How long does it take to become a foster parent?
The Virginia Department requires foster Parent training in Social Services for all Child Placing Agencies (CPA), private and public, within Virginia. CPA will all follow the same guidelines. Every program has its flavor and takes on regulations, but we all have the same essential topics. On average, it will take 120 days to become licensed as a foster parent with FosterVA.
Suppose you have completed training with the other agency in or out of the State or wish to use our training and take it to another agency. In that case, the Commonwealth of Virginia does not allow the transfer of training between agencies.
Suppose you have completed training with another agency. In that case, your expertise in our training will significantly benefit all the other participants.
Our training consists of 5 sessions. You will have to complete and participate in all detailed breakdowns below of the topics. You will also have to show documentation of CPR and First aid training; we have this training available to you and all parents.
All training is free for foster and adoptive parents within FosterVA. We will introduce you to the children and youth you will be servicing and the expectations for a foster family and help you with any safety concerning the foster home itself.
Foster care and adoptive parents go through the same training, and we will focus on a trauma-informed approach by our social workers. We will help you understand the parent-child relationship and how to strengthen it, and how you have access to our support groups which work within the foster care program.
Training is not a PG13 training class. We would not expect any children to be present for your training. We discuss how our children arrived in foster care and the abuse and trauma they may have gone through.
Topics also will touch upon the sexual orientation of some of our children and, if you decide to work with children making life choices, how our parents and we support these children.
We wish you to be successful with our foster child or children. Our approach follows national foster parent training models and has great success within the child welfare system.
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 Extra Special Parents as a strength-based, trauma-focused agency. This session will also serve as an introduction to the foster care system. 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 understanding reunification as the primary child welfare goal, and the process and experience of reunification. 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, as well as 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 that children in foster care experience. Even if there is not a significant history of trauma, those feelings will occur whenever 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 that can help a child process their grief and loss, as well as 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 members of the team. Foster parents will learn their roles, rights, and responsibilities that come with being a foster parent and/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 in working with children in treatment foster care (TFC), it is necessary to have a structured and intentional approach to parenting that takes into account their developmental level. There are many factors associated with positive outcomes for youth in TFC, including the development of 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 that they already possess. We will teach positive behavior management strategies, stages of normal 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 the knowledge to comply with federal, state, and standards for treatment foster care agencies. The potential foster parent will understand how to maintain a home and community environment that promotes safety and wellbeing. A foster parent will learn that, as a condition of initial approval and the following renewals of their license, the licensee will require each home provider to complete all required training. 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 and they will understand that it is required that home providers keep all information regarding the child, their family, and the circumstances that resulted in the child coming into care confidential. 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 to understand 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 who is 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 the use of 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, which includes a discussion of inhibited/disinhibited attachment styles, as well as 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 need to practice consistently.
More about foster parent training and special arrangements
If you have specific needs regarding training, you can not make our evening training which occurs every month. Please let your Foster parent advocate know. We will make arrangements for weekend training; this happens every quarter when we have a class ready size.
You gain so much from the group process and helping others learn, and you know from others.
Becoming a foster parent in Virginia takes between ninety and one hundred and twenty days.
All Parents will have to pass a full background check while becoming a foster parents. This Blog may help you if you have questions.
Book a personal meeting or phone call with your Foster Parent Advocate.
Book an appointment with a foster care advocate
Foster care advocates take their jobs very seriously. Each team member takes responsibility for assisting parents.
They take the opportunity to educate prospective foster parents on this journey they are contemplating and help them decide to do it. They can balance the excitement of beginning the process with the vulnerability of the experience. They want to ensure that parents and children have the best experience. If you are considering fostering or have questions, we have a great team willing to help.