As we reflect on the impact of our programs in 2017, it’s an important time for us to gather new data about children and families in our communities. One of our favorite resources for statistics is Voices for Virginia’s Children, especially their links to the Kids Count Data Center, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We also refer to the Virginia Department of Social Services’ online information system here.
The newest numbers on child abuse in Northern Virginia report that more than 6,500 children were involved in valid cases of child abuse or neglect last year. We are committed to these children, and will continue to work in 2018 on both advocacy and prevention — and we hope you will too. (Perhaps 2018 is the year you join our Allies in Prevention Coalition!)
Please download our new Child Abuse in Northern Virginia fact sheet and refer to it in the coming year as we work together to protect children and prevent child abuse in 2018.
With the 2018 General Assembly Session just a month away, it’s a critical time for advocates to start speaking up for children and families in Northern Virginia. We recently hosted our 6th Annual “Speak Up for Children” Advocacy Day to help community members prepare. With generous support from Verizon, we welcomed Prevent Child Abuse Virginia and Voices for Virginia’s Children to help guide a day-long discussion of advocacy tactics, legislative updates and policy priorities for the year ahead.
PCAV’s Johanna Schuchert kicked off the training with an “Advocacy 101” segment – covering how the legislative process works and how to make sure your voice is heard during the process.
It was especially helpful to hear directly from legislators and staff – including Del. David Bulova, Delegate Mark Levine’s Chief of Staff Steven Marku, and Senator Jennifer Wexton – that they desperately want to hear from human service providers who are familiar with and passionate about current issues, including sexual misconduct in schools, substance-exposed infants and Erin’s Law.
“It’s so important for you to react to the issues that matter to you,” noted Del. Bulova. “Legislators are busy. We rely on you to inform us and work with us to make the best decisions.”
Part of advocacy is being aware of the scope of problems in the community. Voices’ Mary Beth Testa offered an excellent “State of the Child” presentation. She provided links to statistics—including the fact that 19% of children in Virginia have experienced 2+ traumatic experiences—that can also be found here.
3. Take Mary Beth’s action steps this month:
a. Call your Senators about reauthorizing #CHIP.
b. Sign the statement supporting Fairfax County’s effort to be a trauma-informed community.
c. Join Voices for a call on 12/19 to review governor’s budget proposal (more info below.)
NBC4 investigative reporter Scott MacFarlane and producer Rick Yarborough also joined the discussion to share their work covering sexual misconduct in local schools, with excellent insight from expert Dr. Charol Shakeshaft from Virginia Commonwealth University.
“The most important thing we can do to prevent child sexual abuse in schools is training,” noted Dr. Shakeshaft, “particularly boundary training to let adults know what it means to cross a line with a student, how it happens, and how to see it.”
5. Consider having SCAN provide child sexual abuse prevention training through our partnership with Darkness to Light. Learn more here.
Advocacy Day ended with a focus on substance exposed infants and legislative issues related to the crisis. Thanks to panel members from Inova Hospital, Fairfax County DFS, Loudoun MHSADS and the Fairfax Falls Church CSB, attendees (and legislators) left with both sobering statistics and renewed energy to take action on the issue.
“We are vastly underestimating the problem – and the impact – of substance exposed infants. It’s not just about substances passed on during pregnancy—it’s a question of ACEs, trauma and continued effects after bringing baby home.”
6. Learn more about the Voices Legislative Agenda – including substance exposed infants and trauma – in their webinar on Tuesday, December 19th at 1:00 PM. Simply bookmark THIS LINK and join the discussion next week!
For individuals committed to the well-being of Northern Virginia’s children and families, SCAN’s 6th Annual “Speak Up for Children” Advocacy Training event — made possible by Verizon — is a unique opportunity to learn more about a legislative process that impacts both how children and families receive care, as well as the institutions that deliver said care. In reviewing the legislative process and engaging with elected officials, Advocacy Day participants develop a better understanding of how to be an effective advocate for vulnerable children and families.
While Northern Virginia families face a variety of challenges, this year’s Advocacy Day highlights two key issues: Virginia’s need to reduce the incidence of substance exposed infants and closing the teacher licensing loophole in relation to child sexual abuse. Special guests will include:
By joining SCAN at Advocacy Day 2017, participants will be empowered to contribute to the collaborative message and region-wide efforts to support our community’s most vulnerable families and children.Register here.
(Be sure to follow the event on social media on 11/16 using #speakupforchildren!)
