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Discover Fauquier June/July 2018
34
~ Lynnette Esse
Fauquier County has a shortage of foster
care families, especially those who are
willing to take teenagers. Currently,
a majority of older children are being
placed in group homes, therapeutic
foster care homes, or residential
treatment centers outside of the county.
These children, who are often removed
from abuse and/or neglect situations,
have the same needs and interests as
any other child.
Gabrielle Lewis and Shannon Godfrey,
two of the four foster care social workers
with Fauquier County Department of
Social Services (DSS), share 27 years
of experience and insight. They each
carry caseloads of 1015 children at a
time, seeing them at least monthly, and
usually more often.
"These kids need structure, stability, and
nurturing," says Shannon. "And they
deserve normalcy and permanency,"
Gabrielle adds. "This includes things like
family vacations, participation in sports
or clubs, attending birthday parties, the
prom, or sleepovers with friends, getting
their driver's license, or going to work
after school."
This dedicated team explains that they
conduct concurrent planning, in which a
permanent plan for each child is explored
during the entire 12-month foster care
period. "The fi rst goal is for each child
to return home with their parent(s),"
explains Shannon. "Other permanency
goals include relative placement and
adoption. We search all over the country
for family connections."
There are currently about 35 foster care
families in Fauquier County, but many
more are needed. New families are
connected with experienced families
who serve as mentors, providing a
valuable support system. "Our families
do a fantastic job," says Shannon.
"Foster families are duly trained and
approved to foster and/or adopt in the
event that a child is unable to reunite
with their birth family."
The fi rst step for potential foster families
is to attend an information session;
these are held on the fi rst Wednesday
of each month--the upcoming session
is on
June 6--from 6:007:00 p.m. at
Fauquier County DSS, 320 Hospital
Drive, Warrenton. Step two is onsite
attendance at the fi ve-week New
Generation PRIDE Training and
completing weekly computer modules
at home. Trainings are conducted in
the spring, summer, and fall; the next
session begins on July 9 from 6:00
9:00 p.m. "Typically, 57 families attend
each training class, but we need more,"
Gabrielle emphasizes.
After the initial training sessions, a
thorough home study is completed,
including an extensive interview,
background investigation, DMV record
review, budget discussions, and more.
"Ongoing training sessions take place
throughout the year, even after families
have experience," Shannon adds.
"Fauquier County's agency-approved
foster families developed a support
network that meets monthly. It helps
them connect with other families and
provide the support they need."
Gabrielle, along with fellow foster care
worker Morgan Bryson, coordinated a 5K
fundraiser at Great Meadow in April. The
entire Family and Children's Services
Unit, which includes Child Protective
Services, Prevention, Foster Care,
Adoption, and CSA workers, organized
and manned the event. A total of 168
runners raised over $7,000 to help pay
for extras that might not be covered
by the stipend that foster care families
receive each month. These funds can be
used for enrollment in sports programs
or after-school clubs, attending prom,
purchasing class rings, etc.
"The agency fully supports the family
and child and meets the child's needs
through a variety of services," Gabrielle
and Shannon point out. "We expect the
foster families to treat the child as their
own. We ask them to take the child,
nurture the child, love the child, and then
let them go. This role is not for the faint
of heart."
It pulls at their heartstrings, but the
two women enjoy their jobs. "We love
our unit and the camaraderie with our
coworkers," they say. "Everyone is so
supportive and dedicated. The most
rewarding thing we experience is seeing
permanency with the kids."
For additional information, visit
www.fauquiercounty.gov, and click
on "Government" and then "Social
Services."
Fauquier County
Foster Care:
Structure,
Stability, and
Nurturing
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