Foster Care Program

​The foster care program is a state mandated service that provides a full range of casework, treatment and community services to a child who is abused or neglected. Foster care placement is intended to be a temporary, rather than a long-term, solution to family problems. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court hears petitions for custody. Specific foster care requirements are set forth in federal law and state laws. Placements may be with a foster family, in a group living arrangement, in a residential tre​atment facility​, or in an independent living situation.

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 Overview

​Services provided to children and their families may include counseling and treatment, day care, medical, education, employment, family plFoster Familyanning, independent living, housing, respite care, legal, socialization and recreation services. Independent living services are services provided to older foster children to prepare them for transition into adulthood.

To achieve permanency for children in foster care the welfare of the child is of paramount interest and children have the right to a safe, stable, and permanent home. Children have a right to be reared by their families when their parents and relatives are able to do so in an adequate manner. Recognizing that some families are unable or unwilling to resume their parenting responsibilities, services should be provided to ensure a safe, stable, and permanent home. This should be done by placement of the child with relatives accompanied by transfer of legal custody, adoption, or by placement in a permanent foster home. When selecting a foster or adoptive family for a child, cultural, ethnic, and racial background may be considered as one of a number of factors in determining the best interest of the child.

Federal and State law require that reasonable efforts are made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the home and to make it possible for the child to be returned home. Reasonable efforts are efforts to provide services to children and their families utilizing community resources with the goal of preserving family unity. They include efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of a child from their home and to reunite the child with their family. At the time of the initial court hearing to commit a child to the custody of the agency, a judicial determination must be made as to whether reasonable efforts have been made.

After an agency receives custody of a child they must document reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family or achieve a permanent placement for the child. During the temporary placement in foster care, a range of services is offered to children and parents designed to improve conditions and return the child home, or identify other permanency options for the child such as relative placement or adoption.

Exceptions to the requirement to make reasonable effort to reunite children with a parent are when:

  • The parental rights of a sibling of the child in foster care have been previously involuntarily terminated.
  • The parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter, or a felony attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit such an offense against a child of the parent, a child with whom the parent resided, or the other parent of the child.
  • The parent has been convicted of felony assault or bodily wounding resulting in serious bodily injury or felony sexual assault of a child of the parent or a child living with the parent. Serious bodily injury means bodily injury resulting in substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted or obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member, organ or faculty.
​For additional information, contact Ryan Jones, (757) 385-3272 or Emily Lowe, (757) 385-3292.

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 Residential Placement

​A residential placement means a foster child has been placed in a licensed publicly or privately owned facility, other than a private family home, where 24-hour care is provided to children SEPARATED FROM THEIR FAMILIES. Residential facilities for children include group homes, and psychiatric hospitals.
 
Residential placement offers care and treatment for children as an alternative to the traditional family environment. Residential programs differ in size, and types of children served, staff size and qualification, and services provided.
 
Before a placement in a residential facility an agency must have done the following:
 
  • Attempted to use community based services and less restrictive alternatives
  • Complied with local procedures for residential placement established by the Community Policy and Management Team (CPMT) and Family Assessment & Planning Team (FAPT).
  • Completed documentation of these processes in the case record.
How a Placement is selected:
The first step is to compare the child's needs with the services offered by the facility. The child and parents or prior custodian can give input in determining the appropriateness of the residential placement for the child. Factors that are considered in determining an appropriate facility include:
 
  • Diagnosis and treatment of child
  • Accessibility of placement to parents or prior custodians
  • The child's and family's readiness for placement and treatment
  • Opportunity for parental/family involvement and participation in the treatment plan
  • Services to return children to the community
  • Duration of treatment
  • Cost and funding resources
  • Transition plan to return the child to the parent/community
Residential placements are usually considered as the last alternative in caring for a foster child. Other options must be explored before this is considered. A referral to the FAPT (Family Assessment & Planning Team) is necessary to discuss the assessments and planning for the child.  