October 19, 2017–SCAN has announced its 6th annual “Speak Up for Children” Training for Virginia Advocates, which will take plan on November 16th in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia (PCAV) and Voices for Virginia’s Children. Made possible by support from Verizon, speakers will help demystify the legislative process and share strategies for being an effective advocate for children. Attendees will also hear from policy advocates and legislators as they discuss some of the 2018 General Assembly issues affecting vulnerable children and families. A BONUS training will take place at 8:30 a.m.: Advocacy 101 Training with PCAV.
When we work directly with children and families on a daily basis, it can be helpful to take a step back and look at the “big picture” of the greater community. Voices for Virginia’s Children is an excellent source of data, trends and advocacy alerts related to child welfare in the commonwealth. Their clickable maps make it easy to look specifically at the five jurisdictions we serve in Northern Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William) as well as compare with other regions. They recently asked (and answered) four important questions:
Colton Powell & Beth Nolan’s recent blog post (here) invites child welfare advocates and professionals to explore their new and improved interactive data page:
Get the answer to these questions and more in this new series of interactive stories, covering child demographics, economic well-being, education, and health. Each story contains maps, graphs, and tables that you can manipulate and interact with.
We hope you find these stories and its data useful in seeing how kids are faring in your locality and across the Commonwealth!
For additional information on the stories, its data, or to have a personalized presentation for your region or organization, please contact KIDS COUNT Director, Beth Nolan at Beth@vakids.org.
Last month, SCAN hosted its 5th Annual Speak Up for Children Advocacy Training, bringing together more than 40 attendees for a day of public policy education and advocacy training. Partners from Prevent Child Abuse Virginia and Voices for Virginia’s Children along with a diverse group of child welfare experts and elected officials led discussions during the day-long, interactive workshop. The group discussed effective advocacy tactics at all levels; critical legislative updates; and policy priorities for the upcoming 2017 Virginia General Assembly session. The training was sponsored in part by Verizon, and volunteers from Boeing also supported promotion, planning and facilitation of the event.
Wondering what Advocacy Day attendees are going to do next? Here are some of the action items they plan to take in th ecoming months, and you can do them too:
Work towards having Erin’s Law passed in Virginia. Read an article on Erin’s Law, including comment from Advocacy Day guest Senator Jennifer Wexton, here.
Share advocacy information with others in your network. Voices for Virginia’s Children has some excellent 2017 Tools for Advocates available here.
Call, write and visit your legislators. Find out who your local legislators are here.
Support the families you serve in our programs. One way to support them is by finding creative ways to share their stories with your legislators!
Work with other organizations, across issues, to encourage more progress. Legislators told us again and again that the more cooperation and work they see behind an issue, the easier it is for them to bring attention to it! You can learn more about SCAN’s policy focus in the comine year here, and Prevent Child Abuse Virginia shares specific Bills they are following (along with many other useful advocacy tools!) here.
Thank your political representative for working on behalf of children. (See number 4 above.)
You can download an overview of Advocacy Day here, or visit SCAN’s Advocacy page on our website here for more resources from the day, including a Legislative Glossary, Intro to theVA General Assembly and a Self-Assessment tool!
On Friday, November 18th, SCAN will partner with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia to host our 5th Annual “Speak Up for Children” Training for Virginia Advocates. Participants will better understand the legislative process and learn how to be an effective advocate. They’ll also hear policy advocates and legislators discuss some of the key issues affecting vulnerable children and families which will be on the agenda in the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session. #speakupforchildren
Our Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez spent time meeting with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia and other regional affiliates this week. Much of the discussion focused on what’s next for children and families in the Commonwealth. We’ve blogged a few times this year about the General Assembly and what’s happening in Richmond.
Now that the dust has settled on the most recent session, it’s an important time to look at bills passed—and those that didn’t make it—as we begin talking with our partners like Voices for Virginia’s Children and thinking about how to best advocate for children and families next year. Check out this great infographic from the Virginia Public Access Project, and stay tuned for details on our plans for advocacy in 2017.
A number of state legislators participated in SCAN’s Advocacy Day, discussing many of the issues where progress was made in 2016.
This year’s General Assembly came to a close on March 11th, and it is important to give thanks to our elected officials who have worked diligently on behalf of Virginia’s children and youth. Back in January at the start of the legislative session, SCAN focused on three issues: early childhood education, kinship care, and foster care and youth. It is very exciting to be able to say that Fostering Futures has been included in the 2016 budget and the General Assembly made a significant expansion of home visiting programs & additional investments in the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI).
