As of December 2012, there were approximately 1324 children with a goal of adoption in Virginia’s foster care system. That’s over a quarter of all the children currently in the Commonwealth’s care. And over one-third of children in foster care awaiting adoption are teenagers, which means they are perilously close to “aging out” of the foster care system without permanent family connections. These youth are especially vulnerable to homelessness, unemployment, school dropout, teen pregnancy and involvement in the justice system.
We need to do better, Virginia. Currently, the Commonwealth has the second-lowest rate of public agency adoption in the nation. Many of our children awaiting adoption are spending too much time in “foster care limbo,” with an average length of stay in foster care reaching nearly 3.5 years.
We were very pleased to see that Governor McDonnell included $2 million of funding in his budget amendments to begin to address this crisis. A portion of this funding will go directly to adoptive families as an increase to their one-time subsidy payment upon finalization of the adoption ($1,000 per child). The remaining $1 million will be used to implement ongoing supportive services to families post-adoption, and to improve efforts to recruit adoptive families. We’ll be monitoring how these funds will be used, and will continue to focus our attention on any progress made or improvements needed.
We hope this increased focus by the administration on Virginia’s adoption crisis will plant the necessary seed — in the General Assembly, in further administrations and throughout the Commonwealth — to grow our attention and resources towards serving these youth in need. We can afford to help them find permanent family connections, but more urgently: we can’t afford the immense and tragic cost of losing them if we don’t.
Do you have questions, comments or stories about public adoption in Virginia? Do you have ideas about how to improve services for adoptive families and/or better ways to recruit adoptive families? Tell us! Email Senior Policy Attorney Amy Woolard at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More Blog Posts