There are several kinds of foster care in Virginia, including:

Straight or family foster care refers to the scenario where the state or local government places a child with certified foster parents, who are not related to the child.

In kinship foster care, a child is placed with a relative. This kind of foster care isn’t always reported to an agency for oversight, because in many families, relatives step in to take care of a child (or a parent gives a child to her grandparents or other family members) without going through the court system. In some areas, close family friends can also be considered as kinship caregivers.

With pre-adoptive foster care, a child is placed with the family who will adopt her.

Treatment foster care, also called therapeutic foster care, involves placement of children with foster families who have been specially trained to care for children with certain medical or behavioral needs. Examples include medically fragile children, children with emotional or behavioral disorders, and HIV+ children. Treatment foster care programs generally require more training for foster parents, provide more support for children and caregivers than regular family foster care, and have lower limits on the number of children that can be cared for in the home. Treatment foster care is preferred over residential or group care because it maintains children in a family setting.

Residential or group settings (also called congregate care and institutional care) include community-based group homes, campus-style residential facilities, and secure facilities. Almost one-fifth of children in out-of-home care live in residential or group care. Residential programs, and the staff who work in them, are generally focused on working with children who have certain special needs. Examples include community-based group homes for adolescent males who are involved in the juvenile justice system and residential campus facilities for children and youth with serious mental health problems.

In some jurisdictions, children removed from their birth families are first placed into an emergency care setting. This may be a shelter/group facility or a family setting designed to keep the children safe while assessing their needs and finding a more appropriate placement to meet their needs.

In Shared Family Care (SFC), parent(s) and children are placed together in the home of a host family who is trained to mentor and support the parents as they develop skills and supports necessary to care for their children independently. SFC can be used to prevent out-of-home placement, to provide a safe environment for the reunification of a family that has been separated, or to help parents consider other permanency options, including relinquishment of parental rights.

Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) is a case plan designation for children in out-of-home care for whom there is no goal for placement with a legal, permanent family. APPLA is an acceptable designation only if there is sufficient reason to exclude all possible legal, permanent family goals. However, APPLA designations must include plans for permanent placements of children and youth that meet their developmental, educational, and other needs.