In an effort to reduce heat islands in vulnerable communities, the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services has applied for millions of dollars in grant funding to establish a street tree planting program.
The county will use its Vulnerability Index to identify communities in need of the program, according to county staff.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the department’s request on Tuesday (June 6) to apply for a $11.5 million Inflation Reduction Act Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) grant from the U.S. Forest Service.
“The grant period is five years from the award date which is anticipated to be October 2023,” the board meeting package said.
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services spokesperson (DPWES) Sharon North told FFXnow the department is proposing to plant 1,000 trees over a five-year period. Although the county is looking at vulnerable communities, she said “no decision on the grant recipients will be made until October.”
The Forest Service announced the funding opportunity back in April. The UCF program received $1.5 billion under the Inflation Reduction Act to support urban tree planting and forest planning and management in at-risk communities.
“The Resilient Fairfax Plan notes that 91 percent of vulnerable households are in areas identified as having a significantly high urban heat island effect and that vulnerable populations are more likely to be impacted by extreme heat,” the package said.
Factors considered by the county’s vulnerability index include household income, education, English proficiency, health insurance and the percentage of the population that owns a home or vehicle.
If the county is awarded the funds, the program will also promote tree planting through partnerships with the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Fairfax County Park Authority, Fairfax County Public Schools, and nonprofit organizations.
The county also identifies specific activities that will receive the funding:
- identifying areas in the county that are heat vulnerable low tree canopy and/or areas where green infrastructure would provide additional community and resilience benefits
- planting and maintaining up to 5,000 native and/or climate-resilient street trees over five years in neighborhoods and within the right-of-way and on public property
- educating and engaging the public on the benefits of green spaces and trees
- expansion of a green workforce to maintain existing and new street trees.
The county launched a pilot program in 2021 that provides free trees to residents of areas with minimal tree canopy coverage. The program initially focused on the Richmond Highway corridor but was expected to shift to Bailey’s Crossroads this year.
D.C. Area Briefly Had World’s Worst Air Quality — “‘Very unhealthy’ and ‘hazardous’ air quality put the health of people across the Washington, D.C., area at risk Thursday as smoke from wildfires in Canada brings some of the most polluted air ever recorded in the region.” Conditions improved to a Code Red into the evening, “but for a time Thursday, the D.C. area had the worst air quality in the world.” [NBC4]
Rep. Connolly Hosts Gun Violence Prevention Talk — In the wake of this week’s mass shooting at a Richmond high school graduation, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, and State Senator Jennifer Boysko will discuss gun violence prevention measures with local advocates. The panel will be streamed live at 10 a.m. today (Friday) on Channel 16. [Jeff McKay’s office]
Commuters Face Long Lines for Free Metro Shuttles — “While a shutdown affecting some Orange Line stations and an Orange and Silver transfer station started, commuters have shared frustrations about long waits for shuttles between closed stations. Metro is promising to address wait times with more buses and strategies to get shuttles through traffic congestion.” [Patch]
Springfield Appears Favored by FBI in HQ Search — “As Maryland and Virginia continue to battle to be the new home of the FBI’s headquarters, a document is being circulated that indicates the bureau itself prefers to move to Virginia.” The agency sees proximity to its training academy in Quantico as a priority, suggesting Springfield may have an edge over the two proposed Maryland sites. [WUSA9, Baltimore Banner]
Reston Contractor Opens Health Clinic — “QTC Medical Services Inc., a subsidiary of Reston government contractor Leidos Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LDOS), has opened a new flagship health clinic in Fairfax…The 7,800-square-foot space at 8505 Arlington Blvd. replaces a smaller facility in Alexandria that closed last month.” The clinic will mostly serve active and former military personnel, but it’s also expected to assist civilian federal government workers. [Washington Business Journal]
Candidates Sought for Reston Association Board — “Following the recent resignation of former Board of Directors President Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza, the Reston Association is seeking candidates interested in filling the remainder of her term.” The filing deadline is noon on Thursday, June 15, and the new at-large member will be appointed June 22. [Patch]
Students Showcase Auto Mechanical Skills in Burke — Lake Braddock Secondary School recently showed off work by students in its auto technology program. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority “donated 20 abandoned vehicles for the students to work on, and was on hand to meet with graduates about possible employment opportunities.” [WTOP]
Reston VC Firm Raises Millions — “Venture capital firm PROOF said it has raised $135 million in its third fund, ending a prolonged period of fundraising marked by both historic highs in 2021 and a more conservative environment of late…PROOF has yet to officially close its third fund but has already made 12 investments with that $135 million, [managing partner John] Backus said.” [DC Inno]
It’s Friday — Widespread haze. Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. Northwest wind 6 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. [Weather.gov]
Today (Thursday) marks a decade of community service, youth leadership, political activism and civic engagement in Virginia by the Hamkae Center.
