Local agency marks 20 years working with foster children

Posted: December 10, 2012

The Winchester Star

Whitney Hudson (left), treatment foster care worker with Children’s Services of Virginia, and Dana Bowman, executive director of administration, go over a case at the agency. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — A Winchester-based child services agency is marking its 20th anniversary.

For two decades, Children’s Services of Virginia Inc. (CSV) has helped place children and teenagers in foster homes, according to Dana Bowman, the organizatin’s executive director of administration.

The private agency is headquartered on Airport Road and also has offices in Harrisonburg, Fredericksburg and Manassas.

Bowman has been with the agency for 20 years. Before assuming her current job in January, she worked as a treatment foster care worker, assistant director, and chief operating officer.

In a typical year, CSV serves between 100 and 125 children agencywide, and between 40 and 50 children at its Winchester office, Bowman said Friday.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to see a child come to us who has been abused or neglected and be able to see them placed in a loving home, or maybe they’ve never had a bed before or good food to eat,” Bowman said. “And to be able to see them grow over their time in the home and to see them receive the love and the nurturing and the structure that they so badly need, it’s very rewarding.”

While an initial meeting between children and treatment foster care workers is ideal, Bowman said that most children come to the agency as emergency referrals — whether from law enforcement or social services officers — that can happen at any time.

She added that the typical length of time a child stays with a foster family is one to two years.

Adam Collis has been a treatment foster care worker with CSV for about 18 months. In that time, he has handled about 20 cases.

“I think the best part [of my job], and the most rewarding part, is when you see those kids thriving,” Collis said. “If you see a child that’s come from a horrible background — abuse, neglect — and now, all of a sudden with the correct pieces in place, they’re happy.”

CSV also operates Crossroads Counseling Centers, which provides a wide variety of counseling services to children the agency works with, in Winchester, Harrisonburg, Manassas, Luray and Woodstock.

While the work can be rewarding, finding resources in the area to help children — such as tutoring services or an orthodontist who accepts Medicaid — are some of the challenges foster care workers face, Collis said.

CSV works with approximately 35 foster families in the Winchester area, according to Bowman.

However, both Bowman and Collis said the agency is constantly looking for more foster parents and families.

“I think the biggest challenge we have is having enough foster parents and foster families, enough families that will take difficult children, teenage children,” Bowman said. “I think that’s our biggest challenge.”

To become a treatment foster parent with CSV, an interested person can contact the agency, complete an application, attend training sessions offered by CSV, and undergo a home study process, Bowman said.

Additional information on becoming a foster parent is available by contacting CSV at 540-667-0116.

Information on CSV is available at childrensservicesofva.com.

— Contact Matt Armstrong atmarmstrong@winchesterstar.com