First Hand Tips for Settling a Foster Child into Nursery

When Sarah* moved foster home, she also had to move to a nursery closer to her new placement. We asked Lynn*, Sarah’s foster carer, what extra considerations there are for a looked after child (LAC) to start nursery and she shares tips for how she helped Sarah with the transition

Do you need permission from the birth parent or social services for a foster child to go to nursery?

Yes, permission has to be sought from the Guardian, Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO), looked after children’s social worker (LACSW) and/or parents depending what court order the children are under.

Are there any extra considerations for foster children when starting nursery?

We have to observe confidentiality at all times. It’s not the place of the foster carer to discuss the child’s background, the LACSW will take on this roll and discussions will also be had at a looked after child review (LAC review). Often the child will tell other children/staff/parents they are in care, especially when the foster carer is mistaken for a parent/grandparent.

When Sarah changed nurseries, did you encounter any difficulties?

Fortunately there weren’t difficulties for Sarah. Difficulties were on the social services side. We had to wait for the LACSW to action and sign the relevant registration paperwork, obtain a copy of birth, medical information and care plan. Permission had to be sought for outings, administration of medicine and authorisation for emergencies and this meant Sarah’s start date was delayed.

How did Sarah cope with the change and what did you find helped her settle in?

Sarah coped very well with the change. It was explained to Sarah that a new nursery had been found so she could have friends nearer to her new foster home and she seemed happy with that. I took her to see the outside and location of the building before she started and she had half day taster sessions to help her settle in.

On the day of her settling in sessions, we planned what Sarah would do and she chose a treat to have when she came home to help reassure her that she’d be collected. We also put a bag together for Sarah to take with her – it had a photo of us and one of her sibling so that she could look at them during the day and her favourite soft toy. I explained if she was upset or wanted to come home that that was ok.

What tips or advice would you offer other foster carers to ease the nursery transition?

  • Talk about the school positively and bring it into conversations frequently. Try to make it into an adventure.
  • If possible, show the child a video and pictures, and visit the nursery together, even if it’s just to have a look at it from the outside. This will hopefully help alleviate any anxiety.
  • Talk to the child and ask how they are feeling about going to nursery. Don’t dismiss any fears they may have.
  • Go shopping for a treat ready for their nursery, for example a new rucksack or coat.
  • Give them something personal to take with them like a photo or comforter.
  • Discuss what they would like to do when they arrive home to help reassure them that they’ll be coming back.

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

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