Year in Review: 2017

This year, Norfolk Friends of Foster Care has worked diligently to help the foster children and foster families of Hampton Roads!  As 2017 draws to a close and we reflect on the things we are most grateful for this year, we at Norfolk Friends of Foster Care are thankful for your generous support.  Because of you, we have been able to make a difference for more foster youth in more meaningful ways this year than ever before.  We are so very appreciative of your belief in our mission and your partnership to improve the lives and outcomes of these children, who through no fault of their own find themselves in very difficult circumstances.  Please know that as a direct result of your contributions, the face of foster care in Hampton Roads is changing for the better.  

Hampton Roads Foster Care at a Glance: 

As of December 1st 2017, there were a total of 741 children in foster care in the cities of Hampton Roads, which is down by nearly 15% from the beginning of the year. Of these foster children, over 80% were placed in non-relative foster homes and approximately 11% were placed in congregate care (aka, group homes).  The vast majority of these kids have spent over two years in foster care and at least 25% have been in 4 or more different homes during their time in foster care.  These numbers drive Norfolk Friends of Foster Care’s mission to actively recruit the next generation of foster parents to ensure that family placement is always an available option for these kids in their time of greatest need and that a child’s first placement in care is the right and last placement before permanency.


2017 Highlights:

Foster Care Aware:

In line with our mission, we teamed up with other local non-profits to organize the first annual Foster Care Aware Block Party, an event aimed at recruiting new foster families through education on what it takes to foster children and teens in Hampton Roads. Foster Care Aware was the largest event of its kind and proved to be successful in recruiting a significant number of new foster parents in Hampton Roads!  Keep an eye out for upcoming information about 2018 Foster Care Aware!

Left to right: Denise Lipscomb, Mayor Kenny Alexander, Audra Bullock

Left to right: Denise Lipscomb, Mayor Kenny Alexander, Audra Bullock

In addition to recruiting good foster homes, our second, but equally important mission is to enrich the lives of the foster children while they are in care.  We do this through providing one-on-one, in-home tutoring to improve educational outcomes, giving these kids a higher likelihood of transitioning to productive adulthoods, and by facilitating involvement in extracurricular activities to help build healthy relationships, social networks of support and diverse skill sets. Here is what we did in 2017 to accomplish these missions:

Academic tutoring: This year Norfolk Friends of Foster Care provided tutoring for 68 foster children, with 53 children tutored on an ongoing, weekly basis. That is over 50% of school-aged foster children in Norfolk!  Our objective is to improve high-school graduation rates from the current 25% for those in care at time of graduation to be more reflective of the overall national average of 89%.  Additionally, we aim to help better prepare foster youth for post-secondary education, so they have skills required to support themselves as productive young adults.

Extracurricular activities: We also sponsored a large number of extracurricular activities this year, with 64 different program participants and 46 kids enrolled in YMCA memberships. In 2017, foster children in Hampton Roads look lessons in piano, swimming, soccer, driver’s education, cosmetology, basketball, dance, and kickboxing! We believe that through this program children are not only building important skills, but also are engaging in activities essential to living happy, healthy lives.

Gifting projects: 2017 was the most successful yet for our gifting projects.  The Birthday Project this year had 100% sponsorship, fulfilling the birthday wishes of over 170 kids and this year’s Holiday Project was expanded to include foster children from Chesapeake and Portsmouth in addition to Norfolk.  Thanks to our sponsors, we have guaranteed that over 235 foster children will receive gifts this season, helping bring holiday cheer to kids who need it and alleviate pressures that the holidays can bring for both the children and foster parents.  We could not be more thankful for your generosity!

On behalf of the Norfolk Friends of Foster Care team and the children we serve, I express my sincere and heartfelt thanks for your partnership in making a true difference in the lives of these kids!   I wish you the gifts of love, hope and good health over the Holidays and in the New Year!


Norfolk Department of Human Services 2018 New Foster Parent PRIDE Schedule

The new year is just around the corner, which means new sessions for the Norfolk Department of Human Services New Foster Parent PRIDE training classes! Potential foster parents must contact NDHS to register for these classes to acquire licensing as a foster parent. 

Session 1:

Saturday, January 27                      9am-2pm

Saturday, February 3                       9am-2pm

Saturday, February 10                    9am-2pm

Saturday, February 17                   10am- 2pm


Session 2:

Saturday, April 14                              9am-2pm

Saturday, April 21                               9am-2pm

Saturday, April 28                              9am-2pm

Saturday, May 5                                10am-2pm


Session 3:

Saturday, September 22                9am-2pm

Saturday, September 29                9am-2pm

Saturday, October 6                      9am-2pm

Saturday, October 13                     9am-2pm

Holidays with Foster Children

While the holidays are meant to be filled with cheer, they can also be an incredibly difficult time for all involved in foster care. Foster parents may have trouble connecting with their foster children, biological parents may not have their children for the holidays, and foster children may struggle in a variety of ways based on situational factors. It is important as a foster parent to be sensitive to your child’s wants and needs during the holidays, and to be prepared for what the holidays may bring.

