VCOY Foster Care Study

VCOY Foster Care Study

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA Commission on Youth Virginias Foster Care System October 7, 2019 Amy M. Atkinson Family First The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 allows states to use Title IV-E foster care funds to provide enhanced support to atrisk children and families and prevent foster care placements. States may access Title IV-E funds to deliver approved programs and services to families whose children are at-risk for entering the foster care system. Services are reimbursable for up to 12 months. Federal reimbursement for children placed in congregate care for more than two weeks will no longer be permitted unless the child has a clinical need to be in a congregate care setting or meets other specified criteria. 2 JLARC Foster Care Study In 2018, JLARC published the report, Improving Virginias Foster Care System. The report had 34 recommendations related to improving foster care in Virginia.

Recommendation areas include: Safety concerns and addressing service needs of children State oversight over local agencies Recruitment and retention of foster families Appropriate placements and assessing use of congregate care Kinship care

Delay in termination of parental rights and youth at-risk of aging out High worker caseloads and staffing concerns Most of these recommendations have been addressed legislatively (Foster Care Omnibus Bill and Appropriation Act) and via administrative action by VDSS. 3 Foster Care Caucus During the 2019 General Assembly Session, the first ever Foster Care Caucus was formed. The bipartisan Foster Care Caucus was co-chaired by Delegate Emily Brewer (R-Suffolk) and Senator Monty Mason (DWilliamsburg). The Foster Care Caucus met several times, heard presentations from the Virginia Department of Social Services and the Secretary of Health and Human Resources office, and held discussions with child advocacy groups. 4 Foster Care Legislation 2019 The following Foster Care Legislation was signed into law in 2019: SB 1339 (Reeves) Foster Care Omnibus

HB 2014 / SB 1678 and SB 1679 (Peace and Mason) - Family First Prevention Services Act HB 1730 / SB 1253 (Brewer and Reeves) Credit Freeze for Children in Foster Care HB 2108 (Bell) Dispute Resolution for Foster Parents HB 1728 / SB 1139 (Reid and Favola) Post-Adoption Contact & Communication Agreements HB 2758 / SB 1720 (Carroll-Foy and Mason) Kinship Foster Care; Notice to Relatives HB 2350 (Miyares) Four-year College Tuition and Fees for Foster Care Youth HB 1883 (Keam) Motor Vehicle Insurance Policies for Foster Parents and Children

HB 2542 (Byron) Temporary Placement of Children SB 1135 (Favola) Foster Care Child With a Developmental Disability HB 2234 / SB 1581 (Robinson and Suetterlein) Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Parental Leave Benefits HB 2622 (Austin) Removal of a child; Names and contact information of relatives 5 2019 Appropriation Act The following items in the 2019 Appropriation Act are related to Foster Care: Implementation of Foster Care Omnibus Bill (Howell) Matches funding to implement SB 1339. This appropriation includes $2.8 million and adds 18 positions for improving the foster care system. Funding to support Family First implementation (Howell) $851,000 the second year from the general fund for training, consultation, and technical support,

and licensing costs for the federal Family First Prevention Services Act. Review of children in congregate care (Howell) VDSS to review all cases of children in congregate care without a clinical need to be there and assist local departments in finding appropriate family-based settings. The department shall certify completion of the reviews by June 30, 2020. Virginia Fosters position New position at VDSS to support Virginia Fosters retention and recruitment of foster families. 6 Foster Care for Legislators Seminar On May 6, 2019, the Commission on Youth held a seminar in Richmond entitled Foster Care for Legislators. Agenda: Overview of Virginias Foster Care System from a State and Local Perspective Funding of Virginias Foster Care System Foster Care Prevention and Family First

Virginias Foster Care System, Bedford Department of Social Services Team Foster Families Panel Foster Youth Transition to Adulthood Panel 7 Stakeholder Interviews Virginia Department of Social Services Office of Childrens Services Office of the Governor Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources Court Improvement Program, Office of Executive Secretary, The Supreme Court of Virginia

Virginia League of Social Services Executives Child and Family Services Legislative Advocacy Organizations Kinship Providers Licensed Child Placing Agencies Virginia Fosters Regional Directors Groups Middle Peninsula/Northern Neck Planning District Six Eastern Region Piedmont Region Western Region Local Departments of Social Services Chesterfield County Fairfax County City of Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Henrico County Hopewell County James City County Loudoun County Mathews County

Roanoke County Wythe County 8 WORKFORCE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION 9 Virginias Background Child Welfare Workforce Approximately 2500 Family Services Specialists (FSS) work in child welfare roles in local departments of social services. Child Welfare Family Services Specialists (FSS) include specialists in Child Protective Services (CPS), CPS Ongoing and Prevention Services, and Foster Care and Adoption. Child Welfare FSS are the front-line workers serving the foster care population.

Child Welfare FSS work together as a team, especially in smaller, rural agencies. 10 Recruitment Background Overview As of July 2019, 20 percent of all FSS positions were vacant, compared to a state job average of 13 percent. JLARC found that in 15 local departments, the vacancy rate of FSS positions was 35 percent or higher. 71 percent of local departments reported substantial or moderate difficulty recruiting foster care caseworkers. The most common reasons for recruitment difficulties

were a lack of qualified candidates and inadequate compensation. 567 FSS vacancies as of August 2019 VDSS 11 Retention Background Overview More than one-fifth of foster care workers surveyed by JLARC were considering leaving their jobs in the next year. Of those workers, more than half said they were very strongly considering leaving. The most common factors contributing to caseworker retention are inadequate

compensation, high caseloads, and the challenging nature of the work. (JLARC, VCOY) VCOY also found that retention problems were more common in small, rural agencies. Turnover Rates for Entry Level Family Services Specialists (FSS I) in local agencies 61.1% 41.6% 20.2% Local agency average Entry-level FSS Entry-level FSS in small rural agencies Based on data provided by VDSS for CY 16-17 12

OVERBURDENED WORKFORCE 13 Background Workforce Overburdened Sample of Family Services Specialist Responsibilities and Challenges Mandated deadlines On-call for emergencies Burnout and secondary trauma Attending training Home studies Carrying high caseloads Mandated assessments,

meetings, and paperwork System delays Adapted from Improving Virginias Foster Care System, JLARC, 2018 14 A Background Single Foster Care Case 1 st 30 Days Sample of the some of the assessments, meetings, and documentation required in the first 30 days for EACH foster care case. Place the child on the day of removal Obtain: Allergies information; Medications, Medicaid Card, Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, Immunization Report, and Clothing Send out New Child in care alert to finance and Childs Services Office Complete placement agreements, which may require: Application Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT) Assessment Therapeutic Foster Care Confirmation Placement agreement Virginia Enhanced Maintenance Assessment Tool (VEMAT) Complete Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) Transmittal

Order/Underlying Petition Legal Issues Supplement Order Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit Service Member Civil Relief Act/Default Judgement Affidavit Service Plan Part A Indian Child Welfare Affidavit Paternity Affidavit Copy of Pathways to Permanency Client Health Report Client Education Report Copy of Transitional Living Plan Immunization Record Best Interest Determination Meeting for School Placement Expedited enrollment in school within 72 hours Title IV-E/Medicaid Application within 10 days Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT) within 14 days Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) Assessment Authorization to Exchange Information Procedural Safeguards Home visit with prior custodian Pathways to Permanency Begin Full Disclosure Affidavit Indian Child Welfare Affidavit Paternity Affidavit Relative Locator and Family Tree Clear Search (family locator) Relative Letters Visits with family up to 3 times a week required

Family Partnership Meeting Casey Life Skills Assessment Transitional Living Plan Fatherhood Registry Search 5 day court hearing 30 day court hearing Service plan to court Sample Mandated Visit with child in placement case file for one child in care 15 High Background Caseloads Most experts agree that foster care workers should carry no more than 1215 children in their caseload, and that an ideal caseload is no more than 8-10 children. JLARC determined that 15 percent of workers, spread over 32 localities, carry more than 15 cases, representing 31 percent of all foster care kids. 1657

children managed by workers carrying more than 15 cases Improving Virginias Foster Care System, JLARC, 2018 16 Travel Background Time Because of a lack of foster families in many localities, some children must be placed in other localities throughout the state (and occasionally out of state). Workers are required to travel to visit these children each month, to facilitate visits with birth parents, and to perform other mandated face-to-face contacts. For example, in Bedford County, many of these visits involve driving hundreds of miles. FC caseload example 16 cases

Only one child in locality 17 Technology Background In response to new Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) federal regulations, Virginia has made significant investments to modernize VDSSs Child Welfare Information Systems. COMPASS is VDSSs multi-year project (beginning in 2016) to provide staff with innovative, integrated, and web-based tools that will accelerate service delivery and improve outcomes for Virginias children and families. VDSS is planning to roll out its first mobile COMPASS application on October 7, 2019. This tablet-based application will allow workers to connect with OASIS in the field.

COMPASS Virginias Comprehensive Permanency Assessment and Safety System 18 Technology Background Although technology was not a topic we surveyed, workers throughout the state noted that computer issues, including lag time and connectivity issues, delays in procuring new or refreshed computers, and interfacing with OASIS, hampers efficiency and productivity. For example, one problem with the current OASIS system is that it cannot be used to process Title IV-E eligibility. Virginias Child Welfare Advisory Committee (CWAC) noted in its June 2018 meeting that the necessity of completing Title IV-E eligibility by hand (on paper) contributes to Virginias error rate. OASIS Online Automated Services Information System (DSS central database)

In its Five Year Plan for Child and Family Services (2017), VDSS noted that OASIS is outdated and is no longer meeting the needs of the field. The Plan asserted that VDSS was seeking a solution for OASIS-related issues. 19 COMPENSATION 20 Compensation Background Minimum starting salary for an entry level Family Services Specialist is less than $30,000, which is slightly above the 2019 Federal Poverty Level for a family of 4 ($25,100). Role FSS I FSS II FSS III FSS IV FS Supervisor FS Manager Total Positions 310 1116

687 246 442 42 Current Vacancies 103 253 114 45 43 9 Minimum Salary $29,930 $29,930 $32,089 $36,886 $36,886 $41,564 Average Salary $38,019 $49,188 $53,813 $65,310

$67,416 $87,454 VDSS, 9/1/2019 Small, rural agencies are often forced by budgetary concerns to offer the lowest starting salaries. 21 Low Background Compensation = High Turnover Turnover Rates Decrease as Salaries Increase According to the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, on average, the cost for each child welfare worker leaving an agency is $54,000. Studies have shown that high turnover affects the stability of children in care and is negatively correlated with the length of time a child remains in the child welfare system. Turnover Rate Low compensation is a major factor

in high turnover rates, especially in small, rural agencies, where turnover among FSS I workers has reached 61% percent. FSS Salaries CY 16-17 22 TRAINING 23 Training Background Mandated training for FSS must be completed within two years of hiring. Requirements for foster care and adoption workers are as follows: Timeframe First 3 weeks # of courses 3 (online) First 3 months 3 (classroom)

First 6 months 2 (online) First 12 months 11 (classroom) First 24 months 6 (classroom) Total 25 VDSS Foster Care Manual, 17.3, July 2019 Classroom trainings are held at 5 regional training centers across the state and are scheduled quarterly on a rotating regional schedule. Most courses are 1-2 days in length and can require travel and overnight stay. 24 The Butler Study Background In August of 2017, VDSS contracted with The University of Denver, Butler Institute for Families, to assess VDSSs Family Services training model,

which is currently based on a 30-year-old competency-based model original developed in Ohio. Butler Study activities included: Review of current training program VDSS leadership self-assessment Survey of 2717 staff across the state (52% response rate) 13 listening sessions in five regions (147 participants) National scan of child welfare training systems across the US (online survey and telephone interviews) In December 2017, the Butler Institute delivered their final report to VDSS. 25 Butler Study: Academy Model of Training Background One major recommendation of the Butler Study was for VDSS to convert its current training system to an Academy Model. Academy Model of Training Butler Institute New workers spend their first 16 weeks in training (10 weeks CORE training, 6 weeks program specific training)

Alternating weeks spent at central training academy (MondayThursday) for face-to-face training; Friday reserved for simulation lab training (real world simulations). Alternating weeks spent at the workers home agency, where workers participate in transfer of learning activities with supervisors, coaches, and mentors. Workers do not carry a caseload until training is complete. Workers must demonstrate transfer of learning through a rigorous knowledge and skills evaluation. Training Services Model Assessment and Recommendations, The Butler Institute for Families, University of Denver, December 2017 26 HIGHER EDUCATION 27

Higher Background Education FSS workers must have a minimum of a bachelors degree in social work (BSW). Social work programs now emphasize clinical social work, preparing social workers for roles as therapists or other clinical occupations. As a result, some students graduating with a BSW have not had classes in child welfare practice. The consequence is that workers who are hired right out of college often are unable to perform the duties of their job until they complete training. In Virginia, it takes 2 years until new workers are fully trained in foster care.

Experienced workers are forced to take on higher caseloads while new hires are being trained. Public child welfare agencies devote considerable resources to designing pre- and in-service training that compensate for skills they find not to be present even when hiring social work graduates. - Tom Morton, former president of the Child Welfare Institute. 28 Child Background Welfare Stipend Program To address the shortage of BSW and MSW graduates with

experience in child welfare, Virginia created the Child Welfare Stipend Program (CWSP). CWSP is a partnership between VDSS and five public state universities in Virginia, funded through Title IV-E. Stipend Program Participating Universities CWSP offers a total 82 stipends for new and returning fulltime BSW and MSW students. Virginia Commonwealth University Students receive a $10,000 stipend per year against tuition and related expenses. Students participate in internships at local departments and supplement their child welfare coursework with VDSS training. George Mason University

VDSS In exchange, upon graduation, students commit to work at a LDSS in a foster care/adoption position, repaying each year of stipend funding with one year of work. CWSP is operating at near capacity and graduates about 40 students each year. Radford University Norfolk State University East Tennessee State University, Abingdon VA campus 29 Stipend Background Program Because of Title IV-E funding rules, stipend program workers must work in foster care/adoption positions (51% or more of work is performed in foster care/adoption).

Localities that are understaffed in child protective services positions or other critical child welfare positions cannot hire stipend program graduates. Because of this, many small, rural agencies do not benefit from the stipend program. Creating a state-funded stipend program would allow Virginia to extend eligibility to all family services positions and produce highly skilled workers who could fill needed CPS and other FSS positions in small, rural agencies. CWSP graduates are: More likely to remain employed at their agencies Have more effective skills, knowledge, and abilities Have better case outcomes in reunification and adoption 30 FOSTERING FUTURES 31

What Background is Fostering Futures? In 2008, Congress passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which amended the definition of child in Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to allow states to change their definition of child to age 21 and receive federal IV-E matching funds for supporting these children. In 2016, as part of a budget amendment, the Fostering Futures program was created in Virginia, amending the definition of child to be any person who has reached the age of 18 years but has not reached the age of 21. Fostering Futures is a voluntary program that extends foster care services and support payments to youth aged 18 to 21 to support their successful transition to adulthood. 2019 State Budget (Ch. 854) Item 344 (Child Welfare Svcs). 32 Program Background Details and Requirements Eligibility Criteria Youth was in foster care before age 18.

Youth lives in a foster home or in an independent living setting (may not be a group home or residential treatment facility). Youth meets federally established eligibility requirements (education/work requirements). Youth enrolled in the program receive monthly maintenance payments of $721 for housing, education, job training, child care, or other supports. Federally Established Eligibility Requirements Enrolled in secondary education Enrolled in post-secondary education Youth receives other services through CSA. Participating in a program or activity designed to promote removal of barriers to

employment Youth expectations: Employed at least part-time Demonstrate commitment to school, vocational training, or work in order to maintain eligibility. Demonstrate willingness to work with their caseworker. Participate in the development of a transition plan and make efforts to achieve their goals. Complete the Voluntary Continuing Services and Support Agreement (VCSSA). Attend court hearing(s), administrative review(s), and case planning meetings.

Medically incapable of other criteria 33 KINSHIP CARE 34 Definitions Background 63.2-100 of the Code of Virginia defines Kinship care as the full-time care, nurturing, and protection of children by relatives. Kinship guardian, kinship guardianship, and kinship guardianship assistance program are also defined in the Code. "Kinship Guardianship Assistance program means a program consistent with 42 U.S.C. 673 that provides, subject to a kinship guardianship assistance agreement developed in accordance with 63.2-1305, payments to eligible individuals who have received custody of a relative child of whom they had been the foster parents. Fictive kin means persons who are not related to a child by blood or adoption but have an established a relationship with the child or his family. (63.2-100) 35 Kinship Background Care Continuum

Informal Kinship Care No state involvement or funding Formal Kinship Care Family seeks state assistance Child welfare contact but child is not in DSS custody Child is in DSS custody = Kinship Foster Care TANF-only, but no child welfare contact Facilitated care arrangements KinGAP possible 36 Benefits Background of Kinship Care

Children placed with relatives or close friends: are lesser impacted by trauma, and are less likely to run away. Kin arrangements help maintain vital connections and keep sibling groups together. Relatives are less likely to request that children be removed if their behavior becomes difficult. 37 Concerns Background About Kinship Care Diversion Custody transferred to a relative without any supports or resources. Treatment needs often unaddressed. For children in foster care, the Virginia Enhanced Maintenance Assessment Tool (VEMAT) is used to assess the childs behavioral, emotional, and physical/personal care needs to determine if an enhanced maintenance payment is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. A VEMAT is not be done in diversion cases. Is the parent being adequately represented?

38 Family Background First and Kinship Care Eligibility for title IV-E prevention services funds: A child (and his or her caregivers) who is a candidate for foster care who can remain safely at home or in a kinship home and is identified as being at imminent risk of entering foster care. Imminent risk means a child and familys circumstances demand that a defined case plan is put into place within 30 days that identifies interventions, services and/or supports and absent these interventions, services and/or supports, foster care placement is the planned arrangement for the child. 39 Statistics Background According to an Annie E. Casey analysis of data across the United States, foster care kinship placement increased by seven percentage points, from 25% to 32% from 2007 - 20171 However, in Virginia, that percentage in 2017 is only 7% of the foster care population.

Virginia does have one of the lowest rates of numbers of children entering foster care by state2 with a rate of 1.5 per 1000 children. 1 2 Rate per 1000 children 1 1.9 2 2.9 3 3.9 4 4.9 5 5.9 6+ Number of states 4 8 11 11

8 9 40 Kinship Guardian Assistant (KinGAP) Program Background The purpose of KinGAP is to facilitate placements with kin caregivers and ensure permanency for a child for whom adoption or being returned home are not appropriate permanency options. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 is the federal law allowing Virginia to offer KinGAP under the federal Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program. Kinship guardianship has the following guidelines which are imposed by the Federal government: 63.2-1305 outlines the following eligibility requirements: B. A child is eligible for kinship guardianship assistance under the program if: 1. The child has been removed from his home pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement or as a result of a judicial determination that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child;

2. The child was eligible for foster care maintenance payments under 42 U.S.C. 672 or under state law while residing for at least six consecutive months in the home of the prospective kinship guardian; 41 KinGAP (cont.) Background 3. Being returned home or adopted is not an appropriate permanency option for the child; 4. The child demonstrates a strong attachment to the prospective kinship guardian, and the prospective kinship guardian has a strong commitment to caring permanently for the child; and 5. The child has been consulted regarding the kinship guardianship if the child is 14 years of age or older. There were only 3 people in the KinGAP program last year. The current KinGAP program in Virginia does not cover fictive kin foster care. However, including this arrangement is permitted by the federal government.

People in KinGAP in 2018: 3 42 Kinship Background Navigator What is a kinship navigator? A kinship navigator offers supports to kinship caregivers to assess needs and arrange necessary services to provide support, education, and information to caregivers to ensure that all of the kinship caregivers are aware of and have access to supportive services, such as financial benefits, therapeutic services, and training.1 Kinship navigators assist with the school registration process as well as supportive services such as obtaining a birth certificate, social security card, and providing clothing and hygiene supplies as necessary. 1 The Greater Williamsburg Regional Kinship Program 43

Kinship Background Navigator Currently in Virginia there are 6 kinship navigators in Virginia that serve 33% of DSS localities. Other Kinship Engagement Programs in Virginia: Arlington Department of Social Services - partnering with Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudon DSS Some localities have programs to meet the needs of kinship care families such as support groups. Henrico DSS has a Kinship Care Support Group. Bedford Department of Social Services - partnering with Amherst, Appomattox, Campbell, Lynchburg, and Nelson DSS Fairfax County has the Kinship Family Institute (KFI)1

Dickenson Department of Social Services - partnering with Buchanan, Russell, Tazewell, Lee, Wise, Scott, and Norton DSS Holds trainings and support groups Respite and legal services Has reached over 300 families biggest challenge is finding families Program is not currently sustainable longterm 1 VA Kinship Navigators James City County Department of Social Services - partnering with Williamsburg and York-Poquoson DSS Virginia Department of Human Services - partnering with Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Norfolk DSS Smyth Department of Social Services partnering with Wythe, Bland, Bristol, Carroll, Galax, Giles, Grayson, Montgomery, Pulaski, Radford, and Washington DSS 44

FOSTER CARE FAMILY RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION 45 Types Background of Foster Care Placements Relative and non-relative foster care when a child is placed with foster parents who have been trained and approved by a local department Therapeutic foster carewhen a child who needs a higher level of care is placed with non-relative foster parents trained by a private agency Highest Level of Care Congregate carewhen a child who needs the highest level of care or supervision is placed in a group home or residential treatment facility 46

Spending Background on Higher Levels of Care According to JLARC, in 2017, 60% of foster care funds are spent on children placed in therapeutic foster care or congregate care facilities, compared to 19% spent on relative and non-relative foster care placements. The average cost for a full year of therapeutic foster care for one child was $40,673, and for congregate care was $98,750, compared to $12,938 for family foster care placements. 60% foster care funds spent on private agency placements Improving Virginias Foster Care System, JLARC, 2018 47 Overreliance Background on Private Agencies In JLARCs survey of foster care caseworkers who had children in therapeutic foster care, 70% said a few of those children, and 27% said at least a majority of those children, could be placed in a regular foster home if one were available. JLARC also determined that:

23% of kids in long Data indicates that in 2016, about 60% of term congregate children who entered congregate care (short care do not need to be there term placement) and about 23% of children who remained in congregate care did not have a clinical need to be there. Virginia has a higher proportion of children in congregate care settings (17%) than the national average (12%). The number of teenagers placed in congregate care is increasing in Virginia, from 27% in 2012 to 39% in 2016. Improving Virginias Foster Care System, JLARC, 2018 48 Effect Background of Private Placement on Children Title IV-E requires that foster children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting consistent with the best interests and needs of the child. Children who are placed with therapeutic foster families or in congregate care settings can be placed far away from their communities, schools, and families. Congregate care settings often are more restrictive than

regular foster families, and limit a childs ability to form healthy attachments and develop independence. Placing children with families minimizes the trauma of removal. It is well established in child welfare research that foster children have better outcomes when placed with a family. 49 LDSS Background Comparisons As localities implement robust recruitment and retention programs, spending on private agency placement decreases. Sample of Annual Spending on Therapeutic Foster Care by Locality FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019* Hampton 0 0

0 0 Roanoke 1,661,599 1,156,307 800,933 933,843 Albemarle 1,460,582 630,328 657,269 725,567 887,560 808,079

748,003 967,550 Bedford Source: CSA Pool Reimbursement Request Report Comparison, * Hampton, Roanoke, and Bedford as of August 31, 2019; Albemarle as of July 31, 2019. 50 Results of Surveys and Listening Sessions Background Localities need to recruit foster families to comply with Family First. Localities need to establish ongoing support for foster families (trauma training, parenting strategies, wraparound services, respite, etc.) to improve retention. Some local agencies are not making an investment in recruiting and retention because of a lack of funding, a lack of staff resources (time); and/or a lack of commitment to the issue.

The overreliance on private placement is causing children to be placed far from their localities. Children are moved away from their families, their schools, and their communities. Foster care workers must travel hundreds of miles in some cases to meet with children. 51 VA Background Recruitment and Retention Needs Virginia especially needs foster families for: Teenagers (33% of foster care children in Virginia are teens) Children who have special needs Children who have emotional and behavioral issues (often related to trauma) but do not have a clinical need for a higher level of care

Sibling groups Virginias retention efforts should include: Transparency throughout the process Robust training (trauma-informed; parenting strategies for challenging behaviors; mentoring for children; financial, medical, mental health supports) Communication before, during, and after placement Support networks and wraparound services 52 Virginia Background Fosters Virginia Fosters is a statewide initiative that empowers leaders across the Commonwealth to be the solution for children,

families, and workers in Virginia's child welfare system. Virginia Fosters coordinates leaders in the government, faith, non-profit, business and creative communities at the grass tops level and engages Virginians from all walks of life at the grassroots level to address the challenges inherent in the child welfare system. Virginia Fosters estimates that at least 1000 foster families and 2500 support families (families that offer wraparound services or respite services to foster families) are needed in 2019. 53 Public Comment Written public comment must be received by 5:00 p.m. on November 22, 2019. Submission instructions are available online ( after the meeting and in the back of the room. 54

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