As you may know, May is National Foster Care Month. National Foster Care Month began in 1988 as a way to show appreciation, support, and encouragement for foster parents across the country. Today, the month of May continues to be a time to increase awareness, education, and support for the foster care system. With a wide array of initiatives around the country, organizations and individuals strive to bring greater visibility to the children currently in foster care, as well as to the families that support them.
With more than 400,000 children currently in foster care around the U.S. and more than 5,000 in Virginia alone, the need for loving homes is more important than ever. In order to thrive, these children need safe, secure environments with loving families. By becoming a foster parent and/or supporting the efforts of foster care organizations, you have the chance to impact a child’s life in a profound way.
As part of our efforts to support foster care here in Richmond, Richmond Mom has partnered with Finding Hope and Home for Our Children (FHHFOC) to provide a guide to foster care. This guide offers valuable information about the current systems here in Virginia and provides answers to frequently asked questions. Be sure to scroll to the end of the page to find a list of useful links and resources on becoming a foster parent or supporting children in the foster care system.
Numbers on foster care
The Virginia Department of Social Services reports that there are currently over 5,000 children in Virginia’s foster care system, most of whom do not have stable living situations. According to a 2014 CNN report by Rita Soronen, the need for foster families is only increasing as children are not being provided quality of life from state-provided resources alone, such as residential facilities or group homes. Soronen believes that with the help of a consistent foster family, when a child turns 18 and “ages out” of state-provided resources, their risk of homelessness will decrease by ⅓ before the age of 25. Likewise, they will have increased emotional stability along with a higher likelihood of achieving a professional career (versus being reliant on state funds).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is foster care?
Foster care includes placing a minor outside of their own home and into the home of a trained foster family for safety and stability. Foster care usually begins with the removal of a minor by the local department of social services when their caregiver(s) is unable to care for them or if they have experienced neglectful or abusive treatment in their previous home. It is always the goal of professionals to ensure children are with their own family or extended kin for as long as possible prior to entering foster care, unless mandated by court reports.
What is a foster parent?
A foster parent is the certified, temporary caregiver to a child who is placed in their home due to the biological family being either unwilling or unfit to care for the child. The goal of a foster parent is to provide stability and a safe living environment with the ultimate goal of returning the child to their permanent home.
Who can be a foster parent?
Persons at least 18 years of age who have stable employment and income, stable transportation, and adequate space for a child can successfully pass a Child Protective Services and federal background check. Foster parents will also need to meet other home study criteria. If you meet the basic requirements and have a passion for providing foster care in your home, you may qualify to become a foster parent. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, be sure to review both Federal Requirements and State Requirements.
How do I become a foster parent?
The process of becoming a foster parent includes submitting an application including references, successfully completing the home study and required background checks, accomplishing the necessary PRIDE training process over the course of 12 weeks, and agreeing to the agency policies and procedures.
What is treatment foster care?
Also known as therapeutic foster care, treatment foster care is provided by foster parents who have specialized training to care for a wide variety of children who may have extensive emotional, behavioral, or social issues or special medical needs.
What are the expectations of foster parents?
After receiving approval to become a foster parent, the family is expected to continually provide safety, work toward treatment goals with the child, and be an effective team member with individuals associated with the child’s care.
Will I have to work with the child’s parent?
The goal of foster care is always reunification to the biological family unless mandates report otherwise due to a parent’s consistent inability to care for the child. While the child is in foster care, foster parents will work with a team of individuals that may include a caseworker from social services, the child placement agency, school offices, physicians/therapists, and the biological family. It is important for a child to maintain contact with their biological family when possible in order to achieve emotional stability and a positive sense of self, which may require foster parent contact/visitation with family.
What type of support do foster parents receive?
FHHFOC and other agencies like them offer initial and ongoing training, monthly monetary benefits, 24/7 crisis support, respite services, appreciation events, support groups, and professional staff to guide prospective and approved foster families through the process.
Can I adopt a foster child in my home?
The goal of foster care is always to reunify the child with their biological family once issues that resulted in the child’s removal have been resolved. If change does not occur, reunification is no longer a goal, and next of kin denies or is incapable of providing care for the child, the foster family may have the option to adopt.
Is there a monetary benefit?
The foster family receives monthly reimbursement to cover the basic needs of the child and additional reimbursement will be provided for those children who display a higher need level. This amount is specific to the child and based on the level of need.
Can I choose my foster child?
While foster parents are strongly encouraged to share with the agency their individual preferences related to the child’s age range, care levels, gender, and the number of children they are willing to accept in their home, placement decisions are often complex. Placement is based on a variety of factors including the child’s level of functioning, level of needs, and the family’s ability to meet those needs. Every consideration is given to the family being able to adequately meet the need of the child and final placement is often decided between the agency, the foster family, the child and the child’s guardian.
FHHFOC serves to strengthen families by providing quality therapeutic foster care services to at-risk youth in the Commonwealth of Virginia. FHHFOC is built on the mission of giving children stability and hope, one home at a time. Their goal is to transform and make measurable differences in the lives of those they serve. They do this through collaboration, innovation, transparency, and accountability. They believe in families and vow to make a difference. They provide both treatment and non-treatment foster care services to youth ages 0-17. You can visit FHHFOC at their office located in the 21st Professional Building in downtown Richmond, east of Main Street Station.
What kind of children does FHHFOC serve?
FHHFOC provides both treatment and non-treatment foster care. Treatment foster care includes children who are 0-17 who may be experiencing behavioral issues, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional disturbance, or cognitive delays often as a result of past experiences.
How does FHHFOC strive for success?
Finding Homes & Hope for Our Children provides treatment and non-treatment foster care to children in the Commonwealth of Virginia who need a safe environment that may be long-term or temporary. Many of the children they serve require specialized foster homes due to cognitive delays, post-traumatic stress symptoms, behavioral issues, or other attention-specific. Their mission is to provide safe homes for children in order to help them achieve success with time-sensitive achievable goals. FHHFOC foster parents have completed a 12-week training course, successfully passed a home study evaluation, have no founded barrier crimes when background checks are complete, have reliable transportation, and are qualified to provide a safe, stable home.
Where can I get more information?
FHHFOC hosts free foster parent info sessions the second Tuesday of each month from 6pm-8pm. To see a complete list of events and meeting times, click here. You can also visit their website www.homesofhopeva.org or email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other useful links and resources: