In Virginia, the need for supportive, nurturing foster homes is great. Especially now, as the opioid epidemic and other forms of drug abuse are fracturing families and sending more and more children and teens into the foster care system. Currently, Virginia is ranked the worst in the nation for teens aging out of foster care before they can find permanent homes. More than ever, DePaul needs compassionate individuals who can open their homes and hearts to children in foster care. If you have considered becoming a foster parent but want to know more about the process, the list below details eight steps on how you can become a foster parent with DePaul.
- Contact one of DePaul’s foster care recruiters or resource family specialists for your specific area. They are the first point of contact for those interested in learning more about fostering with DePaul. They can answer your initial questions, provide you with preliminary information and resources, and help you begin your journey to becoming a foster parent.
- Attend a foster parent orientation session (if available). These informational sessions help prospective foster parents understand the process of obtaining approval to provide services with DePaul. Contact your nearest DePaul office to find out when the next foster parent orientation will be held in your area. The informational meetings are always posted on our Facebook page as well!
- Submit an application. Whether you attend a foster parent orientation session or just stop by our office, you can obtain an application packet requesting basic information about you and other members of your household. DePaul requires personal references as well as permission to complete a background check on everyone in your home age 14 or older. When your completed application is submitted to our office, the home study process can officially begin. The home study ensures your home is a safe and supportive environment for foster children.
- Begin pre-service training. DePaul offers extensive training to help prepare families to care for a young person who may have special needs or previously experienced abuse and neglect. First aid training and adult/child/infant CPR are also required, if not already certified. Foster parent training takes approximately eight weeks to complete.
- Participate in face-to-face visits with a resource family specialist. As part of the home study process, one of our family resource specialists will meet with you and each member of your family to assess and discuss foster care. At least one of these visits will take place in your home so we can ensure it has adequate space and will meet the needs of our foster children. DePaul’s foster homes must meet certain safety standards and be compliant with state regulations concerning the physical environment of the home.
- Complete background checks and other required paperwork. Prospective foster parents are screened according to federal regulations, including a national fingerprint background check and a Child Protective Services history check to ensure there is no serious criminal record or a history of child abuse. DePaul also reviews driving records, financial stability, and the health status of all family members.
- Complete pre-service training. All prospective foster parents must complete their pre-service training coursework, including all required in-person sessions and online modules.
- Receive approval to foster with DePaul. After your home study, required trainings, and required home visits are complete, you will receive approval and become certified to provide foster care with DePaul. At this point, a DePaul caseworker will work to find the best possible match for you and your home. Once a foster child is placed in your home, DePaul will provide ongoing training, financial support, 24-hour crisis assistance, and support from an assigned foster care specialist.
All in all, the process to become a foster parent with DePaul typically takes three to six months, depending on how quickly meetings and trainings are completed. It is a small time commitment when compared to the lasting impact foster parents make upon the children and teens who are forever changed by their unconditional love. If you are ready to make a difference in a child’s life, please reach out to us at 888.233.7285 or contact your nearest DePaul Community Resources office to speak with a foster care recruiter or resource family specialist.
Related: Read Become a Foster Parent
Related: Read Foster FAQs