From the blog: Who is talking about children this election season?

blogblock_advocacySept2013The Virginia Governor’s election is heating up, but where are the conversations about children during this election season? Like one local resident, SCAN urges all of the candidates to “step up, be bold and listen to the voters who demand action for Virginia’s vulnerable children.”

As Strong Kids, Strong Virginia has outlined, the new Governor will have the power to make many decisions impacting children and families. For example, the Governor prepares the state budget, which includes funding to care for, educate, and protect kids. The Governor also chooses the leaders of state agencies that serve our children, such as the Departments of Social Services and Education, and approves or vetoes bills passed by the General Assembly. Yet issues like preventing abuse and neglect and supporting parents are too seldom part of the candidates’ conversations during election season.

The three candidates vying to serve Virginia’s children are current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Republican), businessman/ former chairman of the Democratic National Committee Terry McAuliffe (Democrat), and lawyer/businessman Robert Sarvis (Libertarian).

Last month, the candidates did discuss one important issue impacting children – mental health – at a forum sponsored by Voices for Virginia’s Children, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Virginia and a broad coalition. In their coverage of the forum, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Cuccinelli “supports incentives for more people to become trained as mental health providers and a streamlining of the licensing process so qualified providers from other states can work in Virginia without bureaucratic delays.” McAuliffe wants to “increase services at crisis stabilization centers, and improve the training of staffs in jails and in agencies providing services to veterans. He also made a pitch for increased teacher pay and training to help educators identify and address mental health issues among students.”

As the last month of the campaign approaches, SCAN urges you to ask the candidates about their plans to improve the well-being of Virginia’s youngest residents. On September 24, 2013, Lieutenant Governor candidates E.W. Jackson (R) and Ralph Northam (D) will be discussing “The Fiscal Future of Virginia” at George Mason University’s Arlington campus.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to hear them answer questions about the fiscal impacts of failing to invest in our children? Or what targeted investments they plan in child welfare, education and families to ensure every child grows up to be a productive contributor to our economy?

The following day, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and NBC4 will co-host a debate in McLean between the Governor candidates, giving voters another chance to learn about the candidates’ views on children.

All seats in the House of Delegates are also up for election in November. There are many opportunities to meet local candidates, such as the September 28, 2013 Meet and Greet with the Candidates hosted by Social Action Linking Together (SALT) in Vienna.

To help ensure all our children are safe and successful, we urge you to attend these events, ask the candidates questions about kids, write your local paper and discuss the election with your friends and colleagues. Most importantly, make sure you are registered to vote by October 15 and re-register if you’ve moved!

SCAN of Northern Virginia’s 2013-2014 Policy Agenda can be viewed here.