The Virginia Department of Social Services offers IL supports and programs for youth, starting at age 14.
Programs, Supports, and Opportunities provided by VDSS
John H. Chafee Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee Program) supports all youth who experience foster care at age 14 up to age 23. The purpose of this program is to provide flexible funding for services and supports:
1. Helping youth attain a high school diploma and post-secondary education or vocational training;
2. Training and opportunities to practice daily living skills such as financial literacy and driving instruction;
3. Achieving meaningful, permanent connections with caring adults;
4. Engaging in age and developmentally appropriate activities which promote positive youth development; and
5. Experiential learning that reflects what their peers in intact families experience.
Fostering Futures is a voluntary program available to young adults in foster care after age 18 that provides housing support, education/vocation assistance, and other resources. The program enables local departments of social services to provide additional supports through age 21 to assist participants in successfully transitioning into adulthood.
Your voice matters! Help improve Virginia’s foster care system and inspire positive change in the lives of others. By joining Virginia’s teen advisory board SPEAKOUT (Strong Positive Educated Advocates Keen On Understanding the Truth), you can contribute to improvements in foster care policy, create lifelong connections, adn serve as an agent of change.
Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program
Financial assistance is available to assist with education and training expenses for college, universities, and post-secondary vocational training programs, including tuition, room/board, books, and more. Eligible students must be between 14-25 years of age and currently or formerly in Virginia’s foster care system.
Chafee Transition Plan
The Chafee Transition plan is your outline for success in adulthood and beyond, created by you and with the support of a team to help you reach every milestone. Your team is made up of people in your life who care about your success and may include your foster care worker, current/former caregiver(s), teachers, family, and more!
New legislation has been passed regarding medical coverage for young adults formerly in foster care that now means youth in foster care under the age of 18 aren’t the only individuals eligible for medical coverage. If you were in foster care and received Medicaid in Virginia at the age of 18 (or older), and you are currently under the age of 26 (even if you “aged out” at 18 and had a lapse in medical coverage), you may be eligible for Medicaid or other medical coverage!
Teens and young adults across the nation have the power to change the future of foster care, and you could help here in Virginia. The National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) is a federally mandated program that examines outcomes for teens and young adults in foster care. To meet NYTD’s requirement to collect this outcome data, Virginia child welfare agencies survey groups of youth currently or formerly in foster care at age 17, and again at ages 19 and 21.
Youth Welfare Approach
Child welfare, as its name implies, has historically focused on providing services to children. While many of its principles may also apply to working with youth in care, a customized approach is needed for child welfare systems to be able to appropriately structure their work in a way that is responsive to the developmental, social, and practical needs of youth.
You can read more about this shift here, in this document by the Capacity Building Center for States.
Virginia will be transitioning to this Youth Welfare Approach. The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) will release more information on the shift as it’s available.