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 September issue of Foster Family News, a monthly newsletter for current and potential Fairfax County foster parents.  

Table of Contents
  • Fairfax County Foster Care Honors 2022 Graduates
  • Fairfax County Holds Reunification Month Celebration
  • September is Kinship Care Awareness Month
  • New State Foster Care Legislation Effective July 1, 2022
  • Join the Fairfax County Teen Advocates Program
  • Events Central
  • Kinship Corner
  • Support Groups
  • Frequently Asked Question: How long does the court/administrative process take for reunification, termination of parental rights and adoption?  
  • Story in Stats: foster care graduates 
  • Foster Care Myths: I could never be a foster parent because I’d get too attached.
  • Trainings and Conferences

 

Fairfax County Foster Care Honors 2022 Graduates

graduate with arms raised“Graduation is truly a game-changer for youth in foster care. This ceremony gives our staff a chance to let each youth know just how proud we are of them and all they have accomplished,” said Kendra Smith, a Foster Care and Adoption supervisor.

Check out this article to learn how DFS celebrated the hard work and commitment of each graduate. 

 

Fairfax County Holds Reunification Month Celebration

family in distanceThe primary goal of foster care is safe reunification of families. In June, the Department of Family Services held its first annual Reunification Month Ceremony to celebrate families and their hard work overcoming challenges to be reunified with their children who were in foster care.

Learn more about this joyful celebration.
 

September is Kinship Care Awareness Month

kinship month graphicThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed September as Kinship Care Awareness Month in recognition of the approximately three million children in the United States, 70,000 children in Virginia, and 4,000 children in Fairfax County, who are being raised in kinship care by grandparents, relatives, or close family friends because their parents are unable to do so. Learn more about Fairfax County Kinship Care programs, resources, and caregivers. 

 

New State Foster Care Legislation Effective July 1, 2022

courtroomSeveral state laws impacting foster care and resource families became effective July 1, 2022.

Check out a summary of these measures which are designed to encourage more kinship placements for youth in foster care, and to provide more housing support to youth aging out of foster care. Learn More. 

 

Join the Fairfax County Teen Advocates Program

teen advocate graphic 2022This program is open to teens ages 12-19 who are residents of Fairfax County or involved in Fairfax County programs. If you or a teen in your life is interested in working on topics around teen dating violence and creating healthy relationships, this program is a great opportunity to build leadership skills. Online applications are due Friday, September 9. For more information, contact Debra Miller.

 

EVENTS CENTRAL

generic calendar graphicBack to School with ADHD: Out of the Box Approaches webinar presented by Formed Families Forward 
September 6
7-8 p.m. 

Virtual

Join Kelly Henderson, Ph.D, Executive Director and Beth Spivack, MSW, Family Support and Outreach Director for Formed Families Forward for a free virtual workshop. The session will address unique characteristics that impact identification, delivery of services and parenting of children and youth with ADHD. Register online


Back to What?! Coping Strategies to Successfully Manage the Transition Back to School webinar presented by Formed Families Forward 
September 21
7-8 p.m.

This session will discuss the challenges for transitioning back to school for children and youth and their parents and caretakers. Participants will explore coping strategies to overcome the associated stress and support academic success. Register online.


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, Starting Sept. 15
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.
Monday, October 5 we’ll discuss The Joys and Challenges of Kinship Care.  Register by email or call 703-324-7720.

SUPPORT GROUPS

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


Formed Families Forward Stronger Together Youth Support Groups: Back but Different in Fall Starting Tuesday, September 6 for teens and young adults (ages 14-22) meets WEEKLY in person from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Fairfax City. Professional clinicians facilitate this peer support group which introduces skills youth can use to navigate everyday challenges and personal growth. A light dinner will be served each evening. FREE of charge but regular weekly attendance is expected. Register online


Foster the Family Support Groups for foster and adoptive parents – In-person support groups are available in Fairfax County, Eastern Prince William County, Western Prince William County, and Montgomery County. Each group meets one evening a month from 6:30-8 p.m. Visit Foster the Family D.C. to learn more about the group nearest to you, or to register online.



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: How long does the court/administrative process take for reunification, termination of parental rights and adoption?

Answer to the Frequently Asked Question

Reunification: The initial court process to work toward reunification or relative placement is one year. However, this time can be extended for a variety of reasons. The first foster care-related court hearing is called a dispositional hearing and occurs within 60 days of a child entering foster care. This is the hearing where the permanency goal outlined on the child’s service plan is approved. Prior to this hearing, you will receive a copy of the service plan that describes the permanency goal (i.e., return home) and what needs to happen to achieve the goal. The next court hearing is called a foster care review hearing, and it is scheduled within four months after the 60-day dispositional hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to review progress made on the initial foster care service plan by all parties and to make changes to the plan.

Termination of Parental Rights: A third foster care hearing, known as the permanency planning hearing, occurs within five months of the foster care review hearing and within 11 months of the date. The purpose of this hearing is to establish a permanent goal for a child and to either achieve the permanent goal, or to defer through the approval of an interim plan. If an interim plan is approved, a second permanency planning hearing will occur within six months. Other outcomes for this hearing include a change of goal and/or requesting approval of a termination of parental rights petition. If approved, a subsequent hearing for a trial is scheduled. The timeframe for this varies. In some cases, the trial can occur at the time of the permanency planning hearing.

Adoption: After the court approves the termination of parental rights, cases are reviewed by the court on an annual basis. The purpose of these hearings is to monitor the progress toward the goal of achieving permanency through adoption. In addition, six-month adoption progress reports are sent to the court and all parties on the case. The permanency timeline for finalizing an adoption is 24 months from the time a child enters foster care. This timeframe varies based upon the adoption recruitment process, the needs of a child and those of the adoptive family. The adoption process will include the following:

  • an approved adoptive home study or mutual family assessment for the family
  • the adoptive family enters into a legal adoption agreement
  • the Department provides supervisory visits to the child and adoptive family for at least six months
  • adoption full disclosure is given to the adoptive family
  • an approved adoption assistance agreement for support and needed services
  • Adoption Consent given by the agency director
  • an adoption attorney contracted for/retained by the adoptive family
  • all legal documents completed and filed in Circuit Court
  • a Final Order of Adoption signed by the Circuit Court judge

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

Story In Statistics

foster graduate statistic

56% of youth transitioning out of foster care nationally have a high school diploma or GED by age 19.   
Source Kids Data Center

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: I could never be a foster parent because I’d get too attached.

Fact: Instead of letting the fear of getting too attached deter potential foster parents, be motivated by the fear that these kids may never feel truly attached to someone. Children in foster care need a person who cares deeply for them and who will get attached, regardless of their experiences or behaviors.



Check out other myths from past issues.

TRAININGS AND CONFERENCES (For Fairfax County Foster Parents Only)

orange mechanical gearsFoster Parent College Training Highlight (September 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.

Kinship Care
This training explores family feuds, allegiance to birth parents, distance and defiance with kinship family.

*The training will take approximately 2.0 hours to complete and fulfills 2.0 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 – Kinship Care (Under the Parenting Strategies 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. 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 Terri Williams-Henderson.


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