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.
Building family connections starts with ensuring families have the supports needed to care for children so they can stay together. Removing a child from their family of origin puts the child at risk of additional mental, physical, and social strain and should be a last resort. Often, poverty is considered a risk factor where many children, even with loving and supportive home environments, enter foster care because parents cannot meet their basic needs. Fully providing economic security to families must be addressed to disrupt the pipeline of children who enter the system due to financial circumstances.
The goal of the child welfare system is to prevent child maltreatment, support families experiencing economic and social crises, and provide temporary out-of-home care for children when needed, preferably with relatives or kin.
We believe more is needed from Virginia to keep children with their families; especially for children and youth experiencing medical, mental health, and behavioral needs that require additional training and support.
- Removing barriers for placement with relative caregivers and establishing formal support systems for kinship caregivers.
- Ensuring that children who turn 18 in the child welfare system transition to a successful adulthood.
- Transitioning to a family first culture within the child welfare system that meets the economic and emotional needs of biological caregivers.
- Addressing the crisis of foster care children and youth who are hard to place due to medical, mental health, or behavioral needs.