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 – Frequently Asked Questions

Foster Family Newsletter banner

question marks

Each issue of Foster Family News contains a Frequently Asked Question. Check out the questions and answers that have been in previous issues.

1. What is Fostering Futures?

In Virginia, the 2016 Appropriations Act (item 346 #3c) authorized the extension of foster care to up to age 21, in a program known as Fostering Futures, for youth who reach age 18 on or after July 1, 2016 and:

  • Were in foster care at the time they turned 18 years old but have not yet turned 21.
  • Were released from Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) between ages 18 and 21 and who were in foster care in custody of a Virginia LDSS immediately prior to the commitment to DJJ.

Youth must meet at least one of these five criteria to continue to be eligible for the program:

  • Completing secondary education or in a GED program
  • Enrolled in college or a vocational program
  • Attending classes to promote employment or remove barriers to employment
  • Working at least 80 hours per month, or
  • Unable to meet one of the four conditions above due to a documented medical reason.

2. Who is permitted to babysit?

Anybody the foster parent deems is fit to take care of their child in the parent’s absence can babysit a foster child. The Department of Family Services does not need background checks for babysitters. The expectation is that the foster parent has vetted a potential babysitter and this is not ongoing childcare or daycare. A child’s special needs should be considered by the foster parent when choosing a babysitter. Note that we do need background checks on childcare providers for the children in care.

3. How do we register youth for free classes at rec centers?

The Fairfax County Park Authority offers a variety of activities, classes, programing, and recreation centers for county residents. Fairfax County youth in foster care often meet the criteria for scholarships or reduced fees for Park Authority classes. Find out more about qualification criteria and steps to apply for fee waivers and scholarships.

In addition, Fairfax County Park Authority offers Rec-PAC Summer programs, and therapeutic recreational camp programs are available through Neighborhood Community Services.

4. What is the Foster Parent Support Line and how and when do I access it? What is the Child Protective Services Hotline and how and when do I access it?

The Foster Parent Support Line is an answering service available to Fairfax County foster parents, residential facilities, and group homes after-hours emergencies seven days a week. The phone number, 703-257-3974, is written on the Foster Parent Code of Ethics. Families can also obtain the number from their resource specialist, foster care and adoption specialist, or placement coordinator. The Foster Parent Support Line is always monitored by a live person. Once a call is received, the individual from the support line will either patch the foster parent directly through to the resource specialist or placement coordinator on call, or take a message so the family can be called back. The Foster Parent Support Line is a conduit for the foster parent to pass on important information about the children in their home regarding a medical need or emergency, behavior challenges or changes, or to seek advice and reassurance. 

The Child Protective Services (CPS) Hotline is a number used by a caller concerning the maltreatment of a child. Foster parents, along with other community members, are mandated reporters. The CPS Hotline is a 24-hour hotline. During business hours Monday through Friday, callers may call the Fairfax County CPS Hotline at 703-324-7400. After business hours and on the weekends, calls are rolled over to the Virginia Department of Social Services hotline in Richmond, Virginia.  

5. How much can I spend on clothing for children placed in my home? What is reimbursable?

The Virginia Department of Social Services administers a yearly clothing allowance to all children in foster care. The amount depends on the age of the child and is listed on the Financial Agreement foster parents sign at the time a child joins their family. Clothing, socks, shoes, coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and undergarments are reimbursable. Individualized receipts are required for each child. If upon a child’s arrival, it is necessary to buy clothes, foster parents should spend no more than $100 until the 5-Day Hearing. Any amount of money spent in the first few days of a child’s arrival is applied to the yearly amount. The monthly maintenance also provides money for additional clothing expenditures, and this amount varies based on the age of the child. This amount is given in addition to the annual clothing allowance, and it does not require receipts.  

