Governor Signs Foster Care Reform

Mar 27, 2019

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, signs foster care reforms into law.
Credit Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIOIQ



Virginia’s Governor signed legislation Wednesday to improve the state’s foster care system.  The measures increase health and safety standards, plus make it easier for children to be placed with a family member.

The reforms go hand in hand with a statewide push to recruit and retain foster families.


Barry Farmer was twenty years old when he took in his first foster child. Almost two decades later, he’s the single father of three adopted sons.

“I do the best I can with what I have, but the boys, I can’t even imagine them not being with me at this point because they’ve been with me so long,” Farmer says. “And I’m really proud of them.”

For him, support from friends and family was critical.

“Individuals that will make sure that the day runs smoothly as possible - whatever that looks like - because days are hard for foster parents,” describes Farmer.

Barry Farmer (left) with Delegate David Reid (right)

A new coalition of state agencies, nonprofits and churches will work together to make sure other foster families have similar support. That makes it more likely kids will stay in loving homes.

Delegate David Reid grew up in a youth home and was eventually fostered. He says it’s in everyone’s interest to help these kids reach their full potential.

“They’re having to work real hard. They’re having to learn good interpersonal skills,” Reid says. “They’re having to struggle. And that struggle I believe will make them capable of being able to do  great things.”

The initiative is modeled after a program in Oklahoma and Tennessee. In just one year those states nearly doubled their roster of foster families.

There are nearly 5,000 kids in Virginia’s foster system, and currently the state ranks near the bottom nationwide when it comes to finding those kids permanent homes.

 This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.