COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT FAMILY FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION
Foster family is the commonly known term for a family that cares for a child in the foster care system.
Resource family is a relatively new term that is replacing “foster family” in the foster care system. Both terms are interchangeable.
According to the National Commission on Family Foster Care, sponsored by the Child Welfare League of America and the National Foster Parent Association:
“Family foster care is an essential service for children and parents who must live apart while maintaining legal and, usually, affectionate ties. The value of family foster care is that it can respond to the unique, individual needs of infants, children, youths and their families through the strength of family living, and through family and community supports.”
Children come into care through a Child Protective Services (“CPS”) Emergency Removal or ongoing-Investigation that deems a child unsafe.
Children in our community come into care for a variety of reasons, such as, parental substance use, mental health concerns, inadequate supervision, lack of parenting skills, and/or physical abuse.
The population of children who are most in need of foster and adoptive families are: sibling groups; children who are medically fragile; children who have been exposed to alcohol and substance abuse; children who have witnessed domestic violence in the home; and children who have been inadequately supervised and cared for.
Yes. Simply the fact of being removed from their home is traumatic. They are frightened and confused by the separation from their parents. Some are angry, some are sad, and others feel they are being punished. Depending on the level of abuse/neglect, some children may be relieved, but feel guilty for having those feelings. Even babies can be irritable and fretful at first.
Children need foster and adoptive parents because of something done to them, not because of something they have done. They are not “bad” children; they come from tragic and sad situations. Their families are not “bad”; they are struggling and at risk.
Over time, feelings and behaviors resulting from trauma gradually lessen as the child comes to know and trust you and feel safe with you. Foster and adoptive parents feel joy in watching their children settle down and develop feelings of trust, safety, and confidence.
Foster and adoptive parents can be married or single, with or without children already in their families. We are looking for individuals, couples, or families who can protect children and nurture them. Both foster and adoptive parents need to understand how children grow and develop, and how abuse and neglect affect that development. Additionally, foster parents need to be able to accept any race of child to foster. The department will not discriminate against the children they serve.
Foster parents need to help children maintain contact with their birth families, not only because children do return to their families, but also because it is important for their self-esteem and identity. Visits between children and their families are important. The agency will arrange these contacts and provide the necessary supervision. Sometimes, foster parents build good relationships with the parents of the children in their care and continue to provide support after a child is returned home.
- Attend an information session
- Fill out the Initial Home Visit Request
- Complete an Initial Home Visit with the Recruiter
- Start your Pre-Service Training
- Complete at least three interviews with your home assessor
- Submit all your required documentation
- Approval is completed
- Your residence must have a safe place without structural or health hazards and have adequate bedroom space for the child(ren).
- A family must have sufficient income to meet its own needs.
- A criminal record check must indicate you are Eligible to foster.
- A Central Registry Search (CPS) must indicate you have no CPS history.
- A physical exam must indicate you are in good health to care for a foster child.
According to VDSS guidance, the Mutual Family Assessment (“MFA”) is the process that includes both a study of the physical home as well as the prospective foster/resource family. A thorough assessment integrates pre-service training topics into the home visits to maximize opportunities for developing and documenting a family’s competence in meeting the special needs of children in care. Training and home visits are primary sources for assessment, while also drawing information from sources such as references, background checks, etc. As a result of this process, the final decision to approve the home shall reflect the family’s perceived ability and willingness to foster or adopt as well as the agency’s assessment of the family.
It can take anywhere from 3-6 months to be fully approved. Once you are approved, you can take a placement into your home. How soon a child is placed with a foster family depends upon several factors. If the foster family is willing and able to foster or adopt older children, siblings, or children with medical conditions, they probably will experience placements more quickly.
Yes. All foster/resource parents complete a minimum of 27 hours of pre-service training for approval. This training is specific to the challenges and needs of foster/resource parenting. CFW uses the New Generation PRIDE Curriculum for pre-service training. PRIDE is the acronym for Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education. This curriculum is designed to develop and support prospective foster/resource parents as vital members of the child welfare team and provide trauma-informed skills to support children and families.
Additional training is provided year-round and foster/resource families are invited to attend. A minimum of 10 hours of training is required to maintain current knowledge and encourage growth as a foster/resource provider.
Foster/resource parenting is not a business, so you will not earn an income. The structured rates of regular foster care maintenance vary by age of the child. This maintenance payment is provided monthly and assists foster families in covering the expenses that they will incur while the foster child is in their home. The department provides a yearly clothing allowance for the foster child and will cover the costs of day care at an approved day care facility if both foster parents are employed.
Adoptive parents may be able to obtain an adoption subsidy. This means they can continue to receive financial support from the agency, even after the adoption is finalized. Adoption subsidy is negotiated at the time of the adoption placement and is based on the special needs of the child.
If you are a foster/resource family, the agency has either custody or guardianship of the foster child and is legally responsible for the children.
If you move through the process of being an adoptive family, the agency then has guardianship of the child until the adoption is finalized.
Yes! While the initial goal for children that enter foster care is reunification with their parents or relatives, sometimes this goal is not achievable in the state mandated timeline. For adoption through foster care to be a possibility…
- First, the child’s goal is changed to adoption or some other permanency goal through the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court.
- Next, the parental rights must be terminated within the court system.
- From the beginning of the process, the time frame for adoption finalization is 1-3 years.
- It is never known from the beginning if a child’s goal will be adoption. It can take up to 18 months to know if a child’s goal will change to adoption.
All CFW families are dually approved for foster care and adoption.