6. What is the process for traveling out of state or out of the country with a child placed in my home?

Approval for out-of-country travel must be obtained from the director of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services. Efforts will be made to locate the birth parent to obtain permission for the trip. We will also need the following information from foster parents to obtain approval: 

  • Information about who will be accompanying the child or the caregiver responsible for the child during the trip. 
  • Details and an itinerary for the trip. 
  • Information about how the Department will be able to contact the caregiver accompanying the child in the event of an emergency.  

At a minimum, please submit requests for out-of-country travel at least four weeks before the anticipated travel dates. However, the foster care specialist will need the request eight weeks before the trip to ensure proper passports, visas, or other requirements for traveling out of country be obtained prior to the trip. The specialist will work collaboratively with the birth parent or foster parent to obtain this information. In addition, prior to leaving for the trip, the specialist must obtain a written assurance from the caregiver accompanying the child that he/she will provide for the child’s safety and legal needs during the trip. The specialist will provide the caregiver with authorization to obtain medical treatment.   
 
For planned out-of-state travel, foster parents should notify the specialist at least one week prior to the departure. For emergencies, foster parents should notify the specialist as soon as possible. The specialist will need to assess whether such travel conflicts with other activities, such as visits with birth family members. 
  
If foster parents are asking the Department to pay for any travel expenses, they will need to notify the Department at least 3 weeks prior to leaving. The Department will not reimburse any expense after the fact.  
 
Note: Traveling to D.C. and Maryland is not considered out-of-state travel. 

7. How do I arrange for summer camp? Who is responsible for payment?

Children who are placed in foster homes approved by the department may attend a specialized summer camp within the following guidelines:  

Approval of expenditures up to $500 may be given by the child’s specialist. The program manager will consider exceptions to this amount only if the child has a significant disability or the cost of camp is less than the child’s day care expenses. The approval must be given in advance by the child’s specialist, with sufficient time for the department’s contracts staff to work out a fiscal agreement with the camp. Payment for camp may be made only by the department directly to the camp. We are unable to reimburse foster parents if they make payment to a camp. (Note: The department still pays for regular daycare summer camp for school-aged children; this FAQ refers to specialized summer camps only.)

Reimbursement for other types of recreational fees, such as for a class or entry ticket to a major amusement attraction (e.g., Busch Gardens, Kings Dominion, etc.) must be approved in advance by the specialist. The decision to make a direct payment to the vendor by the department or to reimburse the foster parent will be made on a case-by-case basis. 

8. When do we engage relatives in the foster care process?

Searching for and engaging relatives is an ongoing process throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system. It should begin as soon as the child is at risk of being placed outside of the home and continue with a sense of urgency until the child has achieved permanency.

Even when placed in safe and loving foster homes, children often want a connection to their biological family. Relatives and other individuals can provide important connections and support for the child at risk of or in foster care. They can help the child in preventing foster care, during the foster care experience, in transitioning to permanency, and throughout adulthood. Strong connections with family members provide the child with stability, long-term safety nets, and the necessary foundations for success in adulthood.

Within 30 calendar days (5 days when feasible) after the separation of a child from the custody of the parent(s) (Social Security Act, Title IV, § 471 (a) (29) [42 USC 671]), the Department shall notify in writing all grandparents and other adult relatives, both maternal and paternal. The purpose of the written notice is to explain to the relative options they have to participate in the care and placement of the child, in an effort to establish permanency for the child.

The goal of reunifying the child with birth parents or prior custodians is, in most cases, the best plan for a child.  However, ongoing engagement of relatives allows for the concurrent goal of adoption by a relative or placement with a relative.  Engaging relatives can reduce the number of children aging out of foster care without a permanent family and increases the number of children leaving foster care to a permanent, safe, and loving home.

The process of engaging relatives should be guided by the desires and needs of the child, consistent with the child’s developmental level. The child should be involved as soon as possible in the process, taking into account the child’s circumstances and best interests.

As family members are identified, opportunities for reconnecting and re-engaging them in the child’s life should be explored.

When family members indicate interest in connecting with the child, the Department will engage these individuals to gather information, build relationships, and explore relative placement options for the child.

Relationships with family members and other adults should be reconsidered throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system. The child’s needs and desires, and the individual’s circumstances may change over time. Someone who initially was not able to assist the child may be a valuable resource at another time.

(Information adapted from Virginia DSS Foster Care Policy Manual)

9. What should I do if a child damages property in my home?

Follow these steps if a child in your home damages property:

  • As soon as damage is discovered, contact your foster care or resource specialist.
  • The foster care specialist must review the damage in the home within 30 days of damage occurring.
  • Within 7 days of the report to the foster care or resource specialist, the foster parents should file a claim with their own insurance for damages totaling $3,000 or more. All damages of $1,000 or more require a second estimate.
  • For claims involving destruction, damage, or theft of property, the foster parent must produce evidence the items stolen or damaged were in their possession (pictures showing proof of damages, proof of purchase, etc.).
  • An original signed estimate is required for claims involving repair or replacement of damaged property. A statement regarding the feasibility of repair, versus replacement, should be included. Additional estimates may be requested at the discretion of the Local Department of Social Services or Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS).
  • A completed claim should contain the following: Foster Care Contingency Fund Claim Form, VDSS W-9 Form and all supporting documentation, to include a picture of the damage. These must be submitted to VDSS within 45 days of the discovery of the loss or damage.
  • All damage or destruction of property claims are reviewed and approved by the Virginia Department of Social Services Regional Consultant.

10. Why am I not getting a placement?

If a family is very specific about the type of child they are willing to parent, and children necessitating placement do not meet their criteria, it will take longer for a child to join their family. There may be a delay in placing a child with a family if the family has had recent or significant changes in the status of their home, such as a new household member, marriage, death or divorce. Families sometimes take a break following a very difficult fostering experience, either by their choice or based upon a recommendation from the Department. 

11. How do I identify a medical provider for a child placed in my home?

First, speak with their foster care specialist about previous medical providers the child has had. When possible, try to maintain the relationship your child has had with previous medical providers. If, however, your child does not have a primary doctor or maintaining that provider is not realistic, medical providers should be located through the Medicaid directory. Please speak with your foster care specialist when exploring new providers, because they may already have knowledge of medical/dental providers that accept new patients and Medicaid. They may also want you to choose a provider close to the birth family or relative home, if reunification is the plan. This helps ensure continuity of medical care for a child when they leave foster care. For youth who are undocumented, foster parents in conjunction with the child’s specialist can select a provider and the Department is responsible for medical costs.

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

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

13. What about transportation?

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.

14. What is Respite? How do I access it?

Respite is a service provided to foster parents when they need assistance caring for the child in their home. It is used to maintain or stabilize the family. Respite occurs when a child needs to stay with another foster family either overnight or for an extended period during the day. Respite may be used if the foster parents need to go out of town and are unable to take the child in their home. Respite funds may be used for preplacement visits or visits with siblings or when a youth is stepping down from a higher level of care. Respite is not to be used as punishment for a child. Foster parents can request respite through the foster care and adoption specialist, resource specialist or placement coordinator. The specialist may also request respite but should discuss it with the foster parent first. Respite can be provided in the home of the foster parent where the child lives or in the home of the foster parent providing the respite.

15. What is the difference between foster care and adoption?

Foster care is meant to be temporary. The goal of foster care is to work with the birth parents and relatives so that a child in foster care can successfully return home or be placed with relatives. Foster care has a permanency timeline of one year to work towards achieving reunification. However, this time can be extended if significant progress is being made towards achieving the goals, but outside circumstances prohibit success within the specified timeframe. An example of this might be substance abuse services, mental health treatment or a relative obtaining a mutual family assessment and completion of foster parent training.

