Nesting for a New Foster Care Placement

Last updated: September 26, 2023, at 11:05 a.m. PT

Originally published: September 26, 2023, at 11:01 a.m. PT

three teen girls dancing with their guardian, while painting a room

Embarking on the journey of foster parenting is full of both excitement and anticipation. And, like any journey, being prepared is crucial. There’s an abundance of nesting tips out there for welcoming a baby into your home, but less when it comes to preparing a space for foster youth. Our foster care team has put together some tips and resources to help you create a nurturing and welcoming environment for foster youth.  

Gather the Basics 

A comfortable place to sleep is crucial. That doesn’t have to mean spending a lot. Affordable and sturdy bedroom furniture can be found for free on buy-nothing local, buy-nothing groups on social media, or for relatively little on platforms like Offer Up.  

Buy-nothing groups promote sharing within the community. You can request to join one by searching for your neighborhood on Facebook. Once approved, you’ll be able to receive free secondhand items from other members of your community. Buy Nothing Facebook Groups: Here's Everything You Need to Know 

Additionally, if time permits, try to find out your youth's preferences and gather items that reflect their interests like bedding or décor with their favorite characters or colors. It can also be a nice gesture to take them shopping so they can pick out other items for their room and make it their own.  

Collect a Variety of Clothes 

Children in foster care often have outgrown clothes, shoes, and pajamas. Having a range of new, larger-sized items on hand can help ease the transition. Treehouse for Kids provides clothing support, but it can take time, so having some essentials on hand can be helpful when a youth moves in - think larger t-shirts, sweatpants, and pajama shorts in gender-neutral patterns. Reach out to the Y if you’re struggling, since we are regularly partnering with donors to set our foster youth and families up with donations when we can.  

Address Hygiene Needs 

Start with a toothbrush and a broad mixture of hygiene items. We all have our preferences, and gathering a variety of flavors can help youth have options when they come to your home for the first time. Once they’re settled in you can figure out which specific brands they prefer. Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of scents when purchasing hair, skin, and other hygiene items, since your youth may have specific sensory needs or allergies. Depending on their cultural background, they may also have different needs such as specific hairbrushes, combs, hair products, or satin bonnets. Seek advice from others, such as a hair salon, to ensure you can adequately care for the youth's hair. You can also check out Rise with the Alliance for trainings on Black hair and skin care. 

Stock Up on Snacks 

Having a selection of youth-friendly snacks on hand can help smooth their transition into your home. While it’s important to provide a balanced diet, saving up some treats and familiar comfort foods can provide a sense of security and familiarity, especially during the early days of adjustment. Stocking up on things like mac and cheese, Spaghetti O’s, ramen, Takis, and other favorites can go a long way to making your youth feel welcome.  

Create a Foster Parent Kit 

This kit could include toothbrushes, coats/sweaters, large overnight diapers, a waterproof mattress protector, sensory and fidget items, and a stuffed animal. Tailor the contents to suit the specific needs of the youth you will be fostering. 

Join Local Groups & Communities 

Connecting with other foster parents can provide invaluable support and guidance. Licensed with the Y? Then you’ll be invited to join our Y Community of Fostering Facebook group. It’s a place where you’ll get updates from Y staff about current resources and community events being offered, as well as somewhere to connect with other foster parents in the Y community. 

Making your house a home for a foster youth involves thoughtful consideration and gathering the necessary resources. It will take some doing, but you are not alone in this journey. By joining local community groups and connecting with fellow foster parents, you can create a welcoming environment that supports the well-being of you and the youth in your care. 

Here at the Y, we take pride in partnering with youth and families to ensure all the necessary supports are in place for homes to be youth-centered and trauma-informed. Our Y case managers and team can provide guidance and assistance throughout the process. Together, we can provide nurturing homes and make a positive impact on the lives of everyone in foster care.