Having a spare bedroom when fostering is essential, this is not only a requirement as part of the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards but it also allows our children and young people to feel welcome, safe, and respected. Having a room to call their own might be something they have never experienced before, so you need to make sure they can decorate it how they want and let them know this is their space to express themselves and have their own personal time to relax and unwind whenever they feel like it.
How can we make them feel welcomed into their new bedroom?
Firstly, you will need to prepare the room.
Start with cleaning and emptying the room to make it a blank canvas for your child or young person to give it their own character. Keep the room neutral to start with so over time they can choose how they want their bedroom decorated. Plus, decorating it together once they have moved in can be a great way to bond in those early stages.
Next, look into storing any old clothes, boxes, odd furniture, and paintings that may have been stored in the spare room over the years, elsewhere. We want your child to know this is their room so, seeing other people’s belongings might make them feel unwelcomed. We also want your child to be able to express themselves through decorating the room, so you should consider removing any paintings and wall decorations to allow space for your child to decorate according to their own taste. For example, they may want to hang up family photos or posters.
Every child has different tastes so before decorating we would recommend getting to know the foster child and decorating together based on their age, personality, hobbies, and interests. However, try not to go overboard when decorating as this could become overwhelming for foster children, as some of the children may have never experienced such a luxury of a room filled with toys and personality. Having a space in the bedroom for children to play is recommended as this is a room for them to unwind and retreat if needed.
We would recommend giving the child in placement a space to play or get creative if there is enough room to do so. This could include a desk to draw, a space to build toys or a play tent. Some children may like a sensory corner for when they're feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed. This can include lava lamps, fairy lights, toys and cushions of different textures.
Can siblings share a bedroom?
Same-gender siblings can share a bedroom where appropriate and if necessary. We would suggest keeping the bedroom neutral to suit both siblings but allow them to decorate their own side of the room. So yes, siblings can share a bedroom depending on their age and gender, but it will depend on each individual case. Some siblings will have shared bedrooms their whole lives, so when they go into placement it may be the best scenario to keep it that way, but it will still be essential to have multiple bedrooms when fostering multiple children as the children may want their own bedroom at any time.