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Voices’ Blog

2021 Legislative Agenda: Advocating for Family Economic Security (Update 3/3/2021)

Posted:  -  By: Chloe Edwards

Family Economic Security (FES) increases access to strong financial futures at the individual, community, and systemic level. It influences several components of an individual’s life, including physical, social, emotional, health and well-being. Economic trauma refers to a sustained stressful impact or emotional pain of one’s experience with lack of financial opportunities and poverty. Currently, families are facing unemployment, the closing of a local community center they may have relied on, housing inequities, and exacerbated problems that may have already occurred as a result of the pandemic. Without policy interventions, families will continue to face conditions worsened by the pandemic.

Our policy solutions present opportunities for families and communities to maintain a sense of resilience during this time, including cash in the pockets of families to help them meet their basic needs, paid leave for workers that must stay home to take care of a loved one or themselves, and safety net resources that contribute to economic security, including access to food and nutrition.

  1. Expand paid leave options to protect communities.
  2. Strengthen safety net resources that contribute to economic security.
  3. Increase access to affordable and healthy food options.

View our 2021 Family Economic Security policy agenda.

Informed Perspective

Family Economic Security Equity Impact Statement 

This is the inaugural year of Voices equity impact statements. These briefs analyze disaggregated data to get at the heart of the true policy solution and the impact of that. Here you will find data and talking points to communicate the impact of the policy solution. View the statement here.

Bills We Support

Please check this page regularly for frequent updates on bill status and new bills.

  • Paid sick leave for home health workers |HB2137| Delegate Guzman| Provides paid sick leave to Medicaid funded home health care providers. We are disappointed the bill was amended to narrow the eligible workforce from all essential workers to home health care workers.
    • Update: This bill has passed and funding was allotted. It awaits the Governor’s signature!
  • Produce Rx Program established; report| HB2065| Delegate McQuinn| Requires the Department of Social Services to convene a workgroup to develop the framework for the Produce Rx program and report to the Governor and Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations by October 1st.
    • Update: This bill has passed and awaits the Governor’s signature!
  • Improve eligibility for TANF & SNAP participants | HB1820| Delegate Helmer | Casts a wider net for families to obtain public benefits for nutrition and cash assistance. Almost half of the caseload for nutrition benefits are children and SNAP caseloads have increased during the pandemic. This bill will provide a higher income limit to obtain benefits and eliminates a systemic barrier to obtaining assistance, the “asset test”, that denies eligibility for households with more than $2,250 in assets, such as bank accounts or savings. Children who receive SNAP benefits will be categorically eligible for free school meals. The bill also allows for individuals in the SNAP and TANF programs to meet work-related eligibility requirements when attending post-secondary education programs.
    • Update: This bill has passed and awaits the Governor’s signature!
  • Improvements to the Full Employment Program (FEP) for TANF participants| HB2035| Delegate Tran| Provides an incentive to employers wishing to hire parents participating in the state workforce initiative, VIEW. Employers participating in the Full Employment Program (FEP) would now receive $1,000 per month incentive to hire a VIEW participant. Wages earned through FEP would not count against the participants VIEW/TANF cash benefits.
    • Update: This bill has passed and awaits the Governor’s signature!

 Budget Items 

The following are items were approved by the House and Senate in the Final Proposed Budget that awaits the Governor’s signature: 

  • Virginia Food Access Investment Program| $2 million for FY22| This amendment increases the first year funding for the Virginia Food Access Investment Program from $1.1 million to $3.1 million to increase access to fresh and nutritious foods in rural and urban communities.
  • Increase Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) by 10 percent | $8.3 million| This amendment directs the Virginia Department of Social Services to increase the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits by ten percent. The General Assembly provided a 15 percent increase beginning July 1, 2020, bringing the average monthly payment for a TANF family to $361.
  • Implement Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Individual Development Accounts (IDA)| $2.1 million for FY22| Delegate Aird| This amendment implements a program so that TANF-eligible individuals may save funds in an individual development account established for the purposes of home purchase, education, starting a business, transportation, or self-sufficiency.

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