Fostering a child or children is an exciting and worrisome experience. You want to make sure you’re well prepared and have everything you need like self-care items, clothing, food, and a bedroom. Thinking about their bedroom is when you start to wonder: do foster kids need their own room?
Well yes and no, depending on where you want them to sleep and your state’s regulations. Unless they’re under the age of 1, foster children absolutely cannot reside in the same room as their foster parents. They can reside in a shared bedroom with siblings, however, they do need their own bed and dresser. But certain states have a gender and age limit to when a foster child can share a room with another child. If your scenario is that your 13-year-old male is to reside with a 4-year-old foster female, most states would not see that as appropriate. Make sure to check with your state laws regarding the following suggestions.
Sharing a room
If you’re fostering a baby, follow your state and county laws as to where the baby can sleep. Some states would allow the baby to reside in a crib in your room, and some states forbid foster babies from sleeping alongside you in your room.
Some foster children, especially foster siblings who are young and close in age, would find comfort in sharing a room. They might feel closer to their siblings and not feel so alone and afraid now that they are in a new home. They also can learn how to share and be respectful of their sibling’s belongings. However, they absolutely cannot share beds.
Children can learn to play together, work together on projects, and help each other keep their room nice and tidy. Most of all, it’ll help the siblings develop a bond, build problem-solving skills, become empathetic to one another’s feelings, gain each other’s trust, and learn how to live together.
Foster children of the same gender can share a room, but some states recommend once a child of the opposite sex reaches the age of 5, they should stop sharing a room. Age gap is another factor to consider with foster children sharing a room. Younger kids might not mind it, but an older foster child wouldn’t want to share a room with a baby or their younger sibling that has a habit of getting into their personal belongings.
Depending on the number of children that will be residing in your home, biological or foster children, you wouldn’t want to cram too many siblings in one room. Reasons for that are the lack of space, increasing conflicts, damaged belongings, faster spread of germs, and many other concerns that could arise.
If you decide the foster siblings should share a room, make sure that they have enough room for safety concerns. Beds, and dressers that are too close, and too much clutter on the floor can cause falls, fire hazards, and many more accidents that can be prevented. Also, some states have limitations on how many foster children can share a room.
The foster children’s sleep habits and schedules might be an adjustment at first, so you should make sure that you get familiar with their sleep schedule when siblings share a room. If sharing with an older foster child, be sure to have your younger child leave the bedroom so that they don’t disturb the older child’s rest and vice versa.
The foster siblings shouldn’t feel crowded and should have room to move around in and be able to create their side of the room to whatever interests them with posters, pictures, rugs, desks, books, toys, artwork, comfy chairs, and whatever else they’d like as long as there’s space.
If one of the foster children is very tidy, and the other is pretty messy, conflict and frustration can erupt and make it harder for the foster children to adjust to how the other child would want things to go in a shared room.
Perhaps one of the foster children likes to play with loud or noisy toys and is also very active and keeps herself busy through movement; meanwhile, the other foster child likes quiet activities and has sensory issues that the other active child doesn’t wish to cooperate with. That could be a major issue with meltdowns from the sensory issue foster child, even when the more active foster child didn’t mean to set him or her off.
Intrusion can be a strong feeling with foster children sharing a room. Coming from one home and moving right into yours, they might feel like they don’t quite fit in, feel like an outcast, or that they don’t truly belong. Be open to talk about shared spaces with the foster children and help them to feel welcome in their new room.
Fighting over their own “turf” is another issue with foster children sharing a room. If a slightly younger foster sibling would like to play with say, a model airplane, after the older foster sibling told her no and that it wasn’t a toy, the younger foster sibling might not be able to help herself and plays with it when the older foster sibling isn’t around. Once the older sibling finds out, reasonably he’d be frustrated and say that it was his and she shouldn’t have touched it. In most cases, foster siblings are very territorial with their things; it could be a reminder of their old home or something they’d never had that was truly their own.
Behavioral and insecurity issues are common with troubled foster children. Emotional and physical turmoil can erupt in a blink of an eye, so be aware of the conflicts with foster children sharing a room. If the foster children are coming from a home with traumatic physical, mental, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, it isn’t safe nor wise to have the child share a room. The sad reality of that is that child could think that abuse is okay and try to hurt the other child or children in his or her room.
