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To bring together all of the relevant systems and professionals to provide early identification, intervention, and treatment for child and youth victims and their families and caregivers.


Virginia Helping Everyone Access Linked Systems or VA HEALS developed screening infrastructure across a wide range of public agencies to screen uniformly and respond to the safety needs of child and youth victims of violence. Strategy highlights included: maintaining and enhancing the network of Virginia agency stakeholders that respond to child and youth victims of violence; developing a strategy to identify, assess, and provide comprehensive services; working with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to analyze data from pilot sites and make modifications to the screening tool and supporting training manual. During three implementation pilots in diverse regions of the state, young victims and their families were linked to services through community-based behavioral health service boards or directly referred to counseling services, sexual and domestic violence programs, healthcare providers, and mentoring programs.

Funded Agency

The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) is one of the largest Commonwealth agencies, partnering with 120 local departments of social services, along with faith-based and non-profit organizations, to promote the well-being of children and families statewide. One thousand six-hundred and fifty (state) and 8,500 (local) human services professionals throughout the social services system ensure that thousands of Virginia's most vulnerable citizens have access to the best services and benefits available to them. The mission of VDSS is people helping people triumph over poverty, abuse, and neglect to shape a strong future for themselves, their families, and their communities. For more information on Virginia's state project visit their LSC State Agency Website.

State Data FAQs

What do we know about children and youth populations in Virginia based on the census?

What are the racial and ethnic demographics for children and youth populations in Virginia?
According to 2017 population estimates, White youth comprise 57% of the population ages 0-24 in Virginia, with Black children and youth comprising 22%; Hispanic 13%; Asian 7% and American Indian less than 1%.

How are children and youth populations changing in Virginia?
Between 2000 and 2017, the number of White children and youth, ages 0-24 within the state general population, decreased 4%. In contrast, the population of Hispanic children and youth increased 120%; Asian 90%; and Black 4%.

Puzzanchera, C., Sladky, A. and Kang, W. (2018). "Easy Access to Juvenile Populations: 1990-2017." Online. Available:

What do we know from national law enforcement data collections about Virginia?

How many youth victims of violence are known to law enforcement in Virginia?
A reported 108,300 victims of violent crime were known to law enforcement in Virginia. About 1 in 6 victims (approximately 18,000) were youth under the age of 18.

Among youth victims, what is the most common offense in Virginia?
Simple assault was the most serious offense for nearly two-thirds of youth victims while 17% of youth were victims of a sex offense (e.g., fondling and rape). More than half (54%) of all assaults (aggravated and simple) involved boys and nearly 80% of sex offense victims were girls.

How many youth are victims of domestic violence in Virginia?
Of the nearly 18,000 youth victims of violence, about one-third (~6,100) were victims of domestic violence.

Where are youth most likely to be victimized in Virginia?
Half of all youth victims of violence were victimized in a residence and more than 1 in 5 (22%) took place at school. However, nearly 85% of youth domestic violence victims were harmed at a residence.

What is known about the offenders in Virginia?
Among all youth victims of violence, more than 40% of youth were victimized by an acquaintance and 29% were victimized by a family member. Among youth domestic violence victims, half were victimized by a parent.

National Incident Based Reporting System, 2015: Extract Files. Distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Available from

What do we know from national surveys of youth behavior in schools in Virginia?

How prevalent is bullying at high schools in Virginia?
About 1 in 5 high school students report being bullied while at school and 1 in 7 (14%) reported being subject to electronic bullying. Overall, 6% of high school students reported that they did not go to school because they felt unsafe.

How prevalent is dating violence among high school students in Virginia?
About 1 in 10 high school students reported experiencing physical dating violence, including being hit, slammed into something, or injured with an object or weapon on purpose.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2015 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Available from

What do we know from national data collections concerning child abuse and neglect in Virginia?

How many children who received an investigation were substantiated as victims in Virginia?
In 2016, there were 69,434 reports of maltreatment involving 62,808 unique children. More than half of these reports received an alternative response, one-fourth resulted in a finding of no maltreatment, and 11% were unsubstantiated. About 10% of all reports were substantiated, resulting in 5,941 unique child maltreatment victims in 2016.

What is the most common type of child maltreatment in Virginia?
Neglect (58%) and physical abuse (28%) were the most common forms of maltreatment. Comparatively, sexual abuse (11%) and psychological maltreatment (1%) were much less common.

How many children die as a result of maltreatment in Virginia?
In 2016, there were 45 reported fatalities representing less than 1% of all child victims. The child maltreatment fatality rate of 2.41 (per 100,000 children) in Virginia was about the same as the national rate (2.36).

What is known about child maltreatment perpetrators in Virginia?
Parents and other family members are the most common child maltreatment perpetrators. In 2016, parents accounted for 73% of reported perpetrators and 7% were other relatives. Unmarried partners of a child’s biological parent accounted for a small percent (3%) of perpetrators.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2018). Child maltreatment 2016. Available from