2013 General Assembly Information
During the 2013 Virginia General Assembly session (which begins January 9th, 2013), 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 eliminating barriers to school enrollment for these children.
Independent Living (IL) services eligibility and expansion:
- Status: Passed Senate & House policy committees, but since the bill was not funded, it died in the House Appropriations committee.
- Status: Funded in both House and Senate Budgets; bills have passed each chamber of origin & are expected to pass both houses unanimously.
SB 960: Allows children living in informal kinship care arrangements to enroll in school in the division where their caregiver resides without a custody change. Find our talking points on the bill here.
- Status: Passed the Senate unanimously; Passed House Education subcommittee unanimously; docketed for full House Education committee on Feb. 18th.
Children’s Health & Mental Health
Through the Voices-coordinated Campaign for Children’s Mental Health, we will work to expand community-based crisis response and child psychiatry services in two regions of the state, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, which did not receive state funding for these services in 2012.
We are grateful that Gov. McDonnell included $1 million in his amendments for FY14 to expand these services; however, more is needed. We have bi-partisan support for our budget amendments to add $450,000 to that amount to reach more children. You can take action on the children’s mental health amendments here.
Early Childhood Care & Education
Voices convenes the Early Childhood Policy Action Network of stakeholders in early care and education which has developed the 2013 Unified Early Care and Education Agenda. This agenda promotes the link between investing early in family strengthening and early intervention to ensure school and workforce readiness.
Keep up with the status of budget amendments related to early care and education.
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).