The many roles at the table of foster care

The many roles at the table of foster care

There is a Role for Everyone in Caring for Foster Care Youth

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, and this year we are collecting stories from our foster parents and team to share with you for the month. FosterVA, led by Extra Special Parents, hopes these stories might inspire you to get involved in your community as a support or even become a foster parent in Virginia yourself! A contact link is at the bottom of this blog if you'd like to learn more.

There is always a need for foster parents who will work with children of all ages in the United States. However, you don't have to be a foster parent to have a seat at the table. Are you looking for ideas on your role in foster care, how to support, or where to start? Here are some ways to find your seat at the table in the foster care system.

Become a Foster Parent

If you are looking to impact a foster youth directly, care for a child, and are at least 18 years of age, you can talk with a Local Department of Social Services (LDSS) or Licensed Child Placing Agency (LCPA) in Virginia.

There, you will learn more about training and expectations. This can include background checks, home studies, and in-depth training on how to care for children in foster care.


If you are not ready to be a foster parent, mentoring or volunteering may be a role for you. You can look into becoming a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). These volunteers advocate for the foster child's best interests.

There is specialized and pre-service training that will need to be completed. As a CASA, you will spend time with the children and youth to get to know them, their interests, hobbies, and goals. Frequently, a CASA is a voice for these children in meetings or situations where the child may not be present.

Mentoring a foster youth or a child about to age out of foster care is a great way to actively play a role in a foster child's life. Mentors can help these youth learn independent living skills, gain confidence, and develop social skills that will serve them well in the future.

Provide Respite Care

In foster care, foster families use a service called respite. Respite is similar to babysitting but is more formal and is often used more regularly. Foster families often use respite overnight to rest, recharge, and reconnect with their family members.

This service is something all foster families and adoptive families desperately need and sadly don't often receive. They don't have anyone who has offered to help, and they don't want to burden anyone else.

Respite can be done by anyone the family has built a trusting relationship with. Respite can also be done as a certified foster family to help the foster parents within the agency.

Offering respite with the same family would make a massive difference in their life. Most often, after a respite weekend or day, foster parents feel they can take on even more and connect with their foster children better. Foster children report that respite is often like a vacation, and they adore those they have spent time with.

"The most important thing to do is know that anyone can help foster care youth and have a seat at the table to support them and their families."


Help a Family in Need

Often foster parents spend much of their day providing care to their children. This is a time-consuming, draining, full-time job and all parents could use support, especially foster parents.

You can offer to:

  • help with appointments
  • organize a playdate
  • provide a space for the children to play and the parents to talk and relax
  • take on the kids for a day to do something fun
  • cook a meal for the family or invite them over for dinner
  • help with chores that have been piling up for them

Most foster families also want to feel connected. One of the best ways to support them is through a simple text, call, or email. Just communicate with them, and ask how they are doing. Let them know you are thinking of them, praying for them, or cheering for them.

Talk about their needs and the needs of the foster children with other families in your community, and find a way to connect people to each other so that these children and families feel loved and supported.

Provide Monetary Support

There are ways to support foster care youth through donating to not-for-profits with a mission to support foster care. Consider donating to celebrate this year's National Foster Care Month!

The most important thing to do is know that anyone can help foster care youth and have a seat at the table to support them and their families.

Are You Ready To Learn More?

FosterVA is always ready to meet new families interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent. If this has inspired you to take the next step towards supporting Virginia's foster youth, click the button below and fill out the form on our contact page.

I'm Ready To Learn More


Fill out our web form