Tag Archive: aging out

  1. Foster Their Destination: Removing Barriers for Youth in Foster Care to Obtain A Driver’s License

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    Learning to drive in the teen years is a rite of passage to young adulthood for millions of youth. It brings new levels of independence and opportunities, enabling young people to drive themselves to school, work, and activities. Without a driver’s license, young people in foster care often miss out on age-appropriate adolescent experiences and opportunities that contribute to success in adulthood.

    That was the case for former foster youth, Brittany Fuller. The day she turned age 18, she left her foster home.  Brittany moved in with her boyfriend’s family.   “I was a grownup, having to be driven to college and having to be driven to work by my boyfriend’s mom because I didn’t have a learner’s or a license,” she said. And though she felt like she was independent, “in a way I wasn’t because I had to depend on someone else to take me to the store.” Her sister then came to live with her, but again, no license or way to get to work because there is no public transportation in southwest Virginia.

    “It put a huge strain on me, you know, dealing with college and work,” said Brittany, “in addition to being a new mom.”

    The difficulty of her sister not having a license impacted her entire family. Brittany said when her sister would get off work at 1am, Brittany would have to drag her sleeping baby out of bed, often in the dead of winter, to go pick up her sister from her job. “No license made it really difficult on her as well,” said Brittany.

    Brittany Fuller, Former Foster Youth

     

    Brittany is not alone, nationally only 3% of youth received their driver’s licenses while in care and it is estimated that only 5% of youth in care in Virginia are getting their’s.

    What the General Assembly Is Doing About It

    In 2018, Virginia’s Commission on Youth conducted a study on barriers youth in foster care experience when trying to obtain a driver’s license.  The Commission identified several barriers including:

    • Getting permission and assistance from their foster families
    • Paying substantial insurance increases and fees
    • Gaining access to a suitable driving teacher and a car to practice
    • Understanding and complying with the licensing process

    In response, House Bill 1883 (Delegate Keam) was filed in the 2019 legislative session to prohibit insurance companies from refusing to insure people because of their status as foster parents.

    In addition, Delegate Peace (R) and Senator Favola (D) submitted a budget amendment to create a funding mechanism for the Virginia Department of Social Services to reimburse foster care providers for increases to their existing motor vehicle insurance premiums that occur because a youth in their care has been added to their insurance policy. The program may also reimburse foster care providers for additional coverage (i.e. an umbrella policy or the equivalent) that provides liability protection should a youth get into or cause a catastrophic accident. Additionally, funding would be made available to foster care youth in Virginia’s Fostering Futures Program to assist in covering the cost of obtaining motor vehicle insurance.

    We hope that these measures, if passed and included in the budget, will make it a easier and also a priority for youth in foster care to obtain a driver’s license so that experiences like Brittany’s no longer happen.

  2. JUST RELEASED: Virginia is Making Gains for Transition-Age Youth in Foster Care, But Black Children Continue to be Overrepresented

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    Virginia has made great strides transitioning youth to adulthood with the creation of the Fostering Futures program in 2016. Fostering Futures is a program available to youth in foster care after they turn 18. However, Virginia continues to rank 49th in the country for youth who age out of foster care without a permanent connection, on average about 500 youth each year. In addition, when the data is disaggregated by race and ethnicity, black children and children of two or more races face even greater challenges.

    All young people need healthy and permanent relationships with caring adults, reliable resources, and accessible opportunities that will ensure their well-being and success according to Fostering Youth Transitions, the latest policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

    The fifty-state report reveals that Virginia has disproportionate outcomes for transition age youth of color.

    The report highlights the following statewide trends and areas of concern:

    • 2,704 or 35% of Virginia’s foster care population is ages 14+
    • 22% of Virginia’s child population is African American but they make up 34% of the foster care population
    • 61% of African Americans children in foster care experience three or more placements compared to 51% of their white peers
    •  49% of youth who age out of foster care are employed part time or full time by 21 as compared to 62% of the general population

    Fostering Youth Transitions illuminates the question, what more must be done to ensure that all young people in foster care — regardless of where they live, their race or ethnicity — have the relationships, resources, and opportunities to thrive as they transition to adulthood?

    Virginia has an exciting opportunity with the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, which essentially transforms the way we finance the child welfare system. The act aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training before children are removed from their home. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster care by providing incentives to states to reduce placement of children in congregate care. If implemented as intended, this would mean fewer older youth in care because we would prevent them from entering by providing wrap-services for the child and their family.

    Voices for Virginia’s Children stresses the importance of highlighting transition-age youth in foster care because adolescence is a pivotal developmental stage in which young people must learn the skills needed to be healthy and productive adults. However, as the data demonstrate, youth in Virginia’s foster care system, like youth nationwide, have low participation in federally funded transition services such as employment programs, educational services, and room and board assistance.