Serving foster children and parents for nearly a quarter century gives The Barry Robinson Center insights into the growing need for quality foster homes. Virginia has more than 5,000 children in foster care, and the number coming into care continues to climb.
May is National Foster Care Month. The Center’s staff are hard at work implementing a plan to successfully position its foster care program to help more children and teens.
Since July 1, 2018, the Center has placed 32 foster children with foster families. During the same period, 20 foster children have discharged from the program. Half of those children achieved their permanency plan goals of returning to their birth families, living independently or being adopted.
“Our foster care program has a good track record of foster care to adoption, as well as getting kids back home,” said CEO Rob McCartney. “Multiple surveys of our foster families and referral sources have been very positive.”
Currently, the Center has 14 certified foster homes. Staff honored those families during an annual Foster Parent Appreciation Night celebration May 3. Several more families are awaiting certification and pre-service training. Thanks to strong referrals and recruiting, the Center began a new round of training this month with its largest class of prospective foster parents ever.
“The parents I work with at The Barry Robinson Center are one of a kind. It gives me great pleasure as a director to know they love the children placed in their homes,” said Ashley Jackson, foster care program director. “They strive daily to ensure the children know that the ‘world hasn’t abandoned them and they have a place to call home.’ Every child needs a champion to love them, support them and encourage them to pursue their dreams. That is exactly what the Center has within our Foster Parents…. Champions.”
Operating on a solid financial foundation, the Center is investing strategically to grow its foster care program. New caseworkers are providing quality care and responding to a higher number of referrals. They also support foster families through training and enhanced communication.
For example, the Center provided specialized training in attachment disorders for staff and foster parents. Attachment disorder is a condition found in children who did not bond with their parent or caregiver in the very important early years, usually as a result of neglect. Foster children often experience attachment disorders and need therapy to help them thrive.
Other foster parent training involves components of trauma-informed care. Typically, a child who comes into the foster care system has experienced some type of trauma.
“Through the Center’s continuum of care, we can provide a variety of quality services for foster children. These services include access to a psychiatrist, licensed mental health providers, intensive in-home services and intensive outpatient services for substance use issues,” McCartney explained.
The Center is also onboarding an electronic medical record for foster care that will enhance communication and increased clinical supervision.
Working alongside others in the local foster care community is another important aspect of the Center’s program. Recently, the Center sponsored and participated in the Tidewater Friends of Foster Care Celebration of Heroes event.
Learn more about The Barry Robinson Center’s foster care program.