Voices’ Blog

Speak Up for Kids: 2018 Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Day

Posted:  -  By: Ashley Airington

As the commonwealth continues to transform our behavioral health system, Voices for Virginia’s Children and its mental health partners are pleased to once again host our annual Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Day. Advocacy day is a chance to ensure our voices are heard and that legislators know a strong mental health system for children matters to Virginians. This year, we are we are hosting two Mental Health Advocacy Days: Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Day on Feb. 5 and Adult Mental Health Advocacy Day on Feb. 6.

The general schedule for both days is:
  • 8:00 – 8:30  Check-in and coffee/refreshments
  • 8:30 – 9:30  Orientation (includes brief training and review of priorities)
  • 9:30 – 11:00  Legislative meetings and other advocacy opportunities
  • 11:00  Visit House or Senate chamber at the Capitol

The goal of both advocacy days is to provide an opportunity for legislators to hear directly from you, their constituents, about the importance of mental health services for children and adults. When our policymakers listen to your lived experiences with Virginia’s mental health system, they are better able to represent us as they make critical decisions that impact us and our loved ones.

This year, we we will be advocating for three top priorities:

  1. STEP-VA: Continue implementation of the plan for improving statewide community-based mental health services for all ages.
  2. Alternative Transportation: Improve transportation of children in mental health crisis by supporting a non-law-enforcement transportation model.
  3. Medicaid Expansion: Preserve the budget language allowing Virginia to seek federal authority, specifically through a state plan amendment, to build upon the success of our Medicaid program and to ensure more Virginia families have access to the health coverage they vitally need.

Check back on our blog next week for more details and talking points for each of these priority areas.

PLEASE NOTE: In August 2017, demolition of the old General Assembly building occurred and construction of the new General Assembly building began. Construction of the new building is projected to last four years. In the meantime, the General Assembly has moved its office and operations into the Pocahontas Building, located between Bank and East Main streets on the south side of the Capitol. The legislature will remain there until after the 2021 General Assembly session.

The Pocahontas Building is dramatically different from the old General Assembly building in both good and bad ways. The bad is that everything is much smaller, including legislator offices, committee rooms, and hallways. But the good is that all committee meetings (where bills are debated) have live streaming. That means you can follow bills from home!

As legislators, staff, and advocates learn to navigate and adjust to our temporary General Assembly building, we ask that advocates who join us for Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Day understand that meetings may be tricky to navigate due to these circumstances out of Voices’ control.

In anticipation of a much smaller space, Voices and our partners have planned a much smaller in-person Children’s Mental Heath Advocacy Day. We will schedule meetings with a few targeted legislators who are key to behavioral health transformation. Information about specific legislators and times of meetings will be emailed to advocates a couple of weeks before advocacy day.

Space is limited, so please register for the Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Day. 


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