Children are particularly vulnerable to many specific risks when parents lack the earnings, assets, and access to financial services to consistently meet the needs of their family. These risks include low birth weight, poor health due to environmental factors, child abuse and neglect, teenage pregnancy, and not completing high school.
Family economic security (FES) is one indicator that suggests families with access to strong financial futures in strong neighborhoods can avoid those risks. It’s also an issue that intersects with Voices’ other priorities of health, mental health, foster care and adoption, and early care and education.
Voices’ FES work focuses on promoting family self-sufficiency, school readiness and success, and community economic strength by mobilizing broad support for funding to increase and strengthen access to family safety net programs, such as TANF, SNAP, Medicaid, EITC, and quality child care for low-income working parents.
2022 Family Economic Security Legislative Priorities:
Improvements in childhood poverty in Virginia was stagnant before the pandemic and today’s poverty levels remain the same. There is inadequate relief targeted to communities of color, not moving the needle to address disparities by race or region. Achieving economic stability in the future will require new considerations of safety net support by removing work eligibility requirements, removing time limits, and offering more flexible uses of economic support.
Priorities Under Consideration:
- Eliminate work participation requirements for child care assistance and reduce work participation sanctions for cash assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF).
- Ensure flexibility in the timeframe that eligibility is determined and redetermined for child care, cash assistance, or health insurance.
- Additional funding to promote tax filing resources and outreach to benefit families who have earned too little for child tax credit, and newly eligible young adults for the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.
Access to adequate health insurance and health care services is a core element of family economic success. Whether working to close the health care coverage gap, expand specific Medicaid programs to serve vulnerable child populations (like those with mental health needs and those in the juvenile justice system), or preserve our FAMIS program, Voices has been a leader in advocating for improved children’s and family health policies since our inception in 1994. Read more about our health advocacy efforts here.
2021 Family Economic Security Policy Agenda
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SNAP (Food Stamps) and TANF
Voices is a member of the Virginia Hunger Solutions initiative, led by our partners at the Virginia Poverty Law Center. Through this coalition’s education, advocacy, and outreach efforts, we work towards building accessible and robust SNAP, school breakfast, and summer meals programs to support Virginia’s children and families in need.
We also support policies that offer access to TANF without unnecessary and unfounded restrictions on eligibility. We oppose efforts to codify drug-testing policies for TANF recipients and support “second-chance” initiatives for TANF recipients who have past drug convictions that categorically bar them from receiving benefits.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Voices is also a member of the Full Credit Coalition, led by our partners at The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. The coalition seeks to educate policymakers on the importance of a refundable state EITC for Virginia’s families.