Parents Need Better Legal Protection

Parents need better legal representation When it comes to child dependency cases, judges say they cannot find attorneys willing to take cases. Parents say attorneys don’t take their calls and don’t advocate for them in court. Virginia is ranked 47th out of 50 states in finding a permanent family for children who otherwise age out […]

We Can’t Create a Lending Loophole: Pay a Living Wage

A few days into the 2023 Virginia General Assembly session, VPLC learned that an “earned wage access” lender had talked two legislators into filing legislation to “regulate” the industry.  The 2023 General Assembly rejected the legislation.  However, it appears that there will be another effort to pass legislation in the 2024 General Assembly. What is […]

VPLC’s Invitation to Oliver Anthony: Join Us!

Odds are, by now you’ve heard about that song from a country singer in Farmville, Virginia, who performs under the stage name Oliver Anthony.    As he belts “Rich Men North of Richmond,” Mr. Anthony raises an important issue that we here at VPLC care about and work hard to change: that working class and lower-income people work hard […]

Helping Families Thrive: A New Approach to Child Abuse Prevention  

Author: Valerie L’Herrou/VPLC Family & Child Welfare Attorney Around the country and here in Virginia, every April is designated “Child Abuse Prevention Month.” But at VPLC, we think this term is misleading.   Why? Because we believe that the best way to help children is to help families thrive.  Most cases of child abuse are actually cases […]

Important News for SNAP Recipients When Virginia fails to provide meaningful legal representation to parents, it’s rural, low-income, and Black families who are torn apart.

Author: Anna Daniszewski/VPLC Legal Fellow Impressive reporting from Cardinal News this week shows the crisis of parents’ legal representation in Virginia. Services providers for children and even a county attorney – the person who brings child welfare cases against parents – agree: children suffer the consequences when parents have “paltry legal support.”  When parents have […]

Foster Care Update: Utilizing Kinship Care to Keep Families Together

Author: Anna Daniszewski/VPLC Legal Fellow Virginia Governor Youngkin’s Safe and Sound Task Force has focused on gaps and lack of options for high-needs children in the foster care system. Many of these children were forced to sleep in DSS offices or emergency rooms. The task force is an exemplar for how to bring people together […]

Meet Anna Daniszewski, Family Defense Fellow

New to VPLC’s Center for Family Advocacy, Anna Daniszewski will help ensure that parents involved in Virginia’s child welfare system have zealous lawyers fighting for their families.  Daniszewski’s fellowship includes legislative and policy advocacy, providing legal services to parents, and developing trainings, practice protocols, and accountability standards. “Too often, children and parents are needlessly separated […]

Reducing the Trauma of Removal

Why Reunification and Sibling-Placements Are Crucial to the Well-Being of Children in the Child Welfare System By Courtney Squires, Summer Intern for the VPLC Center for Family Advocacy, University of Richmond School of Law To ensure the child welfare system works in the best interest of children, it is important to understand that removal and […]

Virginia Must Do Better By Families 

By Valerie L’Herrou Families are important to all of us, but especially to children. As British pediatrician and psychologist DW Winnicott put it, “There is no such thing as a baby. If you set out to describe a baby, you will find you are describing a baby and someone. A baby cannot exist alone, but […]

2022 Session Update: Week Two

This was a busy week at the General Assembly for VPLC advocates. We often must try and follow bills being heard in two or even three committees that meet at the same time! Please encourage your legislators to do the right thing and publicly praise them when they do. Below, an update on some of our issues […]

2022 Session Update: New Leadership, Same Mission

The 2022 General Assembly is off and running, with 1,938 House and Senate bills filed — and more expected to come. Our advocates are dealing with a lot of change this year: a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, members in the House of Delegates, and committee chairs. But among the change, one thing remains […]

“Family First:” Prioritizing Kinship Foster Care 

In honor of National Kinship Care Month, today’s newsletter comes from VPLC’s Family and Child Welfare Attorney, Valerie L’Herrou with University of Richmond School of Law student Megan Kaleah. Kinship care means the “full-time care, nurturing, and protection of children by relatives.” Relatives may care for children through informal arrangements with parents, through foster care, […]

2021 Special Session Recap: How VPLC’s Budget Priorities Fared

When the General Assembly convened for a special 2021 session, we urged lawmakers to prioritize Virginians hit hardest by the pandemic with a budget focused on equity. Not all of our priorities were funded, but we will continue to push for these in the state’s next budget. Below, here’s how our recommended budget priorities fared […]

Equitable Rescue & Recovery: VPLC Special Session Budget Priorities

The Virginia General Assembly will convene in Richmond on Monday, August 2 for a special legislative session to allocate more than $4.3 billion in federal relief funding and fill judicial vacancies. The remaining $4.3 billion comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, which has provided essential relief to millions of American workers – many of […]

PRESS RELEASE: New anti-poverty laws take effect in Virginia today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2021 The suite of new laws will protect tenants, help families with food assistance, expand health coverage, protect consumers, and more. Richmond, VA – Effective today, several new laws in the Commonwealth will benefit hundreds of thousands of low-income Virginians. The new laws include better protections for tenants, expansion of […]

Sexual Assault Can and Does Happen to Everyone: Musings on Serving Male Victims

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we are featuring a blog post from Susheela Varky, Staff Attorney for Domestic and Sexual Violence at the Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC). To learn more, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Recently, I held a virtual training for advocates about the types of services VPLC provides to […]

Family Reunification: Why It Matters

Reunification refers to the reunion of children in foster care with their families after parents have shown they can provide a safe and nurturing environment. For children, timely reunification is important: brain scans of elderly adults who were separated from parents as children show structural changes in their brains that have lasted a lifetime. Families […]

To improve foster care in Virginia, work to keep families together

This April, Governor Northam signed bipartisan legislation improving foster care in Virginia, an outcome of work between VPLC, community partners, and legislators in response to problems with the state’s foster care system. Still, there’s more to be done, including before children enter the system and around how we make decisions about removing children from their […]

VPLC’s 2019 Legislative Review

With another General Assembly session behind us and the dust settled after this month’s veto session, here is a review of what occurred during the 2019 legislative session. This year brought several wins—foster care reform, fairer laws for tenants in the wake of a report detailing Virginia’s high eviction rates, and the end of driver’s […]

Keep New Funding for Adult Protective Services

Oppose Budget Amendment Item 334 #1s Item 334 #1s removes $100,000 from the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Adult Protective Services budget. Without this funding, Adult Protective Services (APS) will not be able to increase staffing in its statewide office. The statewide office provides direct support to local department of social services’ APS […]

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