Foster Care Frequently Asked Questions
There are a number of myths surrounding foster care and adoption. Learn more about fostering by reading below and reaching out to us today.
What is Foster Care?
Foster Care is a temporary living arrangement in which adults provide care for children who need a safe place to live when their parents or another relative cannot take care of them.
What is the goal of foster care?
The goal for a child in foster care is usually to reunify children with their birth family. However, the goal may change to adoption, independent living or placement with a relative if and when it is in the best interest of the child.
This differs from year to year, based on the children in care. The goal for every child is to have them returned to their biological family or reach another permanent placement, and we’re proud to announce than 30% of the children in our care this year were able to do so.
What is Therapeutic Foster Care?
The core and most essential element of therapeutic foster care is the therapeutic relationship that is developed between the child and the foster family. Therapeutic foster care is based on the premise that all children require a trusting and secure attachment to an adult caregiver. Such a relationship increases a child’s potential to grow and develop normally in all vital areas of life. Therapeutic foster care provides foster parents the support and training needed to provide a nurturing home environment for abused and/or neglected children who need structure, support and guidance in order to learn coping skills and behaviors necessary to function in a family. Foster parents have the support of a treatment team, including a clinical case manager, respite services and 24/7 crisis intervention to ensure child and family safety.
Who can be a foster parent?
In order to be a foster parent in the state of Virginia, you must meet the following criteria:
Be at least 21 years old. You can be single or married.
Have a safe and clean home environment and a steady income.
Have reliable transportation and the flexibility to transport foster children to important appointments (i.e. medical appointments, biological family visits, etc.).
Complete child abuse and criminal background checks with satisfactory results.
Foster home must pass Fire and Health inspections and must have adequate bedroom space for a foster child.
Must complete 27 hours of pre-service training provided by FCSVA.
Must undergo a home study completed by FCSVA.
What do foster parents do?
Foster parents are full time caregivers to the child placed in their home. Foster parents are responsible for providing for the child’s physical, nutritional, developmental and emotional needs. Our foster parents work in conjunction with a treatment team, dedicated to ensure the goals and needs of each child are being met.
What types of children will be placed in my home?
All types of children can be found in need of foster care services. Children in foster care range in age of newborn to 18, although when a child turns 18 they may stay in foster care until they are 21 years old. Many of the children in care have experienced some form of neglect or abuse. As a therapeutic agency, we see a lot of older children, sibling groups, children with medical or behavioral needs, or non-native English speakers. FCSVA works with their parents to find the children that will be the best fit for your home, and our parents always have the final say about whether they are comfortable with a child before they come into the home.
Why should I become a foster parent with FCS?
As a foster parent, you will experience daily rewards. The most powerful reward is the difference you are making in the life of a child and in his or her family. The rewards of helping a child and family reunite, or helping a child achieve permanency in other ways (i.e. adoption, independent living, etc.) are immeasurable. Beyond the rewards provided to you by the children and families you serve, you will also receive ongoing support and training from FCSVA in order to ensure that you are always well-prepared to meet the needs of the children in your home. Foster parent support groups or monthly in-service trainings, case managers that work closely with you and your children, as well as an emergency on-call line for whatever may be needed after hours, are all services that FCSVA provides to help support our families.
How long does it take to become a foster parent?
The process to become a foster parent depends a lot on your availability and timely submission of any needed documentation. The first step is to call us to schedule an information session. Following this, the foster parents will complete the Parent’s Resource for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) training, which is usually completed in 4-5 weeks. The training is offered at least once a quarter. Once this is completed, a background check, reference check and home study process will be conducted. This process can take several months to complete.
What is a home study?
A home study is a written document about you and your family that details your family history, education, employment, home environment, parenting styles, parenting skills, expectations and reasons for becoming a foster parent. A home study is completed through a series of interviews and meetings, including at least one visit in your home. A home study is not only used to evaluate prospective foster parents, but is also used to help evaluate what type of child would be the best fit to be placed in your home.
What is respite?
Respite is when the foster child temporarily stays in the home of another approved foster family. Respite families are carefully chosen to ensure an appropriate fit for all parties involved. All of our foster families are provided the opportunity to have up to three nights of respite per month per child. Respite is an opportunity for the foster family to rest and renew themselves so they can continue to parent effectively.
What type of training will I be required to obtain?
Foster parents receive the Parent’s Resource for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) training program through FCSVA. The PRIDE training includes topics such as meeting children’s developmental needs, understanding and addressing developmental delays, the effects of abuse and neglect, permanence, strengthening family relationships, safety and working as a member of a treatment team. Foster parents are also required to maintain certification in CPR/First Aid, as well as complete an annual course from the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) training on safely managing disruptive or assaultive behavior and on psychotropic medication. Foster parents are required to gain at least 15 hours of training a year, through our in-person or online training sessions, and can also count appropriate work training towards this goal.
How long will a child stay in my home?
It is hard to say how long a child will stay in foster care, as many factors contribute to this. A child’s stay in foster care can be as short as overnight or last as long as months or years. However, courts are pushing for a goal of one year to permanency for a child in foster care whenever possible.
Am I financially responsible for my foster child?
Foster parents are provided a stipend per child, based on their age and any behaviors exhibited that require additional supervision of the foster parents. Each child is also provided a clothing allowance per year from the county, which is reimbursable to the foster parent. While the full cost of a child is not usually covered by these stipends, they help our foster parents significantly. Medical expenses for the child are generally covered through Medicaid.
If I am interested in adoption, should I consider foster care first?
Yes, fostering can lead to adoption when reunification with the child’s biological family is not an option. Fostering children is a good way to get to know the child and form a relationship with them prior to adoption.
How do I become a foster parent?
You have made the first step! You’ve begun to research and determine what will be the best route for you to take in your goal to serve children and families. Now it is time to learn more about what it means to be a therapeutic foster parent, and what it will mean to be a part of For Children’s Sake of Virginia. The next step will be to attend a “no-strings-attached” foster parent orientation to learn more about being a foster parent, about the requirements, and about the process towards becoming approved. To sign up to attend a foster parent orientation, please contact us at (703) 817-9890.