 Become a Resource Parent

Foster parents provide a substitute family life experience to children in our community who, for a temporary period of time, cannot be with their own families.  The court places the child in the custody of Social Services.  Foster Parents provide approved homes that can offer stable, positive home environments for infants, children and teens, who for various reasons are unable to live with their family. Foster Parents are professional parents who enjoy parenting and are willing to share their home, time, energy, and love with children who have special problems because of abuse or neglect. The time the child is in foster care varies, with the average stay being twelve to twenty four months.​

The following are just some of the resources available to foster parents:
  • Training: 
    • Intensive pre-service training is required of all interested foster parents.  Once a family is approved as a foster parent then there are monthly in-service trainings that are offered.  Foster parents must complete 10 hours of in-service training per year. 
  • Board Rate: 
    • A set rate that is based on the age of the foster child which reimburses the foster parents for estimated costs of care. It is paid at the end of the month.
  • Insurance: 
    • When a child in placed in the agency’s custody, they are eligible for medical and dental coverage through Medicaid or their biological family’s insurance.
  • Day Care: 
    • If foster parents work, then day care can be arranged. It will be paid for by the agency as long as it is a licensed day care provider, and proof of working parent is established. 
  • Clothing:  
    • Upon entering foster care and throughout the year, a clothing voucher is available to help meet the clothing needs of a child. The amount per year is based on the child’s age.  A voucher for diapers is also available when a baby first enters foster care.
  • Dual Certification:  
    • When the home study is complete and approved, then the family is dually certified as foster/adoptive parents, which means they would have a home study already completed if the circumstances allowed them to adopt the foster child placed in their home.
  • Support Group: 
    • Foster parents have quarterly support groups in order to put foster parents in touch with each other and gain support.
  • Mental Health Services: 
    • If a child needs individual or family therapy it can be arranged by the child’s family services specialists.  The same is true if a child requires medication management in order to help them.​​
What are the minimal requirements to become a foster parent?
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • If married, be married for at least one year
  • Have enough living space for an additional child(ren)
  • For all adult household members 18 and older: no felony or misdemeanor convictions which jeopardize the safety or proper care of a child, and no founded child abuse/neglect cases
  • For household members between the ages of 14-17, no founded child abuse/neglect cases
  • Be physically and mentally able to provide appropriate child care
  • Have a current driver’s license and a safe driving record
  • Have a sincere desire to offer your home in order to be a temporary parent to children whom, for a short period of time, don’t have a safe home or family to care for them.
What steps do I need to take to become a certified foster parent? 
  • Attend a foster parent information session to learn more about the certification process and to receive your information packet
  • Complete Pre-Service Training: offered in the evenings from 6:30 -9:30 p.m.
  • Submit application for dual certification, the application will be handed out​ during pre-service training
    • Turn in as soon as possible to start the home study
  • Start the home study process.
    • The first visit will be in the VBDHS office
    • The next 2-3 are in your home
    • One will include a safety inspection of your home
  • Complete fingerprinting for all adult members 18 and over in the household
    • Complete Child Protective Services checks for all family members over 14 years old
  • Compete a TB test and provide documentation of the test results and a physician’s statement
  • Complete DMV checks
  • Provide at least 3 references
  • Foster Care Committee meets to review the home study and make approval decisions
  • Certification Process is completed!​
During the home study process, the following items will be collected or reviewed:
  • Access to a phone and the ability to be contacted
  • A physically safe home
  • A written fire safety evacuation plan
  • An emergency evaluation plan in case of hurricanes or other disasters
  • A fire extinguisher and a first aid kit
  • Copies of a TB test (tested within the last year) and a physician’s statement that you are healthy and capable for foster parenting
  • Up-to-date pet inoculation records
  • Have no dangerous pets
  • Complete an FBI fingerprint check
  • DMV records / car insurance / safety inspection sti​cker / registration
  • Complete a financial form / copy of pay stub
  • Marriage / divorce / death certificates
  • Personal references (3)
​​​For more information on becoming a foster parent, please contact:
Ryan Jones (757) 385-3272​ or Emily Lowe (757)385-3292

 Foster Care FAQs

What is Foster Care?
A program that provides a substitute family life experience to children in the community who, for a temporary period of time, cannot be with their own families.  The court places the child in the custody of Social Services.  
 
