Department of Family Services – Children, Youth and Families

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

Foster Care Unit Success Story: Family Commitment Leads to Success, Independence, and Belonging

Foster Family News banner graphic

(Posted 2024 April)

adult and child holding hands outsideAt the age of 4 years old, Jack* and his younger siblings were separated from their biological mother after experiencing repeated neglect. The children went to live with relatives in Fairfax County. As Jack grew, he demonstrated behavioral challenges requiring temporary out of home placements for treatment including a group home, a residential placement, and mental health services. The county provided a variety of interventions to support Jack and his family in an effort to maintain the children’s placement with their relatives. 

Overcoming Behavioral Challenges
Despite the ongoing support, the safety concerns continued and resulted in Jack and his siblings entering foster care in October 2017. Jack was placed in a different home from his siblings and contact with his siblings was not recommended until the children’s treatment providers agreed and a safety plan was developed. Staff contacted many of Jack’s relatives in search of a kinship placement; however, given the family dynamics, behavioral concerns and level of supervision that would be required to care for Jack, it took a long time to identify a relative willing to commit to caring for him long-term.

child holding basketballJack was a respectful and smart young man who enjoyed and excelled in school. He was also an artist who loved playing basketball and video games. The foster care goal for Jack was to reside in a foster home placement in the community until a relative placement was identified for him. He unfortunately experienced multiple moves from foster homes to group homes throughout his time in foster care. These moves resulted in transferring to several different schools and leaving friends and trusted adults. Jack received intensive services in and outside of school to support his behavioral challenges and the many transitions he experienced.

Relatives Provide Hope of a Home
Jack’s great-aunt and great-uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Jones*, came forward and expressed interest in becoming a placement for him. They completed the process to become a resource home and were approved in 2019. Prior to Jack moving to their Virginia Beach home, he was living in a group home in Richmond. During this time, Mr. and Mrs. Jones traveled to Richmond to visit Jack regularly and, eventually, overnight visits in their home took place leading up to the transition. Jack clearly became their new priority as they shifted their schedules to be available for frequent visits with him.

Jack anxiously awaited the final approval to move into the Jones’ home. Mr. and Mrs. Jones prepared their home for Jack’s arrival and thought through the many services it would take to help Jack succeed at home, in school, and in the community. Mr. and Mrs. Jones always stood by Jack’s side. They became his strongest advocates and were constantly encouraging and motivating him. After Jack moved to their home, the Jones family made more changes and sacrifices to their lives as they learned to provide Jack with the structure and supervision he required. 

In April 2020, custody of Jack transferred to Mr. and Mrs. Jones after they entered a Kinship Guardianship (KinGAP) Assistance Agreement. The Jones family and Jack continued to face many challenges after the transfer of custody. With the support of the Department of Family Services (DFS), they persevered and sought assistance from every avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Jones are incredibly resourceful and worked hard to help Jack achieve his goals. 

Family Commitment Leads to Success
teen boy with laptop and notebookToday, Jack is now 20 years old and attends West Liberty University in West Virginia. He is living independently and successfully navigating college life. Jack has a 3.5 GPA and is pursuing a major in cyber security. He hopes to work at the Pentagon after graduating from college.

Jack returns home to Virginia Beach for the holidays and spends time with his family. Mr. and Mrs. Jones, along with his previous custodial relatives in Fairfax, have worked together to help Jack and his two siblings resume contact as well. 

Mr. and Mrs. Jones always believed in Jack. They sought custody of him to give him an opportunity to be successful. They encouraged Jack to grow and become an independent young man. Although there were many challenges over the years, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are pleased to share how proud they are of Jack’s accomplishments and how far he has come. This family’s resilience, commitment to Jack, and willingness to partner with DFS allowed Jack to reach his potential. 

*Names changed to protect confidentiality.

This article is provided by Annette Blancas, representing the Adoption and Kinship Assistance Unit.

Adoption and Kinship Assistance Unit
Adoption and Kinship Assistance Unit specialists top row, Left to Right: Annette Blancas, Dyneaka Harrison (administrative assistant), and Kendra Smith (unit supervisor); bottom row, left to right: Rachell Baskerville and Jessica Moser.

This article posting is part of the Foster Family News monthly newsletter designed to keep foster parents informed about all the new and notable happenings in Fairfax County.

Learn about what the Foster Care and Adoption program has planned for foster families - stay on top of trends, participate in trainings and learn about policy changes.

Back to top

Fairfax Virtual Assistant