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Report outlines ongoing shortfalls of Virginia's foster care system

A profile of Virginia's foster care support shows where the Commonwealth stands compared to other states in the country.

NORFOLK, Va. — A recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides a current snapshot of Virginia's foster care system, comparing progress over the last 15 years. 


This metric accounts for reported data on adoption, reunification with birth families, living with a relative, and guardianship.

Virginia's rate comes in at 36% compared to 44% for the United States. 

That percentage drops for Black and Hispanic/Latino populations while increasing for White youth.

"We just don’t have families to take them. This week, I might have had 10 emails and phone calls for kids needing families. I’m one agency, but we didn’t have anybody," Ronnie Gehring said, the executive director of Embrace TFC. "That’s a problem across the state.”

Aging out

At the same time, Virginia's rate in which youth age out of the system (non-permanence) without permanent, legal connections, also outpaces the national average.

Virginia's rate is 57% across all demographics, while the national average is 52%.  

Gehring said the report's findings are not particularly unknown or startling for professionals in the field, adding that the most vulnerable populations in the foster care system become even more impacted by the challenge of not finding permanent home situations.

"Sixty percent of kids who age out of the foster care system become homeless within two years," he said. 

The research also found since 2006, fewer kids are entering foster care because of child behavior problems and more because of neglect.

"Child behavior problems" as a reason for entry decreased by 14 percentage points over 15-plus years, while "neglect" increased by 15 percentage points.

The new report did also find the percentage of black youth in foster care in Virginia is down by 15% since 2006. 

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