Voices’ Blog

Fostering Futures “In Action”

Posted:  -  By: Allison Gilbreath

Voices for Virginia’s Children wants everyone who comes into contact with youth in Foster Care to know about the benefits of Fostering Futures. As Voices Policy Analyst for Foster Care and Juvenile Justice, I provided a workshop on Fostering Futures, a program that Voices and our partners advocated for to extend support services to youth who “age out” of foster care at age 18 years old at the Virginia Statewide Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) conference. The conference brought together more than 300 attendees comprised of CASA volunteers, CASA staffers, judges, attorneys, guardians ad litem, CPS and foster care workers, mental health professionals and other “partners” in the human service field.


Participants learned key components of the program:

  1. Youth who age out of foster care will receive supports that include: housing, monthly casework support, and access to counsel.
  2. Eligibility for Fostering Futures is expanded to include youth who are working at least 80 hours per month (no concurrent school requirement), as well as youth who are attending an education program, or who are medically unable to do either activity.
  3. To qualify for the federal funding supplement, Virginia must provide a full continuum of housing options for youth, everything from foster family homes to independent apartments, depending on the needs of the youth.
  4. The “60-day window” for entry & re-entry into the current 18-21 Independent Living program is wide open for Fostering Futures: eligible youth may enter and re-enter Fostering Futures at any point during ages 18-21.
  5. Eligibility for Fostering Futures (as is true for the current 18-21 IL program) is opened for “crossover youth”–youth who entered the Department of Juvenile Justice from foster care, and who will exit DJJ between ages 18-21.
  6. As part of the program, adoption assistance for any youth adopted from foster care at age 16 or older is likewise extended to age 21.

“In Action”

As a CASA volunteer, I remembered that while learning about the program is vital the hardest part can be applying what you have learned and communicating that to youth. During the workshop, participants were broken down into small groups and given a hypothetical case (see examples here: Hypos-for-CASA-Conference.pdf) where they were to ask themselves: How would you advocate for this youth to ensure that their transition plan meets their needs, and how would you factor in planning for the possibility that they may need Fostering Futures at age 18?

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The Impact of Fostering Futures: Val’s Story

A young woman who we will call Val turned 18 in August of this year and is attending Virginia Commonwealth University.  Val graduated with an advanced diploma from high school but had to work even harder as a child in foster care. She has foster parents that continue to be supportive of her although they were worried about the new challenges of going away to college would mean for her.  She insisted that she was not interested in attending the local community college so her fostering futures team helped her make a plan to attend VCU.  Fostering Futures allows her  foster parents to continue to receive financial support while they are supporting her in college.  Her permanent placement will remain with the foster parents and she will live in the dorms while at school.  The maintenance payments received by the foster parents will give them the means to support her in school with spending money, toiletries, clothing, car expenses, etc.  Fostering Futures also provides a mechanism for her to return to her placement in the foster home should she need to take a break from college and be able to be in the foster home for school breaks, summer, etc.

We Want to Hear From You

Have you or someone you know benefited from fostering futures? We would like to share their story and thank the legislators who passed this bill. Please email me at Allison@vakids.org to ensure this program will always be there for our youth aging out of foster care.

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