Foster advocates working to help Virginia children who age out of system

RICHMOND, Va. — A panel of experts on foster care have made dozens of recommendations on how Virginia can better help young adults that age out of the foster care system without finding a permanent family.

The panel, led by Children’s Home Society of Virginia (CHS) and Better Housing Coalition (BHC), issued the report on Tuesday and has 40 recommendations.

CHS said that in Virginia, over 400 kids age out of the foster care system each year without being adopted.

“Which means they leave the system without family supports and, sadly, many of the skills that young people need in order to thrive as an adult,” said CHS CEO Nadine Marsh-Carter, who added that stat places Virginia tied for 48th-worst in the United States. Her non-profit assists those who have aged out of the program with The Possibilities Project (TPP). “They have great potential, great resiliency, and just need the supports that we would give a biological member of our family if we could.”

CHS said when children age of the foster care system research shows “they are more likely to face harsh life outcomes: within two years of aging out, 1 in 5 youth become homeless, 1 in 4 are incarcerated and almost 3 in 4 female youth become pregnant.”

Marsh-Carter said her non-profit wanted to get to “the root causes of these dire outcomes” and to push for systemic change that will lead to better outcomes for those that age out.

“So, we called in the state, local, and national experts in each of the area and provided them support as they identified the policies, both administrative and legislative that can create better outcomes for youth who age out of foster care,” added Marsh-Carter.

CHS Policy Director Cassie Cunningham added that many of the panel’s recommendations came from TPP participants.

“They have seen all of the recommendations, they agree with the recommendations. Many of them were their ideas or stemmed from their ideas,” said Cunningham.

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