Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers: Things to Consider for Foster Parents

Becoming a Foster Parent to More Than One Baby or Toddler

Hispanic mother and baby playing on floor
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Most babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are just adorable, and as foster parents, our hearts do go out to the young members of foster care. However, as a foster parent, there are several points to consider before accepting a foster placement of two or more foster children under the age of 5. Things to ensure that you, the foster parent, don't lose your mind.

This means if you are licensed for children within this age range, be ready to accept a placement at any time.

You might not know the sizes of clothes a child needs or whether the child is still in diapers when a child comes into foster care and enters your home, but you do have a pretty good idea of what children of this age need and what you need to successfully parent them.

Consideration for Fostering Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Toddler Toys and Activities to Help Foster Parent Toddlers and Preschoolers - Keep toys around that appeal to this age group and are educational and entertaining. Have ideas ready for outside play and activities too.
  • Child care - It's not always so easy to secure child care. So try the following tips:
    • Keep a list of good babysitters that you trust and are approved per your foster care license.
    • What ages do the facilities accept?
    • What special needs can they handle?
    • Find out what your State will allow in terms of babysitters such as:
      • how old can a babysitter be,
      • if you have to use a licensed and/or registered day care.
    • This is important if you are working outside the home. Be ready or you will be missing out on a few days of work.
  • Do you work from home? - How will you get that work accomplished with toddlers around? Will your state approve of you using child care outside of the home or can you utilize a "mother's helper" and still get your work done?
  • Support - If you are going to accept more than one or two toddlers at the same time, you will need assistance and support to make it through toward a healthy adjustment for everyone in your home and family. What kind of support do you have at home? Does your partner have time to come home from work and let you off the parenting clock? Know what kind of support you will need - whether that's emotional or hands on. Communicate with your partner the type of support you will need. Here are a few ideas:
    • Call on friends from church, your social worker and foster parents.
    • Keep a list of stay-at-home or work-at-home moms that you can call to vent about your day or perhaps set up play dates so that you can get out of the house 
  • - This goes along with support: Have you really considered the timing of adding children to your home and feel that this will work for you and your family? My husband was in the middle of a big remodeling project and would come home from his day job and work on our home. I didn't take this into account - so the timing of adding to our family was off and the support I needed was not available.

Why is all of this important? Because the children need time too. They have a lot to adjust to and if you are not ready for them, then you can't help them acclimate, which is part of your job.

Adjustments for Toddlers and Preschool Age Foster Children 

  • A new home, family, rules, and routines
  • Work on behaviors
  • Address fears
  • Attach to you and your home
  • Maintain or develop deeper, healthier bonds and attachment to their birth family

The bottom line: These are all difficult to handle in and of themselves, but when you, the foster parent, are running crazy with the care of the children and with a placement of two or more toddlers at one time, your day is all about the day-to-day care of the children. There is more to foster parenting than that. I'm not advocating for splitting large sibling sets. I am advocating for being prepared and realistic about placements before they are placed.