Virginia Mercury

‘There are 5-year-olds that have five-year credit histories:’ Cracking down on foster care identity theft

BY: - January 29, 2019

During the course of their time in foster care, some children might pass through multiple foster homes and interact with a variety of adults, potentially placing their personal information at risk. A bill sponsored by Del. Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk, is aiming to eliminate that problem by freezing the youths’ credit report or record once they’ve […]

Senate panel kills bill to update law for same-sex parents

BY: - January 24, 2019

By Jayla Marie McNeill/ Capital News Service A Senate committee has killed a bill to remove gender-specific pronouns from parentage laws. The legislation would have made state laws more inclusive of same-sex couples, while also reflecting federal law. “Our code is out of compliance,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, who introduced the bill. “The commonwealth, […]

Virginia State Capitol

Subcommittee allows bill to expand SNAP access for past drug offenders to squeeze by, but tosses another aimed at the TANF program

BY: - January 23, 2019

A House subcommittee took up two bills Tuesday that would expand access to benefits for those with past drug convictions, voting one down and allowing another to squeeze by with a major amendment. One piece of legislation, proposed by Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, would have lifted the federally-imposed ban on TANF, or Temporary Assistance for […]

Virginia Mercury

Foster care bills breeze through first committee

BY: - January 18, 2019

Several bills aimed at addressing deficiencies in Virginia’s foster care system highlighted in a report released in December, made their way easily through their first Senate committee Friday. The most far-reaching is the omnibus bill carried by Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, for which Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, is carrying the $3 million budget amendment. It […]

House subcommittee kills bill aimed at helping social workers in the field

BY: - January 17, 2019

A proposal meant to help social workers in the field by giving them more information about a family’s history died on a party-line vote in subcommittee on Tuesday. The bill, sponsored by Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Loudoun, would have required the Department of Social Services to keep records of investigations that were deemed unfounded for three […]

Virginia’s foster care system has needed reform for decades. Will a new effort last long enough to really make a difference?

BY: - January 16, 2019

Virginia’s foster care system is in dire straits. It is struggling to care for some of the state’s most vulnerable children, whose basic health and safety needs sometimes go unmet by local departments. And the state, which has oversight of the whole system, has taken a hands-off approach to supervision. A report released in December […]

Virginia Mercury

Virginia SNAP recipients to receive February benefits early due to government shutdown

BY: - January 15, 2019

With the federal government shutdown casting a shadow of uncertainty over benefits in Virginia, the state’s Department of Social Services announced this week that it will be doling out recipients’ February food benefits on Thursday. The move comes after the United States Department of Agriculture issued guidance that participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, […]

Waiting for help: Developmental disability advocates push for funding to meet an ever-growing need

BY: - January 14, 2019

Denille Francis spends a lot of time waiting, but without much hope. She waits to see if her 10-year-old son, Quinn, will ever get the funding he needs from the state. Quinn has Down syndrome and a host of other health problems. His therapies and numerous medical interventions are rarely covered by his private insurance […]

‘Devastating’ state report highlights major health and safety problems in Virginia’s foster care system

BY: and - December 11, 2018

Virginia’s foster care system is failing to meet the basic health and safety needs of the children under its care, according to state auditors, who released a scathing report Monday that found 98 cases in which basic safety protocols weren’t met. In one, a child was placed in a home for nearly three weeks even […]