Virginia has 120 local departments of social services (LDSS) and over 300 private child-placing agencies. As a foster parent you are not bound to any particular locality or private agency until you have signed an agreement with that agency. Once you have signed an agreement you may be required by that agency to not serve any other agency and you may not be permitted to change agencies for a specified time as well. Be sure to read your agreement. Here are some considerations for selecting an agency.
1. What type of foster care do you want to offer?
Are you limited to an age range? Are you able to care for a child with special needs? LDSS will have a range of children from low intensity to high intensity of need. Private agencies will be more focused on children with more intense needs.
2. Have you talked with other foster parents?
FACES can help you find other parents working with agencies you are considering, so you can learn from their experiences. First-hand experiences are key to making a selection which best meets your needs. Contact us at 877-823-2237 (VA FACES) or firstname.lastname@example.org. PLEASE NOTE: Foster families repeatedly report that the most important factor in staying with an agency is the support they receive from the agency; such as, returning phone calls, scheduling visits which respect the family schedule; timely reimbursement of expenses; and timely assistance in securing services for children.
3. Do you know where to find LDSS and private child-place agencies serving your area?
4. How far you are willing to drive to help support the needs of a child?
Children will need transportation to their local schools, various appointments, and visitation with their families. The more flexible you are with transporting children the more options you will have when selecting an agency. There are some reimbursements for mileages, such as mileage reimbursement for transporting children to Medicaid eligible appointments through a private vendor, Logisticare.
5. How many children are on the caseload of workers at the agency?
The higher a workerâ€™s caseload the less time they have to support your family. Caseloads of 15-20 are considered optimum, however most workers will have caseloads higher than this. Keep in mind that workers have many more responsibilities than just visiting with the children on their caseload. There are court appearances, agency meetings, service planning meeting, and many other responsibilities for a foster care worker.