My Path Forward Advocacy

Transforming the Richmond Region and beyond

My Path Forward Research and Advocacy Initiative (formerly The Possibilities Project) was established because we recognize the need for systemic change on both the policy and administrative fronts in order to improve the outcomes of children and youth who in the foster care system. We embrace the best practice principle that those who will be impacted by system changes as well as community-wide stakeholders should be a part of influencing that change.

Therefore, we brought together a Panel of Experts, including youth in the My Path Forward program, to identify policy recommendations that will better improve the life outcomes of youth who have aged out of foster care and also reduce the number of youth who age out of foster care. Co-chaired by Senator Favola (D – 31st district) and Delegate Peace (R – 97th district), the panel included local, state and national experts in areas such as housing, employment, education, financial literacy, and health care and mental health. The panel has identified 40 policy recommendations that include legislative, administrative and community-based initiatives. With the policy recommendations identified by the community, we will continue our work to implement these recommendations throughout the state. Click here to review our panel of experts.

We have published a brief that outlines the CHS Panel of Experts many policy recommendations; to view or download the brief, please click here: CHS Panel of Experts Policy Brief Final 11_2019.

Learn more about our advocacy work by reading our blog below or click here; you can also sign up for blog updates. Contact Cassie Cunningham, Policy Director at cassie@chsva.org or (804) 353-0191 ext. 334 to get involved with our advocacy work.

My Path Forward invests in youth aging out of foster care and changes the trajectory of their lives. We have developed a permanent housing and best practices-based support program to serve as a replicable model for this region, Virginia, and other states around the country. Our innovative approach empowers youth ages 18 to 25 who have aged out of Virginia’s foster care system without being adopted. We provide these young people with critical supports and housing to assist them as they develop into independent and engaged community members.


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Foster Care Advocacy Work in Virginia

Virginia is ranked 50th in the nation for the rate at which youth age out of foster care.  The outcomes for youth who age out of foster care are bleak: 1 in 4 are incarcerated within two years.  1 in 5 are homeless within two years. Only 3% will graduate college. Because of these heartbreaking […]

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RTD Opinion: Marsh-Carter and Cunningham column “Foster children need our help”

On Tuesday February 23rd, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published an Op-ed authored by Children’s Home Society of Virginia president and CEO Nadine Marsh-Carter, and policy director Cassie Cunningham. Our goal is to continue to inform the public about the plight and often dire outcomes of youth in Virginia’s foster care system, and to encourage adoption and […]

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General Assembly’s Special Session Preserves Some CHS Advocacy Successes

Much like for everyone else, 2020 has been an unpredictable year for the CHS Advocacy team. Ending General Assembly session in March, we enjoyed early success with the General Assembly acting positively on many of our legislative priorities. It quickly became uncertain as we entered the pandemic and economic downturn shortly after the legislative session […]

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Virginia Ranks 50th Again–You Can Help Change That Today

Virginia Ranks 50th Again – You Can Help Change That Today Virginia has fallen back to 50th – worst in the nation – for the rate at which youth age out of foster care. While there are many factors contributing to our high rate of youth aging out of foster care, two big factors are: […]

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Children’s Home Society of Virginia Supports Equity and Inclusion

At CHS we are proud to have served Virginia’s children and families for the past 120 years. Since our start, we have seen many changes in culture and society and have made conscious choices to be a place of safety and inclusivity. Driven by our mission and core values, we continue to support racial justice […]

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The equitable impact of COVID-19: Let us not leave vulnerable populations behind

  Here at Children’s Home Society of Virginia, our work is rooted in 5 core values: Service, Integrity, Collaboration, Compassion and Equity. Equity is ensuring fair treatment, providing equality of opportunity and fair access. Equity does not mean providing everyone the same things, it means providing people with the things they need to be successful. […]

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Foster Care Unified Network: COVID-19 Recommendations

Thank you to Voice’s for Virginia’s Children for leading the charge on ensuring children involved in foster care remain safe, stable and cared for during the COVID-19 uncertainty. We are grateful to be a part of the Foster Care Unified Network who worked together to develop the recommendations below. Thank you to everyone who is […]

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Virginia’s General Assembly Continue to Focus on Improving Foster Care

Thank you to everyone who helped advocate for positive changes to the foster care system during this 2020 General Assembly session! Your voice was heard! We are thankful to each of you as well as the members of the General Assembly for their continued focus on improving the lives of children and youth involved in […]

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Exclusive Interview with “Aged-Out: Finding Home” Documentary Director, Pam Hervey

In January, VPM and 19RED released a new documentary titled “Aged-Out: Finding Home” that provides awareness of The Possibilities Project, a privately funded program for youth ages 18 to 25 who have aged out of the traditional foster care system in Virginia, as well as provides awareness of the difficulties faced by these youth.  This […]

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CHS Featured in Virginia Lawyer Magazine

We are at the tail end of the 2020 General Assembly session and will post an update within the next couple of days on how things are ending up. Spoiler alert: we may have some action items for those interested in joining our advocacy work! As we finish our work this session, CHS was featured […]

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Kicking Off Week 5 of the General Assembly 2020 Session!

We are about to start Week 5 of this General Assembly session and continue advocating for improved policies involving foster care, adoption and youth aging out of foster care. Here’s a look at where some of our priority bills stand heading into Week 5. Codifying Fostering Futures: The Senate has passed their version of this […]

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Foster Care Advocacy Day: A Huge Success!

Thank you to our families, team and partners for a very successful advocacy day today! With over 30 participants, we met with over 20 legislators and staff to share experiences and insights into foster care and adoption. Our families shared their experiences and how the General Assembly can work to solve some of the issues […]

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A Successful Week 2 Wraps up at the General Assembly!

