Become a Foster Parent in Virginia
UMFS knows that becoming a foster parent is hard and rewarding work. We provide unparalleled training and support for foster parents so you feel confident and ready to impact the life of a child or teenager. Foster parent services include:
24/7 on-call support | Up to 10 paid respite dates | Mentoring | Support groups
What is Foster Care?
Foster care is a temporary living situation for children whose parents can’t take care of them and whose need for care has come to the attention of a child welfare agency. The length of time a child spends in foster care varies depending on the family’s circumstances and the services available to help children return safely home. There are currently over 5,000 children in foster care in Virginia.
UMFS’ Treatment Foster Care Program utilizes foster parents with specialized training to care for teens and sibling groups who have been in the foster care system for many years, had multiple placements and experienced the pain of being separated from their natural supports. Children are referred to UMFS from a local department of social services because their needs cannot be met at the local department.
Why Become a Foster Parent?
Every year, teens exit the foster care system without a permanent family or the experiences needed to easily navigate adulthood. Your choice to become a foster parent will be the most rewarding and sometimes challenging decision you make to improve the lives of our children. As a foster parent, you will use your life experiences to help a child experience a safe and stable family setting, develop community connections and transition to a permanent family placement.
Can I Become a Foster Parent?
Foster families come from all walks of life. They’re teachers, nurses, social workers, book keepers, chefs and more. They are people who have realized that they have room in their homes, room in their schedules and room in their hearts for a child in need.
The following are primary prerequisites to begin the foster parent process:
- 21 or older
- Stable form of income
- Ability to pass a Child Protective Services and Criminal History Search
- Valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
- Personal references
- Physical space in your home
- Emotional space in your life
- Medical information
Foster Care Frequently Asked Questions:
- Who are the children that I would foster? The children in foster care represent all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. They are frequently part of a sibling group or teens.
- Can I adopt a child through the foster system? Yes, in Virginia, 60% of foster youth are adopted by their foster parents.
How to Become A Foster Parent in VA
In order to become a licensed foster parent in Virginia, there are various qualifications and requirements to start the process. UMFS will guide you through the steps to becoming a foster parent, which include:
- Orientation & Mutual Assessment Meeting: UMFS agency representatives provide an information session to explain the requirements and answer questions related to becoming a foster parent.
- Pre-service Training: 25 hours of required training is offered to prepare parents to understand the needs of children in foster care, understand the tools and philosophies that guide foster parenting and explore thoughts, feelings and behaviors around each training topic. The training typically takes 2 full Saturdays and 2 Thursday evenings.
- CPR & First Aid Training: Being CPR and First Aid certified is important for working with kids of all ages, and while it is not always required through the local department, we want our foster parents to be ready for any situation.
- Attend one Support Group Meeting: We’ve found that community is so vital for our foster parents that we want you to see what one of our group meetings looks like before you dive in.
- Home Study & Paperwork: After pre-service training is completed, an assessment of a parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing family environment for a child is conducted and a written document is completed that covers life experiences, personal relationships, finances, medical history and criminal background checks
- Approval: Once all the requirements have been met, a family’s home study is approved and sent to local departments of social services for consideration of children needing foster care placements.
Why Become a Foster Parent through UMFS?
In the UMFS Treatment Foster Care Program, you are never on your own. You are part of a village of foster parents and expert staff, and you benefit from an exceptional network of services focused on comprehensive education and exceptional support. We know fostering can be challenging, but rewarding. We’ve worked hard to give our foster parents the resources they need to succeed.
“We just love UMFS,” Katrina, one of our dedicated foster parents, said. “We adore the support they give the kids. Training opportunities at UMFS are ongoing and thorough,” she added, and the system that’s in place to promote success and safety is unparalleled.” Read More From Katrina
We provide initial and on-going training for our foster parents to ensure a continuum of education and support. We offer trainings grounded in trauma-informed care, the Whole Brain Child, Collaborative Problem Solving, and High Fidelity Wraparound Services.
In addition to our comprehensive trainings, we offer our foster parents the following resources when having a placement.
- On-call support 24/7
- Ten paid respite days for each child
- A mentor
- Support groups once a month
- Ongoing support from Resource Parent Trainers (RPT) from opening, through placement and after placement.
Interested in Becoming a Foster Parent? Contact us!
UMFS has 8 locations throughout the state of Virginia, conveniently located across the Commonwealth. If you are interested in learning how to become a foster parent, we encourage you to send us an inquiry, or contact UMFS at any of these locations:
- Alexandria-Northern Virginia
- South Hill