Think back to when you were a child, and try to remember how excited you were about having your own “big kid room,” as you grew older. You loved having a special place to play with all your toys, read your books and likely even had an idea or two about the way you wanted it decorated.

For children, especially those who have felt unsafe and as if they didn’t belong in the past, it’s vital to have a space that they feel is their own. One that has been specially made for them, as a part of your family. Having a child stay in your guest room will make them feel like just that- a guest. Whether you’re just starting down your foster care journey, or you’ve been with a child for a while, this is a step you won’t want to skip.

Foster care is a journey, and those on it are unsure of where it will take them. When you’re creating a room, keep this in mind. Choose a neutral paint color that will work well for any child. Ensure sure the color is cool-toned, as they tend to be more comforting than brighter or darker shades. Next, if you are anticipating a younger child, decorate the room with elements that would excite any child and spark their imagination. Some fun ideas range from a jungle theme to an ocean theme- both are great to inspire playtime and learning, too.

Once you have learned of the specific child who will be living in the room, you can add some final personal touches. This will naturally develop over time as you bond with your child, and learn about what makes them who they are. Keep an empty few picture frames in the room, in case your foster child has any photos they want to display- and for new family photos too, as your story together unfolds.

Once your child is settled in, feel free to take them out to pick out a few things for their room, such as their bedding. This is a great way to make them feel included and valued as they’re figuring things out.

By giving a child their own space, it gives them an area where they feel safe and understood, rather than just a guest in your home. After all, the goal of foster care is to love them as if they were your own, so treat them as such!