NewFound News for You
Follow along with NewFound Families as we work to support families. In this news column we seek to provide current information about the admininistration of the child welfare system. Become part of our community and join us on Facebook.
We just closed the book on National Foster Care Month, a month long celebration of foster parents who have stepped up and welcomed a foster child into their lives, and foster families who are making it work and growing stronger together every day.
Foster parents need to be recognized and celebrated. Being a parent is no walk in the park, but being a foster parent has its own challenges and surprises. As part of National Foster Care Month, we interviewed a few foster parents in our network with the hopes of sharing some real experiences and perhaps shining a light on what it’s like to be a foster parent.
1. How has your life changed since becoming a foster parent?
Becoming a foster parent will definitely change your life. You will have to make adjustments, and plenty of sacrifices. As Lori puts it:
“Nothing is about you anymore. Every day you are now doing everything for this child who depends on you…. You think twice about everything you do because of this child.” - Lori
It’s natural for new foster parents to feel overwhelmed by this new responsibility. It can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember why you wanted to foster in the first place. As Karen says:
“If you feel passionate about helping children, it can be very rewarding watching a child heal. I also hope my children are learning empathy towards other children that have been traumatized and disrupted.” - Karen
Take care of yourself. We hear that so often, but it is often an impossible task if you have a compassion for children who have survived abuse, neglect or abandonment. We consider it a calling to step up and self-sacrifice. No one is likely to convince you that there must be time for you, but let us try.
It is important to develop strategies that will help you meet your calling and commitment to protect and nurture children while also ensuring your own safety and satisfaction in knowing your work is making a difference. Setting limits that honor your commitment will allow you to continue protecting and nurturing children while protecting you and your family.
"The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet." - Dr. Naomi Rachel Remen
At NewFound Families Virginia, we believe every child deserves a loving, nurturing home. Since April is Autism Awareness Month, we felt it prudent to shed some light on how you can make a difference in the life of a child with special needs.
Special needs adoptions include children who qualify for adoption assistance due to specific factors or conditions such as:
- Medical conditions (such as autism)
- Physical, mental, or emotional disabilities
- Being an older child
- Having a particular racial or ethnic background
- Being part of a sibling group needing to be placed together as one unit
In a response to a meeting held with families from across the state regarding the need for oversight of local department practices in some areas of the state, we received this response from the leadership of Virginia Department of Social Services.
The Commissioner and I had an opportunity to chat about the request and where we are with our system improvements. We are working diligently to implement sustainable practice changes to improve our child welfare practice throughout the Commonwealth. The Practice Profiles have been developed and are being rolled-out and operationalized in our 120 local departments. While we are rolling these out, we are also partnering with Rutgers University to evaluate the Profiles and the implementation process. While the results are not final, we are finding significant child welfare outcome improvements from those agencies who were early adopters of the Profiles.
The first Permanency Advisory Committee meeting of 2018 was held on March 15th. Representatives from VDSS shared updates on several legislative and policy issues, and shared information about upcoming state and regional events. Representatives from local DSS offices shared input and creative problem-solving ideas, as well as areas where they are needing more guidance from the state.
One of the first conversations was related to the struggle across the state to enable children to achieve permanency post-TPR. Several localities noted a recent increase in lengthy appeals, and extended waits for rulings from circuit court judges. A desire was expressed that some way could be found to educate judges on the impact these delays has on the emotional well-being of a waiting child. It was also noted that some localities do not have a dedicated-adoption worker, and thus it takes longer to process adoption paperwork in some situations.
PAC Meeting Blog
written by Jaoni Wood and Lisa Mathey, NewFound Families Representatives
On December 13th, the Permanency Advisory Committee (PAC) met in Charlottesville to discuss several agenda items intended to improve Virginia’s child welfare system. Jaoni Wood and Lisa Mathey were there to share input from the family perspective.