During and after foster care

How old do I have to be to start working?

You must be at least 14 years old to get a job (unless it’s on a farm, or delivering newspapers, and you have permission from your social worker; you can also do occasional work such as babysitting, lawnmowing, and petsitting before age 14). Once you are 16 years old, you can work as many hours as you want.  However, if you are under 16, your work hours are limited to: 3 hours on a school day; 18 hours during a school week; 8 hours on a non-school day; 40 hours on a non-school week.

If you are 14 or 15 years old, you can only work between the hours
of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when you can work as late as 9 p.m.; or to deliver newspapers, when you can work as early as 4 a.m.).

If you are under 16, you must get an employment certificate from your school, or online: https://vaeecs.doli.virginia.gov/vaeecs/ 

What are my job options if I haven’t graduated from high school or don’t want to go to college?


Programs such as YouthBuild and Job Corps help people gain marketable work skills.

  •  YouthBuild provides youth between the ages of 16 and 24 with job skills by building affordable housing for low-income and homeless people while at the same time working toward their high school diploma or GED.  Participants spend 6 to 24 months in the program full-time, going to school and getting hands-on training at construction sites.  Find more information at www.youthbuild.org.
  • Job Corps provides youth ages 16 to 24 with job training and assistance in completing their high school degree or GED.  Most youth who participate in Job Corps complete their training in eight months to two years. The programs provide specialized training to prepare youth to obtain and work at a specific job, such as in hospitality or auto mechanics.  While participating in Job Corps, youth are provided with dormitory style housing, food service, driver’s education, health and dental care, a bi-weekly living allowance and a clothing allowance.  There are four Job Corps centers in and near Virginia:  Marion, Coeburn, Monroe and Washington, DC.  For more information about the Job Corps program, go to www.jobcorps.gov or call (800) 733-JOBS.
  • Apprenticeships allow you to earn while learning a trade. Apprenticeship programs in Virginia include shipbuilding in Newport News (http://as.edu), facilities management at the University of Virginia (https://www.fm.virginia.edu/depts/humanresources/apprenticeship/), and others — throughout the state.  Learn more here: https://www.vawizard.org/wizard/home?404url=/vccs/careerworkbased.action and through the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry: http://www.doli.virginia.gov/apprenticeship/pdfs/DOLI%20Apprenticeship%20Brochure.pdf
  • Virginia Workforce Centers are located throughout Virginia. Many are in local offices of the Virginia Employment Commission. These centers provide access to local, state and federal job listings; information about various training programs and careers; guidance on job preparation and resume writing; and other assistance for people looking for jobs.  The centers are generally open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  For more information and to find a local center, visit http://www.elevatevirginia.org/contact-us/#one_stop_center.
» See http://www.learnyourrightsva.org/learn-your-rights/higher-education/ for more about vocational training for those not interested in going to college.