Welcoming a new foster child into your home is an enormous decision, and one that comes at the end of a great deal of soul searching. While there will always be an adjustment period when the new member of your household arrives, additional considerations must be taken into account for those families that choose to foster a child with special needs.
Of course, families in a fifth-floor walk up apartment would not be ideally suited for a foster child that is confined to a wheelchair, but there are other household factors to consider. A child that is emotionally triggered by loud noises and large animals would feel extremely unsafe around an excitable German Shepherd, and many children require the use of large medical devices that won’t fit in smaller homes. Safety concerns like childproof locking doors and covering sharp corners are no-brainers, but additional precautions should be addressed thoroughly with the agency beforehand.
Some children have chronic illnesses or ongoing medical issues that require them to make frequent doctor and hospital visits, while others need extended homestay with adult supervision. Accepting that you may have to give up more of your own time than usual for the benefit of your foster child is crucial.
While foster parents do receive financial support for the children they foster, and though the amount does go up for a child with special needs, the overall expenses required to care a child with special needs in your home will be higher than that of other foster children. It’s important to make sure you can afford this extra cost.
Making sure the other members of your household are comfortable and able to assist with the care that goes into fostering a special needs child is exceedingly important. A new younger brother or older sister can be jarring for any child, but welcoming a new temporary sibling who is blind or epileptic would be difficult even for adults. Ensure that everyone else who is sharing your house, and certainly some responsibilities, is on board.
It takes a particular kind of person to foster a child with special needs, and it is important for you to seriously consider if this is a responsibility you would like to undertake. The challenges, as listed above, can be numerous, monumental, and ongoing, but the rewards can be just as great.
Foster children with special needs will undoubtedly require care that goes above and beyond that of most children in the system, but providing them with love, care, and safety will help turn any hardships you face into a labor of love.