Voices’ Blog

Speak up at state budget hearings on Jan. 7!

Posted:  -  By: Nikkia Johnson

This is the time to let the state legislators who are responsible for developing the state budget know that children are our priority! They need to hear from us about why it’s important to support services for children in Virginia, especially in our priority areas of foster care and juvenile justice reform, early childhood care & education, and children’s mental health.

The budget hearings will be held in 4 locations around the state on January 7th, with a panel of legislators attending each one. It is a great opportunity to speak out about the devastating consequences to children and families when we do not invest in children’s well-being.

More specifically, we are looking for volunteers to talk about the following:

Foster Care & Juvenile Justice

If you are interested in attending one of the budget hearings to advocate on behalf of older youth in foster care in support of the Fostering Futures program, or if you are interested in speaking about juvenile justice reform (strong investments in family- and community-based as alternatives to incarceration), please contact Senior Policy Attorney Amy Woolard at amy@vakids.org for talking points and more information on how to navigate the budget hearings.

Early Childhood Care & Education

If you wish to speak about early childhood education please contact Emily Griffey at Emily@vakids.org. She can help provide you with talking points to support home visiting, child care safety, the Virginia Preschool Initiative and the early childhood workforce.

Children’s Mental Health

Has your Community Service Board (CSB) and/or community benefited from the new children’s mental health funding for crisis response services and child psychiatry? Does your community still need better access to child psychiatry or crisis response services? If you are interested in talking about any of these topics, please contact Campaign for Children’s Mental Health Coordinator, Ashley Everette: Ashley@vakids.org.


Why testify at a budget hearing?

  • Your comments can help shape the state budget for the next year as it pertains to children’s services.
  • Speaking out educates our legislators about issues that are important to you and helps make Virginia a better place to live for kids and their families!


So where are the hearings?

Thursday, January 7, 2016 (Hearings begin at 10:00 a.m.)

  • Fredericksburg – University of Mary Washington, University Center, Chandler Ballroom
  • Wytheville – Wytheville Community College, Grayson Hall, Snyder Auditorium

Thursday, January 7, 2016 (Hearings begin at 12:00 noon)

  • Chesapeake – Tidewater Community College, Chesapeake Campus, Student Center Multipurpose Room
  • Richmond – General Assembly Building, House Room D

If you plan to testify at the budget hearings, we are happy to help you prepare your testimony. Remember, you will have 3 minutes or less! So please write your testimony and practice with a timer to make sure you are within the required time. We’ve also put together advocacy tips for budget hearings  that can help you prepare your testimony.

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