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Foster Care 101


What is Foster Care?

Simply put, foster care provides a temporary home for children and youth who, through no fault of their own, are unable to safely stay with their families due to abuse, neglect, or maltreatment. Foster care is inherently complex and every case is different so everyone’s experience with the foster care process is unique.


Who Can Become a Foster Parent?

Foster families look many different ways. They come from all backgrounds and races and may have two parents or a single parent. Some foster families have a stay-at-home parent, others work full time. Foster parents must be at least 21, but many are older and may even have adult children who have already moved out. Foster parents may have young or adolescent biological or adopted children or they may not have any children before they begin fostering.


What is the Goal of Foster Care?

Most foster parents are frequently asked if/when they are going to adopt the child(ren) in their care. Though many children are adopted from foster care, most children return to their families. The main goal of foster care is not adoption; it is to reunify families whenever it is safe to do so. Foster care is by design a temporary solution and is not intended to be a long-term solution for children who need a home.


If families are unable to correct the issues that caused a child to be placed in foster care, the goal is to achieve permanency, or a long-term plan for the child. In many cases, the children are adopted, either by their foster family or a family who is exclusively looking to adopt. Unfortunately, not all children and youths who cannot be reunified with family are adopted and many “age out” of the foster care system and are on their own. This is not an ideal outcome as these young people face many additional challenged trying to enter the adult world without the support of a loving family.


What Does Foster Care Look Like?

Traditional foster care involves children who are removed from their homes being placed with a licensed foster family. Children live as a member of the foster family while their parents work on the things they need to do to have the child safely return home.


Sometimes an appropriate foster home cannot be found for a child and a child might go to a residential facility or group home, this is also called congregate care. These are facilities with trained staff members who care for multiple children.

Kinship foster care allows children to live with extended family members or a close nonrelative adult who has a preexisting bond with the child. This gives children the stability of continuing to be a part of their extended families and/or communities and can help them have a smoother transition back to their parent(s) if/when they are able to return home.


Treatment foster care or therapeutic foster care is for children who require specialized care due to serious physical, developmental, emotional, or behavioral needs. Treatment foster care allows children with special needs to live in a family setting while still receiving the care and services they need. Foster parent training for treatment foster care is more intensive and they work to implement a treatment plan specifically designed for each child.


Intercept Treatment Foster Care provides in-depth initial foster parent training to equip our foster parents with the knowledge and skills they need to care for children with special needs. We also make sure that our foster parents have ongoing support and education so that they can thrive and have a positive foster care experience. We believe that caring well for our foster parents allows them to have a lasting positive impact on their foster children. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent in Virginia, chat with a trainer for more information.

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