It was a busy first full week of session this week! We spent the week advocating for children in foster care and youth who age out of foster care without a permanent family. Here are some highlights from this week at the General Assembly.
On Tuesday, members of the General Assembly launched the very first Foster Care Caucus. Members of the caucus heard presentations on kinship care issues by Voices for Virginia’s Children Policy Analyst Allison Gilbreath and on the federal Family First Prevention Services Act by the Director of Family Services at Virginia Department of Social Services Carl Ayers. The foster care caucus is co-chaired by Delegate Brewer and Senator Mason and has excellent bipartisan support. Other members include Delegate Peace and Senator Favola, both of whom co-chair our own Panel of Experts, Senator Reeves, Senator Howell, Delegate Hurts, Delegate Collins, Delegate Carroll Foy and Senator McClellan.
On Thursday, HB1883 patroned by Delegate Keam reported out of the House Commerce and Labor committee and will head to the House floor for a vote. Members of the Commerce and Labor committee voted unanimously to report this bill. This bill will prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against foster parents and youth with foster care experience – particularly focusing on car insurance for newly licensed youth. This bill came out of a study by the Commission on Youth on barriers that youth in foster care face when trying to obtain a driver’s license. To be enacted into law, this bill still has to pass the House, Senate and be signed into law by the Governor but we are making great progress to get to that point!
On Friday, SB1339, patroned by Senator Reeves reported out of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee and was re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Members of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee voted unanimously to report this bill. This bill will now have to be approved by the Senate Finance committee and then voted on by the Senate and House and signed into law by the Governor before it becomes law.
We want to thank all of the legislators that have already been working hard to support children in foster care and youth who age out. We are excited to continue the work throughout this session and many future sessions to come. We will continue to keep you updated on these issues and others that come up throughout session. Remember to subscribe if you’d like to receive advocacy alerts!