Dec. 4, 2019
Good day, and welcome to the Fairfax County News to Use podcast. Coming up, learn about the new Fairfax Virtual Assistant, foster care and adoption and how you can help, donating food to help others while reducing your library fines and Park Authority gift cards. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
Fairfax Virtual Assistant, a new chatbot powered by artificial intelligence, is available to assist residents with questions on a few selected topics. The chatbot icon is visible in the bottom right corner of the screen on the public website, www.fairfaxcounty.gov. This chatbot went through public beta testing in September, and we have incorporated feedback and suggestions from residents and county staff members. The chatbot is still learning and will be able to answer questions on more topics in the upcoming weeks. See it in action at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
Today, nearly 200 Fairfax County children are in foster care. Foster care refers to finding a temporary home for a child outside the home where he or she had been raised. This may occur as a result of abuse, neglect or other circumstances that put the child at risk. The Department of Family Services' Foster Care and Adoption Program offers temporary foster homes for children and services to help their families. During this time, family problems are addressed so that the child can return home safely, or plans are made to find a safe and nurturing home for the child outside his or her birth family When a child cannot return home safely, we seek to find relatives who want to care for the child and are legally eligible to do so. If a relative is not identified, or is unable to care for the child, we seek a permanent home through adoption. Are you interested in becoming a foster parent? Call 703-324-7639, TTY 711.
A recent Fairfax County study revealed 8.4% of students reported going hungry in the past month due to a lack of food in the home, a factor that impacts a child’s ability to learn. With the library’s commitment to literacy and learning, it made perfect sense to partner with Food for Others, a not-for-profit food pantry and food rescue operation, during December to serve Fairfax County families living with food insecurity. Anyone, including customers without fines and community members without library cards, can support their neighbors by bringing canned goods and other non-perishable items to their nearest library branch. Donations also can reduce or eliminate fines accrued on an individual’s library card account. Each item donated will erase $1 from a patron’s overdue fines up to a maximum of $15 per account. Non-perishable food items most needed include canned meats and tuna, macaroni and cheese, cereal, peanut butter, canned stew and chili, pasta and rice, pasta sauce, canned fruit, beans, fruit juice and vegetable oil. This year non-food items such as shampoo, deodorant, diapers, paper towels and toilet paper are also welcome. Learn more at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library under news and events.
This holiday season give the gift that’s always a perfect fit. Treat everyone on your list to a Fairfax County Park Authority gift card they can customize to suit their own style. Gift cards can be used for camps, classes, workouts or a day at the water park. The cards can help keep kids busy or help adults with their New Year’s fitness resolutions. Recipients can use the cards to learn a new skill or pursue a familiar passion. Gift cards are a great stocking stuffer or present for that person who seems to have everything. You can purchase Park Authority gift cards at all RECenters and nature centers in amounts ranging from $20 to $999. They can be used to purchase RECenter passes, Park Authority classes and camps, admission to the Water Mine, and rounds of miniature golf at all courses except Jefferson District. And for the golfer in your life, golf gift cards are available at all Park Authority golf courses in amounts starting as low as $25. Learn more at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks, search gift cards .
Finally, join Fairfax County on Facebook and follow our updates at facebook.com/fairfaxcounty. You can also follow Fairfax County on Twitter for key updates from across county government at twitter.com/fairfaxcounty. Or if you like visuals better, follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/fairfaxcounty.
That’s all for this News to Use podcast. Thanks for listening. For more information about the topics in this podcast and for news updates, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news. You also may call 703-FAIRFAX, that’s 703-324-7329, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or email firstname.lastname@example.org. News to Use is produced by the Fairfax County, Va., Government.