Foster Care WV

Social Media Tips, Rules and Considerations for Foster Parents

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Foster parents often have many concerns about internet safety. You are probably wondering what programs are out there to help monitor social media and if you should set up house rules. We’ve found some resources for you and we hope you find them helpful. If you as a foster parent have any advice to share with other families, please send it to us.

It is important to work with the child(ren) in your care to set up rules and discuss how social media accounts will be monitored.  AdoptUSKids has a good article about teen social media use and what you can do to help them use social media. This article provides a list of questions to ask yourself about where you stand in regard to social media and has some conversation points for talking with teens. Here is the article: https://www.adoptuskids.org/about-us/news-and-announcements/story?k=social-media-teens

You might wonder, how do you set up social media rules and how to you monitor their account closely? Common Sense Media has created a useful worksheet for setting up family media agreements based on the age of the child(ren). This worksheet has the goals of staying safe, thinking first and staying balanced. Examples of a family media plan include agreeing to not give out private information, not setting up an account without permission, only sharing passwords with family and not filling out forms with personal information. Reminding kids to “think first” is an important part of this plan – kids needs to remember to be kind when they communicate online and to remember that the internet is public and information can spread fast and far.  To view this family plan to either use or create one of your own, visit the following link: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/imce/educatefamilies_fma_all.pdf

Facebook offers advice on how to “Play it Safe.” Review the child’s privacy settings with them and show them the Activity Log feature that lets them review and manage what they’ve shared on Facebook. The Facebook advice page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/safety/groups/parents/ Parents should also keep a close eye on the child(ren)’s friend list to see who they are friending and if they are appropriate. An article published by Missouri University states “if adolescents have few friends on Facebook, foster parents need to find out whether they have other, hidden online profiles or if they’re having problems making friends.”

Here are some more resources as you navigate social media and how it can work for your family and the kids in your care.

WV DHHR Policy on Social Media and the lives of foster/adoptive children:

Page 76 section 3, link.

3. It is the policy of the DHHR/BCF to encourage normalcy in the lives of foster/adoptive children. As such, it is acceptable to post photos of a foster/adoptive child(ren) in family or group setting (school, sports, sleepovers, parties, etc.) on social media. However, in any social media posting,(photographic or print) foster/adoptive parents are prohibited from releasing any information regarding: the fact that the children are in a foster/adoptive circumstance, the foster adoptive child(ren)’s previous custodians, geographic or demographic information that could jeopardize the foster child(ren)’s safety, or any other information that would breach the confidentiality provisions of West Virginia Code Section §49-5-101. These prohibitions continue even after any placement has ended. Furthermore, for the safety of the children, it is strongly advised that all such postings be made on private settings, to be seen by the foster/adoptive parent’s friend groups only and not posted publicly.

If you have any questions about social media use, we encourage you to have a conversation with your worker.   

What to Expect When You Contact Mission West Virginia to Learn More About Foster Care and/or Adoption in WV

Mission West Virginia’s FrameWorks program has been working with families for nearly 20 years as they navigate the certification process to become a foster and/or adoptive parent. Our FrameWorks program staff are very knowledgeable about foster care and adoption in West Virginia and several have even been through the certification process themselves.

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You may have thought about becoming a foster parent or adopting in West Virginia but you aren’t sure where to start or what to expect if you contact an agency. We are here to provide assistance as you take the first steps in your foster/adoptive journey; we can answer any questions you might have and help you decide if foster care is a good choice for your family.  

So, what happens if you give us a call, or fill out our online information request form? You will be given the choice if you’d like to receive a an emailed copy of our information guide or if you would like a paper guide mailed to you. It’s important that you fill out the inquiry form completely so that we can reach you the best way and make sure we understand your interests. If you call, we can answer any questions you might have and if you fill out our online form, you can request a phone call if you’d like to speak with someone on our staff.

Our recruitment guide includes the steps to certification, questions to ask agencies when deciding which agency is right for your family, frequently asked questions, family stories and more. You will also receive a list of agencies that serve the county you live in, this list is important because the agency you choose will be the one that completes the certification process with you.

By requesting information or calling us to ask questions,  you aren’t signing up for anything, you are simply requesting more information.

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The need for loving and supportive foster parents in West Virginia is dire. If you’ve been “on the fence” about opening your home and life to kids in foster care, now is a great time to learn more and start your journey. We look forward to hearing from you. If you prefer a phone conversation, call us at 866-CALL-MWV. If you would prefer to fill out our online inquiry form, click on the following link: Request Information About Foster Care and/or Adoption in WV

  You can also send us an email at fosteradopt(at)missionwv.org

Foster Care in WV and the Basic Certification Requirements

Foster care is a temporary living situation for children whose parents cannot safely care for them.  When a child is abused and/or neglected by their guardian, it is brought to the attention (usually by a report of child abuse or neglect) to the Department of Health and Human Resources. Social workers will then investigate and if the report is found to be true, the child(ren) is then removed from the unsafe situation and placed into the state’s foster care system.

Foster mom and kids

These children range in age from babies to teens and are most often placed in foster care through no fault of their own. While in foster care, children might live with a relative, a certified foster family or in a residential facility. In a residential facility, a group of children in foster care live together with staff members who work in shifts. In West Virginia, there are more than 6,000 kids in foster care so there is a great need for more foster families to provide a caring and loving home.

The ultimate goal of foster care is for children to return to their home, this is also called reunification. In the best situation, the child or children’s parents can make the changes that are needed to safely parent. The amount of time children stay in foster care depends on their family’s situation. This could mean a short stay in foster care or could be a longer amount of time depending on what changes or program the court has required the parents to complete.

If the child’s birth parents are unable to safely parent their child(ren) and make the changes that are necessary, the parent(s) can voluntarily give up their parental rights OR the court can terminate the parents’ rights. The child(ren) is/are then legally eligible for adoption, which can be finalized in a court of law. The adoptive parent then becomes the child’s legal parent and has the same formal and legal responsibility for the child as if they were the biological parent.

The criteria to be a foster parent and/or to adopt from foster care are the same.  They include the following: 

  • You must be between the ages of 21 and 65 (they have not changed this yet)
  • Have a stable & secure income.
  • Be in good physical/mental health.
  • Pass a home safety inspection.
  • Free of any substantiated child abuse reports and free of a criminal background.
  • Have a stable family relationship.

*Requirements may vary depending on the agency you are working with.