Permanency, or a permanent living situation, is the ultimate goal for any child in the foster care system. However, permanency looks different for every child based on the situation they are in, and can change while the child is in foster care.
To better understand how permanency is achieved, here is a breakdown of the different goals within working towards permanent living situations.
Return Home to Biological Family After a child is removed from their home and/or biological family members, they are placed in a foster home. The family that the child was removed from is given a plan by the courts/judge to work to regain custody of the child. These plans range in time frame and goals but can include, finding suitable living conditions, taking parenting classes, participating in drug abuse classes and having clean drug test, ect. Should the family not be progressing towards their goals within a year the judge will begin to determine if parental rights should be terminated. If termination is the result, the child will then be placed in either permanent foster care or could become foster to adopt.
Permanent Foster Care
The term permanent foster care refers to a long-term contract between foster parents and the Department of Social Services. By signing this contract the foster parents agree to care for the child until the age of 18. Typically permanent foster care is reserved for children age 14 and over. The most common instances when permanent foster care is the result is when the child in foster care is over the minimum age and does not desire adoption.
Foster to Adopt
Once parental rights have been officially terminated, Department of Social Services will work to find a child an adoptive home. In almost all cases adopting a child from the foster care system is a no-cost process. The state of Virginia requires a child live with a potential adoptive family for a minimum of 6 months before adoption proceedings can begin.
This type of care is when a grandparent or another blood relative agrees to care for a child. Relatives are preferred placements for children because it helps to maintain family bonds and relationships. Kinship care also helps to ensure stability for a child in care while providing Department of Social Services information about the child’s medical and family history.
Foster care is a journey, and permanency is the ideal destination. However, this destination can look different for every child depending on their individual circumstances and needs. It is important to remember that permanency needs to reflect the desires of the foster child and their family. Regardless of what is the best fit for the child at the end, we here at Embrace are here to support you and your foster child every step of the way.