2023 Advocacy Update: Halfway Done!
Families Forward Virginia Advocacy Update | CROSSOVER!
Tuesday Feb 7th was “crossover.” It was the halfway point of the Virginia General Assembly session, where bills from one chamber must pass and be considered by the other chamber to continue. Here are some updates from our work advocating for parents and children.
Home Visiting Day was Thursday January 19th. 40 home visiting parents and more than 100 staff from all over the Commonwealth shared their stories with their representatives—stories of parenting challenges and triumphs, but most importantly the ways home visitors are always there to support, encourage and celebrate together WITH families and FOR families. Key issues we advocated for were: funding for CHIP to become an evidence-based program, economic support for families, and paid family leave. See some great photos here and here.
Even before the General Assembly began in January, home visitors and the families they serve were writing postcards to their legislators. Almost 600 hand written postcards were completed by home visiting families and delivered directly to 64 different legislators before we even stepped foot on the Capitol grounds for Home Visiting Advocacy Day 2023! Thank you to everyone who helped to make our Home Visiting Postcard Campaign such a success!
The Foster Care Caucus held its first meeting for this legislative session on Tuesday Jan 31st. Co-chaired by State Senator Monty Mason and Delegate Emily Brewer, legislators discussed their 2023 foster care priorities and heard from advocates. Read more from our partners at Voices for Virginia’s Children here.
Child Abuse Prevention Day was Thursday February 2nd. We had around 26 parent advocates and another 25 program staff, leaders, and advocates join us to talk about abuse prevention, trauma, children’s mental health, and more economic support for families. See photos here and here.
On Sunday February 5th, the Va Senate and Va House released their respective committee budget amendments. The good news is that the Senate included many budget amendments we were advocating for, while the House mostly cut taxes on corporations and the richest Virginians. Buckle up because the two budgets are so different, budget negotiations between the Va House and Va Senate will take time to work out these differences and create one set of amendments to the state budget.
Below are some updates on bills and budget amendments:
The Senate also passed SB1327 which established a comprehensive children’s health insurance program in Virginia to make sure ALL kids are healthy! The Senate included money for this in their budget amendments.
SB 1300 from Sen Deeds creates, and funds, required annual trauma informed training for elementary and secondary school teachers.
Sadly our CHIP home visiting budget amendments were not funded in either the House or Senate budgets.
The House and the Senate included the Driver’s License Program for Foster Youth - $250,000
The House of Delegates maintained the Governor’s tax cuts so they funded far less than the Senate. Most of the governor’s budget proposal is $500 million in tax cuts that will go to profitable businesses and corporations. A large portion of the cuts will go to reducing the corporate income tax rate from 6% to 5% ($362 million).
Effectively corporations would have a lower tax rate than the 5.75% top tax rate on personal income paid by 86% of filers in the state. In other words, if enacted, many families would face a higher tax rate than many corporations, even as corporate profits are near all-time highs.
This tax cut would largely benefit a small subset of high-income corporations. You can learn more about the Governor’s Tax Cuts here.
The Senate Funded:
$50 million to nearly double the budget for permanent supportive housing.
$50 million to increase compensation for mental health staff for better recruitment and retention.
$54.0 million to increase rates for Medicaid behavioral health services and additional investments to improve our crisis system.
$1.2 million for Child Advocacy Centers across Virginia that serve abused children in a trauma informed and person centered setting.
The Child Welfare Stipend Program
Kinship Guardianship Assistance
Parent Advocacy Commission Study
Increase Compensation for court appointed counsel fees for child dependency cases SJ 241 – language
Afterschool care for foster youth - $250,000
Increase TANF SOL by 10% - $9 million