Foster Certification

I have completed foster care certification, what’s next?

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You’ve done all of the paperwork and training, you have your home ready for a placement, now what?  

The agency that certified your family will put you on a list of available families to call whenever there is a need for a home. This will also include information such as number of open beds and the ages of the children you are able to care for. 

While you are waiting for that first call, you could get clothes and toys together for different age ranges. We’ve put together a list of items to have on hand that you can view HERE.

When you do get a call, your family will then be able to accept or decline the placement. Why would you decline a placement? One example is that you might get a call for a sibling group when you were thinking you’d start slow with one child or maybe the child in need has some kind of special need that you don’t think you are equipped to handle. Whatever the case, it is up to you to decide if you want to accept a placement. We do encourage you to have an open mind and consider these options when they arise; you might be more capable than you realize. Some calls may come in the middle of the night for a child who needs a placement immediately while other calls may occur a few days before a placement is needed. 

If you have decided to accept the placement, the child’s worker will bring the child and their belongings to your home.  If this is the child’s first placement, you will receive a store voucher to buy some of the necessary items you need for the kid(s) placed in your care.  The social worker will also supply a placement agreement and medical card.  They will let you know “what’s next” in terms of the child’s case, any appointments they may have and any services that they need to receive. 

Most important in the first few days is helping the child feel comfortable in their new environment.  Being welcoming, showing them the ins and outs of your home and helping them learn the basic routine can go far to help ease their fear and anxiety. 

Some placements could be as short as a few days or weeks while others can last for many months or even over a year.  You are entitled to receive information about the child’s case and to attend team meetings. You are providing an important service for these children and should be treated as a valued member of the child’s team.

Who are "Waiting Children"

In West Virginia, there are more than 6,000 children in foster care and approximately 1,500 of these children are legally eligible for adoption and waiting for their forever family. What does this mean exactly?

Children are placed in foster care most likely because of abuse and/or neglect. Foster care is meant to be short term while the parent or parents work to make changes so that they can safely parent their child(ren). But sometimes, parents are not able to make these changes. When this is the case, they can voluntarily give up their parental rights or the court can take away those rights – the child then becomes “legally eligible” for adoption.  You might have heard of "TPR" - this stands for "termination of parental rights." That child or children if it is a sibling group, remains in foster care until they are placed with an adoptive family.

When we say that 1,500 children in West Virginia are legally eligible for adoption, we mean that parental rights have been severed (voluntarily or involuntarily) and that they have not yet been adopted.  Luckily, many of these children are placed with loving relatives or foster parents who will complete an adoption. Often, a child will be matched with the foster family they are living with if that family is interested in adoption. 

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Other children may take a longer time to be matched with a family, often because they are older, part of a sibling group or simply because there are not enough adoptive families. Often, these children are listed on the Adoption Resource Network (ARN), the website for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.  On this site, you can see photos and read profiles of these children. Once you have completed certification to foster/adopt in WV, you can register on this site and inquire about these children. Once you've made an inquiry, the child's worker will receive your information and if your family seems like a good fit, they will contact your worker for further information.  Decisions about matching children and families often involve the child’s entire team, including workers and attorneys, as well as the family’s worker.   

What happens if you are matched with a child or sibling group on the ARN? Often, you will start having day visits with a child followed by weekend visits. If everything is going well, the child will be placed in your home. After the child has lived with you for 6 months or more, you can complete the paperwork to officially adopt. Once adoption is complete, the child’s new legal parent has the same responsibility for the child as if they were the biological parent.