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State Commission on Youth recommends training academy for social service workers

The Virginia Commission on Youth met Monday and voted to recommend changes to the state’s foster care system, including a possible training academy for social service workers.

Many departments across Virginia that oversee foster care youth are struggling with high turnover. The idea behind the training academy is to give workers more support and education before they go into the field.

Another recommendation by the Commission is to increase resources that help foster care youth graduate from 4-year-institutions. National statistics reveal that foster youth tend to have low rates of obtaining a college degree.

The Commission did not move forward on two measures that received both negative and positive public comments. One would have given legal immunity to foster care agencies and their workers over claims of child mistreatment.

The second would have limited the number of teens who have a legal say in whether they’re admitted to a mental health facility for inpatient treatment. Virginia law gives minors a say in the decision, if they’re 14 and older. The Commission agreed not to recommend increasing that age, for now, but to look closer next year at clarifying the process when minors are involuntarily admitted for mental health emergencies.

The Commission does not have the power to make laws, but makes recommendations to lawmakers and state agencies about policies that concern children.

Roxy Todd is Radio IQ's New River Valley Bureau Chief.