In these blogs, we have discussed our feats, triumphs, setbacks, hurdles, and more. Throughout our 120 years, one thing always stayed the same: Children’s Home Society of Virginia’s ability to adapt and innovate to serve Virginia’s children and youth..
Regarding our rich history and critical programs, CHS President Nadine Marsh-Carter writes:
“As the CHS President, former board member, and adoptive parent, I am humbled and proud to be a small part of the agency’s 120+ year legacy of serving Virginia’s children, youth and families. Like CHS’s charter board members who started the agency in 1900, our current board, staff, and community supporters are committed to ensuring children are adopted into permanent, loving families. In addition, today we work diligently to ensure that youth who don’t have a permanent family get the supports and skills they need to thrive as adults.”
Click here to read Nadine’s entire message about our history and her personal and compelling testimony.
This month, we close our decade series out by covering adoption in the 2010s. The last ten years have been some of the Children’s Home Society of Virginia’s most innovative in our rich 120-year history, as we successfully implemented two new programs:
The Post Adoption Program has already served more than 1,000 adoptive families in Central Virginia and Fredericksburg with leading-edge training, adoption counseling, and respite.
My Path Forward has responded to the dire need of young Virginians aging out of foster care. Our participants are provided the housing, employment, and essential support that will ensure they are prepared for independent and successful adult life.
Keep reading to learn more about adoption in the 2010s and about how these two services in particular have helped families, youth, and our community.
Post Adoption Services
Children’s Home Society of Virginia was one of the first adoption agencies to pioneer post adoption services. In partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services and with tremendous support from community and corporate donors—like the Altria Companies Employee Community Fund and the Rappahannock United Way—our Post Adoption Program has grown quickly and has proven to be one of CHS’s most successful innovations ever.
Adoption is a lifelong process, which is why ongoing support is so important and why we are committed to providing high-quality, personalized support services for children and families not only starting at the adoptive placement but through finalization and beyond.
Our Post Adoption Program has recently entered into a new consortium model in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Social Services and other service providers in the state, which now efficiently and comprehensively serves all of Central and Northern Virginia’s adoptive families. Some of our offerings have changed and been renamed. But whether you live in Central or Northern Virginia, you can be confident that we will continue to provide the same, free levels of high quality, evidence-based, trauma-informed services as before.
Why Post Adoption Services Are Important
Post adoption services are extremely important because oftentimes, adopted children will experience loss, grief, trust and attachment issues, identity formation problems, trauma, development delays as well as school difficulties.
Adopted children usually experience loss and grief in many different ways. Even though you brought a child into a loving and safe home, life as they know it will never be the same.
Attachment disorder occurs when a child doesn’t develop a healthy sense of trusting others. When this happens, children will tell themselves that there is no one else they can depend on other than themselves.
Two of the biggest factors that play a role in identity formation are genetics and family dynamics. Identity formation is very complicated for adopted children.
Every child in foster care is exposed to trauma in some way or another, but some children in foster care experience more than one form of trauma. Trauma can stem from neglect, domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other sources of adverse experiences in early childhood.
“The reality is that while families created through adoption share a special bond that is greater than biology or similar backgrounds, it can also create challenges because of the factors that lead to adoption,” Nadine said. “In order for children to be adopted, they first experience a loss – the separation from their biological families. This is why CHS has a program dedicated to supporting children and families after their adoption takes place. CHS’s trauma-certified Post Adoption team has been a valued resource for my own adoptive family and hundreds of others.”
Post adoption services and support address the sometimes-profound issues of adoptive families. No matter how long ago you adopted, the Children’s Home Society of Virginia is here to help.
My Path Forward Program
My Path Forward, formerly The Possibilities Project, is a collaboration between the Children’s Home Society of Virginia and the Better Housing Coalition, a community development organization that provides high-quality, affordable housing and helps build vibrant communities.
In Virginia, nearly 500 youth age out of foster care each year. Virginia ranks last in the country for the rate at which youth age out of foster care without being adopted. The challenges facing these children are great, but not insurmountable. In fact, research shows that when youth aging out of foster care are offered access to vital supports like stable, affordable housing, education, and lifelong connections to caring adults, they fare much better on their individual paths to independence.
Cue My Path Forward.
