IMG_7935Children’s issues are proving to be a major concern for The Virginia General Assembly 2015 session, which convened on January 14th. Over 150 pieces of legislation related to children and family issues have been introduced, and SCAN’s Legislative & Advocacy Committee is reviewing these bills and will follow them as they move through the legislative process. Kerry Desjardins, SCAN’s Master of Social Work intern, attended the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success meeting in Richmond last Thursday. Each council subcommittee presented the top children’s issues they plan to address, many of which are in line with the most popular children’s issues being considered by the legislature. Here are a few of the issues on which SCAN is currently focusing:

 

Child care safety

This past August, The Washington Post published a two-part article on the lack of oversight of home-based day care in Virginia, raising greater awareness to long-held concerns.  As a result, Virginia lawmakers have introduced over a dozen pieces of legislation related to child care safety, including bills addressing whether or not a family day home provider’s own children should count toward the threshold requiring licensure, basic safety requirements such as smoke detectors and CPR training, and mandatory reporting to the Department of Social Services of intent to operate a family day home.

Click on the following links to track related bills:

HB 1517  /  HB 1552  /  HB 1570  /  HB 1929  /  HB 1931  /  HB 2023  /  HB 2046  /  HB 2069

SB 780  /  SB 818  /  SB 844  /  SB 898  /  SB 1029  /  SB 1055  /  SB 1069  /  SB 1123  /  SB 1124  /  SB 1168

 

Infant safe-sleeping

SCAN is also following House Bill 1515, legislation that would require hospitals to give maternity patients information about safe sleeping environments for infants. SCAN has worked to educate parents about safe sleep environments for infants for some time now, and is pleased to see lawmakers showing concern for the issue. SCAN supports the intent of this legislation and the positive impact it could have on children and parents.

Click on the following link to track related bills:

HB 1515

 

Protecting children from abuse

There are currently over two dozen bills that aim to prevent and protect children from physical and sexual abuse. These bills range from new and harsher penalties for perpetrators of child abuse, creating a supplement to the Sex Offenders and Crimes Against Minors Registry, requiring that mandated reporters complete training on how to recognize and report suspected child abuse or neglect, and creating new felonies for perpetrators of child trafficking, and more.

Click on the following links to track related bills:

HB 1353  /  HB 1441  /  HB 1505  /  HB 1526  /  HB 1527  /  HB 1533  /  HB 1884  /  HB 1954  /  HB 1964  /  HB 2007  /  HB 2040  /  HB 2092  /  HB 2138

SB 710  /  SB 911  /  SB 914  /  SB 918  /  SB 934  /  SB 976  /  SB 1056  /  SB 1057  /  SB 1074  /  SB 1094  /  SB 1117  /  SB 1138  /  SB 1170  /  SB 1188  /  SB 1213  /  SB 1253

 

Virginia’s budget

IMG_2287In December, Governor McAuliffe presented his proposed amendments to Virginia’s fiscal plan. During the 2015 session members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee will consider the governor’s propositions as they prepare their own budget bills. The governor’s proposed changes include severe cuts in funding for several programs and services that are critical to at-risk children and families. It is a small part of his attempt at working towards a more balanced budget. SCAN is deeply concerned about the impact those cuts would have on Virginia’s most vulnerable children, and is advocating for Virginia legislators to find alternative ways of achieving a more balanced budget.

 

During the current session, child safety and well-being appears to be a top priority for members of Virginia’s General Assembly. There is great potential for achieving some critical policy changes related to children, but we must act fast. The General Assembly will adjourn in a matter of weeks. As advocates for children we must take full advantage of this short opportunity to influence policies that impact children and families. SCAN will continue to provide periodic updates on the status of such policies. To learn more about how to advocate for children and families, we encourage you to:

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