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.

Sign-up for Foster Care and Adoption Information

We’d love to keep in touch with you. Receive notifications about news and events, topics of interest, upcoming meetings, services for foster/adoptive families, and our free monthly newsletter the Foster Family News.


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

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, TTY 711.

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.

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.

Congratulations to the Kokotajlos! They’ve been recognized as the 2021 Fairfax County Foster Parents of the Year by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Get to know Scott and Marie Kokotajlo and how they developed supportive, trusting relationships in which children felt safe and nurtured, and the children’s biological family felt at ease. As they moved toward family reunification, the Kokotajlos came alongside the children’s mother and shared parenting strategies they’d found to work well with each child. The children returned home to their mother more than a year ago and both families remain in touch giving further evidence of the strong, caring relationships the Kokotajlos have built with the whole family. 

Adoption Snapshots White family feature photo graphicAdoption 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.

The Hardin Family’s Foster Care and Adoption Story

Meet Danita, a retired teacher turned full-time mom who devotes herself to caring for her growing family of eight children. Over time, as it became clear that the children would not be able to return to their birth families, Danita adopted two sets of siblings and one teenager from foster care. She is also caring for another child in foster care. In a home overflowing with such love and laughter, there is never a dull moment. Check out this video to learn more about their story and how we help connect children with forever families through adoption.

Foster Family News graphic bannerDon'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.

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