More than 5,300 kids in Virginia cannot stay with their parents, so Liz Ramirez Weaver, a social worker with the state, tries to place them with foster families.
"Mostly it's for abuse and neglect issues, and sometimes there are just things that happen to children," says Ramirez. "Their parents can't take care of them, and they come into care."
However, there's a chronic shortage of families willing to take children, and lately the challenge of placing kids has multiplied.
"We're seeing more sibling groups come into care, younger children in groups of twos and threes who we'd like to keep together," she says.
It's especially hard to place children with physical or emotional disabilities, so in addition to a monthly payment of $448 to $666 per child, the state offers extra cash for the care of special needs kids.
For the most severely disabled, for example, a foster family could be paid more than $2,800 a month, far less than the cost to keep that same child in an institution. The Department of Social Services has not said by how much, but beginning July 1, those extra payments will be cut.