Voices for Virginia’s Children: Woolard: 2016 General Assembly: How Did Court-Involved Kids Fair?

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While a great deal of my time & energy this General Assembly session was spent on ensuring the success of the “Fostering Futures” program for youth aging out of foster care, I also spent considerable energy on a plethora of bills & budget items related to child welfare, school discipline, school-to-prison pipeline, and juvenile justice. Details here, but as always, please let me know if you have any questions, feedback, thoughts by emailing amy@vakids.org.

Our bills:

SB 776 (Barker): We worked diligently to secure the unanimous passage of this bill, which provides a mechanism for children living in kinship care arrangements to be enrolled in the local school division where their relative caregiver is living. Sound familiar? We worked to secure passage of this exact bill in 2013, but it contained a 3-year sunset clause. By passing the bill without such a clause this year, the measure is now permanently in the code.

Result: Passed the full General Assembly unanimously, awaits the Governor’s signature.

SB 587 (Sturtevant): This bill aimed would have made discretionary (rather than mandate) the role prosecutors play in truancy court cases. Often, school officials, rather than prosecutors, have more appropriate tools to address instances of truancy; by offering discretion in place of the mandate, school divisions and courts could have implemented a truancy process that best fit their locality’s need. Our version of the bill was supported by both the Va. School Boards’ Association and the Va. Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys.

Result: While the bill passed unanimously in the Senate, it was never docketed/heard in the House, so it effectively died there without a vote. See you next year!
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