Economic Security

Asian Family eating dinner together

Nearly one in three children in Virginia live in economically disadvantaged families earning less than $55,500 per year to cover the expenses of a family of four. This has remained unchanged in the last decade.

Economic hardship impacts every aspect of a young person’s life—determining whether they have access to food, housing, health care, child care, and transportation. As pandemic-era supports such as the expanded federal Child Tax Credit, expanded SNAP benefits, and universal school meals have come to an end, families continue to be faced with rapid inflation and the rising costs of utilities, food, and household necessities. As such, families are reporting higher levels of food insecurity—with 11.7% of children living in food insecure households in Virginia—and we are seeing a sharp increase in child poverty. 

We measure economic hardship by families living in poverty, but this doesn’t tell the full story of how many families experience hardship and what creates the path to economic security. Achieving economic stability requires removing barriers, like work requirements and time limits, to accessing safety net programs. It also requires providing direct cash assistance to low-income families and families with children through family-focused tax credits, like the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit that lawmakers made refundable at 15% of the federal credit in the 2022 

The federal expansion of the Child Tax Credit during the COVID-19 public health emergency demonstrated that cash assistance does stabilize family budgets, lifts children out of poverty, and allows families flexibility to help them put food on their tables and pay for their day-to-day needs. For families to achieve economic stability, we must intentionally remove barriers to thriving by providing social supports and adequate financial resources that will support the healthy development of children and youth. 

Our 2024 Economic Security Priorities: 

  1. Establish a state-level Child Tax Credit to provide a refundable $500 tax credit per child under 18 in households earning less than $100,000. 
  2. Expand the state-level Earned Income Tax Credit to increase refundability to 20% of the federal credit and expand eligibility to ITIN filers. 
  3. Establish the “Healthy Working Families Act” to ensure that all workers in Virginia have access to paid sick days.  
  4. Foster financial security by strengthening safety net resources for families such as TANF cash assistance and SNAP nutrition benefits. 
  5. Address the impacts of food deserts and diet-related illnesses by establishing a “Food is Medicine” Medicaid benefit through a Section 1115 waiver. 
  6. Fund “School Meals for All” to ensure that children have access to school breakfast and lunch at no cost. 
  7. Support “Hunger Free Campus” legislation to address food insecurity on college campuses. 

button that says previous legislative outcomes
Track legislative progress via our 2024 Bill Tracker.

Voices is a member of the Tax Fairness for Virginia Coalition, the Virginia Food Access Coalition, the Campaign for a Family Friendly Virginia, and the Virginians for Paid Sick Days Coalition. 

For more information, contact Emily Moore.