2010 Human Services Issue Paper


 
It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to help Virginians who are unable to fully meet their own needs, and as a result of current economic hardships, those needs are greater now than ever.  Healthy and productive individuals, families, and communities are the foundation of the Commonwealth’s present and future security and prosperity.  Ensuring a solid foundation requires a strong partnership among all levels of government – federal, state and local – each possessing unique strengths.  As the form of government closest to the people, local human services departments have been stressed to the limit of their capacity by recent dramatic increases in demand resulting from the economic crisis.

It is the goal of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to work with the County’s General Assembly delegation to achieve the following objectives:

  • Protect the vulnerable;
  • Help people and communities realize and strengthen their capacity for self-sufficiency;
  • Ensure that children thrive and youth successfully transition to adulthood;
  • Ensure that people and communities are healthy through prevention and early intervention;
  • Increase capacity in the community to address human services needs;
  • Build a high-performing and diverse workforce to achieve these objectives.

Fairfax County has long recognized that investments in critical human services programs can and do save public funds by minimizing the need for more costly services.  This is not the time to abandon those essential investments. 

Priorities

Employment Support for Working Families

Support budget and statutory changes allowing localities to provide the matching funds necessary to draw down emergency federal funds for low-income families needing assistance to navigate the national recession. (New Position.)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made available up to $79 million for Virginia to provide increased spending on cash assistance, non-recurrent short-term benefits and employment assistance for families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency, and the current economic crisis is threatening that self-sufficiency, through the loss of jobs and permanent housing. However, the use of these one-time federal funds requires a 20 percent match, which the state is unlikely to provide, due to Virginia’s budget crisis. Rather than forfeiting this important federal funding opportunity, localities should be permitted to provide the matching funds if they are able, in order to assist those most vulnerable through current economic hardships.

Child Day Care Services

Support state child care funding for economically disadvantaged families not participating in TANF/VIEW, known as “Fee System Child Care” and support an increase in child care service rates in the 2010-2012 biennium budget. (Revises and reaffirms previous position.)

Particularly during periods of economic downturn, a secure source of General Fund dollars is needed statewide to defray the cost of child care, protecting state and local investments in helping families move off of welfare and into long-term financial stability. 

Research clearly indicates that the employment and financial independence of parents is jeopardized when affordable child care is outside of their reach.  Parents may be forced to abandon stable employment to care for their children or they may begin or return to dependence on welfare programs. In order to maintain their employment, some parents may choose to place their children in unregulated and therefore potentially unsafe child care settings.  Without subsidies to meet market prices, low-income working families may not access the quality child care and early childhood education that helps young children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed.  In the Fairfax community, where the median annual income of families receiving fee-system child care subsidies is $24,756, the average cost of full-time preschool child care ranges from $8,000 to $12,000 per year.  Many of these families are truly ‘the working poor’ who require some assistance with child care costs in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

Mental Health

Support the continuation of efforts for mental health reform at the state leveland support additional state funding, as part of the promised down payment of such funding to improve the responsiveness of the mental health system. (Revises and reaffirms previous position.)

It is essential that the state ensure that the hundreds of Fairfax County residents with serious mental illness and disabling substance dependence receive intensive community treatment following an initial hospitalization or incarceration.

Position Statements

Human Services Fact Sheet

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