Woman knows about foster case as a child and as a parent

ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) On any given day, there are about 400 children in social services custody in Roanoke and Roanoke County. That means the demand for foster families in our hometowns is huge.

Courtesy of Virginia Vann

Virginia Vann is all grown up now: a mom of three kids and a counselor here at Burlington Elementary School. Students raised $1,100 to help buy backpacks that are going to children in foster care. It's a gesture that hits home for Vann, who was a foster child herself when she was a teenager.

"I grew up in a single-parent house and there were just a lot of things that were going on in the home at the time that were unsafe," Vann said.

During her three years in foster care, Vann was placed in nine different homes. But for her, it was an overall positive experience.

"Seeing the impact that my foster case manager had on my life and the different support workers that those years investing in me, it completely changed my life," Vann said.

Now that she's a foster parent to a 3-year-old boy, Vann has come full circle.

"It is one of the hardest and most rewarding things that our family has done, because when we go into foster care, it's not just something that i do, it involves our entire family," Vann said.

Finding enough foster families is a challenge in our hometowns. There are about 88 kids in Roanoke County foster care right now. In Roanoke City, the number is closer to 300.

What Vann says might discourage some people from fostering is what she calls a common misconception about foster kids.

"There's absolutely no fault of the child, if a home is unsafe. It's the adult's responsibility to make a home safe," Vann said.

Reuniting a foster child with their biological parents is the ultimate goal. It's tough, but Vann knows this comes with the territory.

"We are on his side, cheering for him to return home, if home can be safe for him," Vann said.

If you're interested in fostering, there is training that's required.