What Is Traditional Foster Care?
Traditional Foster Care provides approved homes that can offer stable, positive home environments for infants, children and teens, who for various reasons are unable to live with their family.   The time the child/teen is in foster care varies, with the average stay being thirty-six months.
 
Who Are Foster Parents?
Foster parents could be the retired couple next door, the single woman you work with, the clerk in the grocery store, and many others.  Foster parents are professional parents who enjoy parenting and are willing to share their home, time, energy, and love with children who have special problems because of abuse or neglect.
 
Who Are Children In Foster Care?
The children range in age from newborn to 18 years. Most have been victimized by abuse or neglect. Some may be physically or mentally challenged; some may have emotional or behavioral problems left over from their early abuse or neglect. There are many sibling groups (brothers and sisters who should stay together) and children of minority heritage.  All the children in foster care need a loving, secure, stable family and home environment.
 
Where Do Foster Children Come From?
Sometimes as a result of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a death in the family, courts decide that children must be temporarily separated from their families.  These children come from all cultural and economic groups within our community.
 
How Long Is Temporary?
A child’s stay in foster care may be as short as overnight or longer depending on the needs of the family and child.  An average stay is twelve -twenty four months.
 
What Is The Goal Of Foster Care?
The goal is to reunite the children with their own families.  When this is not possible, parental rights may be terminated, and the children may become eligible for adoption or prepared for adult living.
 
Are Foster Care And Adoption The Same Thing?
No. In foster care, Social Services has legal custody of the child and assumes the ultimate responsibility for the child.  With adoption, custody and responsibility for the child belong to the adoptive family.
 
Can I be Single Or Work And Still Be A Foster Parent?
Yes.  Single parents and working people may be certified, but each situation must be considered individually. These circumstances may affect the type and ages of children who can be placed with you.
 
Is Financial Assistance Available?
A foster family will receive a maintenance payment on behalf of the child to help with expenses while a child is in their home.  Children are also covered under Medicaid for dental, medical and mental health coverage.
 
Do Foster Parents Have A Choice About Children Who Are Placed With Them?
Your preferences, strengths and needs are considered before a child is placed in your home.  You are free to ask questions about the child and about their background. You are not required to accept a child into your home.  If you feel you cannot accept a child, let the placement coordinator know.
 
What Is The Foster Parent’s Responsibility To The Child?
The agency entrusts the child’s day–to-day physical and emotional care to the foster parent.  You must abide by the agency’s training and discipline policies, which include the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Policy on non-physical discipline of children in foster care. 
 
How Do I Become A Foster Parent?
There are 3 main steps.  First complete a pre-service training program. Next, a home study is completed through home visits, interviews, references, criminal and DMV checks.  Finally, a committee reviews everything and approves foster families.  Once approved you can foster a child, and if the option arises, adopt a child.​
 
How Do I Begin?
For more information or to start the process to become a foster parent, contact Ryan Jones, (757) 385-3272 or Emily Lowe, (757) 385-3292​.

 Adult Foster Care

​As an adult foster care provider, you can open your home to adults who have special needs.

Adult foster care provides services for the following populations:
  • Young adults with lifelong disabilities who were former foster care children
  • Adults who have mental health needs
  • Adults with mental retardation or developmental disabilities
  • Older adults
 Your responsibilities would include:
  • Supervising the adults you serve
  • Providing meals
  • Providing recreational activities
  • Maintaining a comfortable home environment
 All interested providers are required to submit an application and agree to the following:
  • Take a tuberculosis test
  • Provide a financial statement
  • Participate in a criminal background check
  • Participate in a Child Protective Services/Adult Protective Services background check
  • Have a home inspection (homes must meet city codes)
  • Have a fire inspection
  • Provide personal references
  • Attend training sessions
If you're interested in providing special care to special adults, call (757) 385-3473 for more information.
Contact Information

 ​Upcoming Pre-Service Training​

Pre-Service Training: April 11, April 18, April 25, May 2, May 9 and May 16

 Upcoming Information Sessions

Sessions will be held from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. on the following ​dates:
  • Wednesday, June 20, 2018
  • Wednesday, July 18, 2018
  • Wednesday, August 15, 2018
  • Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Please call 757-385-3272 to confirm your attendance.