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Virginia To Consider Restoration Of Parental Rights

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Judges in Virginia have the authority to terminate the rights of parents who have caused a substantial threat to a child s life, health, or development. Now, several lawmakers are calling for creation of a new process to permit the restoration of parental rights in certain cases.

While foster care is intended to be temporary until a child is adopted or reunited with relatives, 11 percent of children who left the system in 2010 due to their age did so without a safe, permanent family to live with. 

This "aging out" can be dangerous for teens, says State Sen. George Barker, who is sponsoring legislation that would allow restoration of parental rights in some cases.

"They often have trouble maintaining jobs. They’re not necessarily in a position to be able to get the higher education, [or other] things that they should be getting," he says. "And providing some support during those years is extraordinarily helpful."

Under the proposal, a child’s guardian ad litem or social services board can petition the court for parental rights restoration. The child must be at least 14 years old, with a few exceptions for younger children. 

But Del. David Toscano, who's also sponsoring the bill, says cautionary language will be included. 

"You've got to prove by a lot of evidence that the parents are capable of taking these children back," Toscano says. 

Ten states have enacted laws allowing parental rights restoration. 

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