Learn about Foster-to-Adopt!
What do you want to know?
- Information on Virginia’s Waiting Children
- How to Help
- Who are Virginia’s Available Kids?
- The difference between a foster parent and a foster-to adopt-parent
- How to Become a Foster-to-Adopt Parent
- Placement for Foster Parents
- Who Foster-to-Adopts?
- Post-Adoption Services
- Foster & Adoption in Virginia (Comprehensive Document)
Not finding what you need? Please contact us at 804.308.5946 or efacetti@ConnectingHeartsVA.org with any questions.
There are over 5,000 children in foster care in Virginia. Over 700 of these children are waiting for adoptive families. The children in care are from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. The children’s average ages who are waiting to be adopted are frequently school-aged, 5 to 14 years old. Many of these children are part of a sibling group, those who are not are typically at least 8 years of age or older.
Visit this site to see some of the available children in Virginia: http://www.adoptuskids.org/states/va/browse.aspx
Tell your church, youth group, school, college, business that they can get involved. If every faith based organization finds one family, all Virginia’s kids would have loving permanent homes. Learn more about volunteering with Connecting Hearts on our “Help Us” page!
- 53% are boys
- 47% are girls
- 54% are White
- 34% are African-American
- 9% are Hispanic
- 9% are multi-racial
- 28% are under age 5
- 51% are age 13 or older
**Source-Virginia Department of Social Services, Foster Care Related Reports
Foster Parents are specially trained to provide care, nurturing, and loving homes to children in foster care. The children may be placed in these homes from several days to a few years, while their birth parents attempt to meet the legal requirements for their children to return to the home. The Foster Parents assist in the reunification/placement process by making sure sibling and family visits are scheduled (in coordination with the CPS Caseworker) and attended by the children.
Foster-to-Adopt Parents also provide loving homes, care, and nurturing to children in foster care; however, these parents have the option to adopt the child should they become legally free for adoption (all parental rights have been terminated or an appropriate relative placement is unable to be secured).
Adoptive Parents provide permanent, loving homes for children whose birth parents’ rights have been terminated or relinquished. The child will become part of their “forever family” as if they birthed the child themselves.
In Virginia, there is a multi-step process to become a licensed foster or foster-to-adopt parent. As a foster-to-adopt parent, there are three additional steps you must complete to adopt a child placed in your care. The length of time it takes to complete either process is a minimum of six months up to twenty four months. A family would need to foster a child for a minimum of six months before a legal adoption would take place.
Connecting Hearts assists each family based on their county location as well as family needs. Connecting Hearts will refer families to their local Dept. of Social Services, a Therapeutic Foster Care Agency or a Private Agency depending on several factors to best meet the family expectations. It is encouraged for families to attend at least one orientation to ensure the agency is a good fit for both parties. Connecting Hearts will connect with families during the process to ensure all is going well and if not assist in other options.
The process is outlined below.
Step 1 – Make an Inquiry
Families or individuals interested in foster care and adoption can contact Connecting Hearts at 804-308-5946 or firstname.lastname@example.org. After this call, information will be e-mailed to you and a Social Worker will be in touch. A complete information packet is mailed to you after your call with the State Social Worker.
Step 2 – Attend the Required Information Sessions
Attendance at Information sessions is helpful to understand the process of foster care and foster to adopt. Classes are held on weekdays, weekends and evenings.
Step 3 – Fill Out an Application
All prospective foster and foster-to-adopt parents are required to fill out and submit an application.
Step 4 – Attend the Required Training Attendance at PRIDE training is mandatory. Sessions are offered weekdays, evenings and on weekends. You learn basic knowledge about foster care and adoption, agency policies, and the roles of foster and foster-to-adopt parents. In addition, the sessions enhance your understanding of and sensitivity to a foster/adoptive child’s situation, needs, feelings and strengthens your parenting skills. During the training, all families will need to complete all required paperwork before filling out an application. NOTE: Criminal background checks are done on all adult household members.
To learn more about PRIDE training, head here: www.cwla.org/pride-training.
Step 5 – Have a Home Study Completed
The home study or Mutual Family Assessment is jointly done by an assigned Licensing Specialist and the prospective foster/adoptive family. The purpose of the home study is to explore the family or individual’s history, characteristics, family dynamics, ideals, values, strengths and parenting styles that would lead to be a successful foster and foster-to-adopt placement. You can discuss the race, age and gender of children you want to foster or adopt during this step. This process will take 2-3 months.
Visit ICPC State Page and Adoption.net for more information on home studies in Virginia:
Step 6 – Identify and Select a Child for Placement
Approved families are assigned a Social Worker. A child is identified for placement based on the family’s ability to meet the child’s needs. Information about foster care board rates and/or adoption subsidies is explained during this step. Prior to a child being placed with an approved adoptive family, the family is provided with detailed information about the child and information regarding any specific financial and medical resources.
