How to become a foster or adoptive parent in Virginia
How do I Become a Foster Parent?
Understanding How to Become Foster Parent is so Important.
The foster care system desperately needs loving, caring, and safe individuals to become foster parents. There were 5500 children in Virginia Department of Social Services(VDSS) foster care in 2021. This number is projected to go up by 1000 kids by next year. These children are looking for a nurturing home that you can provide.
Foster children have been through trauma. They've been removed from their birth parents due to abuse or neglect. This can lead to a high level of post-traumatic stress in children and youth, similar to a soldier returning from a combat zone. Though the process of foster care and adoption can be challenging, you will help these children heal their fragile and broken hearts.
Find a Child Placing Agency
The first step to becoming a foster parent is to find a licensed Child-Placing Agency (CPA). In Virginia, these agencies are licensed and regulated by the DSS to help you through the training and legal process. They are responsible for recruiting, training, and matching aspiring foster parents to a child needing a loving foster home.
So what should you look for in a child-placing agency?
Some agencies have different values than others. This includes a focus on religion or being open to same-sex couples and single parents. It's crucial to align your belief systems with those of the agency. However, once you receive your foster child, you aren't allowed to press your beliefs upon them according to the law in the United States.
After you have selected your agency, you have to be the one to make the first contact. With our parent agency, Extra Special Parents, you will be connected with a Foster Parent Advocate whose job is to ensure this is a good match for you. They are responsible for educating you and answering your questions about foster care in Virginia.
No matter the agency, there should be no pressure to become something you're not ready to be from the first contact person. You will be prepared in your time, not ours.
Following your conversation with your Foster Parent Advocate, you will be offered dates for training. Attending a large class is recommended. You will be able to interact with other families who are going through the same process you are. This can quickly become a support group of fellow foster families.
Though each CPA will conduct training differently, the average time it will take to complete is five evenings or three weekends. This training is educational and designed to challenge your thinking around trauma. Children in foster care did not have the choice to be in the system and want to find stability in their lives as soon as possible. This training will ensure you are the best solution for them.
The next step in the foster care process is called a Home Study. An agent from your CPA will visit your home a few times to ensure its capability to be a safe environment for the child.
You will also be asked about the following:
- What child you feel you can cope with in regards to their age, level of need, and medical situation
- If you wish to help sibling groups or singles
- Where and how your guns and medications are stored
- About twenty-two more pages about you!
We are not trying to change your home; we want to make sure your home is safe and welcoming to a child who will be arriving soon.
A background check will also be conducted. A criminal record doesn't prevent you from being a foster parent. Still, the law is particular about what types of past behaviors will bar you from fulfilling this significant role.
See the blog on this site for more details about what will prevent you from becoming a foster parent.
Caring For Your Child
Following the Home Study, all this information is gathered into a single document that will be presented to DSS foster care workers. They will know about your home, your strengths and skills, and the type of child you are looking for.
Your journey to becoming a foster parent in Virginia will be as unique as you are. Thank you from all the 5500 children in Virginia foster care tonight.