If you have a family of your own and are inquiring to be a foster family, conversations with your partner and children are crucial. Below are some of the topics our foster parents discussed with their families and children before deciding to start their foster care journey.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How do I interact with people whose lifestyles are different from mine, or people who come from different cultures, backgrounds, or religions?
- Am I willing to make personal sacrifices for a child in my care?
- What are my motivations for fostering?
- Can I truly treat a child other than my biological child with love, dignity, and respect?
- Will I ensure they are not treated like a stranger or an outsider in my family?
- Can I handle a child returning to their home or transitioning to a new home after loving them as my own?
Questions to Discuss With Your Partner
- Can we meet the needs of children and youth entering foster care?
- How will this impact everyone in our home? Are we financially stable? How will our children feel about having foster siblings in our home?
- Do we have the flexibility and time to spend with a foster child and still continue to give our children at home adequate attention and care?
- How will this change our family and/or relationship?
Questions to Discuss With Your Family/Children
- How do you feel about becoming a foster family?
- What do you want to know about foster children (or about this specific child, pending placement in your home)?
- What would you like a foster child to know about you before they come to live here?
- What are you looking forward to when we become a foster family?
- What makes you nervous or anxious about being a foster sibling?
- What can we do to help you feel less worried about that concern?
Beyond these initial questions, be sure to comfort and reassure them there will be no favoritism and they will not be forgotten when another child comes into the home. Explain what foster care is and why there are children/youth in the system. Lastly, explain to them your “why” you want to be a foster family and get them to see where you’re coming from.
Getting to Know Your New Family Member
Now that your family may be ready to welcome a child into your home through foster care, here are some conversation starters to get your relationship started with your new family member:
Questions to Ask to Understand Their Experience and Expectations
- Are you comfortable sharing your story with us?
- How was your previous foster home?
- What did you like or dislike about that experience?
- How can we help support you during your journey?
- What are your pet peeves?
- How is your relationship with your biological parents?
- Do you have any questions about our house rules?
- When you’re having a bad day, how would you like us to help you – give you space or comfort, or both?
- What are some of your coping skills?
- What has been the most challenging part of your journey so far?
Questions to Get to Know Each Other
- What are your hobbies?
- Do you play sports?
- Do you have any siblings?
- What do you like to do during your free time?
- What subjects do you like in school?
- What is your favorite and least favorite thing about school?
- What activities do you like to do with your friends?
- What is your favorite meal/snack?
- What is your favorite movie/tv show?
- What kind of music do you listen to?
While the first night can be intimidating, the conversations don’t have to be. It’s important to acknowledge that your home may not be their first home and these conversations don’t need to take place right away. As long as you find time to let the child know that you are there for them, set some ground rules and expectations, and offer an open line of communication, getting to know each other will come with time and your support team at the foster care agency should always be there to help, as well.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 50 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.