Founded in 2015, My Path Forward provides housing and wrap-around services for aged-out foster youth in Virginia to change the trajectory of these children’s lives and to break the cycle of poverty for the long term. Our experienced staff tailors plans for each youth to meet their unique needs—and to develop their individual talents—to ensure they are getting ahead in life and achieving the independence they seek.
“CHS’s My Path Forward program provides for these vulnerable, yet highly resilient and amazing youth,” Nadine said. “True to our agency’s 120-year legacy of service, CHS is ensuring that youth who find themselves without a family are still equipped to reach their full potential and ultimately to support families of their own.”
In May of 2015, we received the $100,000 Impact 100 Grant for My Path Forward, which really helped us get the program off the ground.
The grant allowed CHS to provide youth with safe, stable housing and critical support services like employment, transportation, education, life skills training, and adult mentors so they could successfully live independently and make wise choices about their futures. My Path Forward has been blessed to be supported by dozens of other grant programs, foundations, corporate donors, and individuals over these past five years, helping it to produce the impressive outcomes so vital to the vulnerable population we serve.
In 2020 we rebranded our program and gave it a new name. As our program entered its fifth year, we knew it was much more than a “project,” and the young people we served had achieved so much more than “possibilities.” As such, the name “The Possibilities Project” no longer fit the program model that we created.
As our program participants followed their individualized paths toward independence, we began to hear from them that our program was doing more than just exploring possibilities — it was helping them move forward toward a brighter future, each in their own way. That is why we renamed the program to My Path Forward.
Today, we offer two different programs:
- My Path Forward
- My Path Forward – ILA
My Path Forward: Empowering Youth for Independence
My Path Forward is a housing program for young adults typically 21-25 who are prepared to transition into a more independent lifestyle while utilizing case management and life skills coaching to reach their aspirations.
My Path Forward – ILA (Independent Living Arrangement)
My Path Forward-Independent Living Arrangement (MPF-ILA) is an innovative program serving young adults ages 18-20 who have aged out of foster care and are participating in Fostering Futures. Our Independent Living Arrangement was created after several years of success with our original program and seeing the need for increased services for younger youth. MPF-ILA is a more structured program with increased supervision and more intensive services.
My Path Forward Results & Outcomes
The strength of the My Path Forward Program lies in our focus on the unique needs and goals of our participants. Our individualized case management and life coaching are provided through a trauma-focused lens that allows our staff to understand the behaviors, emotions, and needs of our clients.
We have had tremendous outcomes over the years!
- 100% of MPF program participants are in safe and affordable housing
- 85% of our participants are working 20 hours or more a week
- 66% have maintained the same job for three or more months
- 85% have completed or making progress towards completion in vocational training
We believe that allocating adequate resources is a necessary investment in the lives of children and youth in foster care.
Adoption in the 2010s: Awards Received
Children’s Home Society is proud to say we won several awards during the 2010s.
- 2016 Virginia Housing Awards/ Best Housing Program or Service/VAGHC awarded to The Possibilities Project (now called My Path Forward)
- Outstanding Adoption Story of the Year award at the 2016 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Adoption Summit
- One of our adoptive parents Steven Effinger was honored with the 2016 National Adoption Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- 2017 Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) Angels In Adoption Award
- 2018 Carol S. Fox Making Kids Count Award/Voices for Virginia’s Children
- Richmond Times-Dispatch Person of the Year 2018 Honoree Nadine Marsh-Carter
- YWCA 2018 Pat Asch Fellowship Award to Nadine Marsh-Carter
At the Children’s Home Society of Virginia, we believe every child deserves a home. For 120 years, we have been dedicated to our mission of service to children and families in the commonwealth. In fact, in our history, we have facilitated the placement of more than 13,500 children into safe, loving, permanent homes and have served nearly 15,000 children, youth and families
We are proud of how far we have come in the last 120 years, but we look forward to our future and helping 15,000 more children, youth, and families.
Support Virginia Adoption & Child Welfare
That covers it for adoption in the 2010s, and that concludes our decade blog series.
Currently, there are 1,000 children up for adoption in Virginia.
If you want to give a child in need a forever home, you’re in the right place. Get in touch with us today: 804-353-0191.
If you want to give financially to our cause, we would be forever grateful. Every dollar makes a difference in the life of a child, and no amount is too small.