Voices advocates to reform the foster care system in Virginia so that children in foster care have the opportunity to build permanent family connections and have the supports needed to successfully transition to productive adulthood.
Foster care is a program run by the state of Virginia that provides temporary care for children who cannot live with their parents or other relatives. Through this system, the local department of social services takes legal custody for a child when that child’s parent or parents are unable to care for him or her because of neglect and/or abuse. Placement of a child in foster care should be temporary until a more permanent solution is found. Preferred options include working with the families to improve conditions in order to return the child to their home, placement with a relative, or adoption.
BECOMING A FOSTER CARE PARENT
Voices for Virginia’s Children does not work with families on foster care or adoption issues. For more information on becoming a foster, adoptive, resource or kinship parent, please contact your local department of social services or call 1-888-837-7232.
A RESOURCE FOR FOSTER CARE PARENTS
FACES of Virginia Families is a non-profit membership-driven Association offering information, support and resources for foster, adoptive and kinship families. Contact Cate Newbanks, FACES Project Director, for more information.
FOSTER CARE POLICY GOALS AND SUCCESSES
- Ensure the implementation of the federal Fostering Connections Act that provides Virginia opportunities to promote permanency and outcomes for children in foster care in the following areas: support for kinship care, support for older youth in care, coordinated health services, improved educational stability, incentives for adoption.
- Expand support services to families to prevent foster care placement.
- Expand support for relative caregivers (Kinship Care).
- Maintain policy changes incentivizing community-based services.
Since 2007, Voices has worked collaboratively with FACES of Virginia Families, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, and the state’s Children’s Services System Transformation to advocate for and implement sweeping changes to Virginia’s child welfare system. Specific achievements include:
- A more than 35% increase in payments to adoptive and foster families.
- Improvements in recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive families.
- Financial incentives for localities to serve children in the community rather than in institutional settings.
- Increased educational stability for children in foster care.
- The elimination of “independent living” as a permanency goal in order to improve permanency for teens in foster care.
- Prioritization of sibling visitation for children in foster care.
- Moving Virginia’s adoption process to be more “open” through the use of “post-adoption contact and communication” agreements.
FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION PUBLICATIONS
Voices for Virginia’s Children has just released a new report, A Portrait of Virginia’s Child Welfare System. The report highlights the latest Virginia data on child maltreatment and foster care, including data on foster care children with disabilities as well as racial disparities in Virginia’s foster care system. The report also evaluates the Children’s Services System Transformation, a multi-agency initiative implemented in December 2007 to streamline Virginia’s foster care placement system and increase community- and family-based placements for foster youth in care. Voices chronicles Virginia’s implementation of the federal Fostering Connections Act and discusses key partnerships in the nonprofit community that support and monitor the implementation. Finally, the report outlines domains where more and better data are needed to fully understand Virginia’s foster care population and to offer data-driven policy recommendations for improvement.
In 2008 and 2009, Voices, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, FACES of Virginia Families, and ART 180 hosted VOICES for Change, an art initiative to amplify the voices of youth in foster care. Youth were encouraged to submit an original essay, poem, painting, illustration or photograph expressing their feelings about transitioning to adulthood. A panel of expert judges reviewed the submissions and selected winners in writing, photography, and two-dimensional art.
Download Voices for Change: The Creative Vision of Virginia’s Foster Youth a compilation of the works submitted for the 2008 art contest or watch a slideshow of the artworks.
Download a compilation of all the 2009 submissions or view the slideshow of artwork below.