The transition from foster care to adulthood in Virginia.


Table of Contents

1. Age Limits
2. The Discharge Process
3. Available Programming
4. Juvenile Court
5. Legislation in Response to the Fostering Connections to Success Act
6. Contact Information



1. Age Limits

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Program
Age Limit
Legal Source
End of Court Jurisdiction
18
Title 63.2-100
Child Welfare Services
18
Title 63.2-905
Foster Care Medicaid Eligibility
21 as long as the youth is in IL and educational programs; otherwise 18
Voices for Virginia’s Children Issue brief in Foster Care: How Prepared Are Virginia’s Young Adults for Life after Foster Care? (November 2005) at:
http://www.vakids.org/pubs/Foster%20Care%20Aging%20Out%20Brief%20Nov%202005NoLogo.pdf
Independent Living Services
21
Title 63.2-905.1



2. The Discharge Process

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Reasons for Discharge from Foster Care/Child Welfare System

Who is the primary decisionmaker who determines when a youth is discharged from foster care?
The judge.

Court Discharge Procedure? (What is done by the court at the time of discharge? Are there any conditions that must be satisfied before discharge is permitted?)
VA foster care statute provides:
22 VAC 40-130-240. Termination of care.

A. The closing narrative shall be completed within 30 days of termination and include:
1. The reason or reasons for the termination;

2. The name or names of persons with whom the child has been placed or to whom he was discharged;

3. Follow-up services, if any, to be provided the child and family or guardian; and

4. A brief statement of what was accomplished while the child was in care; and

5. Recommendations for services if the child is discharged to another agency.

B. A copy of medical and school records, and birth certificate if the agency holds custody, shall be given to the parents or receiving agency. Information shall be released, to a child who has reached 18 in accordance with § 63.1- 209 of the Code of Virginia.



3. Available Programming

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Basic Services:

Educational, including assistance for tuition, admission fees, related expense, equipment, materials, uniforms, applications, tutoring, etc.;

Vocational training, including job readiness, job search, placement, etc.;

Daily living skills/aid, including budgeting, housing, career planning, money management, or provision of any other services which supports the youth in establishing an independent living arrangement, such as, household goods, supplies, services, insurance, utility turn-on, etc.;

Counseling; other services: training, conferences, retreats, and workshops, relating to building competencies that strengthen individual skills and foster successful independent living.

Eligibility Criteria:
Youth must be enrolled in an education or training program

Number and % Eligible Enrolled:
2182 youth 16-18 years old in system; of those, when they turn 19, only 1 in 5 are estimated to qualify and/or chooses to participate in education programs and/or Independent Living Program services available to foster care alumni.

Initiatives Designed to Assist Foster Youth Aging Out:
Virginia Department of Social Services Independent Living Program- distributes federal funds to local social service agencies to provide foster youth with basic life skills training, education and employment, and preparation for self-sufficiency.


Education and Training Vouchers Program – assists former foster youth (or those adopted at 16 or older) to attend post-secondary education and vocational training programs. Program pays tuition, fees, room and board, and other college-related expenses up to age 21 and possibly age 23. Former foster youth 21 and over who pursue education or training may apply to the Independent Living Educational/Vocational Trust Fund for assistance w/ costs associated w/ education.

Virginia Community College System tuition grants are available to former foster who were in foster care when they received their diploma or GED.

Promising Programs/Models:
- Roanoke: Tracking Those Who Leave Independent Living. Department of Social Services in Roanoke, VA “sends foster care alumni who leave Roanoke’s Independent Living (IL) program a brief survey with a self addressed envelope to track information about their lives after care. The survey asks about job and housing status. It also invites foster care alumni to share their opinions of the IL program. Upon return of a completed survey, DSS sends the youth a WalMart gift card as a reward for their participation. This process could be very helpful if it was to be expanded to all of Virginia, as the surveys could give some sense of how those who age out of the system in Virginia are faring. Unfortunately, the most unstable youth are hardest to track and survey, and these most vulnerable youth would not be a part of the picture of youth leaving fostercare.”

- Youth Input for Independent Living Skills Training. “Many youth aging out in the foster care system [in VA] have independent living status. ‘A nationally focused study found that youth who had received skills training in five areas—money management, credit management, consumer skills, education, and employment had significantly improved outcomes’ for independent living. In Arizona, a strong coalition of youth organized by the Children’s Action Alliance has advocated that the choice of independent living skills topics and the design of the teaching need to be chosen by foster care youth. Youth involvement and input could be very beneficial to the effectiveness of these trainings. In Virginia, the Youth Advisory Council, made up of current and former foster youth, ages 15 – 21, provides invaluable insight to the development of independent living skills and other services.”



4. Juvenile Court

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Foster care statute grants juvenile court authority to provide a “full range of casework, treatment and community services” for foster children who are abused, neglected or merely in need of services. A Virginia juvenile court judge may order any state, county or municipal officer, as well as any governmental agency or institution to provide “information, assistance, services and cooperation,” consistent with state or federal ordinances.



5. Legislation in Response to the Fostering Connections to Success Act

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6. Contact Information

Foster Care Stories

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