Foster care inquiries down following pandemic

Published 8:30 am Friday, June 24, 2022

Currently, there are approximately 5,000 young people in foster care in Virginia and more children are in need of a loving home and adults to care for them.

According to recent data compiled by the South Hill office of the United Methodist Family Services (UMFS), foster care inquiries are down 80% in 2022 compared to 2019.

According to the latest Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) report from April, 88 kids in the area are currently in foster care.

The South Hill office serves the counties of Mecklenburg, Halifax, Lunenburg, Charlotte County, Greensville and Brunswick.

According to the VDSS, about 60% of youth in foster care are ages ten and up. In Virginia, 18% of children exit the foster care system each year because they have turned 18 and aged out.

Nationally, 20% of teens who age out of foster care will experience homelessness.

In addition to the low rate of inquiries to become a foster parent, UMFS shows that the percentage of individuals completing the necessary training to be a foster parent has gone down by 54% across the state.

According to UMFS Chief Program Officer Adalay Wilson, becoming a foster parent through UMFS takes 3-6 months, and most of the training is online.

“If you’ve ever considered fostering, we’re asking you to take the first step and learn more,” said Wilson. “Older youth in Virginia deserve the chance at a family. They deserve to stay in the communities they know, in a home with people who are committed to their healing through thick and thin. We need individuals from all walks of life to be in that safe and stable home.”

There are no gender, cultural, ethnicity, religious, marital status, educational, or home ownership requirements for becoming a foster parent.

“Foster parents and families with UMFS come from all walks of life,” said Wilson. “They’re teachers, nurses, social workers, chefs and more. They are single people, married people, young people and older people. They are members of the LGBTQ community. They rent apartments. They own homes. Ultimately, they are people who have realized they have room in their homes, room in their schedules and room in their hearts for a child in great need.”

For more information about becoming a foster parent or to register for a virtual information session, interested individuals can visit UMFS.org/foster.