By Mandy Tennity

The goal of foster parent training is to support and educate potential foster parents about kids in foster care, identify individual strengths and needs, and understand the overall structure of the foster care system. At Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, we have designed a comprehensive program to best serve our foster parents. This is called pre-service training.

“We have created our own training so that we can individualize the training and update it with new research and materials so that parents have the most up-to-date information,” says Jeanne Hollingshead, director of foster care and adoption.

Training covers a wide variety of topics, including trauma, childhood development, parenting skills, first aid and CPR, behavioral interventions and communication. At LFSVA, it is typically eight sessions and can be done in the evenings or on weekends. The training is hands-on and usually includes others who are starting the foster care or foster-to-adopt process.

“Our training is interactive, which gives trainees an opportunity to learn from one another,” says Maurice Gallimore, resource family coordinator. “It’s informative and engaging and encourages a healthy atmosphere to learn and grow.”

Think of the training as an orientation to a new job or school. The overall goal is to gain valuable knowledge and to start to form bonds with both other potential foster parents and LFSVA staff. In conjunction with the classes, foster parents will also learn about completing paperwork, including their application, childcare supervision plan, emergency and evacuation plans, background checks, physician health statement, and other forms and references.

“One thing I want people to take away from the pre-service training is the importance of continuing their learning about the children we serve, and therefore growing as a family,” says Wendy Luna, resource family coordinator.

Families are not expected to be completely prepared for all children and all situations once finished with training. The purpose is to introduce ideas to help them understand the children in care, and to know how and when to ask for help. There are monthly in-service trainings for ongoing support.

Once the pre-service training is complete, and all paperwork and background checks have come back, the trainer will set up a time to do a walk-through of the foster home. The walk-through checks health, safety and space standards of the home.

At this point, a potential foster parent is well on their way to welcoming a child into their home. Our next blog will look at the home study processes, the final step to becoming approved to be a foster parent!

Read Becoming a foster parent (Part one): The information meeting
Read Becoming a foster parent (Part three): The home study

Interested in becoming a foster parent in the Richmond or Tidewater/Virginia Beach area? Contact Mandy Tennity at or fill out our form.