Here are a few ways to prepare for the holidays with a foster child:

Be informed: Find out what the holiday circumstances will be and prepare your foster child early on for what they can expect. Scheduling can be tough during the holidays, so set aside time in advance for the child to make visits or phone calls with biological family or old friends as allowed by the agency.  

Explain: Let the child know early on what your own family’s customs and traditions are to avoid any confusion or stress about uncertainties they may have. Explain to friends and family what to expect if you are hosting holiday gatherings at your home or planning visits, so that your foster child always feels welcome and like they have a place in the family. If possible, introduce the child to family before holiday events to help them feel more comfortable.

Ask questions: Be sure to ask about the child’s own holiday customs, traditions and expectations, and find a way to incorporate these into your own holiday activities to help your child feel at home and reiterate his or her importance. Ask them about their own concerns or expectations about the holidays, and check in on how they are feeling throughout November and December.

If you aren’t a foster parent but are still looking for ways to help foster children during the holidays, be sure to check out our 2017 Holiday Project to help bring cheer to kids who need it! 

Foster Children Receive over 285 Pieces of Luggage through Tiffany Haddish’s Appearance at The Funny Bone!

Comedian Tiffany Haddish, breakout star of this summer's #1 comedy Girls Trip, performed five sell-out shows September 22 through 24 at The Virginia Beach Funny Bone.

As part of her performances, Haddish encouraged ticket holders to bring a new or gently used suitcase to the performances to benefit local foster children, organized by Norfolk Friends of Foster Care, Norfolk Department of Human Services and One27 Initiative. 

Attendees to Haddish’s performances at The Funny Bone donated over two hundred eighty-five suitcases and luggage pieces, in an amazing display of benevolence for the foster youth of Hampton Roads.

 The luggage will be distributed to foster children throughout the Hampton Roads region because, as Haddish says, “Every child that is removed from their parents deserves to have a suitcase and a safe place to lay their head, I want to help with the suitcase part.”

 Known for her role in the box office hit “Girls Trip,” Haddish was nine years old when her mother suffered brain damage as a result of a car accident. Two years later, Haddish and her siblings were split up and placed into foster homes. Growing up as a foster child, she recalls the empty feeling of having her belongings carried out in trash bags as she moved from home to home. Haddish’s experiences inspired her efforts to help prevent similar feelings in foster children with this drive that will provide suitcases and duffel bags for children living in foster care so they will never know the indignity of having their possessions stuffed into a trash bag when they are relocated.


August Spotlight

Norfolk Friends of Foster Care is off to a great start in part due to our close relationship with the Norfolk Department of Human Services. Through our contacts there, we are able to guide potential foster parents in the right direction and provide resources for foster parents and children after placement.

This month we’re highlighting some of the wonderful people we work alongside at DHS.

Meet LaCora Harris:


LaCora is the Family Services Supervisor at DHS. In her current position, she strives to reunify foster children with their biological parents or relatives.

LaCora hasn’t always worked in Family Services, though. She first became interested in working in foster care when she interned in Culpeper, Virginia, and realized she wanted to move on to an area where there were much more foster children in need of assistance. After her time at Old Dominion University, she progressed from working in the resource department to a Family Services Worker II, and then to where she is now.

Because of her path through DHS, LaCora is well-versed in almost every aspect of foster care. She has worked with potential foster parents, training them and providing resources so they are well-prepared to take in foster children. She has provided assistance for foster parents after they have taken in children, making sure they work through difficult situations so the children remain in a stable home. She has also worked with foster teenagers as they prepare for independence, and with mothers who are in foster care to help them prepare for their and their child’s future.

“My favorite part of my job is finding permanency for foster children, whether that means reuniting them with their biological family, or facilitating an adoption,” says LaCora. She is clearly passionate about making sure foster children feel a sense of stability, explaining that the process of moving from home to home can be a huge stressor for children. Emphasizing the importance of focusing on the effects of being in foster care on children, she says that getting the biological parents back on track and maintaining an open line of communication between the parents and foster parents can make all the difference.

Thank you, LaCora, for all that you do for Norfolk Friends of Foster Care and the Norfolk Department of Human Services!


August Spotlight

Norfolk Friends of Foster Care is off to a great start in large part due to our close relationship with the Norfolk Department of Human Services (NDHS). Through our contacts there, we are able to guide potential foster parents in the right direction and provide resources for foster parents and children after placement.

This month we’re highlighting some of the wonderful people we work alongside at DHS.

Meet Camille Campos-Wilson, a member of our NDHS Advisory Board:


Camille is the Office Manager at the Foster Care and Adoption Unit at DHS. She also functions as the Community Resource Coordinator, attending local community events for outreach and recruitment of potential foster parents.

