Who can become a foster parent?

DePaul Community Resources seeks caring, temporary families to provide a safe and therapeutic home environment, where children and teens can heal from their trauma of abuse or neglect. Foster parents can be married or unmarried, rent or own their home. Foster parents provide children with unconditional love, nurturance, guidance, supervision, safety, and structure as they adapt to being separated from their birth family. They also work with DePaul staff to address the needs of the youth in their care until they can return to their birth families, move to adoptive homes, or live independently.

What kinds of children does your organization serve?

We serve children and teens from various racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, sometimes with significant histories of trauma. In addition to experiencing trauma, they can have underlying emotional or behavioral issues, low self-esteem, difficulty in school, medical or physical disabilities, and/or intellectual disabilities. While DePaul serves children of all ages, we are especially in need of foster parents who wish to open their home to:

  • children age 8 or older
  • teenagers
  • sibling groups
  • children with a need for increased behavioral supports
  • children in need of a loving home to help achieve their goal of return home or placement with relatives.

What do you look for in foster parents?

More than anything, foster parents need to be able to create a healing environment in their home to provide the love and support needed for the children and teenagers we serve to heal from past abuse/neglect. DePaul looks for the following qualities in foster parents:

  • A love of children and teens
  • Ability to adapt their parenting skills.
  • Commitment
  • Flexibility
  • Warmth and patience
  • A willingness to learn
  • A sense of humor
  • Empathy
  • Ability to work with others in a team effort

How do I become a foster parent?

There are several steps involved in becoming a licensed foster home in Virginia. The home study process is an ongoing mutual assessment to ensure fostering is right for you and your family.

Before a foster child can be placed in your home, DePaul must conduct a home study which entails individual and joint meetings with your partner, ensuring your home is a safe and supportive environment, completion of background checks, and reviews of driving records and health status. The home study process on average can be completed within three to four months, depending on how quickly meetings and pre-service trainings are completed. Once a home study is approved, a DePaul foster care specialist will work with you to determine next steps for placement of a child(ren) or teen in your home.

There is no cost for training or the home study process. We just ask that you commit your time to important trainings and meetings.

Will I be required to go through training?

All prospective foster parents are required to complete pre-service training. Prospective foster parents must also complete adult/child/infant CPR and first aid training. Once foster parents are approved, they are required to complete additional training each year. This additional training schedule ensures that you will continue to be qualified to meet the special needs of foster children.

What type of support can I expect as a DePaul foster parent?

DePaul’s dedicated, professional staff support foster parents every step of the way. DePaul offers:

  • 24/7 emergency assistance
  • Short term care (previously known as respite).
  • Monthly training and monthly support groups
  • Assigned a highly skilled DePaul worker to assist and provide individualized support to the youth and foster family throughout placement.

Do I need to be involved with the child’s birth family?

Because foster care is a temporary situation, your family may be called upon to help the child prepare to return to his or her birth family or to be adopted. Visitation with birth family is often a legal requirement determined by the court to be in the child’s best interest. If that is the case, our organization and foster parents must cooperate with the visitation between the child and birth family members.

Many times, new foster parents are reluctant to become too closely involved with the child’s birth parents. Your concerns in this area are taken into consideration when visitation is planned. Foster parents also help the child to maintain a realistic perception and attitude toward the birth family. They may also be asked to provide information about the child’s growth and development, likes, dislikes, etc., to the court, social workers, or other professionals working with the child.

How can I continue to serve the needs of my own family members?

Becoming foster parents can be very rewarding for both you and your family members. However, it is important that you discuss the decision to become foster parents with all members of your family. It is essential that family members understand the impact that fostering a youth with unique challenges will have on the family routine. If possible, we would encourage you to involve all immediate family members in the decision to accept a particular child into your home. Eventually, family members may also need to be prepared to cope with the departure of a child from the home. DePaul’s dedicated staff members will be there to support your family every step of the way.

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