Department of Family Services – Children and Families

Fairfax County, Virginia

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

703-324-7500
TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035

Oriane Eriksen,
Director

Foster Family News – Current Issue

Foster Family News banner graphic

Welcome to the 2022 January issue of Foster Family News, a monthly newsletter for current and potential Fairfax County foster parents.

Table of Contents
  • Get to Know Adame and Share His New Video
  • New Laws Affecting Child Welfare in Virginia
  • Unit Success Stories: Honoring Family Connections in Foster Care Placements Provides Stability
  • Parent and Caregiver Questionnaire SPICES Up Self-Care Routines
  • Donor Spotlight: Winter Coats Provide a Warm Hug!
  • Events Central
  • Kinship Corner
  • Frequently Asked Question: What about transportation?
  • Story in Statistics: Percentage of Children Who Enter Foster Care as Infants
  • Foster Care Myths: Foster families can't have pets.
  • Trainings and Conferences

 

Get to Know Adame and Share His New Video

sceenshot of video showing AdameAdoption Month might be over, but there are still children like Adame waiting for adoptive homes. He’s a caring, active 12-year-old boy whose smile lights up the room. He enjoys hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. Adame is imaginative and creative, and he loves to express his creativity through building with Legos. He thrives on building connections with others and showing people that he cares for them. Most of all he wants a permanent family to love and care for him. Could you be that family for Adame?

Check out his new video and share with others you know to help increase his chances of adoption!

If you’re interested, contact his permanency coordinator by email or call 703-324-7588.

New Laws Affecting Child Welfare in Virginia

courtroom with one flag standOn July 1, 2021, new legislation took effect across Virginia that impacts the important work of child welfare agencies. Last year’s legislative session saw progress in support and prioritization of kinship placements in the Commonwealth through HB1962 and SB1328. Another important law signed by Governor Northam is HB1866, which allows CASAs who attend specific meetings to share relevant information with those in the meeting, as it pertains to the children in their cases.

These new laws will help those of us in the child welfare community to provide better advocacy and make strides in ensuring that every abused and neglected child finds permanency in a safe, loving, and stable home. Learn more about the new legislation

Unit Success Stories: Honoring Family Connections in Foster Care Placements Provides Stability

South County Foster Care Unit photo collageWe’re shining a spotlight on the work of the South County Foster Care Unit, helping to find a permanent home for a girl who had recently migrated to the United States following the death of her grandparents.

Through remaining consistent in their efforts to identify and explore all family connections, staff was able to help “Gaby” connect with family members she had never known, and build relationships along the way that will sustain her through life.

Check out the story.

 

Parent and Caregiver Questionnaire SPICES Up Self-Care Routines

variety of spices in spoons on tableThe best way to nurture yourself is by making sure all your needs are met. Check out the Parenting Education Programs’ SPICES questionnaire for parents and caregivers to evaluate how well you’re doing at self-care and meeting the six basic human needs.

 

 

Donor Spotlight: Winter Coats Provide a Warm Hug!

three children on bridge pathway playing in snowThe Our Children Fund cares deeply about making sure that those in foster care have what they need, so much so that they offered to provide a warm coat for every child served by the Fairfax County Foster Care and Adoption program. Receiving the gift of a brand-new coat brings giant smiles and excitement to the faces of children and an enormous sense of relief to families. Learn about how The Our Children Fund provided a warm hug of support around foster children in our community.

Events Central

generic calendar graphicFormed Families Forward Support Groups for foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers meet monthly: an in-person group in Fairfax on third Wednesday evenings from 7-8:30 pm. and a virtual group on first Sunday evenings of the month 7:30-9 p.m. Register online


Formed Families Forward Stronger Together Peer Support Group for teens and young adults (ages 14-22) meets twice monthly in person on Tuesday nights from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Fairfax City. Register online


Fairfax County Park Authority Events
Enjoy a variety of events designed to help county residents stay healthy, connected and engaged. Activities include family campfires, birding adventures, stargazing events, and even an MLK Service and Learning Day on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. Check out the calendar for new events.


Library Events
The library presents and hosts events on a range of topics of interest that educate and entertain while connecting people with others who share common interests and goals. Events include author talks, book clubs for all ages, English conversation groups, technology workshops, writers’ groups, preschool story times, STEM-related children’s activities and much more. Library events are always free to the public; some require registration in advance.


The county is offering some in-person events at county facilities. In addition, our partners at Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, Fairfax County Public Library, and the Fairfax County Park Authority continue providing exploration and fun through online resources. 

Department of Family Services graphic logoThe Department of Family Services supports families and county residents of all ages and stages of life – and that definitely includes foster parents and families! Like and Follow @FairfaxCountyFamilyServices for news, events, tips, stories, training opportunities and more.

Kinship Corner

Virtual Kinship Cafés hosted by the Department of Family Services’ Parenting Education Programs
First Wednesday and Third Thursday Monthly
6:30-8 p.m.
Kinship caregivers can talk with others who understand how difficult and joyful it can be raising a child for a family member or friend. Join us to discuss topics such as communication, self-care, and family dynamics. February 2 features a Panel Discussion with a Fairfax County Public School Social Worker, Counselor, Parent Liaison and Psychologist Register by email or call 703-324-7720.


