the age of the kids expected in the home. But having lots of snacks, especially in the first hectic week of a new placement, is key! Having friends make or deliver a meal is even better!
The foster parent stipend doesn’t cover everything a foster family will need. Sometimes a gift card for date night is just as needed as a gift card to Walmart, Target, or the grocery store. You can also gift family experiences like a membership to the Zoo or Children’s Museum, movie tickets, etc. This makes a world of difference for a new family trying to figure out life together.
It truly takes a village! No foster family does this alone. Sometimes when the people you love decide to foster, you are kind of along for the ride too. You can jump in and support them or you can watch from the sidelines. But it is so much more fun when you get invested.
Want other ways to support the foster families in your life? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more ideas at Care2Foster.