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 Family News - Current Issue

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Welcome to the 2020 June issue of Foster Family News, a monthly newsletter for current and potential Fairfax County foster parents.

Table of Contents
  • Words from Fairfax County Foster Care and Adoption Association (FCFCAA)
  • Using Virtual Tools to Bridge the Gap
  • COG Recognizes Outstanding Foster Parents
  • Making Self-Care a Priority
  • Spotlight on Adoption and Kinship Assistance Unit
  • Speaking Your Child’s Love Language
  • Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care
  • Events Central
  • Frequently Asked Question: What does DFS pay for college and/or training costs? 
  • Story in Statistics: Children in the U.S. Reunified with Their Families
  • Upcoming Trainings and Conferences


Words from Fairfax County Foster Care and Adoption Association (FCFCAA)

Bethany ShivelyPresident of Fairfax County Foster Care and Adoption Association (FCFCAA) Bethany Shively has a message just for you. "You are all rock stars – all of you. Being home with kids, many with special needs and behavior challenges, 24-hours a day with no break—while many also working from home and simultaneously serving as full-time daycare providers and teachers—is no small feat. Add to that the extra anxiety about health, finances and job security that so many people are facing right now – and even many of the people who seem to have it all together most of the time are struggling right now." Check out the rest of Bethany's message.

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Using Virtual Tools to Bridge the Gap

silhouette two hands connecting form heartFoster parents are navigating ways to facilitate virtual visits between children and families. The Coalition for Children, Youth & Families' provided some tips and ideas to keep in mind when using technology to schedule virtual visits using free video conferencing software.

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COG Recognizes Outstanding Foster Parents

Foster Parents of the Year Jesse and Danielle DredgeFoster parents from 10 jurisdictions across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia have been named 2020 Foster Parents of the Year by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. COG partners with local and state child welfare agencies around the region to recognize these outstanding parents on an annual basis. The Foster Parents of the Year will also be recognized before the COG Board of Directors in September.

Danielle and Jesse Dredge were named the Fairfax County Foster Parents of the Year. The Dredge family has 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 the Dredges' story.

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Making Self-Care a Priority

wood squares letters spell self-careSelf-care is not self-indulgence…it is self-preservation. It is taking care of ourselves so that we can then care for our families or others that depend on us. Self-care is unique to each person and is ever-changing as our life situations change.

At this time, navigating the challenges of the pandemic, and trying to manage all of the stress and anxiety it has produced, our own self-care becomes extremely important as a guard against becoming worn down and physically depleted. The Healthy Minds Blog is a partnership between Fairfax County Government and Fairfax Public Schools which provides advice on this and other important topics for families.

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Spotlight on Adoption and Kinship Assistance Unit

Adoption and Kinship Assistance Unit group photoThe work of the Adoption and Kinship Assistance unit is about supporting adoptive and kinship families until the child is either 18 years old or even until their 21st birthday in some cases. They also help eligible families adopting a child with special needs to receive adoption assistance to provide for the needs of their child. Supervisor Julie Bowman answers a few questions about the unit.

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Speaking Your Child’s Love Language

mother father holding toddler outsideHave you ever heard of "The Five Love Languages"? It’s a book by author and therapist, Dr. Gary Chapman. It's based on the theory that everyone has a primary way that they like to give and receive love. Chapman’s idea is that if you are not receiving love in one of your preferred love languages you may not feel like you are being loved enough. Chapman has written many books about how this idea can be applied in a variety of relationships including parent or (foster parent) and child relationships.

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Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care

child hands painted with rianbowJune is National PRIDE Month. Like all young people, LGBTQ+ youth in foster care need the support of a nurturing family to help them negotiate adolescence and grow into healthy adults. However, LGBTQ+ youth in foster care can face additional challenges including bias and discrimination. All youth who are touched by foster care need and deserve a safe, secure, and unconditionally accepting home with caregivers who can help and support them while they are apart from their biological families. The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides some resources to help foster parents support LGBTQ+ youth.

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Event Central

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While it may not be possible to go to group events, and many summer camps and pools are closed, our partners at Neighborhood and Community Services, the Fairfax County Park Authority and Fairfax County Public Schools have been busy putting together online resources that can provide some exploration and fun during this period of social distancing.

NCS Connects is a new virtual resource for youth, teens, parents and guardians! It explores ways that you can keep the learning going from home – and have fun, too! The website features new weekly activities from NCS Community and Teen Centers, or an Exploration Station for on-demand resources for students in grades 1-12 and their parents.

Fairfax County Park Authority Virtual Exploration Center offers a collection of resources to help you stay healthy, connected and engaged while many park facilities and programs are closed. This page will be updated regularly, so check back often for new resources. And be sure to us on social media for new updates and ideas to help with your at-home exploration and recreation.