How to Care for YOU in 2022 – Self Care and Kinship Caregivers lunchtime webinar hosted by Formed Families Forward
Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 
12-1 p.m.
Start off the new year by putting yourself first with some new self-care tips. Dr. Monique Lilakos, DSW, LCSW will present information on how to increase and enhance awareness of self-care, different types of self-care, and the benefits of self-care and self-regulation for communicating and problem solving with school and other community partners. The session will offer a platform for kinship caregivers to connect. Register online.


Kinship ARC Reflections
Tuesdays, March 1-May 3, 2022
Virtual 6-8 p.m. 
Provides caregivers with tools to help children and teens learn to regulate themselves, feel connected, and build strengths. Interested and ready to participate in an ARC Reflections class? Contact Parenting Education by email, phone at 703-324-7720 or contact Mary Elizabeth Fleming at 703-324-7870.



Each newsletter will include this section to help answer questions, spotlight the people who support foster families, highlight the donors and sponsors who generously give to foster care programs and activities and friendly reminders for foster families to sign-up for trainings.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

question marksQuestion: What about transportation?

 

Answer to the Frequently Asked Question

1. What are the DFS foster parents’ primary transportation responsibilities?
DFS foster parents’ primary responsibilities include: transportation of the child to and from community activities, school/college; recreation/leisure time activities; therapy; medical appointments; and Family Partnership Meetings (FPMs). It is important for foster parents to accompany the child for medical and psychological appointments. 

2. What mutual responsibilities are both DFS and foster parents responsible for?
Dependent on the foster parent’s employment and family commitments, DFS will support foster parents by sharing responsibilities on transportation related to court hearings, birth parent/child visitations, FAPT meetings, and training events related to independent living programs.

3. What are DFS’ responsibilities in providing/arranging transportation?
DFS is committed to supporting foster parents and children who have joined their families through foster care. DFS can offer assistance with transportation on a case-by-case basis when such transportation is considered above and beyond, such as transportation of children who remain in their original schools as a result of the “Best Interest Determination” meeting, or multiple weekly parent/sibling visits. Discuss with your case worker if you have questions. DFS will also provide transportation for emergency appointments when the foster parents are provided with less than 1 week notice and are unable to adjust their schedules. For emergency foster care, DFS will collaborate with the foster parents during the first 72 hours of a child’s arrival. We will then provide transportation for up to 2 weeks, to support foster parents as they adjust their schedules, if needed.

4. When can children ride in a cab or Logisticare vehicle on his/her own?
Sending children in foster care to any appointment or activity without being accompanied by an adult or caregiver is not permitted unless approved by the DFS specialist. The DFS specialist together with the foster parent will consider all factors, including the youth’s chronological and developmental age, in making those decisions.

5. Will DFS take my availability into consideration when setting up appointments?
Yes, the specialist will consult with foster parents on their availability in setting up appointments. Since some appointments involve other parties, such as the birth families, providers and other professionals, these appointments may need to occur at a time that conflicts with the foster parents’ schedule. DFS will arrange for transportation under these circumstances.

6. What is the expectation of transportation for foster parents who receive a VEMAT payment?
Foster parents may receive a VEMAT payment when a child has a clearly defined need that requires the parent to provide increased support and supervision due to the child’s behavioral, emotional, or physical/personal care requirements. If a foster parent is receiving a VEMAT rating as a result of a particular behavioral, emotional, or medical need, it is the primary responsibility of the foster parent to provide transportation to the appointments related to such needs. Foster parents may request assistance from DFS on a case-by-case basis. Such requests should be made to the DFS case manager and approved by the supervisor.

7. Will DFS reimburse mileage?
For non-Medicaid eligible trips, mileage may be paid to the foster parent for mileage beyond a 10-mile one-way distance. DFS may choose to pay mileage for the first 10 miles when such transportation is considered excessive. For example, if foster parents are already transporting a child more than once or twice a week, foster parents can request mileage reimbursement. We will pay for additional trips starting from mile one.  A DFS supervisor’s approval will be required for all mileage reimbursement requests.

Note: Foster parents should submit mileage monthly to the DFS case manager. Please also see below: How will foster parents be paid?
Medical and psychological appointments are typically eligible for Logisticare transportation or Logisticare mileage reimbursement. The medical/mental health service provider must be a Medicaid provider for the trip to be eligible. Foster parents who desire to receive reimbursement for mileage for Medicaid-eligible trips should become a Logisticare transportation provider. Logisticare can verify eligibility of trips when you are not sure. You can contact your resource specialist if you need assistance in signing up with Logisticare.

Logisticare’s Contact Information
Phone Number 866-216-7870
Website
DFS will also reimburse mileage to foster parents who are transporting children to school on a regular basis.