Over the last 10 years, the local nonprofit has dedicated itself to achieving “social, racial, and economic justice” through Asian American mobilization and advocacy at both the state and local levels, per its website.
“We want to not only help meet the immediate needs of Asian Americans living in Virginia, but we also want to make lasting change,” Hamkae Center Director Sookyung Oh said. “…What we really want is for Asian Americans to be actively engaged in society, in this democracy. If we can create those on-ramps for folks to be able to do that and be a political home, then that’s what we’re striving for. ”
Though it works around the state, Hamkae Center is based in Fairfax County with offices in Annandale and Centreville. Its mission has expanded alongside the local Asian American community, which has grown from 17.6% of the county’s population in 2010 to over 20% — one-fifth of the population.
“Over the years, Hamkae Center has really become much more pan-Asian,” she said. “So if you look at our staff and board, we have folks who are Korean heritage like me…but also Filipino, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese. It’s really expanded so that we were becoming more of an Asian American group.”
A Virginia affiliate of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, the group was founded in 2012 as NAKASEC Virginia with the goal of organizing with undocumented Korean Americans, according to Oh.
It was among the organizations that advocated for undocumented immigrants who attended high school in the state to be eligible for in-state tuition rates and state financial aid for college.
“It’s our work with undocumented Asian Americans that we were able to push those changes through the state General Assembly in 2020 and in 2021,” Oh said.
Oh also expressed pride in Hamkae Center’s education-related activism, including its role in leading a “statewide, multi-racial, multi-faith” movement against proposed revisions to Virginia’s history education standards.
On a more hyperlocal level, the Hamkae Center functions as a community resource, offering assistance with citizenship and public health benefit applications. According to Oh, it recently launched an Asian American Small Business Counseling program to help Korean Americans in Northern Virginia navigate complex corporate procedures and language barriers as they kickstart their own businesses.
“To date, I think we’ve supported about four entrepreneurs in starting new businesses, and that’s pretty cool,” Oh said.
To reflect its evolving focus, the group rebranded in 2021 to “Hamkae,” the Korean word for “together.” Oh says the new name aims to “honor [their] Korean American roots” while making it clearer that the organization works with all Asian Americans, not just Korean Americans. Read More
(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) It’s another day of poor air quality for Fairfax County and the rest of the D.C. area.
As wildfires continue to burn in Canada, the resulting smoke has clouded the East Coast in a sometimes orange-tinted haze of particulate matter. As of 9 a.m., Fairfax was at 313 on the Air Quality Index (AQI) — a Code Maroon for hazardous air that’s even more severe than yesterday’s Code Red.
Today’s AQI appears to be the highest for the D.C. region since records began in 1999, according to Ryan Stauffer, a NASA scientist who studies air pollution.
The highest alert on the official AQI, Maroon is a health warning of emergency conditions that can affect everyone, according to AirNow, which monitors official air quality based on data reported by federal, state and local agencies.
Air Quality Alert for Thursday, June 8 🚨
Due to the wildfires in Canada, an air quality alert has been issued for today, Thursday, June 8. The air quality is unhealthy for everyone in Fairfax County and the region.