FCPS' Healthy Mind Blog features a series of five articles (to date) on "Keeping Your Children Occupied While at Home." This series pulls together “a wealth of information being shared online in response to this challenge.” The articles “highlight some of the best ideas and resources available to help keep your children busy and engaged.”

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 to access a variety of news, events, tips, stories, training opportunities and more.

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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.


question marksQuestion: What does the Department of Family Services pay for college and/or training costs? 


Chafee IL funds are available to youth 14 and older, who have an updated life skills assessment and transition plan; and have no outstanding receipts for previous purchases made using IL Funds.  Expenses covered include:

High School Expenses
  • Up to $800 can be requested to cover senior year expenses, such as:  yearbook, graduation announcements, cap and gown, senior fees, senior pictures, class ring, senior trip, senior school party, graduation tickets. Only one prom and one homecoming event per year are covered, at a maximum of $300 towards clothing and tickets. Teens, social workers and foster parents are encouraged to discuss all possible expenses related to senior year, and budget out the $800 ahead of time.
  • Up to $500 can be requested to cover underclassmen expenses, such as:  class fees, yearbook, pictures.  Only one prom and one homecoming event per year are covered, at a maximum of $300 towards clothing and tickets.  
  • SAT testing & related fees (check with Guidance Office about getting waivers first)
  • SAT classes (up to $300)
  •  NEW Computers/Printers for any youth 14+ (up to $600)
  • Special supplies or clothing required for high school class
College Preparation Expenses
  • College application fees (up to three applications)
  • College enrollment/acceptance/holding fees
  • Dorm Room deposit
  • Dorm Room items (up to $600; e.g. bedding, storage, hangers, towels, lamps, clocks)
  • Dorm Room appliances on case-by-case basis (up to $500; e.g. microwave, refrigerator, TV, vacuum)
Independent Living Expenses
  • Bicycles/helmet and related equipment (up to $300)
  • Household items for IL arrangement/apartment (up to $600)
  • Household appliances (up to $500)
  • Utility deposit
  • Independent Living conference or training fees
  • Luggage (up to $300)
  • Adult Education Classes
  • Clothing required for job interview or employment
  • Transportation to work/training (up to $200 for first month’s travel in gas or Smart Trip cards)
  • Car expenses (Availability limited on a case-by-case basis.) See local guidelines for more details.
  • Car insurance (if car is needed for school or work, can pay ½ of the first installment)
  • Up to $1,000/year for car down payments or repairs. Proof of income, youth’s name on car title, 2 repair estimates, or other documents may be requested.
  • Note: Use CSA funding for Driver’s Ed and Behind the Wheel instruction.
Aftercare Services for Youth 18-21 years old
  • Housing deposit (up to $1,000) - youth must have proof of income
  • First month’s rent
  • Utility deposit
  • Basic furniture (up to $600; e.g. sofa, tables, chairs, bed, desk)
  • Household items for apartment (up to $600; e.g. bedding, storage, hangers, towels, lamps,
  • clocks)
  • Household appliances (up to $500; e.g. microwave, refrigerator, TV, vacuum)
  • Transportation for emergency situations for school, work or medical
  • Emergency car repairs (Availability limited on a case-by-case basis.) - 2 estimates and proof of income required (up to $1,000/year)
  • GED/High School expenses (See limits in “High School Expenses” section)
  • Cell phones – Contact a coordinator for assistance in applying to Safelink for a free prepaid phone.
Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) for Youth (Ages 16-23) in Postsecondary Education

ETV funds are available to help pay necessary costs of attending college or vocational training degree or certificate programs, such as:  tuition, grants, transportation, computers, and room and board.  ETV may pay up to $5,000 a year of expenses that are not paid by grants, and should be utilized prior to Independent Living Funds, when available.

  • Available for ages 16-23 (services end at 23rd birthday)
  • High School Diploma or GED is required.

June is National Reunification Month It is a time to recognize the families and people who support reunification around the country that make it possible for families to stay together.

On average each year, 49% of children in the U.S. are reunified with their families after being placed into foster care.*
*Source AFCARS 2018

Story in Statistics On average each year, 49% of children in the U.S. are reunified with their families after being placed into foster care. Source AFCARS 2018

TRAININGS AND CONFERENCES (For Fairfax County Foster Parents Only)

mechanical wheels Sadly, due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, our Fairfax County in-service trainings are temporarily on hold while we work on bringing them to an online platform in the future. We understand your need for on-going training, and we encourage you to explore other options for virtual trainings at this time.

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. We plan to email you weekly with in-service training suggestions; however, you may choose to take any class you believe will be helpful for your own personal growth and development.

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


envelopeWhat do you want to see in Foster Family News?

Submit your suggestions to Angela Morlu.



Check out past issues of Foster Family News.

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