Solving the foster care crisis in Virginia – together.
You’re probably wondering if a problem so large is really SOLVABLE.
We’ve been there, too.
But we’re happy to tell you that with two proven models and a first-of-its-kind solution, the answer is YES. Regardless of your occupation, skillset, and life stage, you have the unique ability & opportunity to impact the lives of children in foster care.
Our state has well over 5,200 children who are in the foster care system through no fault of their own. Of these children, on any given day over 850 are legally free for adoption and are waiting for their forever family. The rest of the children need a loving, safe, and supportive foster family to care for them while they wait to go home to their biological families.
Because of the opioid epidemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of children in foster care, and therefore, an increased need for foster families over the past three years.
When children age-out of the system at 18 without a family, they are significantly more likely to experience homelessness, crisis pregnancy, unemployment, incarceration, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Trafficking.
Each year, 500 children age out of foster care, making Virginia 50th out of 50 states for permanency.
The Virginia Story
Virginia Adopts was a first-of-its-kind campaign in 2013 that leveraged the power of the Governor’s office as well as the business community to highlight children in foster care. In less than one year Virginia Adopts:
- Matched over 1,000 children with families
- Placed 16 out of 20 of the hardest to place and longest waiting teens in homes
- Generated over 1 million social media impressions via the Governor’s platform
The program was very successful, but it was launched in the last year of the Governor’s term and was not sustained for the next office. Additionally, while drawing heavily upon the platform and influence of the government and business spheres, Virginia Adopts lacked what has become the critical “other half” of the America’s Kids Belong model – the faith and creative communities.
Today, Virginia’s Kids Belong is picking up where they left off, and will begin to build on the foundation laid years ago by the Virginia Adopts campaign. VKB will include the faith and creative spheres and be able to take advantage of lessons learned in other states since 2013.
The solution to this issue?
It takes a village. Countless influencers from different backgrounds, with unique strengths and passions all in the same boat, and all rowing in the same direction.
Together we can give Virginia’s children a face, a voice, and a pathway to belonging – through reunification with their birth families, and when that’s not possible – adoption through foster care.
How It Works
With a wide-variety of influencers on board, we can combine a number of our proven methods to help meet needs within the foster care system. Since beginning work in Virginia, alongside numerous faith leaders, government workers, foster advocates, artists & creatives, as well as a host of generous donors, we’ve already seen amazing things happen:
- An alliance of faith leaders has started to meet in Central Virginia to strategize about ways to help children and families who touch the child welfare system.
- Faith communities are starting to host information nights, talk about this at their weekend services and develop ministries to support these children and families.
- Business leaders are stepping up with social and financial capital.
- Government leaders – at the local, state and federal level – are showing a commitment to making a greater impact for children in foster care.
Virginia’s Kids Belong will help launch a government-led campaign in 2018 that involves the Governor’s office and the state and local child welfare systems. This initiative will serve as the neutral space for everyone who wants to make a difference for children in foster care!
The I Belong Project™
One of America’s Kids Belong’s signature programs is The I Belong Project™, which uses high quality videography to give children in foster care a face and a voice. These videos serve as individual recruitment tools for foster children who are legally-free for adoption and are waiting for their forever family.
Virginia’s Kids Belong plans to fully launch their I Belong Project ™ in 2018.
Check out I Belong Project™ samples from other states we work in!
Wrap Around Ministry
Not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but everyone is called to care. Virginia is partnering with Open Table, a non-profit that employs a high-fidelity wrap around model, to provide wrap around support for children in foster care and the families who are serving them.
The partnership between Virginia’s Kids Belong and Open Table will allow everyone a clear entry point to engage in this issue, particularly the Faith Community as they collaborate with us to meet foster care needs.
From babysitting to dropping off a meal to providing lawn care or tutoring, there are countless ways to help support a foster or adoptive family. This partnership will give everyone the opportunity to say “Yes” to serving children in foster care.
Discover Your Role Today!
Everyone can make a difference in the life of a child in foster care.
Select Your Sphere of Influence:
- Dedicate a sermon or sermon series to educate & engage your congregation around the needs of foster care
- Host a “Next Steps” Dinner and Foster Certification classes at your church for prospective foster parents
- Start a “Wrap Around” ministry to equip your church in serving foster families
- Use your platform and influence to get involved in the Virginia story. Email JKelly@VAKidsBelong.org for more information.
- Champion legislation that improves outcomes for children in foster care
- Partner with the child welfare system to improve outcomes for children in foster care
- Engage your workplace in the movement
- Make your business “foster friendly” (think Military Discounts for Foster Families!)
- Donate to help us reach the unique needs of every child in Virginia
- Use your unique voice and platform to create awareness and serve as an advocate for children in foster care
- Partner with us in writing stories, creating films, or be a part of a benefit concert, recruitment event, etc. to help us bring this issue to light
- Follow and share our stuff on social media and help spread the word!
Every day we meet more individuals and families who are considering taking the leap to become foster parents. We know you probably have a lot of questions and would need more answers before committing. That’s normal.
Just don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from moving forward.
We’ll soon be adding further information about who to contact regarding becoming a foster parent. Stay tuned!