Governor McDonnell had proposed a $380,000 cut in the Healthy Families Virginia appropriation. This is in addition to the $1.9 million in cuts during the last 2 fiscal years. As a result, 5 Healthy Families sites have had to shut their doors: Eastern Shore and Halifax/South Boston 2 years ago. Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Norfolk last year. There are now 33 sites serving families in 84 communities.
All Healthy Families sites have reduced staff, shortened work hours, and/or left vacant positions unfilled. Several Program Managers have taken on staff supervisor duties and/or the family assessment role. Eight sites have merged or consolidated administrative functions. Healthy Families Virginia has 2.6 staff vacancies.
Young families in your district need your help. If the latest reduction is approved by the General Assembly, up to 15 additional sites that serve families in 26 communities may have to close their doors. We are past operating at a bare bones level.
We know that you face many financial challenges with the proposed budget. However, please consider the words of the Nobel Laureate in economics, James Heckman, who studied the Return on Investments in early childhood: “The question is not where to cut. The question is where to invest and in what.” A positive Return on an Investment in Healthy Families is undeniable.