Tip Sheet Tuesday: Establishing Household Rules

The social worker has just called and asked for placement today! The child will soon be here! Your mind is filled with a whirlwind of questions! What will the child be like? What has she gone through? What will she expect? What rules is she used to?

Not only do you have plenty of questions but, upon entering care, children also have many questions about your family and how it works.

Picture1By talking over house rules, the children in your home will know what you expect from them, and also what they may expect from you. Families in foster care and adoption can succeed if they know what to expect.

The Initial Meeting
When first meeting with the caseworker, child, child’s parent(s) and previous caretaker, discuss the special needs, strengths, and culture of that child. Talk with the team about the success of previous limits and rules. Were these useful in allowing the youth and others to be safe and did the child learn from these guidelines? Are there suggestions from the team for creating specific rules based on previous successes or court-ordered rules?

Basic Rule Setting
As a means of preparation for meeting with the child and the team, create basic house rules that can be applied to most of the family. Put the rules in writing with clear and brief language that can be understood and enforced such as, “Always knock on doors before entering.” Simple, positive words are most effective.

Depending on the age, developmental level, and culture of the foster children, the rules will need to fit their level of understanding as well as their culture.

In many religions (Muslim, Jewish, and Christianity, for example), fasting or particular foods are not to be eaten during certain seasons or celebrations. In some cultures, showering or socializing for females while they have their periods is not allowed. And most black children, for example, have different hair and skin care needs than most white children.

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