Stay informed: https://t.co/0SheATD3Zg pic.twitter.com/iHffXGXIWh
— Fairfax County Government 🇺🇸 (@fairfaxcounty) June 8, 2023
Record-breaking bad air quality in DC area yesterday dating back to 1999. Today probably will end up worse. https://t.co/YG1C95A31U
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) June 8, 2023
Everyone is advised to limit their exposure to the air pollution by staying inside or limiting the level of exertion required for outdoor activities, Fairfax County says.
Fairfax County Public Schools has canceled all outdoor activities on school grounds for the day, including recess, P.E., sports and after-school programs. The Fairfax County Park Authority has also canceled all outdoor classes, activities and amusements.
“Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other material,” the county said in an emergency blog post. “Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick, but people with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or heart disease are more likely to experience health effects of smoke. Pregnant women, babies and children are also at risk.”
In a twist, the masks that proliferated during the COVID-19 pandemic have made a comeback as the most effective way to filter particles from air pollution. In New York, which had the world’s worst air quality yesterday, N95 masks are being handed out for free today.
The worst of the pollution is expected to start clearing tomorrow (Friday), when a Code Orange AQI is forecast, but until then, it’s probably best to stay indoors if possible and mask up.
Image via VDOT
Air Quality Issues Continue Today — “Due to the wildfires in Canada, a Code Red Air Quality alert has been issued for Thursday, June 8, which means air quality is unhealthy for everyone in Fairfax County and the region…Take steps to limit your exposure,” such as by spending more time indoors “where particle pollution levels are usually lower.” [Fairfax Alerts]
Survivor of Fatal Blake Lane Crash Still Recovering — “Flowers, candles, crosses, rosaries and handwritten signs mark the spot where three students walking home from Oakton High School were struck by a speeding car driven by a fellow student on June 7, 2022…One year after the fatal crash and the victims’ families are still waiting for answers.” [Patch]
Vice President Recently Visited Local High School — “The John R. Lewis High School community, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michelle C. Reid, Ed.D., and the Lewis High School band welcomed U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to their school [last] Friday to advocate for safer schools.” [FCPS]
New Recreational Trail Will Connect Gum Springs to Creek — “For nearly 40 years, residents of Gum Springs, the oldest African American community in Fairfax County, have been waiting to gain trail access to the waterfront along Little Hunting Creek…Last October, Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck was able to secure support from his BoS colleagues to fund $600,000 in trail connections.” [On the MoVe]
VDOT Launches Study of Old Ox Road Near Herndon Area — “The Virginia Department of Transportation is seeking feedback on…potential safety, operational and accessibility improvements for about three miles of Old Ox Road (Route 606) between the Dulles Greenway (Route 267) and Rock Hill Road. Within the study limits, Old Ox Road averages about 33,000 vehicles a day.” An online survey is available through June 19. [VDOT]
Virginia Leaves Initiative to Combat Carbon Emissions — “A Virginia regulatory board on Wednesday voted to withdraw the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, fulfilling a directive from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin but triggering the threat of legal action from environmental groups who say the board overstepped its authority.” [The Washington Post]
Madison HS Boys’ Lacrosse Team Returns to State Finals — “With a 12-8 victory over the host Robinson Rams on June 6 in a semifinal match of the Virginia High School League Class 6 state tournament, the defending champion Warhawks (19-2) will play for the 2023 state title on June 10. Madison is in the state final for the third time in five seasons” [Gazette Leader]
Park Authority Seeking New Hires — “The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking to fill several seasonal and part-time positions at a variety of park locations surrounded by trees, sunlight, water, history, animals and fun! With so many opportunities to choose from, applicants can literally choose their own adventure!” [FCPA]
It’s Thursday — Widespread haze. Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 79. North wind around 8 mph. At night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 57. Northwest wind around 7 mph. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Smoke drifting south from wildfires in Canada has introduced unhealthy levels of air pollution in the D.C. area.
A Code Red Air Quality Alert has been issued for the entire region, including Fairfax County, signaling that the air is unhealthy for everyone today (Wednesday), according to AirNow.
AirNow collects official air quality data reported by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal, state and local agencies.
