It may only be Monday, but there’s already a lot of progress being made at the General Assembly. We had some early successes in both the House and Senate this Monday. Here’s the update:
Three bills passed Senate Finance Health & Human Resources subcommittee this afternoon. SB1679, patroned by Senator Mason, aligns the Virginia Code with the requirements of Family First Prevention Services Act that came out of Congress. By aligning our code with these requirements, we will be positioning Virginia to access federal funds to prevent children from entering foster care when possible.
SB1339, patroned by Senator Reeves, is referred to as the Foster Care Omnibus bill. This bill would make numerous changes to our Social Services system. Notably, it would provide the Virginia Department of Social Services more authority to supervise local departments of social services and ensure they are doing their job appropriately.
SB1253, also patroned by Senator Reeves, would require local departments of social services to freeze the credit of children when they enter foster care. Nationally, about 10% of children in foster care are victims of credit fraud, abuse and misuse.
All three of those bills passed unanimously from the Health and Human Resources subcommittee of Senate Finance. They still have to pass the full Senate Finance committee before making their way to the Senate Floor. We will continue to advocate for these bills as they move farther through the process.
Also passing unanimously but through the Health and Human Resources subcommittee of the House is HB1730, patroned by Delegate Brewer, which is a companion bill to SB1253 and also requires local departments of social services to freeze the credit of children. We are glad to see support for this bill in both chambers of the General Assembly.
Unfortunately, there was one bill that was laid on the table, meaning it did not pass the subcommittee, was HB2381, patroned by Delegate Hurst. This bill would create and fund a Children’s Ombudsman Office that would be an independent agency authorized to conduct investigations of complaints against departments of social services. We plan to continue to advocate for solutions like these in future years.
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