Adoption is meant to be permanent. The purpose of adoption is to help children, whose parents are unable to continue with their parental responsibilities, become legally part of a permanent family. The goal of adoption is considered either with relatives or nonrelatives, in order to provide children with permanent family connections. Adoption has a permanency timeline, of twenty-four months, from the time a child enters foster care in which to finalize an adoption.

16. Can the youth in my home have a cell phone? If they already have a cell phone, what are the parameters around allowing them to use it? Who pays for the cell phone?

Cell phone privileges are dependent on the youth’s age and development.  This is an arrangement that should be discussed and planned with the youth’s specialist and foster family.  Every situation is different regarding who is responsible for payment.  A birth parent, youth, foster family or the Department may pay for a cell phone.  As with any youth, foster families should be engaged with the youth placed in their home, and get to know their friends and acquaintances, and monitor relationships. 

17. Can a child or youth have contact with their birth family via telephone, email, text, or social media?

Every family situation is different. Foster parents will likely be advised, by Child Protective Services during the initial placement, whether it is appropriate for a youth to have contact with birth family. Foster parents should feel empowered to ask about contact. They should also be able to ascertain whether the youth has such a device enabling contact, at the time of placement. For questions about contact after the child has been in your home for a period of time, please discuss with the foster care and adoption specialist as it will look different for each child. 

18. What does DFS 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.

19. What do I do if my child gets sick?

The Medical Authorization form, which is given to foster parents at the time of the child’s arrival, explains explicitly what to do in a medical emergency. If a child has a fever or illness afterhours, foster parents can take them to the emergency room or any medical facility that accepts that child’s insurance. Foster parents are asked to call the Foster Parent Support Line at 703-257-3974 to inform the on-call person that the child will be taken to the emergency room. Foster parents should take the Medical Authorization form and Provider Agreement with them in case the facility asks for it. 

20. How do we apply for free/reduced lunch for school-age kids?

Please contact your foster care specialist. They will apply for free/reduced lunch for the child. 

21. What is the role of the Permanency Coordinator and why was one assigned to the child in my home?

The role of the permanency coordinator is to provide intensive support and casework services, to help achieve permanency and/or find lifelong connections for a child in foster care. Legal permanency can occur through reunification, placement with relatives, or adoption. Lifelong connections refer to adults who demonstrate that they have entered an unconditional lifelong relationship with a child and the child agrees that the adults will have this role in their life. The goal of this position is to help reduce the number of children who leave foster care without permanent families or lifelong connections.

The permanency coordinator may work directly with the child or with the foster, biological, or adoptive family, to remove barriers to successfully achieving permanency and lifelong connections.

Some of the services the permanency coordinator may provide are:

  • Family Finding/Family Search – A search for biological family members.
  • Mobility Mapping – An activity with the child, to identify possible family members or lifelong connections.
  • Permanency Assessments – Assessments that help the child and foster parents determine readiness for permanency.
  • Child-Specific Recruitment – Assistance in identifying an adoptive family for a specific child.

22. What are the expectations between the Department and Foster parents regarding communication and response time?

Foster parents can expect a response from our specialists within 1 business day, but no more than 2 days. Please contact the supervisor if you, the foster parent, do not receive a response within this time frame. If you do not hear from the supervisor within 2 business days, please contact the case carrying program manager, Kamonya Omatete, at 703-324-7652. If you have questions regarding the resource specialists, contact Sheila Donaldson Resource & Support program manager at 703-324-7727.

23. How do I set up daycare?

At the time of a referral, placement staff will ask foster parents if they need daycare and make a referral for child care assistance at that time.  Foster parents will be asked if they have flexibility to remain at home until daycare is arranged.  If daycare is necessary during a placement, a foster parent can request assistance from the foster care and adoption specialist or resource specialist.

24. How do we apply for WIC benefits for youth under 5, especially for formula for infants?

Check out this information from the Fairfax County Health Department.