Code Red Air Quality Alert 🚨
Due to the wildfires in Canada, a Code Red Air Quality alert has been issued for Wednesday, June 7, which means air quality is unhealthy for everyone in Fairfax County and the region.
Learn more: https://t.co/dMPpgsD1t5 pic.twitter.com/No8JfjQrYF
— Fairfax County Government 🇺🇸 (@fairfaxcounty) June 7, 2023
Fairfax County is advising residents to limit the time they spend outside, particularly if they’re vulnerable to breathing or lung issues:
People with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and teens – take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
- Keep outdoor activities short.
- Consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them.
- Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines, for example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, or banks- park your car and go inside.
- Combine trips.
Everyone else – take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:
- Choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.
- Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines, for example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, or banks- park your car and go inside.
- Re-fuel your vehicle after dark.
- Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors.
- Be active outdoors when air quality is better.
Fairfax County Public Schools has canceled all outdoor activities until 6 p.m. and implemented indoor recess, spokesperson Julie Moult confirmed to FFXnow, adding that all information will be posted to the school system’s website.
Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw noted that, around 10 a.m., the air quality in Fairfax had actually tipped over into very unhealthy Code Purple territory due to the amount of particulate matter in the air, as measured by the EPA’s Air Quality Index, according to AirNow.
A Code Orange was previously anticipated for today, as smoke from wildfires in Quebec blankets the East Coast.
According to AirNow, the Code Red could be extended into tomorrow (Thursday) with a Code Orange forecast for Friday (June 9).
⚠️ Conditions are hazardous to everyone's health.
Please reduce time spent outdoors as much as possible and follow local media for additional guidance – this account will share updates as they come in. Stay safe everyone.
— Supervisor James Walkinshaw (@JRWalkinshaw) June 7, 2023
Traffic Enforcement Campaign Underway — “This week, the Fairfax County Police Department has started our second ‘Road Shark’ campaign throughout the county. Road Shark is a high-visibility and coordinated enforcement and education effort to deter aggressive driving, reduce crashes, and change driving behavior.” [FCPD]
Fairfax HS Locked Down Over 911 Hangup — “Police put the high school located at 3501 Lion Run in Fairfax City on lockdown around 1 p.m., in order to investigate a 911 hang-up call. Matt Kaiser, a spokesman with Fairfax City, told Patch that the police response and lockdown were standard procedure for any 911 call received from a school.” Police later determined there was no threat. [Patch]
Quebec Wildfires Affect Local Air Quality — “Another potentially beautiful day in the D.C. area has been somewhat tainted by wildfire smoke wafting across the skies…Parts of the region are seeing Code Orange air quality, indicating hazardous air for sensitive groups.” That includes Fairfax County, which also saw smoke yesterday (Tuesday) from a landfill fire in Lorton. [Capital Weather Gang]
More Early Voting Sites to Open Saturday — “For the run up to the final week of early voting for the June 20 Democratic primary, an additional 13 early voting sites will open on Saturday, June 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In total, 16 early voting sites will be open on Saturday…These 16 locations will also be open daily from Monday, June 12, to Saturday, Jun 17.” [Fairfax County Government]
Grocery Store to Replace Culmore Walgreens — “A new international grocery store, called Ummah Market, is coming to the former Walgreens building at 6053 Leesburg Pike in the Culmore area of Bailey’s Crossroads.” The store is expected to open in two or three months and will sell products from the Middle East, Egypt, India, Afghanistan and more, according to the manager of the existing store in Glen Allen. [Annandale Today]
Inova Acquires Local Lung Diseases Practice — “The health system said Tuesday it’s taking over the nearly 40-year-old Northern Virginia Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates PC (NVPCCA) to create what it’s calling Inova Pulmonology, a division devoted to lung diseases and related care.” NVPCCA had locations at 101 West Broad Street in Falls Church and 3289 Woodburn Road in Annandale. [Washington Business Journal]
Peruvian Chicken Eatery Relocating in Mount Vernon — “Capital Chicken, currently located beside the parklet at Mount Vernon Plaza, plans to vacate its space at the shopping center when its lease expires later this month and relocate to the former 5 Ten Foodmart property at 8339 Richmond Highway, which closed in February 2020.” [On the MoVe]
Vienna Council Approves Funds to Finish Tree Count — “The Vienna Town Council on June 5 approved spending an additional $11,000 with PlanIT Geo to conduct further tree-inventory work on town property. The approval will bring the contract’s total cost to $85,000.” [Gazette Leader]
It’s Wednesday — Widespread haze. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Northwest wind 6 to 10 mph. At night: Widespread haze before 2am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 57. Northwest wind around 7 mph. [Weather.gov]
The Fairfax County Police Department is partnering with Zencity to roll out a community survey tool that markets itself as a way to “reimagine” local policing.
Chief of Police Kevin Davis described Zencity Blockwise as a tool to measure public sentiment and build trust in the community at a press conference yesterday (Monday) to provide more information about the new countywide initiative. He was joined by Zencity Chief Strategy Officer Michael Simon.
“When we partnered with Zencity, we wanted to take that next step and better capture community feedback, community sentiment,” Davis said. “And we want to make sure that the things we do as a police department are in line with the expectations of our broader community.”
Zencity Blockwise is already used by other police departments across the country, including Chicago and San Diego, but it represents an evolution of public engagement tools utilized by FCPD.
Davis noted that just over a year ago, FCPD piloted My90, a community performance feedback tool designed to measure residents’ satisfaction with FCPD following an interaction with law enforcement.
However, Davis explained that, unlike that previous survey, Blockwise captures “sentiment about policing that is not pursuant or following a police interaction.”
Instead, the tool works to limit FCPD’s “blindspots” around residents’ everyday needs by increasing public access to local law enforcement and providing a platform for citizens across a vast and diverse jurisdiction to voice their concerns, according to Davis.
“The way to ensure that we have a more representative voice in the community is to reach as many people as humanly possible,” Davis said. “So people who don’t typically attend community meetings, people who don’t typically have interactions with their police departments, but they certainly do feel a certain way about public safety and about their police department.”
To assist in the FCPD’s goal of increasing its reach, Zencity uses census data to divide Fairfax County into its eight patrol regions and serve randomized digital advertisements to all devices across the county, according to Simon.
The advertisements encourage residents to submit an anonymous two-minute feedback survey that asks open-ended questions about the FCPD in eight different languages.
“You’ll see an advertisement that solicits your feedback wherever you may be on the internet,” Simon said. “That ad is targeted at you because we need you to fill a demographic and geographic quota that represents what the census data tells us about each individual neighborhood.”
The FCPD will then analyze the results to more effectively address the community’s most urgent needs based on the voluntary information provided by county residents. Drawing a parallel to other law enforcement technology that tracks local crime patterns to lower crime rates, Simon explained that Zencity measures three key indicators: fear of crime, trust and priority.
After enough data has been collected to establish a baseline, the survey results will be continually updated and posted to the FCPD’s open data portal, which already has data related to subjects such as use of force and internal retention rates, according to Davis, who emphasized a commitment to community transparency.
Since launching on Thursday, June 1, the survey has already received around 300 responses. Simon said Zencity hopes to garner 1,500 responses every month.
He also hinted that Zencity and FCPD will potentially pilot end-of-survey questions about respondents’ contact information, but for now, the service will be “one-directional.”