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 […]

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Richmond Times-Dispatch: Foster Care Caucus plans to build on momentum in its second legislative session

We had a great time being a part of the Youth Foster Care and Kinship Care Advocacy Day on Wednesday! A huge thank you to our partner Voices for Virginia’s Children​ for organizing and hosting! We joined 16 youth with foster care and kinship care experience at the General Assembly to meet with legislators and […]

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What Happens When Youth Age Out of Foster Care? Presenting “Aged-Out: Finding Home”

What happens when youth age out of foster care?   Research shows that when youth are no longer supported by the traditional foster care system, and therefore age out of foster care, they are “at-risk” for devastating outcomes: 1 in 4 will be incarcerated within 2 years. 1 in 5 will be homeless within 2 […]

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2020 General Assembly Session has Begun!

We are excited that the 2020 General Assembly session began earlier this week! Being just a few days in, here’s a look at what’s to come over the next 60 days. Last year was an incredible year with the legislation that passed and we are expecting another big year for foster care, adoption and aging […]

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Panel of Experts Identifies Over 40 Policy Recommendations to Support Youth Who Have Aged Out of Foster Care!

As a part of The Possibilities Project, for over the past year we have worked with a panel of experts who has identified over 40 policy recommendations to improve life outcomes and support youth who age out of foster care. The TPP Panel of Experts, co-chaired by Senator Favola (D- 31st District) and Delegate Peace […]

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CBS6 Interviews CHS Staff for announcement of Panel of Experts Policy Recommendations

Nadine Marsh-Carter and Cassie Cunningham were interviewed by CBS reporter and multi-media journalist Cameron Thompson on Tuesday, the day we announced our much anticipated Policy Recommendations to the public. The policy recommendations, related to foster care system in Virginia and specifically to support who age out of the system were developed by our exceptional Panel […]

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Virginia Mercury interviews CHS Staff and Friends about Kinship Care: “They Forgot About Us.”

Here is an article by CHS friend Katie O’Connor published in The Virginia Mercury about KINSHIP CARE in Virginia. There has been renewed interest in improving policy for kinship programs to provide support for grandparents and others who officially adopt the children of family members. Laura Ash-Brackley, our Chief Programs Officer and Bruin Richardson, our […]

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Foster Care Omnibus Bill Passes the General Assembly!

GREAT NEWS! The Foster Care Omnibus Bill, SB1339, patroned by Senator Reeves, passed both the House and Senate today! This now just needs to be signed by the Governor before it will be enacted into law. We also know that the bill has funding in both the Senate and House current versions of the budget. […]

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Week 6 Recap: Some Foster Care Bills Have Passed Both the Senate and the House!

We’ve wrapped up the second to last week of session and have some big news! Some of the bills we support have passed both the House and Senate and are now waiting to be signed into law by the Governor. For the bills that have not yet passed both chambers, there’s still another week for […]

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Week 6: Midweek Update from the General Assembly

We are in the middle of the second to last week of General Assembly session and while we’ve made great progress, there is still a lot to be done! Here’s an update on where the relevant bills are in the process. There’s great news on the credit freeze bills! HB1730, patroned by Delegate Brewer, and […]

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Week 5 Recap from the General Assembly

Since Crossover, we are happy to see the bills we support continuing to move through the legislative process. With just two weeks left in session, we’ll continue to support these bills and push for them to pass both chambers of the General Assembly. Here’s where we ended up at the end of this week. SB1339, […]

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Mid-Session Report from the General Assembly

We’re halfway through this session of the General Assembly and thought now would be a good time to pause and update you on what’s made it through each chamber. Today is crossover day – that means that after today the House can only consider bills that originated in the Senate and vice versa, the Senate […]

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Updates from the Start of Week 5 at the General Assembly

We are thrilled to see so much progress towards helping youth in foster care and youth who have aged out of foster care this General Assembly session. Here’s a brief update on some movement we’ve seen since our latest post. SB1339, patroned by Senator Reeves and known as the Foster Care Omnibus bill, passed the […]

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Week 4 Midweek Updates from the General Assembly

With the House and Senate coming out with their budgets this coming Sunday, we’ve had a lot of movement of some of the bills we support in Senate Finance and House Appropriations this week! Here’s a quick update on some of the bills that have progressed further through the legislative process so far this week. […]

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Updates from the Start of Week 4 at the General Assembly

It may only be Monday, but there’s already a lot of progress being made at the General Assembly. We had some early successes in both the House and Senate this Monday.  Here’s the update: Three bills passed Senate Finance Health & Human Resources subcommittee this afternoon. SB1679, patroned by Senator Mason, aligns the Virginia Code […]

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A Busy End to Week 3 at the General Assembly

A lot has happened since our mid-week report! Here’s a quick update on some legislation we’re watching move through the General Assembly. HB2758, patroned by Delegate Carroll Foy has passed House Health, Welfare and Institutions subcommittee #2 unanimously. This bill will require local departments of social services notify family members caring for kin of the […]

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Mid-week Report: Week 3

On Monday, we kicked off the week with Advocacy Day. Here’s a quick mid-week report on what’s been happening down at the General Assembly since then. We’ve continued to advocate for children in foster care and youth who age out and we’ve been excited to see some progress made already this week! Last week, we […]

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Kicking Off Week 3 with Advocacy Day!

We kicked off the week with our partners, Voices for Virginia’s Children and Virginia Poverty Law Center for advocacy day! We had about 20 community partners, families and children join us as we spoke to legislators about issues facing children in foster care and those who have aged out of foster care. Some of those […]

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Week 2 At The General Assembly

It was a busy first full week of session this week! We spent the week advocating for children in foster care and youth who age out of foster care without a permanent family. Here are some highlights from this week at the General Assembly. On Tuesday, members of the General Assembly launched the very first […]

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