Q: Do both parents in a two-parent home have to attend the pre-service training?
A: Yes, all persons in the parenting role must attend the pre-service training. If you have recently completed pre-service training from another Child Placing Agency, we may be able to accept it in place of our in-service training. A copy of your certificate must be submitted for review.
Q: Am I considered “financially stable” if I receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW) services, or other benefits through public assistance programs?
A: Probably not, although this is a case-by-case judgment by the Agency. Our reasoning is that we should help a family progress beyond needing public assistance before we consider adding to their financial burden. Our Resource Parents are not paid; they only receive a monthly maintenance payment based on the age of the child. This maintenance payment is meant to cover the cost of clothing, food, appropriate developmental activities and other necessities for the child. During the approval process, family income is assessed to determine if there are enough resources to meet the needs of a child.
Q: Do I have to own my home to become a Resource Parent?
A: No, but stability is a key factor. You must be able to document your living arrangements (typically with a lease or mortgage) and your home must meet basic requirements for safety, cleanliness and space for each child and their belongings.
Q: How long does the approval process take?
A: At least 8-12 weeks. During the process, we also conduct interviews and visit the home. All forms are turned in before or during class, the results from background checks are usually available in 3 – 4 weeks. All the information collected on forms, in interviews and in visits is used to create a document called the Mutual Family Assessment. The first Home visit for participants in a particular class should be finished about a week or two after class ends. Depending on the size of the class, the last Home visit may not be finished for several weeks after class ends. Also remember that pre-service training is only offered three times per year, so you may have a few weeks to wait before class starts. Sometimes, depending on the needs of a child in a specific case, we can obtain a temporary variance regarding training completion for close relatives. (training must still be completed the first time it is available during a temporary variance).
Q: Is my history of criminal charges or my DMV record going to be held against me?
A: We will use your history of criminal charges (if any) and your DMV record to determine if a child would be in a safe and appropriate home. A release for DMV records, a release for a check of the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect, a state, local and national criminal check are all included as part of your initial application process. Everyone in the home who is of age 18 or over must submit the background checks/fingerprints. Everyone in the home who will transport the children must submit a DMV records release.
Q: As an approved Resource Family, do I have to accept any placement you offer my family?
A: No. Our goal is to understand which children will be successful in your home. This is how we minimize the chances that a child will be moved from one family to another. Repeated moves from one family to another are very traumatic to the children. During the approval process you will explain what ages will work in your home, if you prefer only girls or only boys, which special needs you are prepared for, concerns about shift work or day care, etc. When we understand more about your family / home / community, we can determine if the conditions are developmentally appropriate for specific children. Of course, some parents are coming forward as a relative or because of a previous relationship with a child. We try to accommodate those situations if they support the best interests of the child and meet the legal requirements.
Q: Are there any medical screening requirements during the approval process?
A: Yes. Each person in the parenting role must submit a current physician’s statement regarding their current health. (dated less than 12 months before the application) Each person in the household, no matter the age, must submit results of a TB screening. (dated less than 12 months before the application).
Q: What is a Resource Family or Resource Parent?
A: A “Resource Family” or “Resource Parent” has been approved by the Agency for placement of children in foster care. We use “Resource” as a way to include kinship families (relatives), foster families, and adoptive families. We try to use “Resource” when talking about all types of families. Usually when you see “Foster Parent” or “Kinship Family” or any of the more specific terms, we are talking about just that type of family.
Q: Are single parents eligible to become Resource Parents?
A: Yes – Resource Parents must be at least 18, may be married or single, may work outside the home, and must be able to provide a safe, structured, happy home.
Q: How much does the approval process cost?
A: There is no charge for the pre-service training or the approval process, except for the health related forms. You will be responsible for the physician’s statement required for each person in a parenting role. We currently have arrangements for the Health Department to conduct TB screenings/tests for parents at no charge to the applicants. Applicants are responsible for TB screenings/tests on others living in the home. (screening consists of answering questions, tests only become needed if the answers indicate there may be some exposure to TB; pediatricians are often willing to screen patients based on their knowledge of the health history). The other forms for background checks, visits to the home, etc. are conducted/processed by SVSS at no charge.
Q: Fostering is not right for my family at this time – is there another way we can help?
A: Yes, there are many ways to help. Visit our Volunteer page to see some ideas, and our Foster Love Ministries posts to find local groups who are already working to support fostering in our community (both available from our “home” page). Mentors and Support Families are valuable members of the Foster Care Team.
Submit a question to Heather Hudnall and she will try to respond by the end of the next work day.