10 Things Every Foster Parent In Virginia Should Know
1. The Code of Ethics and Mutual Responsibilities Placement Agreement
For each placement the foster parent is to receive the Code of Ethics and Mutual Responsibilities Placement Agreement with an attached Financial Agreement. The Code of Ethics should be reviewed during annual training and at each placement, so that parents and workers can discuss what has been working well and how they can mutually improve experiences for children. The document should be signed by the parent, worker, and the agency director/designee. The attached financial agreement should indicate the amount of maintenance payments and the date which the agency will provide that payment on a monthly basis, so foster parents are able to develop their budgets. This placement agreement is required by state policy as approved by the State Board of Social Services.
2. Reimbursement Rates
Foster Parents are entitled to basic monthly maintenance reimbursement. An agency may determine that a childâ€™s needs require additional daily supervision by foster parents or a foster parent may request an agency evaluation of the need for additional daily supervision payments. Local Departments of Socials Services may utilize the Virginia Enhanced Maintenance Assessment Tool (VEMAT) to decide the rate for any additional reimbursement payments to foster parents. Private agencies are required to use the VEMAT before making any additional reimbursement payments to foster parents.
3. Foster Parents as Participants in the Decision-making Process
Agencies are required to work with foster parents as a member of the professional team and must give notice to foster parents of all court hearings, Family Assessment Planning Team (FAPT) meetings and foster care planning meetings. Foster parents have the right to attend and be heard at these events/meetings.
4. Placement Decisions cannot be Appealed
One of the most challenging issues for foster parents is the occasion when a child is removed from their home. Foster parents do not have any appeal rights regarding placement decisions. The agency or the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services may remove the child placed for foster care at any time from your home. When this occurs be sure that you know the person making the removal or ask for a written document indicating that the person is removing the child under the authority of the agency, the court, or the Commissioner, unless the removal is as a result of an abuse or neglect allegation. Removals for abuse or neglect are conducted by child protective services and/or police in which case you will be presented with their credentials.
5. Child-specific Information Requirements
The court is required by Virginia law to provide you with the court-approved service plan for every child in your care. The local agency is required to provide you with all available information about the child which is relevant to the care of the child.
6. Information Foster Parents must Share with the Agency
You are required to provide the local agency with any information from the child that can impact their care or may be otherwise relevant to the agency responsible for the care and protection of the child (be sure to keep a log of all information provided to the agency including dates and times).
All information provided to foster parents is required to be kept confidential. In addition, photographs of children in foster care which may be used in a public setting or shared outside of the immediate family are required to be shared only with the express written permission of the legal custodian of the child.
8. Foster Parent Participation in Educational Planning
If a child in your home has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), then as a foster parent you are allowed to participate in that process and sign the IEP, if the birth parent is not participating in the IEP process. However, if the birth parent requests to participate in this process, then you may still attend and provide feedback, but the birth parent is the one to sign off on the plan.
9. Foster Parent Petitioning for Adoption
Foster parents may themselves, petition the courts to adopt any child for whom parental rights have been terminated when the child has been in their home for a continuous 18 months.
10. Respite Care for Foster Parents
Foster Parents may request respite through the local department. Respite is funded solely by the state. Local agencies have access to these funds and the rules for using respite are flexible and designed to prevent foster care disruptions.