What Is A Home Study Process For Foster Parents In Virginia
The Home Study Process for Foster Care in Virginia
The foster care system's home study process is designed to ensure that prospective foster parents meet the basic outlined criteria. This will ensure the well-being of foster children placed in their homes.
While the requirements are not strict, the process is thorough and can take several months to complete. Agencies want to know about your home, personal, and financial background. This will help them to ensure that they are placing foster children in a safe, stable, and suitable home environment.
Some basic requirements for the home itself are as follows
- adequate living quarters
- a working telephone
- adequate heat, lighting, ventilation, and plumbing
- a sufficient number of bedrooms
- compliance with state and local zoning, building, and fire and safety codes
The home must also be sufficiently clean and free from any hazardous conditions. Hazardous materials include:
- household chemicals
These materials must be stored in a place that cannot be accessed by anyone else in the home. Any firearms or ammunition in your possession must be locked in cabinets or gun safes. The ammunition must be kept in separate, secured containers.
Financially, potential foster parents must have a reliable family income that can support them without their foster care stipend.
Health must be sufficient for meeting the daily demands of parenting. This means that you do not have any diseases or disabilities that would interfere with your ability to care for a child.
Sufficient mental health is also necessary. Past or current mental health conditions do not immediately disqualify you from giving care. The assessor will need to ensure your mental functioning is adequate for providing safe and consistent care to a foster child.
If your mental health is a potential issue, consider attending mental health/foster parent support groups. This will demonstrate you are taking care of your well-being and are potentially stable enough to foster a child.
Finally, a valid Driver’s license, up-to-date vehicle insurance, and the ability to provide reliable transportation is a foster parenting necessity. This will need to be documented in your home study.
The criminal background check is another core part of the home study process. Background checks look for any past criminal charges, particularly any charges involving the mistreatment of youth. If it is a two-parent household, both parents must undergo a background check. Minor misdemeanors should not disqualify you unless they raise significant concern for your safety as a parent.
A series of interviews will be conducted as a part of the home study process to gather additional personal information. This can include:
- family history
- support systems
- parenting style
- other information about the family’s intention to pursue foster care
In addition to interview questions, forms may also be provided to gather additional personal details.
Examples of likely questions include:
- “How was your family life growing up?”
- “How do you feel about discipline?”
- “Can you please share some of your greatest and principal childhood memories?”
- “What are some of your worst childhood memories?”
- “How might you deal with a child of a different religious background?”
- “What will you not tolerate in a child’s behavior?”
- “Why are you interested in foster care?”
For married couples, additional questions may be asked regarding marital history and parenting style. It is important to know if potential foster families will be permissive parents or uninvolved parents before placing children in foster care under their roof. This will ensure the safety and well-being of the foster children.
Denial of licensure could occur if the results of the home study reveal areas of significant concern. Some reasons for denial include physical or mental health impairment or a concerning criminal history. Other reasons for denial may include the following
- insufficient family income
- unsafe family member/s
- issues with the home environment
- misleading or false information provided in the assessment
- failure to meet the foster parent training criteria
The home study process is typically carried out through three in-person visits. One of these must be a home visit taking place in the home under evaluation.
While there are cases where the process can be fast-tracked, the home study process typically occurs over 30 to 60 days. The amount of time the home study process takes depends on a variety of factors. These factors include the family’s motivation, timely submission of the required paperwork and legal documents, and timely completion of background and reference checks.
If you wish to adopt a child, potential adoptive parents/ adoptive families will have to go through a similar adoption home study process. Many families take the foster to adoption path, but this may not be the best fit for every parent. Adoption home studies with your Adoption Agencies follow all the same steps for all prospective adoptive families and foster families. The home study also involves learning about a foster family's plans.