40-hrs of Training Required to Foster Parent Training in VA

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Foster Parents Must Have At Least 40 Hours of Training

What is Required for Foster Parent Training in Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia guides foster parent training in Virginia by state statute. This statute will allow every treatment foster care agency to have the same training elements. The Department of Social Services (DSS) does not stipulate how, when, or where this training takes place. They focus on the training features and the training duration with a minimum of 40 hours. 

Foster parent training

The training needed to Become a foster parent.

Your training will be completed in a group setting most of the time. At the same time, you will build your own Foster parent support group within the agency by working with other potential foster parents.

These new foster parents are just like you; they have big hearts and a desire to help youth who are in foster care. These youth require safety and stability in their lives until they can return home, or they will be able to find that forever home within our adoption system. All adoptive homes must have a foster child in their family home for six months before the adoption is finalized.

The last thing DSS wants is to have a failed adoption on its hands. So within the training, you will see many parents with different goals to help. 

All foster care in Virginia is supervised by the Virginia department of social services (DSS).

Below is a brief overview of the training you may expect.

Session 1 - ORIENTATION TO YOUR LCPA (LICENSED CHILD PLACING AGENCY)

Pre-service training is provided for resource, foster, treatment foster, and adoptive family home providers. This training is consistent with the licensee's program statement and description required by 22VAC40-131-170 A and includes, as applicable, the following topics. 

This session will introduce you to a strength-based, trauma-focused agency. This session will also introduce the foster and child welfare systems. As such, we will discuss factors that contribute to neglect, emotional maltreatment, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, and the effects thereof; You will learn of conditions and experiences that may cause developmental delays and affect attachment; the concept of permanence for children and selection of the permanency goal.

One of the goals of this training is to understand the reunification of the birth parents as the primary child welfare goal and the process and experience of reunification with a child or sibling group. We will discuss the importance of visits and other contacts in strengthening relationships between the child and the birth family, including siblings. Information will also be shared on the legal and social processes and the implications of adoption.

A video will demonstrate the need to support older youth's transition to independent living. A potential foster parent will also understand the professional team's role in supporting the transition to permanency and preventing unplanned placement disruptions; the relationship between child welfare laws, the local department's mandates, how the local department carries out its mandates; the purpose of service planning; the negative impact of multiple placements on a child's development.

SESSION 2: GRIEF & LOSS

The pre-service curriculum for this session will focus on the grief and loss of children in foster care experience. Even if there is no significant history of trauma, those feelings will occur when a youth is placed in foster care due to the separation from their family of origin. 

The course will provide the tools to foster parents to help a child process their grief and loss and how those feelings might influence behaviors. You will gain knowledge of the types of losses that youth in foster care experience, as well as the factors that influence their experience of separation and loss.

You will learn about the cultural, spiritual, social, and economic similarities and differences between a child's primary family and foster or adoptive family. Potential foster parents will learn about preparing a child for family visits and helping them manage feelings in response to family contacts. 

The training will also stress the importance of cultivating a child's sense of identity, history, culture, and values. Foster families should respect a child's connection to his birth family, previous foster families, fictive kin, and all those who have played significant roles in their lives.

Potential foster parents must be nonjudgmental in caring for the child, working with the family of origin, and collaborating with other team members. Foster parents will learn the roles, rights, and responsibilities of being a foster parent or adoptive parent. 

SESSION 3: YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR INTERVENTIONS:

The ultimate goal of this class is to teach foster parents about the stages of child development and educate them on behavior intervention by emphasizing the skills necessary to address unwanted behaviors. To effectively meet the challenges of working with children in treatment foster care (TFC), it is necessary to have a structured and intentional approach to parenting, considering their developmental level.

Many factors are associated with positive outcomes for youth in TFC, including developing a positive and caring parent/child relationship between the treatment parents and youth in their care. We emphasize the foster parent's role in helping a child develop critical life skills and enhance those they already possess.

We will teach positive behavior management strategies, stages of average human growth and development; and developmentally appropriate, effective, and nonphysical disciplinary techniques; Methods of less intrusive behavior support and crisis management techniques are highlighted to avoid the use of physical touch as a disciplinary measure as there can be no corporal punishment as a form of discipline.

During this training, we discuss that resilience is the key to assisting children who have experienced trauma that can help them overcome barriers in their lives. Families learn that resilience can be built by having children engage in social activities, helping activities, and developing caring relationships. 

SESSION 4: REGULATORY STANDARDS

This session will introduce you to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s licensing standards and the regulation of agencies like Extra Special Parents. This session aims to provide potential foster parents with the knowledge to comply with federal, state, and state standards for treatment foster care agencies. The potential foster parent will understand how to maintain a home and community environment that promotes safety and well-being.

A foster parent will learn that the licensee will require each home provider to complete all required training as a condition of initial approval and the following license renewals. Training shall be relevant to the needs of children and families and may be structured to include multiple types of training modalities.

The receipt of training shall be documented in the home provider's file, which is maintained in an electronic health record known as Extended Reach. Each home provider shall receive additional training throughout their licensure, as well as at other times if determined to be necessary by the licensee.

This training will also explain confidentiality requirements to potential foster parents. They will understand that it is required that home providers keep confidential all information regarding the child, their family, and the circumstances resulting in the child coming into care. The concept of confidentiality and social media activity is also addressed in this session.

SESSION 5: UNDERSTANDING TRAUMA AND YOUTH IN FOSTER CARE:

This session will focus on understanding, identifying, and reporting child abuse of all types. It will assist foster parents in understanding what to expect behaviorally when providing care for youth in foster care, especially if they have a history of abuse/neglect. It will address how a child placed in foster care may have a very different worldview than our families based on their past experiences and how this could impact the development of their values. 

We want foster parents to reframe their view of a child's behavior and assist them in their development of self-regulation. This can occur through active listening skills, patience, persistence, and consistency. These tools are at the heart of trauma-informed parenting, and the need to practice this daily is reinforced. 

An overview of attachment theory is provided, including a discussion of inhibited/disinhibited attachment styles and healthy/problematic attachment cycles. The importance of cultivating an environment of trust through a focus on connection is stressed as a restorative practice. Common mental health diagnoses for youth in foster care are also reviewed, as well as applicable service interventions. In closing, the need for self-care for parents who provide care to youth with treatment needs is addressed as a construct that all parents must practice consistently. 

The final areas of training you will go through before a child can be placed in your home are First Aid and CPR training and Medication Administration management records (MARs). When you are entrusted with a child, some of these children come with the need for medical support.

Medication support could be from creams to an antibiotic. The law requires us to keep documentation MARs to keep a record of anything a doctor has orders that you have to give. These forms are simple, but you must know how to keep your child safe. 

Training is a great learning experience to give you the tools you will need to advocate to understand and care for the child staying with you. None of these expectations are challenging, but being informed is too essential to making you and your child a success. 

After foster care training, what comes next?

After you have completed your 40 hours of training, you will be invited to start your home study process and complete the local departments of social services' Child protective background check. The Virginia state police fingerprint check will be also submitted to the United States FBI before you can be licensed as a foster parent.

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