Richmond-area foster program doubling youth program size

Richmond-area foster program doubling youth program size

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Children’s Home Society of Virginia says if foster children cannot find a permanent home before aging out of the system, it likely leads to a ruined life. But the group is expanding one program in hopes that will not be the case.

The My Path Forward program serves teens who have aged out of foster care without being adopted. The program is about four years old, but is now doubling in size due to need.

"We wanted to develop this program to help those youth who, many of whom have been in the foster care system for a long time, to become independent," said Bruin Richardson, Chief Advancement Officer.

Grants and donations are the financial backbone of the expansion. Richardson says the program helps those aged 18 to 20 with housing, health care and career counseling. Most youth spend approximately two years in the program.

"We wanted to be able to provide a program for those youth that will allow them to really thrive going forward," said Richardson. "These are youth with so much potential and so much to give to society."

Those with the program says statistics also indicate these teens have a higher rate of pregnancy along with very low rates of graduation from college and even high school.

"They turn 18. They're trying to navigate adulthood but they don't have the family support to help them do that," said Policy Director Cassie Cunningham.

Dealing with the foster care program during a pandemic is also a challenge, like most industries, but those in charge say they just have to be flexible.

"We're still doing home studies," said Cunningham. "We're still finding families for children in foster care. Matching children with families. We're still do that it just looks a little bit different."

The My Path Forward program also tries to pair them with a mentor to be a support for life.

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