Helping a Child to Settle Into Your Home

All children will have been given information about you, your family and your home before they are placed with you unless it is an emergency placement. They may have also visited you before the decision to place them was taken and may have had an introduction period where they were able to express their view about living with you.

This will hopefully help in settling a child in but all children will cope differently with either coming into care or a placement move.

Check the information given to you from the child’s social worker; ask them if there is anything you are not clear about before the placement starts.

Talk to all other children in the household about the new child to help them adjust also.

Some will need more reassurance than others; some may be withdrawn or be difficult for a time.

It is important that you are calm and reassure the child setting clear boundaries. If the child is withdrawn give them space but also offer times when they can talk to you or spend time with you.

If times get difficult it is important for them to know that it’s their behaviour which you object to and not them. Don’t expect things to change quickly, it may take time. You need to tell them that it is OK to be angry but it’s what they do with that anger, e.g. go for a walk, and do an activity depending on their age.

Some children may be on their best behaviour and be scared to show how they feel in case you send them away.

Your Supervising Social Worker is there to help you through this - remember discuss the difficulties as they happen and keep a record!

Your own family will also take time to adjust.  Your children may feel neglected by you because some of your time is given to another.  Your children may copy bad behaviour. It will be useful to look at all this when you are developing your Safer Caring family policy. See Developing a Safer Caring Policy. You should explain to the child the general rules of the house and what is expected of them.

The following information will be useful and should be gathered from the child’s social worker and parents where possible

  • What the child prefers to be called.
  • What do they like to do?
  • If it is a very young child, do they have a dummy or a comforter - like a teddy or a blanket? What is it called? Older children may have a comforter but may be embarrassed about anyone knowing.
  • Clothes are important, if they bring any with them don’t throw them away, use them at first but then make sure you keep them as they are part of the child’s memories - if the child is old enough, let them choose what to wear.
  • A child may be uncomfortable bathing or undressing in front of a stranger – be sensitive and find out what the child is used to.
  • People who are important to the child and their relations to him including friends.
  • Food - likes, dislikes routine, special religious or cultural preferences.
  • Bedtime routines.
  • Skincare.
  • Pets, likes and dislikes and fears.
  • Hobbies and interests, clubs and activities.
  • Fears.
  • Medical information and allergies.
  • Any communication difficulties.
  • Any specific equipment e.g. if the child has a disability.

If the placement is for a Disabled Child in order to make sure the child settles, you should;

  • Speak to your Supervising Social Worker to get as much information as possible about the child and their disability.
  • Have high but realistic, expectations of the child and set clear boundaries.
  • Stress the good things a child can do.
  • Praise the child, reassure them.
  • Encourage the child to take part in a wide variety of activities.
  • Help/teach them to play and mix with other children.
  • Help them become as independent as possible.
  • Don’t treat them differently.
  • Talk to them, discuss, and explain things.
  • Be patient.