Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Virginia

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Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, §§ 40-141-30; 40-141-60

Providers shall be at least age 21. They shall have either a bachelor's degree in a field related to family services, child care and development, social work, or education, or a high school diploma or a GED and at least 1 year of experience providing care to children in the age range to be placed in the home. Providers who accept children with special needs shall have experience or training directly relevant to the developmental levels and special needs of the children in care.

The provider and any assistants shall be:

  • Able to speak, read, and write in English sufficient to understand and carry out the responsibilities and requirements to ensure the care, safety, and protection of children
  • Knowledgeable about and physically and mentally capable of providing the necessary care for children
  • Able to sustain positive and constructive relationships with children in care
  • Able to handle emergencies with dependability and good judgment
  • Responsible, of good character and reputation, and shall display behavior that demonstrates stability and maturity

The provider shall have the financial income to meet the basic needs of the provider's own family as well as to meet the needs of each child in placement if the parents are unable to pay for the child's care. The provider shall demonstrate marital stability, if married.

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-141-70

When such training is available from the Department of Social Services, local departments of social services, or licensed child-placing agencies, the provider shall complete an initial foster parent orientation and training session within the first 6 months of initial licensure.

The provider, any assistants, and any other adult expected to be alone in the home with children shall receive, prior to licensure or employment, certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation appropriate to the age of children in care from an approved source such as the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, National Safety Council, or an equivalent resource approved by the department.

The provider shall attend at least 20 hours of related training each year. The provider shall maintain documentation of training attended.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, §§ 40-141-190; 40-141-200; 40-141-120

The home shall be clean and have sufficient space and furnishings for each child receiving care in the home, to include:

  • Bedrooms that are not used as passageways
  • Indoor bathing and toilet facilities in good working order with a door for privacy
  • A separate, comfortable bed for each child and sufficient bedding to ensure cleanliness and comfort

No more than four children shall occupy one bedroom. Children of the opposite sex over age 2 shall not share a bedroom. Children shall not share a bed or bedroom with the provider or other adult. There shall be at least 3 feet between each bed and sufficient space for each child to move about safely.

The home and grounds shall:

  • Be in good physical repair
  • Be free of litter, debris, peeling or chipped paint, hazardous materials, and infestations of rodents and insects
  • Present no hazard to the health and safety of the children receiving care

The provider shall keep cleaning supplies and other toxic substance stored away from food and locked or out of the reach of children under age 3. The provider shall comply with the requirements for State-regulated care facilities relating to smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

If the provider possesses firearms, ammunition, and other weapons, the provider shall keep the firearms unloaded and locked and other weapons locked. Ammunition shall be locked in a separate location.

Infants shall be placed to sleep on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety standards. To reduce the risk of suffocation, soft bedding of any kind shall not be used under or on top of the infant, including, but not limited to, pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, or stuffed toys.

Any individual who transports children shall have a valid driver's license and vehicle liability insurance and ensure that all passengers use safety belts and child restraint devices in accordance with Virginia law.

Approval Process

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, §§ 40-141-40; 40-141-50; 40-141-60; 40-141-80

The applicant for licensure, adult household members, and any other adult who is involved in the day-to-day operations of the independent foster home or will be alone with, in control of, or supervising one or more children placed in the home shall receive and provide to the licensing representative the results of a criminal history record check and a search of Virginia's Child Protective Services central registry. The applicant also shall submit a sworn disclosure statement or affirmation disclosing whether the person has a criminal conviction or is the subject of any pending criminal charges within or outside the Commonwealth and whether the person has been the subject of any founded complaint of child abuse or neglect within or outside the Commonwealth.

The applicant shall provide three references from unrelated persons who have knowledge of the person's character and reputation and ability, skill, and experience in the provision of services to children. The applicant shall submit information on his or her employment history.

The applicant shall complete the required Home Study Assessment form provided by the department and submit the completed form with the initial application for licensure.

Within 90 days prior to the initial application, the applicant for licensure as an independent foster home provider, each assistant, and each adult member of the household shall undergo an assessment for risk of tuberculosis infection and disease.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-141-40

An applicant will not be approved when:

  • The results of a criminal history record check conducted by the Virginia State Police through the Central Criminal Records Exchange reveal an offense described in § 63.2-1719 of the Code of Virginia.
  • The results of a search of Virginia's Child Protective Services central registry reveal a founded child abuse or neglect record.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-900.1

The local board shall, in accordance with regulations adopted by the State board, determine whether the child has a relative who is eligible to become a kinship foster parent.

Kinship foster care placements shall be subject to all requirements of, and shall be eligible for all services related to, foster care placement contained in this chapter. Subject to approval by the commissioner, a local board may grant a waiver of the State board's standards for foster home approval, set forth in regulations, that are not related to safety. Waivers granted pursuant to this subsection shall be considered and, if appropriate, granted on a case-by-case basis and shall include consideration of the unique needs of each child to be placed. Upon request by a local board, the commissioner shall review the local board's decision and reasoning to grant a waiver and shall verify that the foster home approval standard being waived is not related to safety.

The kinship foster parent shall be eligible to receive payment at the full foster care rate for the care of the child.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1229

A foster parent may adopt the foster child that is placed in his or her home when:

  • The child has resided in the home of the foster parent continuously for at least 18 months.
  • The birth parents' rights to the child have been terminated.

The circuit court shall accept the petition filed by the foster parent and shall order a thorough investigation of the matter to be made pursuant to § 63.2-1208. The court may refer the matter for investigation to a licensed child-placing agency other than the agency holding custody of the child. Upon completion of the investigation and report and filing of the consent of the agency holding custody of the child, the circuit court may enter a final order of adoption waiving visitation requirements, if the circuit court determines that the adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1000

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Links to Resources

Virginia Department of Social Services, Foster Care

State regulations full text