25. What do Life Skills Coordinators do? 

They are responsible for the following:

Life Skills (Casey) Assessments: Self-rating by youth of knowledge, skills, permanency and “looking forward.” CLSA scores are considered in Transition Plans

Transition Plans: A youth-driven, team plan of the goals, roles, responsibilities and services for moving from foster care into adulthood. 

“Chafee” (IL) Funds: Pays certain costs of high school, college prep and independent living (or aftercare for ages 18-21).

Education and Training Vouchers: High school graduates or GED earners may receive up to $5000 for necessary costs of a degree or certificate. For FC&A youth; for Va. foster care adoptees after 16th birthday.  

Life Skills Training: Through Life Skills Coordinators, private provider, other persons serving a youth. Goals chosen using life skills assessment results.   

Work Skills Training: Youth Employment Services, SkillSource Centers, EYE summer employment program.  

NYTD: National Youth in Transition Database. Youth surveys. IL outcomes reports, action.  

More resources: Great Expectations; Youth Advisory Committee; conferences, graduation. 

26. What is the difference between day care and summer camp?

Day care is a service provided to foster parents on a consistent basis, depending on the foster parents’ schedule and the child’s needs.

Summer camp is a special activity or interest that is provided for youth in foster care.  

27. How do I manage a youth's use of social media?

Child Welfare Information gateway has excellent information – Social Media: Tips for Foster Parents and Caregivers and more resources.

28. What is Fostering Futures?

In Virginia, the 2016 Appropriations Act (item 346 #3c) authorized the extension of foster care to up to age 21, in a program known as Fostering Futures, for youth who reach age 18 on or after July 1, 2016 and:

  • Were in foster care at the time they turned 18 years old but have not yet turned 21.
  • Were released from Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) between ages 18 and 21 and who were in foster care in custody of a Virginia LDSS immediately prior to the commitment to DJJ.

Youth must meet at least one of these five criteria to continue to be eligible for the program:

  • Completing secondary education or in a GED program;
  • Enrolled in college or a vocational program;
  • Attending classes to promote employment or remove barriers to employment
  • Working at least 80 hours per month; or
  • Unable to meet one of the four conditions above due to a documented medical reason.

29. When do we engage relatives in the foster care process?

Searching for and engaging relatives is an ongoing process throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system. It should begin as soon as the child is at risk of being placed outside of the home and continue with a sense of urgency until the child has achieved permanency.
Even when placed in safe and loving foster homes, children often want a connection to their biological family. Relatives and other individuals can provide important connections and support for the child at risk of or in foster care. They can help the child in preventing foster care, during the foster care experience, in transitioning to permanency, and throughout adulthood. Strong connections with family members provide the child with stability, long-term safety nets, and the necessary foundations for success in adulthood.

Within 30 calendar days (5 days when feasible) after the separation of a child from the custody of the parent(s) (Social Security Act, Title IV, § 471 (a) (29) [42 USC 671]), the Department shall notify in writing all grandparents and other adult relatives, both maternal and paternal. The purpose of the written notice is to explain to the relative options they have to participate in the care and placement of the child, in an effort to establish permanency for the child.

The goal of reunifying the child with birth parents or prior custodians is, in most cases, the best plan for a child.  However, ongoing engagement of relatives allows for the concurrent goal of adoption by a relative or placement with a relative.  Engaging relatives can reduce the number of children aging out of foster care without a permanent family and increases the number of children leaving foster care to a permanent, safe, and loving home.

The process of engaging relatives should be guided by the desires and needs of the child, consistent with the child’s developmental level. The child should be involved as soon as possible in the process, taking into account the child’s circumstances and best interests.
As family members are identified, opportunities for reconnecting and re-engaging them in the child’s life should be explored.

When family members indicate interest in connecting with the child, the Department will engage these individuals to gather information, build relationships, and explore relative placement options for the child.

