1. Remember all of the Little Things that Make the Season Fun: Do you have extra stockings for foster children entering your home at the last minute? It's not uncommon for a child to arrive on Christmas Eve. How about extra gifts for Hanukkah/Kwanzaa?
2. Help Your Foster Children Understand the Season: Most of the foster children that have entered our home have not understood the Christmas holiday. Take time to read a few books. Explain your feelings about the season and help a child learn to enjoy the season on a different level.
3. Plan any Gifts for Birth Family Whether from You or the Children: Are you going to give the birth parents a simple gift this holiday? I have given photo albums of their children or framed photos. What about bus vouchers so that they can get to work or to visits? What a great way to help with the reunification efforts.Keep in mind that some foster children have not experienced giving gifts to others. The concept may not even cross their minds, so be there to lead the way.
4. Discuss the Dates for Holiday Birth Family Visits: Contact your worker early in the season. Keep an open mind, but also advocate for your family's needs. Remember your holiday schedule and the child's behavior after visits.
5. Watch for Signs of the Holiday Blues: Holidays can be a difficult time for many foster families. This is traditionally a time for family and for a child who is not with his/her birth family, a time for remembering the ones they’ve had to say good-bye to. All families have their good moments, even if they are few in number. These moments mean the world to foster children in the system. These memories are sometimes the only thing they have left of birth family. It can, however, be a great bonding moment for foster families - a time to sit down and share memories.
6. Contact Your Worker about any Travel Dates: If you're planning on leaving town for the holidays, contact your worker well in advance. Most require at least two weeks notice. There needs to be plenty of time for the workers to arrange travel vouchers for the child, or if needed respite if the child is unable to attend.
7. Plan Activites for the Kids to Enjoy During the Break from School: This could be a great time to work on lifebooks when homework is not a burden. If you start to get a bit cabin crazy look for activities away from home such as attending the YMCA for a swim or the library
8. Prepare Extended Family and Your Foster Children for Family Gatherings: Holidays or big family gatherings are a tough situation for introducing your foster children to your extended family. Your extended family may feel uneasy about your choice to be a foster parent in the first place. Meeting the foster child/ren may help this situation or confirm their fears.