WV Foster Care

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.

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.

5.29k Race/Walk in celebration of National Foster Care Month

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For the fourth consecutive year, we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the WV State Treasurer’s Office to hold the Smart 5.29k Race/Walk to benefit children who have been adopted from foster care in West Virginia. Each year we look forward to this family friendly event in celebration of National Foster Care Month; an event that is great for serious runners as well as families and kids. 

The 5.29k Race/Walk raises funds for Smart 529 College Savings plan awards for children adopted from foster care. To date, more than $37,000 has been awarded in the form of Smart 529 plans since the event began in 2015.  National statistics show less than 3 percent of kids who grow up in the foster care system go on to obtain a college degree. When a child from foster care is adopted into a loving family, his/her fresh start can also include a brighter future through higher education. 

About the 2018 Race/Walk:

5.29k Race Walk Mission WV

The registration fee is $35 the day of the event and $30 online until May 17th. Learn more and register here: http://www.bit.ly/SMART529K

A Kids Fun Run will take place directly before the main race  for ages 12 and under.  Children age 17 and under may participate in either race for free.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Where: WV Power Park, Charleston

8:00 AM Check-in/Registration

8:45 AM Kids Fun Run

9:00 AM 5.29K race

*Packet Pickup Friday, May 18 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Capitol Market, Charleston

About the 529 College Savings Awards:

529 Awards

All proceeds from the 5.29K registration, minus a $3.00 race fee, will be deposited into SMART529 College Savings Accounts. The accounts will be awarded through a selection process administered by Mission West Virginia. To qualify for the 529 College Savings plan awards, families must submit an application including an essay addressing the importance of higher education for foster and adopted youth. In order to be eligible children must be adopted from WV foster care and age 12 or under. Families and their agencies are also invited to an award luncheon at the Clay Center in November. This award ceremony features a presentation by Treasurer John Perdue and a presentation on college preparedness. Award recipients are also treated to an ice cream sundae bar and a Build-A-Bear project.

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.

Share Sunday's Child!

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Our goal at Mission West Virginia is to recruit both foster and adoptive parents.  With over 6,000 children in foster care in WV, there is constant need for parents to care for children in temporary foster care.  Children are removed from their parents and placed into foster due to abuse and neglect.  The drug epidemic especially is having a strong impact on the rising numbers of children in care.  

When families cannot safely be reunified, parents’ rights are terminated and children become eligible for adoption.  One of our jobs is to find loving adoptive families for these children.  We believe there is a family out there for every waiting child and could use your help finding them.  Once a month,  we feature a child who is eligible for adoption in Sunday’s Child, a column that features a photo and narrative description of a waiting child.   We are asking you to share Sunday’s Child with your congregation, either through PowerPoint, inserted in the bulletin or by putting the child on your church's prayer list.                                                      


If you are interested in sharing Sunday’s Child column at your church, please email Kylee Hassan or call 304-562-0273.   We are also available to speak to your congregation or to any smaller groups within the church.  There are many ways to help children in foster care in West Virginia and we are eager to speak with you about ways we can work together.