Having their own room
On the other hand, providing your foster children with their own bedrooms gives them their own space for their belongings and a space for them to truly call their own for the time you’re fostering them. Having their own room provides them with the privacy and security they most likely didn’t have before. Providing them with their own room will help with their self-esteem and could help them to feel proud that you trust them with the upkeep of their own space. They can learn how to adapt to the family routine, learn how to take responsibility for their things, and to abide to your family’s house rules.
They could decorate their own room however they liked without approval of their sibling. They can be free to express their creativity and make their room a place of relaxation after a long day. Also, when it comes to their education, giving your foster child her own room could help her grow academically by giving her a place to quietly study for a test, read a book, or focus on an art project.
If you have a biological child, he shouldn’t have to be forced to share his room with his foster sibling, and if one child is introverted, that child would have his or her own space to retreat to for peace and quiet. If you’re fostering older kids, they might want to have friends over to hang out in their room without siblings intruding.
Foster children having their own room gives them room to move around and breathe, without having one or more other siblings to be mindful of. They also would be able to leave their belongings wherever they pleased and wouldn’t have room decor issues. The foster sibling can gain independence skills without the reliance of his sibling to help with the upkeep of the room.
If the children you’re fostering are young, say 2-6 years old, they’ll probably be anxious and have night terrors while sleeping in their own room. They might cry, scream, or start begging to sleep with you or in their foster sibling’s room. Foster children having their own room could be a big adjustment, especially if they’re used to sharing a room with their siblings. They might not have as much fun, especially if the foster children are very social with one another. They might feel lonely, bored, and isolated at first, after being so close to their siblings up to the time you fostered them. But rest assured, they’ll eventually feel comfortable in a room all their own with your positive reassurance.
If the foster children are fearful of sleeping in their own rooms, you can make their room a calming and peaceful place to sleep with the aid of nightlights, fluffy pillows, soft blankets, white noise machines, playing lullaby music, stuffed animals, or blankies to cuddle with, calming aromas, and reading bedtime stories to them might ease their fears. Show empathy and understanding; openly talk about their fears and help them feel validated. Their fears might not seem like much, but to little ones, especially foster children, those fears are an anxiety-ridden deal. Have them get into a bedtime routine, (warm baths, stories, cuddling time, singing lullabies, etc.), and take things one step at a time. Once they’re used to their sleepy time routine, the foster children will fall asleep on their own in their room in comfort.
Giving the foster children their own rooms after coming from turmoil-filled homes can give the children a sense of relief, calmness, and give them a place to let their guard down. Having their own room provides them with an area to feel safe and secure while giving them a space to calm down after some moments of angst throughout their day.
However, on the other hand, foster children might feel alienated by having their own room, feel like a stranger being in their temporary home, and not learn valuable skills like sharing, cooperation, and teamwork. Additionally, affordability is one of the main issues when it comes to children having their own room. You might not financially be able to buy another home with more bedrooms, so you could accommodate by making a dining room or a home office into a bedroom for the foster children.
In regards to a home study
Whenever you are going through the home study process with an agency or social worker, you’ll have to make sure you have enough bedrooms for the foster children, and that the room you want to place them in isn’t under construction. The children need appropriately sized beds; make sure to have ample space for them to navigate around their room safely.
The foster children also cannot sleep in living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, sheds, closets, unfinished attics, stairways, and hallways.
Each foster child needs their own mattresses, pillows, bedsheets, and blankets to go with their bed. Two single sized beds or bunk beds work for children who share a room.
The bedroom needs to have a door for the children’s privacy, windows for emergency exits, climate control (heaters for winter, air conditioning for summer), and their own clothing storage (dressers and/or closets).
Fostering multiple children is a rewarding experience and quite a lengthy process. You want to make sure you have just the right bedroom preparations, and maybe, you have come to a decision in regards to the foster children and their bedroom arrangements.
There’s independence with foster children having their own room and valuable life skills with foster children sharing a room. With all of these scenarios, age ranges, and state laws considered, foster children can share a room or have their own room. Whatever you choose, make sure to keep these tips in mind when getting your foster children’s room all set and ready for their welcome.