This was a big week at the General Assembly for foster care related issues. On Wednesday, we joined Voices for Virginia’s Children as they led a Foster Youth Advocacy day. Almost 20 youth who have foster care or kinship care experience came down to the General Assembly to share their experiences and thoughts on pending legislation. We spent the morning meeting with legislators all over the General Assembly building followed by a press conference with the Foster Care Caucus. We spent the afternoon at a Policy Roundtable where youth had an opportunity to meet and talk with the Governor’s administration. It was a powerful day. Thank you to Voices for Virginia’s Children for organizing and hosting this day. And of course, a huge thank you to the youth who joined us that day!
We also saw some important legislation report out of committee. On Friday, in Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services, three of our priorities reported out unanimously:
- Senate Bill 570, introduced by Senator Mason, creates a state funded kinship care program to support families who care for children that would otherwise enter foster care. This bill will now head to Senate Finance and Appropriations committee to be heard.
- Senate Bill 156, introduced by Senator Favola, codifies the Fostering Futures program that has been in place through the budget since 2019. This would ensure the program continues to be funded in the budget and becomes law, rather than just a state program. This bill will now head to the Senate Floor for a vote by all 40 Senators.
- Senate Bill 178, also introduced by Senator Favola expands the current kinship guardianship assistance program to fictive kin. This bill will now head to Senate Finance and Appropriations committee to be heard. This bill will now head to Senate Finance and Appropriations committee to be heard.
These bills still have a long way to go. It was a great week for foster care and adoption issues and we look forward to continuing to see progress throughout the rest of the General Assembly session!
Want to learn more about our advocacy work? Check out the documentary “Aged Out” airing on VPM on Thursday, January 23 at 9pm and also streaming on the VPM Facebook page at that time.