Foster care is often viewed with negative connotations. Some stereotypes include that the parents do not care about their children, they are abusive to their children, or the children are too unruly, especially if they are teenagers. There are many issues that may lead to foster care, one being that the parents simply could not provide for the needs, physically or financially, of their child or children. Unfortunately, one negative aspect of foster care is that children in foster care usually do not have much of a say when determining if they can be reunited with their parents. But in Virginia, that is about to change.
Starting this summer in July, teenagers age 14 or over will be able to personally express if they want to be reunited with their biological family and if they want their birth parents to regain custody. This change comes after HB 1219 was just recently approved and signed by Governor Ralph Northam, according to this news article.
This bill was originally instigated and introduced by Del David Reid. It was a personal accomplishment for David, an issue very close to his heart, as he was in foster care and adopted as a child.
David has achieved many accomplishments throughout his life and career because of the opportunities provided him by his foster family who then later adopted him. His biological mother deserted the family when he was 6 years old. David’s biological father tried to raise him and his siblings, but financially, he was not able, and as a result David ended up in foster care. After his adoption by his foster family, David put his focus on his future. He graduated from college, the first from his biological family, and also served in the Navy Reserves for over 20 years. Now David is the chief strategy officer for Axiologic Solutions and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates last year states a recent news article.
Under the present law, the court and judge can ask social workers or guardian ad litem for the child’s preference, but now, the child will be able to speak for themselves.
The passing of this bill is a huge step towards improving foster care. I feel that if children have a say and are asked what they want, they will feel more valued, which will help their self-esteem—a major goal of the foster care system.