Foster Care Frequently Asked Questions
What is Foster Care?Foster Care is a service provided to children who are brought into the custody of the Department of Social Services when their family or prior custodian is unable or unwilling to provide appropriate care for them. Foster parents provide substitute temporary care for the foster children; and they work as a team with the Department staff and with parents to plan for the children.
How do children enter Foster Care?Children enter foster care in one of two ways. Entrustment, which is a voluntary agreement between the parent(s) and the Department of Social Services to provide foster care services until a (temporary) short-term problem (i.e. loss of housing etc.) can be remedied. The second is Court Commitment, a legal decision to remove the child is made by a Judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. This may be with or without the parents' agreement.
What is a Foster Parent's role?Foster parents are expected to provide daily care a stable family setting and supervision for the foster children. Foster parents are part of a team working with social workers the foster children and their families various mental health professionals attorneys for the children and often probation officers to ensure that appropriate services are provided to the foster children.
How do I become a Foster Parent?Each month the Department of Social Services offers an orientation session for adults who are interested in learning more about being a foster parent. A representative of the Local Department of Social Services licenses all foster parents. In Prince William County the Foster Parent Coordinator who is responsible for training approvals and renewals of all foster parents does this. The following requirements must be met before approval is made:
Are there different types of Foster Homes?There are several types of foster homes including:
Can a single person be a Foster Parent?Yes, however it is important that single foster parents have a strong support system from family friends and the community.
Can Foster Parents work outside the home?Yes, although it may affect the age of children for which you can provide care. Day care services are sometimes available for foster children but the preference is to place children in homes where one parent is available at all times.
Does my age matter?Foster parents must be at least 18 years old. Consideration will be made for one's personal maturity ability to problem-solve and physical health.
Can Foster Parents from other states be Foster Parents in Virginia?Yes, however you must attend the Department training and have a home assessment because every state and locality has its own procedures and expectations.
What is the Department's goal for Foster Children?Public Law 96-272 is a federal law requiring that foster children return home as quickly as possible or that an alternative permanent arrangement be made for the children when this cannot be accomplished. The Department works with the child parents foster parents and others to ensure that this law is upheld.