2014 General Assembly Information
During the 2014 Virginia General Assembly session (which begins January 8th, 2014), Voices will send a weekly online newsletter every Friday and Action Alerts at other times when direct action is needed on specific legislation or the budget. You’ll find links in each of our advocacy areas below that will allow you to delve deeper into our work, access relevant materials, and receive updates on our priorities.
Here you’ll find information on our specific legislative initiatives for the upcoming session.
The Children’s Agenda:
Child Welfare & Foster Care
This year, Voices will continue to address the ongoing crisis that results when youth age out of the foster care system without permanent connections. By championing several specific pieces of legislation aimed at this effort, we will advocate for increased access to programs, services and funding available to foster youth between the ages of 18 and 21 years.
Voices will also work to promote better educational outcomes for youth diverted into “informal kinship care,” by advocating for legislation aimed at strengthening the programmatic and policy framework around kinship diversion as a statewide practice.
We will also work to strengthen protections for licensed kinship foster families by providing an opportunity for judicial review before a child can be removed from a formal kinship foster placement in non-emergency/non-safety-related situations.
Click here to access our 2014 Child Welfare Legislative Coalition agenda, and use the “Learn More” button for relevant posts about our progress on child welfare issues during session.
Children’s Health & Mental Health
Through the Voices-coordinated Campaign for Children’s Mental Health, we will continue to build on the momentum of the last two years to strengthen children’s mental health services around the state. We will advocate that pilots for community-based crisis response and child psychiatry services be expanded to reach more children.
We will also advocate that funds be dedicated to serving older teenagers and young adults through the often-difficult transition between the child and adult mental health systems. Policymakers and the media are now paying significant attention to mental health policy issues, and we will work to ensure that the needs of Virginia’s children are not eclipsed by the needs of other age groups.
Early Childhood Care & Education
Voices convenes the Early Childhood Policy Action Network of stakeholders in early care and education which has developed the 2014 Unified Early Childhood Agenda, the “path to prosperity”. This agenda establishes shared priorities for 18 early childhood stakeholder organizations. The path to prosperity outlines the steps Virginia must take to ensure all children enter school ready to learn.
Keep up with the proposals related to early care and education, such as the Governor’s budget, budget amendments and legislative proposals.
Voices is also supporting partner organizations taking the lead in the areas of Access to Health Care and Family Economic Security.
Most critical in this area is the issue of the Medicaid Extension, which, if enacted, would make health care available through Medicaid to individuals up to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (meaning only a little under $31,000 for a family of four).
We will also be working with our partners at the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis on bringing a more robust, meaningful Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to Virginia.