The young woman was taken into the care of the Roanoke County Department of Social Services in the summer of 2020. And as a teenager in foster care, she was immediately accepted into the STARS program, which focuses on families caring for teenagers or children with foster children with severe disabilities or emotional needs.
The additional services, such as a therapist for the foster parents, a mentor for each foster child, and support groups for parents, have helped to keep and support foster families in the area. This retention, plus the ability to train its own specialist nursing homes, saved Roanoke County more than $ 1 million in potential Child Services Act costs over a two-year period.
The Children’s Services Act was implemented in the early 1990s and pooled funds from various child charities across the state, including juvenile justice, social services, behavioral health, and education. These funds will be used to support children at risk, including all children in foster families.
The idea of legislation was to avoid duplication and use resources more efficiently in order to get better results for children, but legislation has sometimes fallen short.
Recently, the state has been exploring ways to reform the law after costs have continued to rise year after year without proportionately increasing the number of children being cared for. As costs have increased, communities have been forced to innovate with new programs like STARS to lower their CSA costs and fill required service gaps across the state. However, in smaller, rural or low-resource areas, these programs can be difficult to replicate.