The young woman was taken into care by the Roanoke County Social Services Department in the summer of 2020. And as a teenager in foster care, she was immediately placed in the STARS program, which focuses on families fostering adolescents or fostering children with severe disabilities or emotional needs.
Additional services, such as a foster parent therapist, a mentor for each foster child, and parent support groups, have helped retain and support foster families in the area. This retention and the ability to form its own specialized foster homes saved Roanoke County over $ 1 million in potential costs related to the Children’s Services Act over a two-year period. .
The Children’s Services Act was implemented in the early 1990s and pooled money from different child welfare agencies across the state, including juvenile justice, social services, behavioral health and education. These funds are used to provide services to children at risk, including all children in foster care.
The idea of ââthe legislation was to eliminate duplication and use funds more efficiently to achieve better results for children, but the legislation has sometimes failed.
Recently, the state explored ways to reform the law after costs continued to rise year on year without a commensurate increase in the number of children served. As costs increased, communities were forced to innovate with new programs like STARS to lower their CSA costs and fill gaps in needed services across the state. But these programs can be difficult to replicate in smaller, rural, or resource-limited areas.