Hanover County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) is in need of foster parents following a significant increase in children entering foster care.
“We now have our largest pool of children in foster care that I've seen in my 14 years doing child welfare in Hanover,” said family services specialist Matthew Eakin.
Eakin said this increase can be attributed to the financial and emotional stressors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increases in substance use in families.
Recently, DSS has been challenged with finding homes for older children entering foster care.
“We can often find that it's no trouble getting a home for an adorable little baby,” Eakin said. “But, we have a lot of preteens and teenagers who have been through a lot and need stability just as much as our younger kids do.”
DSS is offering PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) trainings in March and April to those wishing to serve as foster parents. The trainings focus on five categories: protecting and nurturing children, meeting children's developmental needs and addressing developmental delays, supporting children's relationships with their birth families, connecting children to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime and working as a member of a professional team.
“Whether you are new to parenting, whether you are a seasoned parent or whether you have fostered before, the training really provides up-to-date information,” Eakin said. “Laws and policies change all the time and we want to make sure that people are as equipped as they can be to be foster parents.”
Those interested in becoming a foster parent are encouraged to join the Virginia Faster Families Highway by visiting https://app.family-match.org/my/recruit. This portal created by the state department of social services is a way for prospective foster parents to provide personal information, complete self-assessments and learn more about what it means to be a foster parent.
“Being a foster parent might be the most rewarding, challenging – sometimes frustrating – but worthwhile experience that someone with a passion for children could have,” Eakin said. “Being a foster parent is a unique way to serve not only children, but to help heal an entire family.”
For more information or to sign up for a training session, contact Devon S. Parham at 804-365-4135 or [email protected].