Voices’ Blog

Continued Momentum: Foster Care in the 2020 Legislative Session

Posted:  -  By: Allison Gilbreath

In 2019, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission on foster care study revealed Virginia’s longstanding failings in Virginia’s foster care system. It showed a lack of adherence to requirements in some cases, a need to place more children in family-based foster care settings (including kinship care), high caseloads, and a 40% turnover rate in the workforce.

This year, the Virginia General Assembly invested historic amounts into the foster care system.

We are grateful to all of the partners who signed onto the Foster Care Unified Agenda and the youth in our 2020 Foster Care & Kinship Care Youth Advocacy cohort. Together, we garnered the attention of legislators and made lasting impacts for the future of children.


2020 Foster Care Bills that Passed

  • School enrollment former foster care | SB275 /HB368| Barker & Caroll Foy| Allows students who turn 18 while in foster care to continue to enroll in the school division where they reside. 
  • Codify Fostering FuturesSB156/HB400 | Favola & Keam | Establishes the Fostering Futures program to provide services and support to individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 who were in foster care as a minor and are transitioning to full adulthood and self-sufficiency.
  • Post-adoption contact and communication agreements; involuntary termination of parental rights |HB721 | Reid | Provides that a child’s birth parent or parents for whom parental rights were involuntarily terminated may enter into a post-adoption contact and communication agreement with the child’s pre-adoptive parent or parents.
  • Kinship Guardianship Assistance program; eligibility; fictive kin | HB933 & SB178 | Brewer/Carroll Foy, & Mason | Expands eligibility for the Kinship Guardianship Assistance program to fictive kin (a person who the child has a history of a strong relationship with who is not related by blood). 
  • Office of the Children’s Ombudsman established | HB1301 | Hurst | Establishes the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman as a means of effecting changes in policy, procedure, and legislation.
  • Guardian ad litem for children; certification of compliance with certain standards | HB137 | Collins |  The bill requires a guardian ad litem to file with the court a certification specifically addressing meeting face-to-face contact with the child.
  • Kinship foster care; training and approval processes | SB1025 | Dunnavant |Requires local boards of social services to request a waiver of training requirements necessary for the approval of a kinship foster parent upon determining that training requirements are a barrier to placement with the kinship foster parent and that such placement is in the child’s best interest.

Budget Investments: Foster Care

Foster Care Workforce

  • $5.6 million each year for local Department of Social Services caseworkers to increase base salaries and reduce salary compression.
  • $500,000 each year for the foster care omnibus bill to continue efforts started in 2019.
  • $250,000 provides the agency with funding for a consultant to assist in evaluating the agency’s system needs (OASIS) and developing a detailed plan to be considered before committing funding in order to ensure the Commonwealth procures the appropriate data tracking system.

Kinship Care

  • $8.5 million in TANF each year for kinship relative payments
    • Families would receive an additional $200 per child through this program, in addition to the child-only TANF amounts they currently receive. Under this new program, a caregiver raising two relative children would receive approximately $726 per month.
  • Increase TANF cash assistance and eligibility by 15 percent
    • Families who were previously kinship care givers will receive this increase starting July 2020. Any new kinship families approved as child-only cases will receive payment increases of approximately $55 per month.
  • Directs the Department of Social Services to develop a plan to provide access statewide to a Kinship Navigator Program.
  • The Department of Social Services will create an emergency approval process for kinship caregivers and develop foster home certification standards for kinship caregivers
  • KinGap is expanded to Fictive Kin (a person who the child has a history of a strong relationship with who is not related by blood) 

Family First Prevention Services Act

  • $8 million per year for evidence-based services approved by the federal clearinghouse and $1.5 million each year for an evaluation team.
  • $30.4 million total over two years for local prevention service units.

Drivers License for Youth in Foster Care

Establishing an Office of Children’s Ombudsman

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