Department of Family Services – Children and Families

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035

Oriane Eriksen,

Foster Care and Adoption

three children standing close looking downToday, nearly 200 Fairfax County children are in foster care. The Department of Family Services' Foster Care and Adoption Program offers temporary foster homes for these children, and services to help their families. When a child cannot return home safely, we seek to find relatives who want to care for the child, and are legally eligible to do so. If a relative is not identified, or is unable to care for the child, we seek a permanent home through adoption.

Healthy Minds Foster Futures Facebook graphicJoin us virtually on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 9 a.m. for the free Healthy Minds Foster Futures Virtual 5K Walk!

Our vision is about empowering young people in foster care to overcome the impact of mental health in their lives. We hope you will show up for a morning of exercise, encouragement, and fun activities, while learning about how we as a community can support the mental health needs of children in foster care. Learn more about the event and register for free.

Do you use Facebook? The event is posted there, too; check it out and share it with others.

Foster Care and Adoption Program - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Difference Between Foster Care and Adoption?

Foster Care

Foster care refers to finding a temporary home for a child outside the home where he or she had been raised. This may occur as a result of abuse, neglect or other circumstances that put the child at risk. During this time, family problems are addressed so that the child can return home safely, or plans are made to find a safe and nurturing home for the child outside his or her birth family.

Foster parents offer children safety and stability until they can return to their families or go to permanent homes. Foster families offer different types of care:

  • Regular Foster Home: Children stay for any length of time, often one to two years.
  • Resource Home: These families are willing to both foster and adopt a child, depending on the child's needs.
  • Child-Specific: Children are placed with relatives or close friends who know the children's background and circumstances.

Adoption provides a permanent home when a child cannot return to the parents or relatives.

Who are the Children and What Do They Need?

Who Are the Children?

two children on sofa holding fingers over eyesThey are children in Fairfax County who:

  • Have their worlds turned upside down.
  • Need a safe haven during difficult times.
  • Need a foster home due to abuse or neglect.
  • Range in age from infant to 18.
  • Come from diverse backgrounds.
  • Have experienced devastating losses of family and identity.
  • Search for a sense of belonging.
  • Have their confidence and feelings of self-worth shattered.
  • Feel frightened and alone.
What Do They Need?
  • Foster and adoptive parents.
  • Stable, nurturing homes.
  • Someone in their corner.
  • To learn to trust again.
  • Day-to-day guidance.
  • Support from loving adults.

Who Can Foster and Adopt and What Do They Need to Know?

Who Can Foster and Adopt?

People who:

  • care about children.
  • want to make a difference in children's lives and futures.
  • are 18 or older.
  • may be married, single or divorced.
  • may work outside the home.
  • are able to provide a safe, loving home.
What Do They Need to Know?
  • You can be a foster parent even if you don’t own your home. Renters are eligible to be foster parents.
  • Foster parents can be as young as 18.
  • No matter your marital status, you can be a foster parent to a child in need. Single, divorced and married (including LGBTQ couples) folks are all welcome!
  • Fairfax County’s greatest need is for loving homes for children in sibling groups and those 9 years of age and older.
  • The cost of many recreational activities (think summer camp and music lessons) for foster children are covered.

I'm Interested in Becoming a Foster Parent. What is the Next Step?

Thank you for your interest in becoming a foster parent and helping children in need. The next step is to participate in one of our monthly information meetings.

Do you have a specific question about a monthly information meeting or have a follow-up question after attending a monthly information meeting? Contact Dr. Patricia Aviles-Cubillos by email or call 703-324-7919 (responses are provided within one business day).

Do you have a general question about Foster Care and Adoption? Call 703-324-7639 or TTY 703-222-9452.

2018 WUST Spanish-language radio program Patricia Aviles-CubillosPatricia Aviles-Cubillos discusses foster parent recruitment with host Heber Velasquez on “La Voz del Condado de Fairfax,” the County’s Spanish-language radio program on WUST-1120 AM. 

What Supports and Resources are Available for Foster Parents?


Our foster parents receive:

  • reimbursement for room and board, clothing, and related expenses
  • medical and dental care for the children through Medicare or other sources (Podcast: EMS Care for Youth in Foster Care)
  • ongoing training and support, such as workshops and social events
  • services the child may need, such as
    • day care
    • respite care
    • summer camp
    • school fees and trips
    • other recreational activities (e.g., music lessons)
  • Training and supportive services
  • A Resource Specialist
  • Financial assistance
  • Counseling
  • Child care

What If a Foster Parent Wants to Adopt?

More than 70 percent of our adoptive families begin as foster parents, and then commit to adopting the child in their care.  Many are school aged and part of sibling groups. Learn more from this Inside Scoop Virginia video.

Inside Scoop Virginia video thumbnail

What are Some Ways to Help Children in Foster Care without Becoming a Foster Parent?

What are Some of the Foster Family Stories?


Mikalah and Lesley "Finding my forever family has made such a big impact in my life! We enjoy being together, supporting each other, and making lots of new memories. I strongly encourage anyone considering fostering or adopting to do it - you can make all the difference in the life of a kid like me." 

"As a first-time single parent, I was nervous about raising a teenager, but everything fell into place the minute I met her, and it's been an exceptional experience ever since!"

Leslie, Rachel, Bob, Michael"I have learned that adoption is not for the faint of heart. Some days I am aggravated. Some days I am exasperated. Some days I am heartbroken. Some days I ask, 'what have I gotten myself into?' But every day I know that this is among the greatest things I have ever done. In some situations you are literally saving a child's life. But in every situation you are offering a child the opportunity to see all the possibilities this world has to offer." 


The Unexpected Rewards of Foster Parenting is an interview with foster parents from Fairfax County who share their journey - what interest them initially; what steps they took to become foster parents; how long they served as foster parents; the relationship they built; challenges; rewards; advice based on their experience and more.


Forbese familyMeet some of the families who know this experience firsthand. Check out the videos of their personal stories to learn more about their journey.

Jesse and Danielle Dredge Foster Parents of the Year for Fairfax County by Metropolitan Council of Governments (CPG)Meet the Dredges

Recognized as the 2020 Foster Parents of the Year for Fairfax County by Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), Danielle and Jesse Dredge have provided Fairfax foster children with stability, structure, nurturing, and connection. The Dredge family has fostered a sibling set of brothers, a teen mother and her child, and a teen male. With each placement they have been influential in how they manage the children’s adjustment to their placement, provide interventions and strategies when children have noted struggles, set clear boundaries, and worked with the child and biological family toward reunification. Get to know them and why they want to make a difference in the lives of children through foster care. Learn more about their story.

Foster Family News graphic bannerFoster Family News

Don't miss out on this monthly newsletter for current and potential Fairfax County foster parents. Each issue has information to help keep foster parents informed about new and notable happenings in Fairfax County - messages from staff, program plans, trends, trainings and policy changes, and more.

silhouette two people connecting hands form heartBridging the Gap: Keeping Families Connected

Due to COVID-19, this is a challenging time for all of us. With social distancing required for public safety, how do we make it safe for children in foster care to have critical time with their birth or adoptive families? Fairfax has moved to a virtual platform for visitations, and here are some suggestions for other things you can do as a foster family to bridge the gap and continue to strengthen the relationship between the birth or adoptive parent.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant