Advocacy News!

For the VCA Advocacy Committee, autumn is the time for advocacy preparation for the 2016 General Assembly session. Since we are writing this after the convention, we’d like to thank all of you who stopped by our table (it was the only one with no candy) to ask questions about policy and politics and to sign up for interest areas and contacts with your state legislators. You all really rock!

And it’s not too late to do so; our email addresses are below.

Our advocacy policy interest areas include school counseling, clinical counseling, career development counseling, mental health, substance use, Title IX, LBGTQ, and regulatory issues. The list is not exclusive by any means, and we’d appreciate your letting us know of the other areas that you’d like for us to monitor and alert our members.

VCA is also active partners in coalition work. Coalitions help us increase our visibility and power to address issues. We have active membership in the Virginia Public Education Coalition (VPEC), Reinvest in Supportive Environments for Youth (RISE), and Healthcare for all Virginians (HAV Coalition). VPEC has been working on providing information to the executive branch to increase funding for public K-12 education in the Governor’s biennial budget. RISE is in its first year of existence, and it is seeking alternatives to youth incarceration. We anticipate that we’ll be providing testimony at the budget public hearings in January on how funds should be re-deployed in the juvenile justice system. And the HAV Coalition continues its long-time support for closing the coverage gap, otherwise known as Medicaid expansion.

This past year VCA has also maintained a presence in four other policy initiatives: (1) the Commonwealth Council on Early Childhood Success; (2) a study of mental health screening in public schools by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services as a result of a bill passed in the 2015 General Assembly session; (3) the Virginia Commission on Youth’s stakeholder meeting on concussion management in student athletes; and (4) the Joint Subcommittee on Reforming Mental Health in the 21st Century.

VCA President Hillary Press represented VCA on the Commonwealth Council’s work group on school readiness. Becky Bowers-Lanier has attended and is involved with the other policy initiatives. The 2016 General Assembly session begins January 13, 2016.

VCA Legislative Day is scheduled for Monday, January 25th. If you’ve never attended, plan for this coming session. We will have lots to advocate for, including our own issues and those of our coalition partners. The 2016 session will be important: it’s the beginning of the 2-year budget cycle, and we hope that public education AND behavioral health will be infused with additional resources. If you have any questions or are interested in becoming more involved with our work, please don’t hesitate to contact Stephanie Kasparek at stephanierlutz@gmail.com; Krysta Johnson at johnsonkm26@vcu.edu; or Becky Bowers-Lanier at bowerslanier@gmail.com.

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