When a foster child is first placed in your home a lot of fear and stress comes through the front door along with the child, for both of you. The child is fearing the absolute worst about you and his/her situation.
Questions may be flowing through the child's mind, a river of why's, when's, and what's. Why did this happen to his/her family? When can he see his/her parents or siblings? What's going to happen in your home?
You may have questions as well. Am I capable of meeting this child's needs? Will his/her parents like me or trust me to take care of the child? How long will this child be with us? Being ready to answer these questions, and not just with words, but with your actions, is crucial during the first few days. This is the time to build connections so that upon meeting his/her parents you can build connections with them as well.
Let the child know that you will be meeting basic needs.
After the initial greetings and introductions ask the child if his is hungry, thirsty, or sick. This lets him know that you will be meeting his basic needs. The child may be too afraid to ask. The child may have had nothing to eat all day and never let you know.
Tour of the home, ending with his room.
This is a great way to give the child some space. Make yourself available to listen if they do want to talk. Ask open questions, like those about favorite shows, foods, or stories.
Be honest when answering the foster child's questions.
If the child asks about the case plan for his family or future visits with family - always be clear, age appropriate, and above all honest with your answers. Do not promise a visit tomorrow if you don't know that to be fact. An honest answer of "I don't know" is always better than a fabrication and a child losing trust in you.
Learn more about foster parenting with Establishing Yourself as a Parent.