2021 Family Economic Security General Assembly Outcomes

Family Economic Security (FES) increases access to strong financial futures at the individual, community, and systemic level. It influences several components of an individual’s life, including physical, social, emotional, health and well-being.

Here are some of the bills which passed in this year’s General Assembly session to aid in family economic security:

Invest in Paid Time Off to Promote Community Well-Being

  • Paid sick leave for home health workers, HB2137, Delegate Guzman. Provides paid sick leave to Medicaid funded home health care providers. We are disappointed the bill was amended to narrow the eligible workforce from all essential workers to home health care workers.

Foster Financial Security and Economic Resilience

  • Improve eligibility for TANF & SNAP participants, HB1820, Delegate Helmer. Casts a wider net for families to obtain public benefits for nutrition and cash assistance. Almost half of the caseload for nutrition benefits are children and SNAP caseloads have increased during the pandemic. This bill will provide a higher income limit to obtain benefits and eliminates a systemic barrier to obtaining assistance, the “asset test”, that denies eligibility for households with more than $2,250 in assets, such as bank accounts or savings. Children who receive SNAP benefits will be categorically eligible for free school meals. The bill also allows for individuals in the SNAP and TANF programs to meet work-related eligibility requirements when attending post-secondary education programs.
  • Improvements to the Full Employment Program (FEP) for TANF participants, HB2035, Delegate Tran. Provides an incentive to employers wishing to hire parents participating in the state workforce initiative, VIEW. Employers participating in the Full Employment Program (FEP) would now receive $1,000 per month incentive to hire a VIEW participant. Wages earned through FEP would not count against the participants VIEW/TANF cash benefits.
  • Increase Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) by 10 percent. $8.3 million allotted in the budget. This amendment directs the Virginia Department of Social Services to increase the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits by ten percent. The General Assembly provided a 15 percent increase beginning July 1, 2020, bringing the average monthly payment for a TANF family to $361.
  • Implement Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Individual Development Accounts (IDA). $2.1 million for FY22 allotted in the budget. This amendment implements a program so that TANF-eligible individuals may save funds in an individual development account established for the purposes of home purchase, education, starting a business, transportation, or self-sufficiency.

Increase Access to Food Security

  • Virginia Food Access Investment Program. $2 million for FY22 allotted in the budget. This amendment increases the first year funding for the Virginia Food Access Investment Program from $1.1 million to $3.1 million to increase access to fresh and nutritious foods in rural and urban communities.
  • Produce Rx Program established; report, HB2065, Delegate McQuinn. Requires the Department of Social Services to convene a workgroup to develop the framework for the Produce Rx program and report to the Governor and Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations by October 1.