One part of foster care that is not talked about enough is how to say goodbye when a child moves out. You look after so many young people, but eventually, they move on or return to their birth families, and this can be the hardest thing to navigate. These situations rely heavily on following your training, compassion, and communication, and here are five tips to help you through:
Adopt The Right Mindset
The thing to keep in mind about foster care is that it is always meant to be a temporary arrangement. Regardless of whether you provide respite care or you open your home for a longer period, the main goal will always be to find a permanent place for a child where they can settle and grow safely. When you come into the role, remember you are there to provide vital support on a short-term basis and this will help you stay focused on what is important.
Focus On Nurture
Nurture is easy to pour into any situation, especially when saying goodbye. A foster carer can be kind, compassionate, and empathetic at all times, but a young person will need you to show up in this way when it is time to move on. They will be scared, and your job will be to give them the tools to deal with these types of emotions.
Be Available For Contact
Depending on the type of foster care you do, it may be appropriate for you to keep in touch with either the new carers or the social worker team. For instance, if you are fostering a child through an agency like thefca.co.uk, where there could be additional needs or a disability, you will handle a lot more directly around any transition period. You will supply information about the child’s development, habits, and well-being. Or, if you have fostered a child long-term, like a year or longer, it will help the child to settle into their changed environment if you are available for contact.
Let Yourself Feel What You Need To Feel
Moving on is hard, and that is a fact. You will meet a lot of brilliant young people who you truly connect with and when they leave your home, it will be an emotional moment. By letting yourself process these feelings, you are allowing your brain to work through things in a healthy way.
Reset And Get Ready
After a child leaves your house, you never know when the next one will come along. You have to be ready at any moment for a young person to move back in and this means it is time to be proactive. Your first priority is the bedroom, which will probably need a deep clean and even a fresh coat of paint if you have been looking after someone for a longer patch. This can be fun and help you to feel more in control as well.
Saying goodbye to the wonderful young people you take care of is never an easy thing. Yet, it is a necessary part of what you do. Look after yourself and be around for anything they need during the transition.