How to Prepare for a Teen Foster Placement
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Preparing for a teen foster placement can have its challenges as foster care does.
"How do I prepare for a teen foster placement?" you ask...
If you've recently considered hosting a foster teen, you must seriously prepare for the placement. Preparing for a teen foster placement has its challenges! Many teens have been in several placements before coming to your house. What are the best ways to prepare?
Preparing with a script, preset rules, a tour of the home, and a gift basket will ease the first 24 hours within the home.
Prepare for your introductions...
Teenagers will, most likely, be quiet. They are initially reserved and have probably been through the new placement process before. They may have had many moves. Teens in foster care have "been there, done that". I want to give you a basic script to follow that you can customize for your first encounter with your new teen. You can find that in a download - keep reading.
During the teen years, there are many emotions that these children face. Knowing what is going on in your house will be very helpful; therefore, create a list of rules beforehand. Have a standard set of rules you will pull out to review with them when they arrive. Create these rules with generality. Consider the following to choose from. Preparing for a teen placement will become much easier with premade rules.
no phones at the dinner table
come straight home after school
keep your room clean
do your chores after school and before dinner
phones turned in at 8 pm and picked up after breakfast
do not leave the house without permission
no social media except ____________
phone calls and texts may be monitored for inappropriate content (discuss pictures/videos/cursing/etc.)
Discuss phones (and expectations) in-depth. The phone payment could be a reward for doing the chores each month.
It may be a great idea to have a list of rules on paper to give to the teen. Another list may be on the fridge for reference in case they get lost.
Consider chores that the teenager may be able to do. I began our teen by cleaning the glass and dusting in the living room and dining room areas, sweeping the porch, and wiping off the counters after dinner. Again, have the list ready to go when they arrive. Read over it to the teen. You won't really know their educational level, so reading it with them will help with any learning or reading disability they may have. After you read the rule or chore, explain anything that you think maybe vague or where any supplies are for cleaning.
Supplies they need
Prepare the room before the foster teen placement. Keep in mind that they will need some privacy. You can prepare a basket of their hygiene products which could include a few sample sizes of body wash, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, razor (depending), washcloths, ponytail holders, brush, comb, lotion, etc. This will make them feel welcome and like they have their own stuff without asking for everything they may have had to leave at their last placement.
They may have their own stuff with them from their old placement or home, so they can use those items and then use the new items when they run out. Anyway, those supplies are there when needed. And it is their first little gift.
As they get comfortable with you, they can ask for replacements of the items or can get them from the family bathroom. Have a few drawers and spaces (or use the basket) for their items to be put. Remember that they will need a place for their coat (in a coat closet if applicable), shoes, boots, backpack, books, and more.
Chores with a foster teen placement
After the introductions, the tour, and the rule discussions, discuss the chores. With a foster care teen placement, they are ready for more responsibility. There should be very basic chores that would require minimal oversight. You don't want a new teen in charge of cooking a meal or cleaning the bathroom right off the bat. Ease them into the idea of chores and the idea of responsibility. There may have been so many placements that they are unsure of what to do and what the family expects. It is a great idea to set the standards initially. Even a chore list is a great idea - no matter how old the teen is.
After basic chores are successfully accomplished for a while, more challenging and comprehensive duties can be assigned. At our house, the teenagers rotate tasks. This gives them each a responsibility for each area of the house. They do not do the living rooms if they are responsible for the bathrooms. The teen that does the kitchen does not do the bathrooms. Each week or two, they switch lists.
I have chore lists so there is no confusion about the actual responsibilities of each person. Occasionally, there are extra chores they can do for additional money or rewards. Here are some links to chore lists that you can print, write, or type. Never use cursive - many students have difficulty reading, especially cursive.
Sign up to get notifications from my blog! Here is a giveaway - a script pdf to utilize when preparing for a new placement to enter the home.
Script Download for the foster teen placement:
Preparing for a teen foster placement can be scary; however, if you are ready before they call with a few basic plans, it will go much smoother than expected.
Remember to have a positive attitude and an upbeat introduction but not be too excited. These kids are going through a traumatic experience - again - perhaps. They will be quiet and possibly silently angry. They may even wonder why you are being so nice to them.
Review the chore list periodically and review the rules often.
Encourage those jobs that were well done. They may not be accustomed to this verbal praise. Reward when appropriate but not only with verbal praise. You could also set up monetary rewards - an allowance. Ask parents if you know the going rate in your area and for what sorts of chores. Washing the car would not equal cleaning the living room. Extra phone privileges' are always welcomed, etc.
Let me know the plans you created. What experiences have you had with the rewards? Has the script been helpful?