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How to tell a foster child they are leaving; saying goodbye to a foster child.

How to tell a foster child they are leaving 

When you foster with Family Fostering Partners, family comes first; the value of a familial bond is central to everything we do with our network of foster parents and the children in their care.  It's no surprise then that when a foster placement ends, it's an emotional time, causing sadness and grief both for the family left behind and the child who's moving on. Saying goodbye to a foster child is perhaps one of the hardest aspects of being a foster parent. 

 Reasons a foster placement might end 

With all types of foster care, there is always the understanding that the placement will end unless the placement becomes a legal adoption by the foster family. 

 There are several reasons for this: 

  • Adoption 
  • Return to birth family 
  • Independent living 
  • Change of foster home 
  • Specialist placement 


How to tell a foster child they are leaving 

Saying goodbye to a foster child is never ever easy. Our fostering families pour so much love and hard work into the children in our collective care, making those ‘goodbyes’ so hard. Handling the process of saying goodbye can be guided by the foster parents as well as the supervising social worker. It can be determined by the child's age or the nature of the move, e.g. adoption.  

 Trust the court's decision 

As a foster parent, you may have reservations about a child in your care moving elsewhere or even back to their birth family. But, ultimately, you should trust that the court's decision is the right one. 

 Stay positive 

This next move in the child's life has their best interests at heart, but that's not necessarily how the child will see it. Open and age-appropriate conversations about what is to come should help facilitate a successful transition. Whilst saying goodbye to a foster child is painful, you can look forward to making an impact on the lives of other vulnerable children that need your care and support.  

 Keeping calm when saying goodbye to a foster child. 

You might be nervous about this next stage, but you can be sure the child will be too. Keep an open dialogue throughout, answering any questions as best you can as the move date gets closer. When we are asked “how to tell a foster child they are leaving”, the answer is simple. 

  • With the support of your dedicated link worker 
  • With openness and honesty in an age-appropriate way 

 Thanks for the memories 

Sharing photos, stories, or videos of the happy times you've shared are a great way to reinforce a sense of a child's value and personal identity. In some cases, proactive contact can be sustained between the birth and foster families too. Read more about the importance of making memories by following this link.


One day at a time 

Both the lead up to the leaving date and the aftermath can be stressful times. It is not uncommon for a child to be removed from the home very suddenly, which can be a shock. However, take one day at a time so you and your family can adjust and grieve for the person you have lost. During these difficult transitions, we encourage our foster parents to use the resources of their designated Link Workers, with the option to also reach out to Foster Talk for personal advice and guidance.  


When a foster care placement doesn't work out 

Sometimes the placement simply isn't working, and this realisation brings conflicting emotions.  

It is important to remember that you are only human, and if you've done your best, it might be time to discuss other solutions with your Link Worker. If things become difficult outside of the usual 9-5 working hours, you can be assured that Family Fostering Partners are contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  


Family first with Family Fostering Partners 

Across Wales, Family Fostering Partner's link workers and support staff remain dedicated to helping our foster parents be the best foster parents they can be. You will never be asked to say goodbye to a foster child on your own, and advice and guidance are never far away. 


If you would like to chat to an agency who will be there to support you through each stage of your fostering journey, you can get in touch with us today by visiting our contact us page.

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