Step 7 – Pre-Placement of a Child in the Home
Prior to a child being placed with a family, the family is provided with opportunity to discuss the characteristics of the child, detailed information about the child when available, information regarding any specific care or special needs as well as the child’s initial clothing needs.
Step 8 – Post-Placement of a Child in the Home
The child is placed with the family after pre-placement visits (if possible). Both the family and child must deal with new pressures and challenges. The child’s adoption social worker and foster home coordinator will help the family through this adjustment period by making regular home visits, maintaining phone contact and helping with counseling, crisis intervention and providing resources. Prospective parents will need to foster the child for a minimum of 6 months with a minimum of 3 visits from the child’s Social Worker before the adoption process will begin.
Step 1: Receive phone call from Dept. of Social Services, a Therapeutic Foster Car Agency or Private Agency asking if you are willing to accept a particular child. Not much information is given at this time and you have to make an almost immediate decision.
Step 2: CPS Officer arrives with child (sometimes within minutes of the initial phone call)!
Step 3: Court Hearing within the first week to determine that child should remain in foster care. Case is still a CPS case. This is the earliest a child usually would be removed from foster and given back to their birth parents.
Step 4: Court Hearing within 30 days of removal to determine that child should remain in foster care, (at this point the case is handled by a foster care worker and is no longer a CPS case) or be returned to the birth parents.
Step 5: Court hearing at the 75 day mark or 45 days from the Step 4 Court Hearing. This hearing puts a plan in motion and is an order to the birthparents and foster parents on what they need to be doing. Foster parents are ordered to continue to provide a safe, loving home. Birth parents may be ordered to do many things like take a parenting class, get a job, clean the home, and/or go to rehab.
Step 6: Within 6 months of the Step 5 Court Hearing a Foster Care Review Hearing should be set up to report the progress of the birth parents.
Step 7: Within 5 months of the Foster Care Review Hearing a Permanency Review Hearing will be held. This hearing can be held sooner if the plan can be reached sooner.
Step 8: If the permanency plan is for adoption then foster parents may move forward. There may be additional review hearings until adoption is complete (every 6 months)
In order to Foster-to-Adopt in Virginia, a prospective parent must take the necessary steps to become a foster parent. They must then foster a child for a minimum of 6 months before an adoption can be finalized. There are no restrictions on adults becoming foster parents paged on age, marital status, previous children, income, or home ownership.
Find out the characteristics of those who have adopted here:
Post-adoption services in Virginia are administered by the Department of Social Services (DSS) through the Adoptive Family Preservation (AFP) Services program. The contractor for managing the AFP program is United Methodist Family Services of Virginia. DSS post-adoption services include the following examples:
- Information and referral
- Regional Response Teams that include a Family Counselor, a Mental Health Clinician, and an Adoptive Parent Liaison
- Crisis Intervention
- Weekend Family Retreats
- Client Fund
SEARCH: Access to Information from an Adoption Record The adoptee who is eighteen or over, the adoptive parent, the birth parent, and the adult birth siblings to an adoption that was finalized in Virginia have certain rights under Virginia law.
The permanency Unit at the Virginia Department of Social Services has kept a permanent record of all adoptions finalized in Virginia since July 1, 1942. In addition, if the adoptee was placed for adoption through an agency with the legal authority to consent to the adoption, that agency may have a copy of the record. An Application for Disclosure is used to initiate a search. There are three ways to get an application from the Virginia Department of Social Services:
- Internet link: http://www.dss.state.va.us . Click ‘Forms and Applications’
- Telephone: 804.726.7529
- By mail: 801 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Any adoptive family in Virginia, regardless of the origin of the adoption, can participate in the Adoptive Family Preservation (AFP) program. Families can access the program through a toll free phone number and are referred to the closest site geographically. For additional information, contact 888.821.HOPE (4673) or link to The United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) website at: http://www.umfs.org .
Many private organizations offer a variety of respite options. See the ARCH National Respite Network Respite Locator Service, search by state to locate Virginia’s respite programs, link: http://archrespite.org/respitelocator .
Virginia offers the Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) Program to assist eligible foster care and adopted youth with post-secondary education and training expenses. It is designed to help youth aging out of foster care with the education, training and services needed for employment. Funding for the program is supplied in the form of vouchers. These can apply toward, but not limited to, colleges, universities, community colleges and one-year training institutions. For eligibility and application information on the Tuition Grant Program, link: http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/fc/independent.cgi.
Note: Not all services may be available in all cases. Contact your adoption assistance worker or post adoption services contact for information regarding process, eligibility, availability, and duration of services.
Take a look at this comprehensive document for some more detailed information!
Not finding what you’re looking for?
Please contact us at 804.308.5946 or efacetti@ConnectingHeartsVA.org with any questions!