Training retreat addresses foster care system

Published 11:05 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The courts and the foster care system must work together to promote the success of the children who find themselves either temporarily or permanently without parents.

But how?

The Suffolk Best Practice Court Team and the Suffolk Department of Social Services will sponsor a retreat on Saturday to talk about just that. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., the retreat will last all day and will include speakers from the Virginia Department of Social Services and the Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. The intended audience for the retreat includes attorneys, juvenile court judges, foster parents, prospective foster parents, young people in the foster system and other community partners, but is open to anybody.

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“What we’re really trying to do is bring together all those people who are involved in the Suffolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court,” said Joice Whitehorn, assistant director of the Suffolk Department of Social Services. “We’re just inviting and encouraging anyone in the community who has an interest in foster care systems or fostering and adopting to participate with us.”

The program, which is funded by a grant, also will emphasize the need for continued foster care services and for the people involved in the system to work more closely together to build a strong support system for the children.

Children over the age of 12 who are currently in Suffolk foster care will be participating in the program, Whitehorn said.

“They will be most readily impacted by the transformation system,” she said.

The transformation system, which the workshop focuses on, will help implement best practice models in Virginia’s child welfare system to impact children and their families. The goal is to make sure children leave the system ready to be independent, and with significant adults in their lives.

“Children who have significant adults in their lives tend to do better than children who leave the system with no such tie,” Whitehorn said. “There’s something about having a familial connection that drives them to pursue goals that bring them success in their lives.”

For more information on the retreat, call Whitehorn at 514-7334.