Thousands of families are doing the same work as foster parents without the support

On a June day in 2011, Ray Richardson was at work when he got a call from his daughter and was given a choice: Either his granddaughter, 7-year-old Lilia, would be staying with Richardson and his wife, or she was going into foster care.

“Period. Point blank,” Richardson recalled.

So he and his wife, Carolyn, drove up to Fredericksburg that day. They packed Lilia and the black garbage bags filled with her toys into their car, and Carolyn Richardson asked her daughter: “Please, let them both stay together. Let me take Isaiah, too, so they’ll be together.”

They would get 5-year-old Isaiah the next day, when their daughter — the children’s father had recently died — dropped him off. Carolyn Richardson would keep the kids in the same room for a while after they moved into their grandparents’ house in Chesterfield, because she wanted them to stay together after so much upheaval…

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