Virginia’s Kinship As Foster Care Prevention Program: 2024’s SB 39 and HB 27

During the 2024 General Assembly, Senate Bill 39, introduced by Senator Favola and House Bill 27, introduced by Delegate Callsen, focused on increasing foster care prevention through kinship placements. The bills were passed and signed into law by the Governor on May 21, 2024.

The legislation offers protections for both the child and their family, reinforcing the goal of reunification.

This summary is based on information from Voices of Virginia’s Children.

Eligibility Criteria: 

The proposed legislation outlines specific criteria for a child to be considered eligible for the foster care prevention program: 

  • The child is in the custody of a relative by a court order. 
  • The child’s parent or guardian voluntarily placed the child with a relative and has a written agreement with the local board of social services. 
  • The child demonstrates a strong attachment to the relative, and the relative has a strong commitment to caring for the child. 
  • The local department of social services has documented the need for the child’s placement with the relative, citing imminent risk of removal. 

Key Provisions: 

Once a child is deemed eligible, the local Department of Social Services and the relative with custody will enter into a written agreement. This agreement includes provisions for financial assistance under the Foster Care Prevention Program and may also include ongoing case management services, ensuring comprehensive support for kinship caregivers. 

The local board is mandated to identify and provide necessary services and support for the child, the relative, and the child’s parent or guardian. Importantly, the legislation emphasizes due process, informing parents or guardians of their right to seek legal counsel before entering into the agreement. 

Additional provisions in the agreement cover visitation arrangements, requirements for the child’s parent or guardian to meet for reunification, and safety plans in case of the child’s return home. The agreement is time-limited to an initial period up to 90 days, and provisions for extension, emphasizing the need for accountability and periodic review. 

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    Amendments to § 63.2-900.1 of the Code of Virginia