Four years ago, Camille was working on the resource team as an administrative assistant. She knew that as DHS “closed” parents to foster children because they had taken in the maximum number of children per home, there weren’t enough parents to take in all of Norfolk’s foster children. Speaking with Camille, you can hear the passion and concern in her voice. It makes sense that when she saw the need for more foster parents, she took on the task.

Camille and a team of like-minded coworkers (who weren’t even connected to the same unit!) began working after-hours without pay to reach out to potential foster parents and steer them away from preconceived notions about foster care. Their team had no budget for recruitment, and were constantly hitting a wall when they sought out funding. This is where Norfolk Friends of Foster Care comes into play, providing resources for foster children and making it easier for parents to bring foster children into their homes.

“I continue to go to places like the Norfolk Zoo, Norfolk Tides baseball games and the Aquatic Center to speak directly to people and provide information on becoming a foster parent,” says Camille. Even when people do not have the ability to foster at the moment, they often still want to provide help in any way they can. Camille stays in contact with foster parents even after placement, and stands as the main line of communication between DHS and NFFC.  

Thank you, Camille, for all that you do for Norfolk Friends of Foster Care and the Norfolk Department of Human Services!


Norfolk DHS August Newsletter

We have a great relationship with the Norfolk Department of Human Services, and they put out a regular newsletter with helpful information for anyone interested in or involved in foster care. You can click through the pages below: 

Empty Nesters

One of the toughest times during parenthood is when your child leaves home for the first time to be on their own. The term “empty nest syndrome” refers to the feelings that come with this transitional period, and one treatment many families find rewarding is becoming a foster parent. 

As a parent with a now ‘empty nest,’ you already have the experience, the tools and the space to foster a child in need of a good and stable home. Becoming a foster parent certainly has ups and downs, and this video highlights just a few concerns of parents considering foster parenting. If you are an empty nester and have thought about fostering a child, this is a great example of what you could experience: 

NFFC 2016-2017 Annual Report

The Board of Directors and Executive Officers of Norfolk Friends of Foster Care are pleased to release our 2016-2017 Annual Report. This first year has exceeded our expectations in terms of growth, mission expansion, and overall scope. From partnering with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads to providing birthday and holiday gifts to 100% of foster youth in the Norfolk Court system, it has been a big year. We know that this is only the start! 

Thank you for your support of Norfolk Friends of Foster Care. We are thankful for every donation of time and resources from people and organizations in our amazing community. As NFFC heads into 2017-2018, we hope to build even stronger relationships and to be able to do more for foster families in Hampton Roads. 

Click the cover image below and flip through the Annual Report today to get a better sense of what this year has meant to us and who has made it possible. 


President Audra Bullock on Hampton Roads Focus

Norfolk Friends of Foster Care President Audra Bullock was excited to get the opportunity to be a guest on Hampton Roads Focus with Mike Arlo of 106.9 The Fox!

The June 11th radio appearance helps the Norfolk Friends of Foster Care share information about the need for foster parents, particularly for older children and teens, who are often under served when it comes to ongoing, consistent foster care families.  Please listen to the interview, and share with friends and others who may be interested in learning more about foster care opportunities in our community. Listen below: 



Foster Care Aware Was a Great Success!

What a wonderful weekend! The Foster Care Aware Block Party was a great success. We were thrilled to help families learn more about what it takes to foster children and teens in Hampton Roads. 

Thanks to all who participated, from current foster families, to those interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, to City of Norfolk officials and employees and finally our generous sponsors.  We so much appreciate the support for increasing awareness about the need for foster parents in our community.


Staying in Touch

We know first-hand that considering becoming a foster parent can feel daunting or even overwhelming.  It's a commitment that isn't right for everyone, but those who take the step find unexpected joy in raising a child or teen, and making a positive difference that stands the test of time.

If you're interested in supporting foster care, but not sure if becoming a foster parent is right for you, we're happy to let you know there are lots of ways you can learn more, and support our mission.  Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Attend our Foster Care Aware Block Party on May 27th starting at 1 p.m. outside at the Harrison Opera House in Norfolk.  You can learn more about the event and activities, here.
  • You can follow us on Facebook, where we provide information about Norfolk Friends of Foster Care and the Norfolk Department of Human Services, as well as links to informative articles, tips for foster parents and more.  Click here to visit our Facebook page.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter!  It's simple, and an easy way to stay informed - we'll send you an update via email every month, and you can always unsubscribe. We're confident you'll find value in the emails, and invite you to share them with others who may be interested in foster care.  You can subscribe at the bottom of this page.
  • We're also getting social on Instagram and Twitter, so follow us there, if you hang out there!
  • Of course we're always happy to have people get involved, too - learn more here

We welcome any interested in or supportive of foster care, and look forward to expanding knowledge and opportunities for children in our community.