Relationships with family members and other adults should be reconsidered throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system. The child’s needs and desires, and the individual’s circumstances may change over time. Someone who initially was not able to assist the child may be a valuable resource at another time.

(Information adapted from Virginia DSS Foster Care Policy Manual).

30. How do we register youth for free classes at rec centers?

The Fairfax County Park Authority offers a variety of activities, classes, programing, and recreation centers for county residents. Fairfax County youth in foster care often meet the criteria for scholarships or reduced fees for Park Authority classes. Find out more information about qualification criteria and steps to apply for fee waivers and scholarships.

In addition, Fairfax County Park Authority offers Rec-PAC Summer programs, and therapeutic recreational camp programs are available through Neighborhood Community Services.

31. How much can I spend on clothing for children placed in my home?

The Virginia Department of Social Services administers a yearly clothing allowance to all children in foster care. The amount depends on the age of the child and is listed on the Financial Agreement foster parents sign at the time a child joins their family. Clothing, socks, shoes, coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and undergarments are reimbursable. Individualized receipts are required for each child. If upon a child’s arrival, it is necessary to buy clothes, foster parents should spend no more than $100 until the 5-Day Hearing. Any amount of money spent in the first few days of a child’s arrival is applied to the yearly amount. The monthly maintenance also provides money for additional clothing expenditures, and this amount varies based on the age of the child. This amount is given in addition to the annual clothing allowance, and it does not require receipts. 

32. When do we engage relatives in the foster care process?

Searching for and engaging relatives is an ongoing process throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system. It should begin as soon as the child is at risk of being placed outside of the home and continue with a sense of urgency until the child has achieved permanency.

Even when placed in safe and loving foster homes, children often want a connection to their biological family. Relatives and other individuals can provide important connections and support for the child at risk of or in foster care. They can help the child in preventing foster care, during the foster care experience, in transitioning to permanency, and throughout adulthood. Strong connections with family members provide the child with stability, long-term safety nets, and the necessary foundations for success in adulthood.

Within 30 calendar days (5 days when feasible) after the separation of a child from the custody of the parent(s) (Social Security Act, Title IV, § 471 (a) (29) [42 USC 671]), the Department shall notify in writing all grandparents and other adult relatives, both maternal and paternal. The purpose of the written notice is to explain to the relative options they have to participate in the care and placement of the child, in an effort to establish permanency for the child.

The goal of reunifying the child with birth parents or prior custodians is, in most cases, the best plan for a child.  However, ongoing engagement of relatives allows for the concurrent goal of adoption by a relative or placement with a relative.  Engaging relatives can reduce the number of children aging out of foster care without a permanent family and increases the number of children leaving foster care to a permanent, safe, and loving home.

The process of engaging relatives should be guided by the desires and needs of the child, consistent with the child’s developmental level. The child should be involved as soon as possible in the process, taking into account the child’s circumstances and best interests.

As family members are identified, opportunities for reconnecting and re-engaging them in the child’s life should be explored.

When family members indicate interest in connecting with the child, the Department will engage these individuals to gather information, build relationships, and explore relative placement options for the child.

Relationships with family members and other adults should be reconsidered throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system. The child’s needs and desires, and the individual’s circumstances may change over time. Someone who initially was not able to assist the child may be a valuable resource at another time.

(Information adapted from Virginia DSS Foster Care Policy Manual.)

33. What do I do if my child gets sick?

The Medical Authorization form, which is given to foster parents at the time of the child’s arrival, explains explicitly what to do in a medical emergency. If a child has a fever or illness afterhours, foster parents can take them to the emergency room or any medical facility that accepts that child’s insurance. Foster parents are asked to call the Foster Parent Support Line at 703-257-3974 to inform the on-call person that the child will be taken to the emergency room. Foster parents should take the Medical Authorization form and Provider Agreement with them in case the facility asks for it.

(go to Foster Family News current issue or archive)

Back to top

Fairfax Virtual Assistant