After learning that Governor McDonnell’s FY2014 budget included a second $190,000 reduction in the state appropriation for Healthy Families Virginia, supporters rushed into action. Teams were formed by many of the local sites to ensure we were heard by legislators.
Twelve Healthy Families Virginia programs made in-person visits to their legislators at the end of January with the goal of getting the scheduled $190,000 cut to Healthy Families restored for FY2014. A total of 43 co-patrons signed on in support of our budget amendments that were sponsored by Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Chris Peace, several of whom serve on the House Appropriations or Senate Finance Committee. More than 30 legislators received personal visits, including the co-patrons, and more received information packets about Healthy Families and its benefits. If restored, this funding may save several smaller programs from having to close their doors.
It was just learned that our advocacy efforts paid off! The Senate Finance Committee recommends that $700,000 of the $2.2 million that was lost over the last 3 years, be restored. The House Appropriations Committee recommends that the $190,000 cut be restored. Now a conference committee will be appointed to create a compromise budget that will be presented to both houses of the legislature prior to February 22nd. More information about our next steps will be distributed when the conferees are known.
Congratulations to Healthy Families Southwest! They were awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program. This grant is being administered by Parents as Teachers National office. With this funding, families will receive 1 new book each month that will be used during bi-weekly home visits to enrich the home literacy environment and encourage reading and language development through reading, rhymes and conversational activities. There are 30 families participating from Wise, Lee and Scott counties and the City of Norton.