Do I really need a spare room?
As an agency we are often asked if you really need a spare room to foster and why. In short the answer is yes you do need a spare room. As well as being a minimum standard of being a fostering household, it also brings many benefits to a looked-after-child in your care.
Many of the children in our care have previously lived chaotic lives. They may have been in a busy household full of children, or they could have been in an abusive household. By providing a spare room that a child does not have to share with anyone else, they are able to shut the door on their room and feel safe. This is especially important when they first arrive at a new house, as they are going to be living with people they do not know. Having a safe space to retreat to when they feel anxious will help them to settle into their new family.
It can also be a safe space many weeks, months, or even years down the road. When we feel anxious or frustrated, we often need space away from everyone to be able to vent those frustrations, or to think through our feelings. As adults we tend to go for a walk or find a safe calming place that helps us to process our thoughts. Depending on the age of the children, it is usually impractical to allow them to go wandering off on their own. It is in these times, that children need a safe space to be able to gain control of their feelings and emotions, and to either work out any issues they have themselves, or to calm themselves enough to be able to approach their carer and talk through any issues they may be having.
o approach their carer and talk through any issues they may be having.
When a child first comes to stay at your house, they are effectively living with strangers. They are entitled to the same privacy as you would expect in your household. For example, you would think it unreasonable if you were expected to share your hotel room on holiday and that would only be for a short space of time. A looked-after-child should be given the same respect and privacy, as this may be their home for months and years to come.
Having a spare room also protects your birth children if you have any. Many children have had past experiences which have had a massive impact on their life. They may exhibit different behaviours to a typical child, and can often copy behaviours they have seen previously, such as swearing. Imagine an 8 year old child sharing with your 7 year old birth child, who then learns to swear or starts copying their new roommate? Having a spare room provides much needed space for both the looked-after child, and any birth children you may have.
We all need a space to call our own. Having a spare room gives a child space to relax and chill out when they need a break. As adults we tend to go for a walk, sit in the garden or watch TV after the children have gone to bed. This allows us to have some “me-time” and protect our wellbeing. Children need the same, and having a spare room allows them to have a space to spend time doing what they would like to do. A space for them to play without distractions, letting their creativity and imagination flow.
Many of our children have never had a space to call their own. Having a spare room just for them, gives them the opportunity to make the space into what makes them happy. That may be having the bed by the window, or having posters up on the wall. By allowing the, to help decorate and shape the room during their time with the family, it gives them a feeling of belonging. It helps them to settle into the family, as they have their own space within the family home.
When a child first arrives at a foster home, they need time to adjust to the new family setting they have moved into. This could be any number of things. A child coming into care for the first time may not have a healthy sleeping pattern, as they may have been woken multiple times a night in a busy household. They will need time to adapt to a new family and a new lifestyle. They may not have had family time in front of the television before, or may not have had a board game night. During these evenings, although they should be encouraged to join in, they may also need some space to retreat to if it becomes too much for them to cope with. A child will settle into the family with time, but in the meantime they will need a space to go when they need some space to think.
If you have a spare room and would like to offer a warm loving home to a child in need, why not give us a call on 0800 160 1605 or enquire here.