'every child deserves a safe, healthy, loving family'

Lutheran Family Services of Virginia > Foster Care FAQs

Foster Care FAQs

Lutheran Family Services is as close as a phone call. Let our experienced and knowledgeable staff answer your questions about foster care. Call us toll-free at 1 (800) 359-3834.

What is treatment foster care?

Sometimes referred to as therapeutic foster care, treatment foster care is a powerful model of care that combines the positive aspects of a nurturing and therapeutic family environment with active and structured treatment. Children in treatment foster care are typically aged 12 and above, have had multiple placements and may be coming from a more restrictive setting, such as a group home or residential facility. These children usually receive more support from our staff and need a more therapeutic and nurturing environment to heal from loss, abuse and neglect.

How does it differ from traditional or “maintenance” foster care?

Traditional foster care serves a different set of children, who generally have fewer emotional or behavioral needs. Maintenance homes are usually provided through the local Department of Social Services, which offers a lower level of case management and fewer therapeutic supports. Both kinds of foster care provide nurturing, safe, and custodial care for children who require placement outside of their family. Treatment foster care is active and structured and occurs in the foster family home.

What are some of the challenges children face?

Foster children are affected by the separation from their family and sometimes this stress and worry shows up in their behavior. Abuse and neglect, for example, can have an effect on brain development, and multiple moves can prevent them from forming healthy attachments to adults. Young people in foster care may suffer from developmental delays, physical disability, depression, poor academic performance, low self-esteem and poor hygiene. Because of the trauma and loss they have experienced, children in foster care need extra amounts of understanding and patience in adapting to your family’s routines. It’s important to remember that with the right foster home and the right services, children in the foster care system can often deal successfully with their challenges.

How long do foster children stay in a foster home?

It depends on the particular child and the parent’s situation. Every effort is made to reunite parents and children; sometimes a child may live with you for a few days or for several months. Children may also leave foster care to be placed with relatives. We are a permanency driven agency and believe that if possible, children should reside with birth family or other suitable relatives.

Many foster parents grow close to the children in their care. It can be difficult when they leave. Foster parents can and do adopt children that come into their lives through the foster care system when it is not possible for the child to return home or be placed with a relative.

What are the basic requirements to be a foster parent?

You must be at least 21 years old, be financially self-supporting, and meet the qualifications usually necessary for working with children. These include background checks, the ability to work with a treatment team and continuing training. There is a certification process that includes training and a home study.

Do I have to be married?

No. Singles, as well as couples, may become foster parents if they meet basic requirements for approval.

Is there training?

Lutheran Family Services is proud of its training program, which varies in length from three to four weeks. Families also receive a comprehensive user-friendly handbook with information, parent tips and forms. Because we want parents to be as informed and prepared as possible, we require that they attend on-going training once they are certified. Call the LFSVA office nearest you for information on the next training session.

After I complete the training am I able to get a child?

Parents must first have a home study. An LFSVA services worker will visit your home and interview you and your family. This is an in-depth process that determines if treatment foster care is a good fit for you. You can read more about the home study process here (link to PDF).

How long is the certification process?

The process of becoming a foster parent varies for each individual and can take between three and eight months. LFSVA works to create the best possible fit for your family and the child, so it is hard to say how quickly a child may be placed in your home.

Do I receive financial support?

Foster parents receive monthly financial support from the state of Virginia that is used to care for the children in their home. This amount varies depending on the needs of the child and is used for child-related costs such as food, clothing and housing. Foster children have their own medical and dental coverage.


Born of faith,
open to all.