8. What types of appointments will DFS not reimburse for mileage?
DFS will not reimburse for Medicaid eligible trips. If a child placed with the foster parent is eligible for Medicaid services, the foster parent should become a Logisticare Medicaid registered driver. Logisticare will pay 50 cents per mile, starting from mile one. All foster parents should also sign up with Logisticare so they can receive mileage reimbursement for Medicaid eligible trips, e.g., therapy and medical appointments. If child does not have Medicaid, this section does not apply.

9. Will DFS reimburse mileage for preplacement visits?
Yes, we will reimburse mileage starting from mile one. DFS supervisor’s approval will be required.

10. Will DFS reimburse foster parents’ mileage when visiting the youth who is not placed in their home?
Yes, we will reimburse mileage starting from mile one. DFS supervisor’s approval will be required.

11. How will foster parents be paid?
Foster parents will need to be made a “vendor” with Fairfax. As mentioned earlier, request for mileage reimbursement should be discussed with the specialist and preapproved by the supervisor. Foster parents will need to fill out an actual mileage log/reimbursement form and submit it to the specialist.


Check out other frequently asked questions and answers from past issues.

STORY IN STATISTICS

Nationally 20% of children who enter foster care are less than 1 year old. 
(Health and Human Services, The AFCARS Report)

Children less than age 1 who enter care are the only group for whom adoption is the most likely outcome. The likelihood of exiting to adoption decreases the older the child is when they enter care.

Nationally 20% of children who enter foster care are less than 1 year old.  graphic

FOSTER CARE MYTHS

There are a lot of misconceptions about foster care, foster parents, and the children and families involved. This section aims to dispel some of those notions and provide clarity for those interested in supporting foster care.

Myth: Foster families can't have pets.

Fact: Many foster families have pets. Just be able to provide proof of current vaccinations for all domesticated animals. Many children in foster care respond well to pets. Pets can be a source of comfort and affection to a child who has experienced trauma. 

Check out other myths from past issues.

TRAININGS AND CONFERENCES (For Fairfax County Foster Parents Only)

orange mechanical gearsThe Four A's Approach to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Thursdays, Jan. 27, Feb. 3, 10, and 17, 2022 (Training Postponed; Date To Be Determined)
6-7:30 p.m.
Virtual via Zoom
Fairfax County foster and adoptive parents are invited to join the Fairfax County Foster Care and Adoption in partnership with The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) for a four-session workshop series about promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. The training will be presented by Marcus Stallworth, LMSW, CWLA Director, Training and Implementation. 
RSVP by sending an email to Zachary Landau by Thursday, Jan. 21, 2022.


Supporting Youth in Foster Care, Teen Years and Beyond
Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 

Virtual
Join the Fairfax County Department of Family Services’ (DFS) Permanency and Life Skills Unit to learn about how DFS can support foster families and the youth in their home through an annual life skills assessment and the development of a transitional living plan. Families will also learn about strategies and services that aid teens in developing independent living skills to prepare them for healthy, productive lives.
RSVP by sending an email to Zachary Landau by Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.


Reunification: Prepare, Participate and Process
Thursdays, Feb. 10 and 17, 2022

6:30-8:30 p.m.
Virtual
Join us for an interactive discussion with foster parents around the facets of reunification including reunification policy, and permanency goals (particularly return to home); Bridging the Gap; foster parent roles; transitions; foster family’s role as grief/loss managers and; moving on after children return home. RSVP by sending an email to Zachary Landau by Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.


Foster Parent College Training Highlight (January 2022)
Foster Parent College (FPC) is a great way to obtain training on key topics from the safety and comfort of your home. FPC provides newly approved and seasoned foster parents with a curriculum designed to build new skills and reinforce information acquired from New Generation PRIDE (formerly PRIDE). As approved foster parents with Fairfax County, all classes are free and available to you 24/7. You may choose to take any class you believe will be helpful for your own personal growth and development.

Reducing Family Stress
This course defines current family stressors, discusses the impact of a child’s placement on stress and outlines strategies on how to preserve family dynamics.

*The training will take approximately 3.0 hours to complete and fulfills 4.0 hours of on-line in-service training. You may take the class at your own pace.

Register Online

  • Log In with your log in credentials.
  • Scroll and select the course titled – Reducing Family Stress (under the Parenting Strategees tab).
  • Select Enroll to begin the course.

If you have questions or need additional support, please reach out to one of the in-service trainers; Terri Williams-Henderson or Palinda Gaines. You may also contact FPC at 541-343-6636 or toll free at 1-800-777-6636, (PT) for technical difficulties. As always, once a class is completed, please email the certificate to either Palinda Gaines (if your last name begins with A-J) or Terri Williams-Henderson (if your last name begins with K-Z).


Orientation
Inservice (For certified Fairfax County foster parents. Registration required.)
Learn more and save the dates for upcoming trainings and conferences.

SUGGESTIONS

envelopeWhat do you want to see in Foster Family News?

Submit your suggestions to Angela Morlu.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Check out past issues of Foster Family News.

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.

 
Fairfax Virtual Assistant