Is it Hard to Get Approved to be a Foster Parent in Virginia?

How to become a licensed Foster Parent in Virginia

How to become a licensed Foster Parent in Virginia 

From application to license: a foster parent journey.

The one question that I get asked quite often by those seeking to become foster or adoptive parents and those who take an interest in what I do is this:​ "Is it hard to get approved to be a foster parent?" 

Hello, my name is Vincent Ellis White, and I work in foster care in Virginia. I am a Home Study Specialist at Extra Special Parents (ESP), a licensed foster care treatment agency in Virginia. In my ESP role, I mainly have two tasks: 

1: Train potential foster parents and guide them as they navigate the road to certification to become licensed foster families or Adoptive families. 

2: Conduct adoption home studies and home studies of prospective foster parents, a critical part of the path to certification. 

While I could go into all the many reasons you should want to foster (that's for another blog post), I'd like to provide you with the pre-approval checklist, our official guide towards foster parent certification, so that you can see it for yourselves. By providing you with this, I hope that it will help ensure the clarity needed, ease the possible fears that you may have, and help to get you prepared for what is involved in this process if you decide to pursue this incredible journey into fostering. 

There are five training sessions that potential foster parents will need to attend and actively participate in (​the shaken baby syndrome and medication management that you see listed below are included in the training​). Once you've completed those, I will connect with you and work with you to get your home study process going. As you can see below, there are three home study dates/visits that will need to take place, at least one of them will need to be in person at your home. 

During the home study interview, I will be accessing everything from the physical structure of your home to the individuals that dwell within it. I have a series of questions that I'll ask by default, and I'll ask any additional questions that I feel led to ask, as I like to get to know potential foster parents or parents who wish to adopt a child as best as I can.

At some point, I will tour your home, and by the final visit, I usually take pictures of your home to help me recall how it looks when it's time to write the home study. I will complete a final walk-through, checking that the home meets all of the safety points such as having a fire extinguisher, first aid kit with gloves, smoke detectors, and adequate lighting/bedding/space in the bedrooms, etc.

From the beginning of this home study process, in between the training, and most certainly after the training has been completed, the potential foster parent should be working on completing all of their paperwork.

We do recognize that it is an extensive amount of paperwork. Therefore, we suggest breaking it up and working continually to complete it by the end of the process.

Also, midway through the home study process, the CPS document must be completed so that the criminal background check can be submitted. During this same timeframe, your fingerprint background check will be scheduled. These two particular checks will need to be completed for everyone in your household over 18yrs old.

Below is the checklist used to ensure that every item is completed, so by the end of this process, you should be able to check off each item as completed or submitted. We realize that some items may not be applicable, such as a divorce decree, pets, or marriage license, just let us know if they aren't. 

I promise you that it's a smooth process as I am conscientious about guiding each potential foster parent through all of the steps. I work diligently not to overwhelm anyone. I make myself available in many ways, and I also have several colleagues that are also accessible to assist, whether it be with paperwork, questions, concerns, or life changes. 

I hope that this transparent breakdown of the certification process has been helpful and has provided ample insight into the certification process's actual steps. I look forward to you all taking the first step into the journey of fostering.

Training:​ (Dates)

☐​ Session I: Orientation​_______________________ 

☐​ ​Session II: LCPA Standards​__________________ 

☐​ Session III: Grief/Loss​______________________ 

☐​ ​Session IV: Child Abuse/Neglect​______________ 

☐​ ​Session V: BX Mod ​_______________________ 

☐​ ​Shaken Baby Syndrome​_____________________ 

☐​ ​Medication Management​____________________ 

Home Study Dates/Times: 

 ☐​ Foster Parent Application

 ☐​ ​☐​ Copy of Driver's License (each parent)

 ☐​ Previous Agency documentation

 ☐​ ​☐​ FP Questionnaire (each parent)

 ☐​ ​☐​ Driving Record Questionnaire (each parent) ☐​ Financial Budget form

 ☐​ ​☐​ Sworn Statement (each adult)

 ☐​ ​☐​ Confidentiality Agreement (ea adult)

 ☐​ ​☐​ Autobiography (each parent)

 ☐Home Visit 1(In person or Zoom)

 ☐Home Visit 2(In person or Zoom)

 ☐Home Visit 3 (In person)

 ☐​ Emergency Disaster Plan

 ☐​ Emergency Policy

 ☐​ Fire Escape/Written Plan of Evacuation

 ☐​ ​☐​ Child CPR (each parent) 

 ☐​ ​☐​ First Aid (each parent)

 ☐​ ​☐​ Physical (each household member)

 ☐​ ​☐​ TB Test (each household member)

 ☐​ ​☐​ CPS form (ea household member 18 yrs+) 

 ☐​ ​☐​ Fieldprint (for scheduling fingerprints)

 ☐​ ​☐​ Fingerprinting date ________________ 

 ☐​ ​☐​ Pay Stubs (3 mo)

 ☐​ ​☐​ Corporal Punishment (ea adult)

 ☐​ ​☐​ Willingness to Foster Scale (each parent) 

 ☐​ ​☐​ DMV Driving record (each parent) 

Vehicle 1____________ Vehicle 2 ________________ 

​☐​ Registration ​☐​ Insurance ​☐​ Inspection 

​☐​ Registration ​☐​ Insurance ​☐​ Inspection 

Pet 1 _____________ Pet 2 ______________ ​☐​ Registration ​☐​ Registration

     ☐​ Vaccination ​☐​ Vaccination 

Pet 3 _____________ Pet 4 ______________ ​☐​ Registration ​☐​ Registration

 ​     ☐​ Vaccination ​☐​ Vaccination 

 ☐​ Marriage License (if applicable)

 ☐​ Divorce/Death Documentation (if applicable) 

 ☐​ Reference 1 

 ☐​ Reference 2 

 ☐​ Reference 3 

Deciding to foster or adopt a child from the foster care system is just a process; it is not hard to become a foster parent for the rewards. But you will be required to put in some effort to get through the process. You are choosing to take on a child into your family. We are always careful, but your child placing agency should not be a barrier to your success.

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