Today, 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.
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May is Foster Care Month
National Foster Care Month is an important time to raise awareness of issues related to foster care and to celebrate those, like our foster parents, who are dedicated to serving our children, youth, and families. This year, the Children’s Bureau collaborated with parents, guardians, and young people with lived experience to develop its focus for the month on mental well-being. As a result, this year's theme is "Strengthening Minds, Uplifting Families." We encourage everyone check out the mental health resources at National Foster Care Month - Child Welfare Information Gateway and visit our Community engagement toolkit if you are looking for facts and messages to raise awareness in our community.
You Can Be A Foster Parent Too
Hear from some Fairfax County foster parents about how foster parenting has shaped their lives for the better, and the positive impact they are making every day in children’s lives. Check out our other foster care and adoption videos for more stories.
Foster Care and Adoption Program - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Difference Between Foster Care and Adoption?
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?
They 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.
ongoing training and support, such as workshops and social events
services the child may need, such as
school fees and trips
other recreational activities (e.g., music lessons)
Training and supportive services
A Resource Specialist
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.
What are Some Ways to Help Children in Foster Care without Becoming a Foster Parent?
"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!"
"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.
Meet some of the families who know this experience firsthand. Check out the videos of their personal stories to learn more about their journey.
Where Can I Learn More About Local Foster Care Statistics?
Check out our data dashboard to help you better understand the scope of Foster Care and Adoption in Fairfax County.
START YOUR JOURNEY ON THE FASTER FAMILIES HIGHWAY
Start the simple 6-step process to determine your readiness to become a foster parent. Complete the online form at your convenience! Hear back from one of our specialists within two business days.
For general questions about Foster Care and Adoption. Email us or call 703-324-7639.
Congratulations to LaToya Berryman and Lakisha Bell. They have been recognized as the 2023 Fairfax County Foster Parents of the Year by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. LaToya and Lakisha initially became foster parents to LaToya’s nieces in 2016, later adopting the children. They felt that they had more love to give to other children who needed a safe and loving home and continued fostering. Despite demanding professional jobs, Lakisha and LaToya have created a home that is filled with love and joy, making sure that the needs of all the children in the home are met. In addition to providing them with fun and creative outlets for their energy, LaToya and Lakisha work with therapists, health professionals, and teachers to make sure that the children are reaching developmentally and socially appropriate goals. Lakisha and LaToya are understanding, thoughtful, intentional, and patient parents who strive to constantly meet the individual needs of each child.
Adoption Snapshots Tell a Story – Meet the White Family
Adoption Snapshots catches a glimpse of families brought together through adoption. Parents share in their own words what it was like to meet and then build a bond with the children they have welcomed into their hearts and homes. We're grateful for these parents who were courageous enough to partner with our agency to provide permanent homes to children in need. Check back for new adoption snapshots posted throughout the year.
Katie and Zak’s Foster Care and Adoption Journey
Meet Katie and Zak. Katie is a teacher with Fairfax County Public Schools and a single mom who became part of a large extended family when Zak came into her life when he was 2 years old. Their story shows how foster care and adoption can knit together the lives and hearts of people from different backgrounds, locations, and cultures to make something beautiful and affirming for everyone involved. Learn more about their story and how we help connect children with forever families through adoption.
State Office of the Ombudsman
A state Office of the Children’s Ombudsman publicly launched May 3, 2022, with the purpose of helping individuals who have concerns about the way local department of social services (like the Fairfax County Department of Family Services) are handling a child protective services or foster care case. Learn more about this independent office.
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.
Join our team!
If you have an interest in helping children and families to thrive, come work with our Children, Youth and Families Division. Check out some of our open positions.