Virginia’s child welfare system should put families first by offering support and preventing separation.
Approximately 5,000 children and youth are involved in Virginia’s formal foster care each year in Virginia. This number has shown no improvement in recent years. The child welfare system must strengthen families by offering family support and preventing family separation.
The child welfare system was created to address family disruptions and to protect children and youth; the future of the system focuses on preventing disruptions and giving families and youth the tools to succeed. The child welfare system has not provided enough support to kinship caregivers and to young people aging out of foster care. One barrier to recruiting more kinship caregivers into the formal system is that they may not qualify for financial support and services if they have been convicted of a barrier crime. In addition, youth exiting foster care have great difficulty attending post-secondary education and gaining employment due to a variety of issues.
- Workforce: Attract and retain the child welfare workforce by continuing to provide salary increases, develop a more robust training institute and expand capacity for the Child Welfare Stipend Program.
- Kinship Care: Create and Fund a Foster Care Prevention Program. The program will include maintenance payments equal to foster care payments for kin placements as well as social supports for the family. In addition, eliminate barriers to kinship caregivers becoming licensed foster parents by amending the barrier crime statute.
- Court Involvement: Support legislation to expand parent legal representation options for families involved in the child welfare system.
- Aging Out: Reinstate funding to support youth in foster care and aging out of foster care to access driver’s licenses and car insurance.