Lack of support for kids who 'age out' of foster care system

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- The goal of People Places of Charlottesville is to get kids in and out of the foster care system as efficiently as possible and back with their birth families.

However, for some, that does not happen, and when they turn 18, they are pushed into the real world.

Children have a lot of different ways they can end up in foster care; everything from drug-addicted parents to poor performance in schools.

Joyce Stratton, a teaching parent coordinator with People Places, has seen them all.

"A child with emotional or psychological issues, a child of certain ethic background, or a child from a larger sibling group," said Stratton describing children who come into foster care.

Once children turn 18 years old, they 'age out' of the system and move into the real world.

Stratton says that causes some concerns.

"There are limited services that are available for these kids and services that will better prepare them for transitioning out foster care," said Stratton.

She says funding for services with older foster kids can fall short some years, which can make it difficult for kids to succeed.

"There's always a need for services for children that are being adopted from the foster care system," said Stratton. "Making sure there is funding available for counseling and additional support once they need the foster care system."

Delegate David Toscano (D-57th) says he has been working hard on this issue for a long time in the Virginia General Assembly.

"We've allowed some foster care kids who are over the age of 18 to stay in service and to get additional services after their 18 because maybe they're not able to live in the real world on their own," he said.

The program is called 'Fostering Futures,' which Toscano says works to help find foster kids permanent homes.

"Whether it's to help them get to community college or help with housing, to allow them to be ready once they get out of the foster care system," said Toscano.

Stratton says even after the children leave the system, they stay in touch.

"We have someone that specifically checks in every three months, six months, a year just to see how the child is doing," said Stratton.

Becoming a foster parent is a fairly easy process, and if you are interested, call People Places at (434) 979-0335.

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