When a new child enters the foster home, it's often too late to think of a plan. Experienced foster parents plan for the first day of a new placement and already have an idea on how to set basic rules at the very beginning of the placement.
I asked some experienced foster parents about how they plan for that first day and here is some advice I received that I thought was really great.
Give the new foster child a tour of your home.
Sit down for a quick chat with the child. Let the child know that he does not have to speak to you, but you really want to let him know how your home works. Tell the child a bit about yourself and your foster home. Explain to the child why you became a foster parent. Tell him a bit about your children or your pets.
Print out a sheet that lists the rules of your foster home and review them with the foster child. Some foster parents ask that the child sign the rules. This would probably work better for older foster children.
Hold a family meeting with the child to establish a set of rules that allows for child input. Also, ask the child for his likes and dislikes. This is a time to really get to know the child.
Then give the child a blank sheet of paper and ask him to explain what he expects from you. Try to come up with ways to reasonably accommodate the child's expectations. For example, if the child asks for desserts every night, that is possible with various fruits, puddings, and gelatin desserts. Every night does not have to be cakes and cookies. Think of how that request could be honored and still remain healthy. It may be a great way to start building trust with the child.
This foster parent plan may work best for children ages 8 and up.