In 2018, Voices and our partners worked to raise awareness of issues children and their families encountered in foster care. We successfully helped pass the Kinship Guardianship Assistance program, which provides financial assistance to a limited number of children placed in licensed foster homes with their relatives. In 2019, we are entering into the legislative session on the heels of the release of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s study of the foster care system. There is renewed energy from lawmakers to respond to the concerns about the safety and well being of children in the foster care system. In addition, lawmakers are preparing the state to begin implementing the Federal Family First Prevention Services Act.
In 2019, Voices helped create the first-ever Foster Care Unified Agenda. The Unified Agenda is crafted by partners from across the Commonwealth who represent policy advocates, service providers, parents and caregivers, and—most especially—youth to identify key legislative opportunities to improve Virginia’s child welfare system. We are grateful to this network for helping us accomplish the significant work for children, youth, and families impacted by the foster care system during the 2019 legislative session. The Unified Agenda can be downloaded here.
CASA of Central Virginia
Children’s Home Society
Depaul Community Resources
Family Focused Treatment Associations
Families Forward Virginia
Formed Families Forward
Greater Richmond SCAN
Greater Charlottesville Trauma Informed Community Network
NewFound Families Virginia
United Methodist Family Services
Virginia Association of Child Placing Agencies
Virginia Home for Boys and Girls
Virginia Kids Belong
Virginia Poverty Law Center
Voices for Virginia’s Children
Legislators from both sides of the aisle gathered Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 to show their support for much-needed changes to Virginia’s foster care system. The newly created Foster Care Caucus was hosted by co-chairs Del. Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk and Sen. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg. The caucus hopes to raise awareness of the deficiencies within the foster care system, support the initial steps to implement the federal Family First Prevention Services Act, and bring structure and supports to the kinship diversion program. Read more about it here.
PASSED: Foster care; security freeze on credit report HB1730 (Brewer)/SB1253 (Reeves) requires local departments of social services to request the placement of a security freeze on the credit report or record of any child who has been in foster care for at least six months in order to prevent cases of identity theft and misuse of personal identifying information
PASSED: Motor vehicle insurance policies; foster parents and foster children – HB1883 (Keam) prohibits an insurer from refusing to issue or failing to renew a motor vehicle insurance policy solely because of the status of the applicant or policyholder, as applicable, as a foster parent or minor in foster care.
PASSED: Family First Prevention Services Act HB2014 (Peace)/SB1678 (Mason) aligns the Code of Virginia with the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018. You can read all about the Federal Act in our blog here.
PASSED with an Amendment*- Higher educational institutions, public; tuition and fees, foster care youth HB2350 (Miyares) requires each associate degree-granting public institution of higher education (i.e., Richard Bland College and each comprehensive community college) and each baccalaureate public institution of higher education to provide a grant for the payment of tuition and certain fees for any Virginia student who (i) (a) has received a high school diploma or has passed a high school equivalency examination approved by the Board of Education and was in foster care or in the custody of the Department of Social Services or is considered a special needs adoption at the time such diploma or certificate was awarded or (b) was in foster care when he turned 18 and subsequently received a high school diploma or passed a high school equivalency examination approved by the Board of Education and (ii) meets certain other criteria.
DIED: Children’s Ombudsman, Office of the, and Children’s Advocacy Fund; HB2381 (Hurst) creates the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman to provide ombudsman services, including investigation of complaints, advocacy, and information for children, parents, and citizens involved with child-serving agencies, defined in the bill. The bill provides for the Office of the Governor to conduct a needs assessment with the Department of General Services to provide for the office space needs of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman. The bill also creates the Children’s Advocacy Fund for the purpose of supporting the operations of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman. The Fund would be funded in part by fines collected from criminal offenses involving a child.
Guest columnists- Children in Foster Care Deserve a Family Richmond Times-Dispatch: Dec. 18, 2018
Foster Care System Has Needed Reform for Decades –Virginia Mercury: Jan. 16, 2019
New Caucus formed to Focus on Foster Care – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Jan. 16, 2019
Virginia Foster Care Failures Hit General Assembly – Capital News Service (ran in papers and news outlets across the Commonwealth): Jan. 16, 2019
Foster Care Issues with Virginia Poverty Law Center and Voices for Virginia’s Children – WRIR News: Jan. 21, 2019
Parents Share Struggle with Foster Care System as Lawmakers Push Efforts for Change – ABC Channel 8 News WRIC: Jan. 23, 2019
Social Service Legislation to Revamp Foster Care — The Roanoke Times: Jan. 28, 2019Read More Blog Posts