One of the major criteria for becoming a foster carer is your ability to provide a safe, nurturing and comfortable environment for your child. This means not only ensuring a happy home, but also giving your child their own space in which to grow.

For your child, this means having their own room in which they can sleep, study and relax. As such, it is essential to have a spare room when fostering a child of any age.

Read on to find out more about Orchard Fostering’s requirements for spare rooms, the reasoning behind giving your child their own space, and some tips for getting that spare room into tip-top shape.

What counts as a spare room for fostering?

So, what exactly are the criteria when it comes to having a spare room and fostering? First things first – if you are going to foster a child, you will need to have a habitable spare room in your home. Fostering without a spare room is not possible. While there are no size requirements for the room, it must be big enough to fit a bed and some furniture (for storage of clothes, etc).

For children under fourteen, the room must be on the same floor as the carers’ room. If you are fostering a baby, they may sleep in your room with you – however, you will still need a room for them, as they grow up quick! If you are fostering siblings under five, they can share a room – siblings over five can also share a room, provided they are of the same gender as their roommate. You can learn more on “can a foster child sleep in my room” in our Managing Foster Children’s Sleeping Behavior blog.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the criteria, don’t worry – as part of our initial social worker visit, we assess the suitability of the rooms you intend to use while fostering. We’ll talk you through what it required and how you can manage.

Why does my child need a spare room in foster care?

As a foster carer, your primary function is to ensure a level of both physical and mental comfort for your child. This is worth recalling as you find yourself wondering “can I foster without a spare room?” We all need our own space – somewhere we can go to get away from everything, switch off our brains, and just be at peace.

For your child, this space is their bedroom – a safe space in a world that can be confusing or disorienting to them, especially in the first few days or weeks of their time with you. By giving your child their own space, you are allowing them a reprieve from the multitude of changes they have undergone in their fostering journey.

Why can’t your child share their safe bedroom space with someone else, you ask? While it may seem practical (and welcoming) to place your foster child in a room with your birth children, this creates more problems than it solves. Fostering a child is all about creating a sense of security – adding another person into the mix can cause tension (over possessions and space), be a trigger for anxiety and confusion, or can cause issues around privacy. As a foster carer, you are offering your child safety, security and privacy – things they may not have had in their previous environment. You are making them feel at home. Part of this process is giving them their own space in which to feel safe.

How should I prepare my spare room for my child’s arrival?

We’ve talked in depth about the importance of decorating your child’s bedroom in a prior blog post, highlighting the decoration process as an act of connection and bonding. While decorating their room is something we recommend doing after their arrival, it helps to have the basics in place before they get there.

A comfy bed, some fresh sheets and fluffy pillows are a must. If possible, source a small work desk, where they can do homework, draw, or work on other creative projects (with the advent of work from home due to COVID-19, there are tonnes of great deals on office furniture out there at the moment).

If you’re going to buy all the furnishings new, our tip would be to choose neutral colours – this way, you and your child can customise the walls and accessories in whatever colour you choose, allowing them to add their own pop of personality to their safe haven.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page.