Foster care is intended to be a temporary rather than a long-term solution for children who have been removed from their birth family homes for reasons of neglect, abuse, abandonment, or other issues endangering their health and/or safety. Every effort is made to help the child remain with his or her family, however, when a child comes into foster care they are most often placed in a foster home. The foster family works as a team with the local department of social services, the biological family, the child (when applicable) and any additional community partners.
When a child enters foster care, achieving permanency for the child becomes paramount. Permanency is achieved through reunification, placement/custody with relatives or adoption
Family reunification is the process of returning a child to his or her family of origin following a placement in foster care. In Virginia, reunification is the primary goal for children in foster care. Research finds that children do best when raised in their own families, whenever possible. In order to successfully achieve reunification, challenges associated with the birth parents must be thoroughly addressed as the child’s safety and well-being are paramount. This requires the support of the child welfare professionals and the child’s foster parents.
Strong partnerships between birth parents, foster parents, local departments of social services, courts and other community partners are critical to achieving successful reunification and stability for children. Foster parents play a critical role in helping to involve birth families in case planning and decision-making, providing mentoring support of birth parents, and facilitating visits between children and their biological families.
Approximately one-third of children exiting foster care each year return to their parents’ custody. Other outcomes include adoption, the transfer of custody to a relative, and emancipation (or aging out of foster care with no identified family).
For more information visit: https://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/fc/index.cgi