Foster care is a service provided to families that are experiencing a major crisis or difficulty in parenting such as abuse, neglect, substance abuse, mental health issues, stress, and/or lack of family support. Foster care is intended to be a short term situation until a permanent placement can be made, preferably back with the biological parents.
Families receive an array of services aimed at correcting problems that brought their child into foster care. Unfortunately, some families are unable to overcome their problems. In these cases, their parental rights may be terminated and their child becomes eligible for adoption.
Adoption is a way of legally uniting parents with children or youth who were not born to them. Adoptive parents provide a permanent, lifelong commitment and have all of the rights and responsibilities as if the child or youth were born to them. The goal of adoption is to provide the child or youth with a permanent, stable, committed family. If a child’s parental rights are terminated, their foster parents have the opportunity to become their adoptive parents.
A resource parent is an approved provider who is committed both to supporting family reunification and also to adopting the child if the child and family do not reunify. As noted, sometimes children are unable to return home, so in Virginia, all families are dually-certified as foster parents and adoptive parents. You may specify your preference for foster care, adoption or both during the home study process. However, dual-certification provides more flexibility for the family and allows for changing future circumstances.
A respite family provides temporary care for children on an emergency or planned basis. (Often, it is to give the resource family a needed break, perhaps on the weekend, or to provide short term care for a foster child if the resource family experiences a personal emergency. Respite providers also provide support to biological parents to prevent foster care. Regardless of your interest, the first step in the process is to attend one of our information meetings.
These are urgent times. Youth who age out of the foster care system without permanent connections to at least one caring adult: