The General Assembly Agrees on Fostering Futures

VIRGINIA’S GENERAL ASSEMBLY session wrapped up in March with both the Senate and House of Delegates passing key legislation that benefits children and families.

Children’s Mental Health

Legislators approved a budget package that will increase funding for crisis response and child psychiatry services by $3.5 million over the next two years, bringing the statewide allocation for these supports to just over $10 million. Their actions ensure that kids in crisis in their own communities will receive the services and supports they need.

Fostering Futures for Emancipated Teens in Foster Care

For the first time ever, the General Assembly agreed on a version of Fostering Futures, a bill that extends foster care benefits for youth up to age 21, as long as they are working or are in school. When Governor McAuliffe signs the bill into law this spring, he will be ensuring that youth who age out of the foster care system at age 18 have access to housing, monthly casework support and legal counsel.

As part of a collaborative effort, UMFS President and CEO Greg Peters published an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch to help advocate for Fostering Futures. Greg wrote, “It’s time to stop serving eviction notices on Virginia’s youth who are turning 18 and aging out of the foster care system. The result of this action is homelessness, school dropouts and incarceration, as well as the need for continued long-term public assistance.”

Del. John M. O’Bannon III, R-Henrico, credited foster care advocates for developing a plan that legislators could support. “If the advocates keep at it and make it better, you can eventually get something done,” he said.

UMFS joins Voices for Virginia’s Children, FACES of Virginia Families and others in thanking Sen. Barbara Favola and Del. Chris Peace for being champions for Virginia’s foster youth and for working together to make Fostering Futures happen.