Dulles Toll Road Ramp to Beltway Closed Overnight — “Between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. starting Monday, June 5, and continuing nightly through Friday, June 9, 495 NEXT project crews will close the ramp from the westbound Dulles Toll Road to northbound I-495. The nightly ramp closure is necessary to safely allow crews to conduct joint repairs at the top of the ramp to the Beltway lanes.” [VDOT]
Metro Halves Fares for SNAP Recipients — “Low-income residents who are enrolled in SNAP benefits will qualify for a new Metro half-off fare discount. The program, called Metro Lift, starts June 20…The transit agency estimates more than 90,000 riders will benefit from Metro Lift, which is estimated to cost about $4 million, but is expected to generate an additional 1.6 million trips.” [DCist]
FCPS Seeks to Address Crowding at Glasgow MS — “Glasgow Middle School Principal Victor Powell is planning to implement several strategies to address overcrowded hallways and unsafe bathrooms at the school by fall 2023…Several parents said their students are afraid to go to the bathroom at school because of what goes on inside, such as fights, vaping, and vandalism.” [Annandale Today]
Tysons Hotelier Returns to Fortune 500 — “Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) jumped back this year into the Fortune 500 following a two-year absence, showing that demand for travel and accommodations continue to grow in a dramatic way since the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic.” A total of 19 D.C. area companies made the list, which is based on fiscal year revenue. [Washington Business Journal]
Capital Bikeshare Ridership Hits All-Time High — “Capital Bikeshare had its highest ridership month of all time in May with more than 428,000 rides, signaling a return to normalcy after the pandemic. It beats the previous record of 408,000 rides set back in September 2018.” [DCist]
Renovations of Richmond Highway Schools Finished — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) joined elected officials, school staff, students and community members May 25 in celebrating the completion of capital projects at three schools…Back-to-back ribbon cuttings were held at West Potomac High School, Hybla Valley Elementary School and Washington Mill Elementary School.” [On the MoVe]
Funding for Richmond Highway BRT Recommended — “It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the overall projected cost of $900 million, but the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission has agreed to kick in $20 million to support creation of a bus-rapid-transit system between Fort Belvoir and the Huntington Metro station in the Route 1 corridor.” [Gazette Leader]
Early Fourth of July Fireworks Planned in McLean — “WE’VE GOT A DATE! Our Community Independence Day Fireworks Celebration will be on Saturday, July 1, from 6:30-10:30 p.m. at Langley High School There will be food trucks, music, giveaways and more! Fireworks begin at approximately 9:15 p.m.” [McLean Community Center/Twitter]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. Northwest wind 8 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. At night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 58. North wind 6 to 9 mph. [Weather.gov]
Fairfax County’s child welfare system has seen abuse and neglect cases surge over the past year, taxing the dozens of volunteers charged with advocating for those children in foster care and court.
As of May, over 188 new kids have been placed in foster care or under a protective court order since July 1, 2022 — nearly double the 98 cases added the previous year, according to Fairfax CASA, a nonprofit that trains and supervises volunteer, court-appointed special advocates for children.
With a waitlist of about 50 children, as of last week, the organization says it urgently needs more volunteers, particularly Black, Hispanic and Spanish-speaking individuals.
“It’s such an important program,” Fairfax CASA Executive Director Darcy Hubbard said. “It really does change the outcome for our most vulnerable kids, and we desperately need people right now.”
Fairfax CASA currently has about 140 volunteers assigned to cases referred by the Fairfax County Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court. They work with attorneys and social workers to help each child get the services they need, increasing their chances of finding a safe, permanent home, according to the nonprofit.
Cases have become more complex
All of the cases are serious, since an advocate doesn’t get involved until after the court has determined a child was abused or neglected. But the issues facing families have grown in complexity this year, limiting most volunteers to one case at a time, Hubbard says.
About 60% of cases now involve domestic violence, compared to the typical rate of 30%, and cases where substance use or mental health issues are factors have also increased. For example, CASA got five cases with babies born with drugs in their bloodstream last year; this year, there have been 32 babies.
According to Hubbard, struggles with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses have increased for both parents and kids, particularly adolescents, which tracks with Fairfax County and national reports. Alcohol consumption and fentanyl use have also gone up during the pandemic.
“In addition to the trauma and the stuff that’s going on in their families, I think whatever is going on in the world has piled on to all the kids, and for our kids, it hits them extra hard because they don’t have some of the protective factors that other children have,” such as an adult they can rely on or a sense of security at home, Hubbard said.
She emphasized that mental health and substance use issues don’t justify opening a child welfare case, but the county government and court will intervene if those challenges rise to the level of endangering the kid’s wellbeing.
“Usually, the [Department of Family Services] is well-aware of the family and has been trying to work with them and help them for a long time,” she said. Read More