Voices’ Blog

Collaborating for Change: Prioritizing Legislative Outcomes for VA Youth 

Posted:  -  By: C Fortune

This winter, the Voices team had the pleasure of engaging in several advocacy days with our partners, coalitions, and community members to increase awareness, uplift critical policy areas pertaining to youth well-being, and to demand a shift in the prioritization of young people during Virginia’s legislative session.

As we reflect on the many conversations, workshops, rallies, and legislator visits we organized, supported, or participated in, we’d like to share some of the highlights from those experiences captured by our team in the last two months of session:  

Virginia Promise Partnership Advocacy Day  

Voices for Virginia’s Children and 100+ early childhood educators joined forces on January 25th for Virginia Promise Partnership Advocacy Day. With a shared goal of historic investment in Virginia’s early childhood education system, this collaboration aimed to propel positive change. The advocates passionately highlighted the urgent need for increased financial support, emphasizing the critical role of early childhood education in shaping a child’s future. This Advocacy Day marks a milestone in the ongoing journey towards a stronger, more equitable foundation for Virginia’s youngest learners—a collective promise to invest in the limitless potential of the next generation. 

Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) Day of Action 

(Pictured: Senator Hashmi and partners from The Commonwealth Institute (TCI), CASA, Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association) 

This legislative session, we have worked closely with our partners in the Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) Coalition to advocate for “Cover All Kids” legislation that would provide comprehensive health coverage to children regardless of their immigration status, as well as our priorities to increase language access at state agencies, fund Community Health Workers, and provide a Medicaid benefit for nutritious food. On January 29, we participated in the HAV Day of Action and met with legislators and their staffers to discuss our priorities.  

Mental Health Advocacy Day 

(Pictured (L-R): Delegate Cherry, Stephen Grinnell (NAMI VA), Maggie Finn (NAMI VA), Maria Dierdorf (Mental Health Advocate), Lauren Oberholtzer (MH Advocate), Cat Atkinson (Voices for Virginia’s Children)

Mental Health America and NAMI Virginia brought together mental health advocates from across the Commonwealth to speak with legislators about their experiences navigating the state’s mental health system as workers, consumers, patients, and family members. This was a day of brave truth-telling, vulnerable narratives, and honest conversations about the state of mental health for both adults and young people. It was an honor to be witness to such stories and in a community with such changemakers. 

PUSH Coalition and Maternal Health Advocacy  

(Pictured: Emily Moore and PUSH Coalition partners from Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Birth in Color, and Richmond Memorial Health Foundation) 

Voices has worked closely with our partners in the PUSH Coalition for Maternal Health this year to make progress on a bill that we have been working on for three legislative sessions–unconscious bias training for licensed medical professionals. Senator Locke, who carried the bill, introduced the PUSH Coalition on the Senate floor on February 6, sharing with her Senate colleagues about the work our organizations do to advocate for improved maternal health outcomes. 

Foster Care Caucus Meeting and Advocacy Day 

The recent Foster Care Caucus Meeting and Advocacy Day brought together advocates, policymakers, and community leaders in a dynamic effort to drive change. The Caucus Meeting held by Senator Emily Jordan and Delegate David Reid sparked collaborative discussions among elected officials, addressing pressing issues in the foster care system, while Advocacy Day hosted by the Children’s Home Society saw passionate individuals advocating for reform at the Capitol. From impactful moments celebrating small victories to the emergence of a committed network, the event’s ripple effect continues through social media and grassroots efforts, raising awareness and support for foster care reform.  

Fund Our Schools Lobby Day 

Voices is honored to support Pretty Purposed for their third year of state-level advocacy. This year we joined forces to support the Fund Our Schools Coalition Lobby Day, advocating for fully funding our schools for better school conditions, improving school based mental health, and more restorative practices in school discipline. 

As we move towards the last month of this year’s legislative session, we are grateful for the group of amazing partners who rally alongside us in doing the critical work of making a better Virginia for our young people.  Through our active participation, leadership, collaboration, and support of advocacy days and coalitions, we strive to enact meaningful change and create a brighter future for generations to come.  

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