Foster Care (FC)
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Becoming a Foster Parent

image of a red square resembling a bullet Role of Foster Parents

Foster parents provide a temporary, safe home for children in crisis. Children who need foster families have been removed from their birth family homes for reasons of neglect, abuse, abandonment, or other issues endangering their health and/or safety. Many of these children are filled with fear, anger, confusion, or a sense of powerlessness at having been removed from the only home they have ever known.

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The Rewards of Foster Parenting (MP3)

image of a red square resembling a bullet Is Foster Parenting a Good Fit for You?

There are some questions you should ask yourself before taking the next step to be a foster parent:

  • Can I love and care for a child who comes from a different background?
  • Can I help a child develop a sense of belonging in my home even though the stay is temporary?
  • Can I love and care for a child who, because of fear of rejection and loss, does not easily love me back?
  • Am I secure enough in my parenting skills while at the same time being willing to learn new parenting skills?
  • Can I set clear limits, and be both firm and understanding in my discipline?
  • Do I view bed-wetting, lying, defiance, and minor destructiveness as symptoms of a child in need?
  • Can I tolerate major failures and small successes?
  • Can I accept assistance and guidance from trained social workers?
  • Can I maintain a positive attitude toward a child's parents, even though many of the problems the child is experiencing are a direct result of the parent's actions?
  • Can I love this child with all my heart and let him go when it is time?

image of a red square resembling a bullet Little Known Facts About Foster Parenting

  • There is no income requirement to be a foster parent
  • Single individuals as well as married couples can become foster parents
  • Over 80% of Virginia's foster parents adopt a child who they fostered
  • There are national organizations that provide training, support and advocacy for foster parents
  • Foster parents have a right to attend court hearings on their foster child and can discuss their concerns with the judge
  • Foster parents also are expected to help develop the service plan for the child with the social worker

image of a red square resembling a bullet How to Become a Foster Parent

Contact your local department of social services. Each local department works with new families in somewhat different ways but all prospective foster parents experience the following:

  • A one-time orientation meeting to "learn what foster parenting is all about"
  • Work with a foster family recruiter to discuss your interest in being a foster parent and the types of children who need foster families
  • Complete a mutual assessment process which includes several meetings with you and other family members to:
    • Make sure you have ample space, enough beds and space for the child to keep his belongings, meet basic fire and safety rules
    • Make sure you are physically and emotionally capable of caring for a child and have no substance abuse problems
    • Be able to pass a criminal history check
    • Make enough money to provide for your own family so you do not have to rely on the foster care reimbursement you receive an income.
  • Attend training to help you develop greater understanding of the trauma these children have suffered and new skills for relating to the children.


    Kinship Care

    image of a red square resembling a bullet About Kinship Care

    Kinship Care is the full time care, nurturing and protection of children by a relative (Code of Virginia §63.2-100). The Virginia Department of Social Services supports placing children with relatives when children cannot live with their parents. In Virginia kinship care families are eligible for assistance based on either an informal or formal arrangement.

    image of a square resembling a bullet Informal Kinship Care

    Under this arrangement, a child is not in the custody of a local department of social services. Assistance may include:

    image of a square resembling a bullet Formal Kinship Care When the Child is In the custody of a local department of social services and living with a relative who is an approved foster parent, assistance includes the following:

    • Annual training to develop knowledge and improve skills regarding meeting the needs of the child
    • A monthly stipend for the child's basic care requirements
    • Assistance in the management of the child's behavior

    image of a red square resembling a bullet Related brochures

    image of a red square resembling a bullet Related Links

    Applicable Law, Code & Regulations

    FC Services

    image of a red square resembling a bullet About Foster Care Services

    Ideally, at-risk children should remain with their actual families whenever possible. Although foster care services offered by the state of Virginia make every effort to keep them together, it isn't always possible. Once it is determimed that a child must leave the family unit and go into foster care, a host of other services becomes available to them, which are designed to promote child safety and well-being within a nurturing, family environment.

    image of a red square resembling a bullet Placement Services

    This involves placing a child with a foster family, group home, residential children's facility or an independent living arrangement.

    image of a red square resembling a bullet Teaching Independent Living Skills

    Services are designed to help foster kids ages 14-21 to develop the skills necessary to transition from foster care to self-sufficiency. Personal development skills such as self-esteem, communication skills, decision-making, conflict resolution and anger management are emphasized.

    image of a red square resembling a bullet Physical or Mental Health Treatment

    This service often includes help with:

    • Substance abuse
    • Depression
    • Socialization
    • ADHD
    • Nutritional deficiency
    • Pregnancy
    • Physical disabilities

    image of a red square resembling a bullet Mentoring

    • Providing good role models for parents
    • Role modeling such as Big Brother/Big Sister programs
    • Tutoring

    image of a red square resembling a bullet Opportunity for a Permanent Living Situation

    This involves fostering relationships between children and relatives or previous caregivers. For older youth leaving care this might include helping find an apartment or a roommate.

    Guidance Manuals

    Foster Care


    blue square bulletEffective 07-2015

    blue square bulletEffective 04-2013

    Other Foster Care Guidance Manuals