Follow along with NewFound Families as we work to support families. In this news column we seek to provide current information about the admininistration of the child welfare system. Become part of our community and join us on Facebook.
Meet Our Weekly Support Chat Facilitator, Cindi Maurice
Being a parent is definitely not easy. But being a foster, adoptive, or kinship parent can be even more of a struggle. There are so many questions that can go unanswered and resources that are unknown. That’s why we started our weekly support chats. No foster, kinship, or adoptive parent should go it alone. You need a support system of other parents who are experiencing the same things you are - and a place you can go to for help or advice.
The City of Newport News Department of Human Services held a National Adoption Day Celebration in November for National Adoption Month. As part of the event, they invited Mrs. Ruth McCall-Miller to share her story. The theme was "Follow the Yellow Brick Road". Her story was so moving, we just had to share.
Ruth's Adoption Story
My story is your story. My story is for all of us who do what we do to make sure that children and families find one another.
October 7-11 is Mental Health Awareness Week. This week was established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to educate and increase awareness about mental illness. Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans are affected by mental health conditions? That number increases significantly when we talk about children in our foster care system. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, “up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues, compared to approximately 18-22 percent of the general population.”
Permanency Subcommittee – August 17, 2018
Kinship Care Town Hall Meetings
Allison Gilbreath from Voices for Virginia’s Children reported on the Kinship Care Town Hall Meetings. She has been going across the state to get input and feedback from kinship care families and workers. The most common concern is that they are not getting financial assistance. Medicaid access is a positive, but it is difficult to find providers in the western part of the state. Another concern that was brought up is the lack of information and communication with these families. They aren’t getting information on why the kids were removed. Opioid use is often the issue, but in northern Virginia, serious mental illness is also causing more relatives to take in kinship children. Childcare cost is a significant issue in all parts of the state and in the western part of the state, there are very few childcare options. Minority kinship families are often single parent households. Kinship Navigator is a community-based resource where relatives can go to get information to help care for the children that have been placed with them. The Kinship Navigator has to be a DSS employee, but does not have to be based in the DSS building. Families in some areas of the state are reluctant to go to DSS to access this. There is money through the Family First Prevention Services Act to cover the Kinship Navigator, but not enough money to cover the whole state(each county). They are hoping to cover all five regions and are taking applications from counties. One suggestion to help kinship families would be to increase child-only TANF – even if it could only be increased for kinship families. There is extra money there that is not being used. Voices for Virginia’s Children will be putting a report out in late fall compiling the information from the Kinship Care Town Hall Meetings.
The Child Welfare Advisory Committee (CWAC) meeting was held on August 17th. Following are updates shared by VDSS representatives.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with the new Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). Having had experience as the Program Director for Benefit Services and serving as the Director of No Child Hungry is a bonus for the new role of Commissioner Duke Storen. He has a clear compassion for serving those in need and a rich history of designing and managing services to meet those needs.
We asked Commissioner Storen to tell us about some of the initiatives that are most in the forefront of his first year as Commissioner.
I am most interested in building a whole family approach as the foundation of all we do here at VDSS, including prevention of crises that lead to homelessness, poor health, family disruptions, and so much more.