How Much Do Virginia Foster Parents Get Paid?
Becoming a foster parent is extremely rewarding, but you need to make sure you have the means to best provide for your foster child or teen, as well as your own family.
Fortunately, foster parents in Virginia have access to a range of services and payments based on the age of your child or teen in foster care.
Benefits of Becoming a Foster Parent
Help a Child in Need
Youth in foster care are in the system because their family can’t take care of them, so they need people like you to give them a chance.
Experience Great Rewards
Though you may face challenges, you will likely feel uplifted and grateful when you see the positive impact you can have on a child’s life.
Provide Lifelong Impact
No matter how long you serve as a foster parent you have the opportunity to make a lifelong impact on a child or teen’s life. Sometimes you will even build lasting relationships beyond their time in your home and care.
Opportunity to Adopt
If the child or teen placed in your home has a goal for adoption, and you and your family form a special bond with them, you may begin the adoption process and provide a forever home.
Foster Parent Payments and Services
A payment to cover a child’s basic needs, ranging from $450 to $750 per month.
An extra payment if a child or teen in foster care needs more daily supervision than usual. The rate is determined after an assessment is conducted.
All children and teens in foster care are covered by Medicaid so you don’t need to include them on your plan.
All Virginia children can get free school meals by simply applying at the school.
You may be reimbursed for various other services as long as you submit the necessary documentation.
Why Should You Become a Foster Parent?
When you first meet a child or teen in foster care, they may be afraid and uncooperative. But with your love and patience, they will bloom and shine. Watching this change will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, whether you have biological children or not.
Since finding out they couldn’t have children of their own, Sherrika and George have been foster parents to multiple children and teens through UMFS.
The couple’s first placement was a newborn named DJ. The baby had multiple tubes in the hospital – but they didn’t shy away from the challenge. DJ (pictured) is now a healthy pre-teen and has since been reunited with his birth mother.
Sherrika and George remain very involved as godparents, as well as mentors. “If his mom has a problem, she knows she can call on us,” Sherrika said.
The couple later fostered siblings, Nicholas and Mary. The siblings had had two previous foster placements and Nicholas was confused and anxious. After a challenging start, Sherrika and George eventually adopted the kids and gave them a secure home.
In addition, they adopted a young biological cousin after learning she had been placed in foster care.
How to Become a Foster Parent
Attend an Info Session
Learn more about the unique needs of youth in treatment foster care and the support you’ll receive so you can help them.
Complete 25 hours of required training to prepare your family to meet the needs of children and teens in care.
Home Study & Paperwork
UMFS conducts an assessment of a parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing family environment for a child.
*The whole process typically takes about 4 months.
Foster Parent Payments and Services
Standard Maintenance Payments & Clothing Budget
All foster parents receive standard maintenance payments to cover some of the basic costs associated with fostering in Virginia, like food and clothing. The basic monthly payment rate for standard maintenance ranges from $450 to $700 per month depending on the age of the child. The annual clothing allowance is also age-dependent and afforded to foster parents for the amount of $300 to $500 per year.
Enhanced Maintenance Payments
If a child in foster care needs additional daily supervision, foster parents can request an evaluation of the need for enhanced maintenance payments as compensation for the extra time necessary to care for the child.
In many cases, the Virginia Enhanced Maintenance Assessment Tool (VEMAT) is used to decide the rate for any additional reimbursement payments to foster parents. Other assessment methods are also used to determine eligibility.
Contingency Fund for Property Damage
The VDSS administers a fund to cover major property damage done by children in foster homes. Information about your insurance coverage, along with multiple stages of approval, is required to be eligible for this contingency fund.
All children and teens in foster care, regardless of age, placement agency, or your own financial status, are eligible for Medicaid.
Free School Lunches
If your child or teen in foster care is enrolled in a Virginia public school they are eligible for free school meals. The application process varies per school, but the program covers meals, both breakfast (where available) and lunch, offered at your school.
Respite Care for Foster Parents
Respite care is a support service offered to foster parents that allows another provider to temporarily step in and provide care. Circumstances are not limited but may include scenarios like:
- Giving foster parents and their children a break when necessary
- Enabling foster parents to go on vacation where the child is not legally permitted
- Ensuring separately placed siblings have time together
- Sustaining children’s relationships with extended family
- Offering foster children and teens in group care with new experiences
- Discovering potential placement changes
Additional Support Services & Resources for Foster Parents
Additional services and support are widely available to Virginia foster parents. However, reimbursement of such services is dependent upon the proper documentation indicating issues and challenges affecting the child. Documentation provided to your caseworker for review may include:
- Journals tracking developmental and emotional growth
- Clinical reports
- Behavioral assessments
Foster Parent Financial Responsibilities
Fostering a child or teen is such a rewarding act because it is entirely voluntary. For this reason, it is recommended you be financially secure with your own family before deciding to become a foster parent.
Although financial support is available to foster parents, reimbursement will not meet all of the expenses that come with the responsibility and costs of caring for fostering a child.
Who Is UMFS?
UMFS is a nonprofit organization that provides a comprehensive array of programs to support children, teens, and parents as they work to overcome challenges. We equip families with tools for success so they can achieve their goals. As a national leader in helping young people and families, we also proactively identify unmet social services needs and develop the necessary partnerships to address those needs.
Foster Parents FAQ
What is Foster Care?
Foster care is when a child or teen goes to live with a foster family because their primary caregivers are unable to care for them. The parents may be unable to provide care due to anything from financial stress to drug abuse, and they may have been reported to child welfare.
Foster parents provide a safe, stable, temporary home for children in foster care in order to provide the best opportunity for the children to thrive. The foster family may have additional biological children of their own or additional children in foster care. The average length of time a child spends in foster care in the U.S. is 12 months.
The goals for each child and teen in foster care varies – many return to their primary caregivers whenever possible. If returning home is not possible the child may be adopted or seek other foster care services. At 18 or 21, the child ages out of the system and may seek other support systems to thrive as an adult. But many face homelessness and unemployment.
What are the requirements to become a foster parent?
Prospective foster parents need to meet these 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
What is a typical child or teen in foster care like and what have they been through?
Youth in foster care can be any age from infants up to 18. The average age of a youth in foster care in the U.S. is eight. The children and teens in foster care represent all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. They are frequently part of a sibling group or teens.
In their family home, the child may have experienced financial hardship leading to malnutrition, or suffered from neglect or abuse. The children may have mental health issues or may suffer from post-traumatic shock syndrome (PTSD) due to what they have experienced.
Can I adopt a child through the foster system?
Yes, in Virginia, 60% of foster youth are adopted by their foster parents.
Get in Touch With UMFS Today
Get in Touch With UMFS Today
A Lesson Learned Through Mentoring
If you’re not ready to become a foster care parent, you could become a mentor and offer guidance to a child or teen in foster care.
Benefits of Donating to Foster Care
Your monthly or one-time donations have a positive impact on youth in foster care, support foster parents, and change lives – including your own.
How To Help Teens Aging Out of Foster Care
Many teens in foster care don’t return to their birth family and aren’t adopted. Find out how you can help teens as they enter adulthood alone.