Even if there were not a lot of headlines, or committee hearings, on early childhood this session we are pleased to see that the groundswell of support from champions cultivated by the early childhood community over the last few years has translated into support for comprehensive investments in early childhood. We also know that we will keep early childhood policy on the radar in the coming weeks and months because of the various groups that will be asked to weigh in on policy recommendations in the future.
Below is the progress we made during the 2016 General Assembly Session:
Significant expansion of home visiting parent and health education services- The final budget includes additional TANF funding- an additional $9.5 M for Healthy Families, $2 M for CHIP and $2 M for Resource Mothers over the biennium. This funding more than doubles the current Healthy Families funding.
Increase to early intervention (Part C) services to keep pace with referrals– The legislature accepted the Governor’s proposal to increase state funds for early intervention by $1.7 M in FY17 and $2.5 M in FY18.
Increase to VPI per pupil amount- Along with repurposing lottery funds to have more flexibility in the K-12 funding formula, the legislature recognized that the VPI per pupil amount had not increased since 2008 and recommended a 2% increase. The rate will change from $6,000 per pupil to $6,125. This equates to an additional $2.8 M over the biennium.
Statewide eligibility criteria for VPI with local flexibility– The legislature accepted the Governor’s proposal to establish a statewide income eligibility below 200% of poverty while allowing states to enroll up to 15% of their VPI students above the income cut-off if they met locally established risk factors.
New mixed-delivery preschool grant pilots– The legislature accepted the Governor’s proposal and approved a companion piece of legislation (HB47- Greason) to establish a two-year pilot of $1.5 M each year for testing new approaches for public-private preschool partnerships. We hope to see more of the successes we highlighted in our Preschool Partnership Stories from Alexandria and Fairfax.
Child Care Workforce Scholarships- The legislature recommended $600,000 the first year and $1.3 M the second for the creation of scholarships and a competency-based credentialing system through VECF.
A total of $25.4 M in new investments in early childhood education over the biennium…
[Read the full blog post from Voices for Virginia’s Children here.]
We hope you’ll take the time to thank your elected official for the progress made! Here is an example of what you can say:
The Honorable [Elected Official’s Name]
Address City, State, Zip
Dear [Elected Official],
I am writing to thank you for your support of Virginia’s children, youth, and families. Because of your support Virginia’s children and youth have a greater opportunity to grow up with the supports they need to contribute to stronger communities today and as adults tomorrow.
Virginia State Capitol (PHOTO: Ava Reaves, 2015) Source: wtvr.com
Every January, the Virginia General Assembly convenes, and this year children’s issues are once again at the forefront of many discussions. The three main agenda items SCAN will be focusing on in 2016 are early education, foster care and youth, and kinship care. A significant development this year that has the potential to greatly impact children, youth and families in Virginia is Governor McAuliffe’s announcement at the joint money committee of his biennial budget, which included support for early childhood education.
Bills that have been introduced in the legislature that pertain to these issues include:
Early Education and Child Care
A major focus of this year’s agenda is the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) and other aspects of early education. The bills listed below cover a range of issues from early education and childcare providers to providing funding for a mixed delivery approach, which is a major component to reforming VPI.
Click on the following links to track related bills:
HB 46: Establishes an Early Education Workforce Committee
HB 47: Funds for a mixed delivery preschool program
HB 242: Removes the requirement for local communities to provide matching funds to qualify for VPI funds
HB 500: Requires national background checks for day care providers and anyone living in the home of a day care provider
SB 269: Replaces the requirement that 2 members of the State Board of Social Services represent stand-alone child care center that meets state standards and a religiously exempt child care center
Foster Care and Youth
Reforming Foster Care has been a large part of SCAN’s policy agenda, and was recently addressed at SCAN’s Advocacy Day 2015. In the upcoming General Assembly, Virginia lawmakers have introduced bills surrounding issues of expansion of foster care services and maintaining records.
Click on the following links to track related bills:
HB 81: Expand time frame for maintain foster care records until age 22.
HB 203: Extends foster care services for children 18-21.
HB 271: Parenting time; replaces “visitation” in statutory language.
Both of the bills introduced this year work towards amending and reenacting exiting laws referring to Kinship Care. (What is Kinship Care? Learn more here.) The third item is a study commissioned to have a better understanding of the feasibility in lessening the restrictions of barrier crimes in order to promote kinship foster care and adoptive placements while ensuring that they are a safe placement for children.
Click on the following links to track related bills: