For a foster child being placed in a new home, it can be a very scary and stressful experience. This may be the first time they are in foster care so they’re unsure of what to expect, and they can be dealing with all kinds of emotional issues related to their home life. So, what happens when the foster child is not only moving to a new home but is also a refugee child who has landed in the UK without their family? Known as sanctuary-seeking children, these kids need a safe, stable and loving home life as they adjust.
Here’s a look at some of the ways you can help your refugee child assimilate into their new UK surroundings more seamlessly.
Be Understanding and Sensitive to How They are Feeling
The best thing a foster parent can do when welcoming sanctuary-seeking children into their home is to put themselves in the child’s shoes. They are in a new country, so there may be a language barrier, cultural differences, religious differences and more. All of this can be very scary and overwhelming to the child, so it’s important to show sensitivity, understanding and empathy to what they are feeling. They can’t be thrown into a new environment and expected to thrive from day one.
Support and Training May Be Offered
Be sure to also look into the individual fostering agency to see if there is any support or training offered. Some go as far as to offer 24/7 support so you never feel alone and your foster child can get the help and guidance necessary. Even if it’s just a small issue, foster parents shouldn’t hesitate to reach out as the tools can prove invaluable. Agencies such as thefca.co.uk excel at offering tools and support for sanctuary-seeking children and their foster parents.
Plan Activities, But Take It Slow
It will be important to get your child out and about so they can get a feel of their new surroundings. And while you may be tempted to go big and do everything at once, chances are this will be too much too fast for your foster child. Instead, focus on planning small outings, activities, sightseeing and exploring in little bits at a time. There is no need to rush into everything. You can focus on your neighbourhood and community and then expand from there.
The fostering agency may also have organised family activities, which can be a great way to meet other kids and foster parents in a similar situation.
Show Interest in Their Culture and Background
And keep in mind, it shouldn’t just be about assimilating the child to their new surroundings; it’s also important to recognise where they come from and celebrate it. Your foster child shouldn’t feel they need to give up their roots – it’s not an either/or. Ask questions about their country, their celebrations, routines and so forth if your child feels comfortable talking about it.
Fostering a refugee or a sanctuary-seeking child can be quite different than fostering a child who already lives and grew up in the UK. It requires even more support, understanding, patience and love on your part but it can make it that much more rewarding.