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Governor Northam announces approval of new teacher education degrees and programs



RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced on June 24, that the state policy boards for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education have approved 53 new teacher preparation programs and 25 new degrees that will allow graduates to become teachers after earning four-year degrees in education.

“We must remain focused on meeting the growing needs of our public education system to prepare the Commonwealth’s students for success and secure Virginia’s economic future,” said Governor Northam. “As we work to strengthen Virginia’s educator pipeline, I am pleased to see the approval of these comprehensive changes that will create new pathways to the classroom and help increase both the supply and the diversity of quality teachers in the Commonwealth.”

On May 14, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approved new degree programs at seven of the Commonwealth’s public institutions of higher education. The Board of Education, which sets standards for all teacher preparation programs in the state, followed with its approval of the new public preparation programs on June 20. The Board also approved new preparation programs at eight private colleges and universities.

“Eliminating the barrier of extra years of schooling traditionally required for teacher licensure will encourage more students to pursue teaching careers,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “I am excited to see this increase in quality teachers impact the Commonwealth’s students for years to come.”

Two state advisory panels—the Task Force for Diversifying Virginia’s Educator Pipeline in 2016 and the Advisory Committee on Teacher Shortages in 2017—recommended that the Commonwealth allow new teachers to enter the profession with undergraduate degrees in education. The legislation approved by the 2018 General Assembly in response to the recommendations included House Bill 1125, sponsored by Delegates R. Steven Landes; Senate Bill 76, sponsored by Senator Barbara A. Favola; and Senate Bill 349, sponsored by Senator Mark J. Peake. The bills amended Section 22.1-298 of the Code of Virginia to allow colleges and universities to offer undergraduate degrees in education.

“I thank our partners in higher education for their swift response to the needs of our schools and students,” said Board of Education President Daniel Gecker. “I believe that increasing the number of four-year routes to the classroom will lead to an increase in the number of men and women choosing teaching as a career and eventually to an easing of the teacher shortage.”

The new degree programs at George Mason University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, William & Mary, Ferrum College, Liberty University, Marymount University, Randolph College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College and the University of Lynchburg were created in response to legislation approved by the 2018 General Assembly.

“Right now, Virginia teachers are in high demand but in short supply,” said SCHEV Director Peter Blake. “This new streamlined approach will improve Virginia’s production of qualified teachers. We are grateful to the institutions for recognizing the need and moving rapidly to address it.”

The legislation broadened the definition of teacher preparation programs in the Commonwealth to include programs culminating in four-year degrees in education, in addition to programs resulting in bachelor’s degrees in the arts and sciences.

The newly approved education endorsement programs offered by public universities in the Commonwealth are as follows:

• George Mason University—Early/Primary Education, Elementary Education, Special Education-General Curriculum, Special Education-Adapted Curriculum, Special Education-Blindness and Visual Impairments, and Special Education-Early Childhood
• James Madison University—Early/Primary Education, Elementary Education, Middle Education, English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, Special Education-General Curriculum, Special Education-Adapted Curriculum, and Special Education-Early Childhood
• Old Dominion University—Career and Technical Education-Technology, Career and Technical Education-Marketing, Early/Primary Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education-General Curriculum
• University of Virginia—Early/Primary Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education-General Curriculum
• Virginia Commonwealth University—Early/Primary Education, Elementary Education, Engineering, Health and Physical Education, and Special Education-General Curriculum
• Virginia State University—Elementary Education, Middle Education, and Special Education-General Curriculum
• William & Mary—Elementary Education (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement)

The seven public universities project that when the new programs are running at full enrollment, their combined annual teacher production will increase by more than 400 new teachers over current levels.

“Several of these new programs will address critical shortage areas, including elementary education, middle education, special education, mathematics and science,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “These additional teachers will make a big difference as the Virginia Department of Education works in partnership with local school divisions to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth is taught by a fully qualified teacher.”

The newly approved education endorsement programs offered by private colleges and universities in the Commonwealth are as follows:

• Ferrum College—Elementary Education
• Liberty University—Elementary Education (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement), Elementary Education (optional Middle Education endorsement), and Special Education-General Curriculum
• Marymount University—Elementary Education and Special Education-General Curriculum
• Randolph College—Elementary Education
• Roanoke College—Elementary Education
• Shenandoah University—Elementary Education (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement), Middle Education (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement), Biology (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement), Chemistry (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement), English (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement), History and Social Sciences (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement), and Mathematics (optional Special Education-General Curriculum add-on endorsement)
• Sweet Briar College—Elementary Education
• University of Lynchburg—Elementary Education and Special Education-General Curriculum

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Governor Northam allocates CARES Act dollars to help free clinics



Governor Ralph Northam announced, October 23, 2020, that the Commonwealth will use $3 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to reimburse members of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (VAFCC) for clinics’ COVID-19 expenses, including personal protective equipment, sanitation measures, telehealth, and hiring new staff.

“Our free clinics are a critical part of our health safety net, providing care for those with no insurance,” said Governor Northam. “Thousands of Virginians access health care through free clinics, and I am glad we can help support those clinics’ needs at this time. This global health crisis truly demonstrates how important it is that everyone has access to health care.”

Virginia’s free clinics serve an essential role in Virginia’s health care safety net, providing care for free or on a sliding scale to uninsured patients. An estimated 226,000 Virginians with incomes between 139 percent and 300 percent of the poverty level had no health coverage prior to the onset of the pandemic, according to a recent report by the Virginia Health Care Foundation/Urban Institute.

In addition to existing patients, free clinics have seen demand for their services rise, as more Virginians lose jobs and, thus, employer-sponsored health care.

“Virginia’s free clinics are a vital resource for Virginians who lack health insurance,” said Rufus Phillips, CEO of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. “Clinics are filling the increasing need for their services created by the pandemic, but that comes with a cost—at a time when donations are down. We’re happy for our clinics to receive this additional state assistance to help them provide the essential health care every Virginian deserves.”

Clinics operate with small budgets, and the pandemic curtailed regular fundraising events. Expenses that the pandemic made necessary—such as additional personal protective equipment, increased use of telehealth, hiring additional staff to meet demand, and other health modifications—have put a burden on clinics’ budgets. The VAFCC estimates free clinics have incurred an average of $40,000 each in unbudgeted expenses for needs related to the pandemic.

“The pandemic has required us to change how we serve our patients while increasing the number of patients who need our services,” said Anne-Lise Quinn, Executive Director of Culmore Clinic in Falls Church. “The cost of COVID supplies, like PPE and increased telehealth, has had a large impact on the small budgets of free clinics like ours. This support will help us continue to fulfill our mission of ensuring that everyone has access to health care.”

Free clinics have also provided COVID-19 testing and often are seen as a trusted resource for health information to vulnerable populations.

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Suboxone manufacturer Indivior’s former chief executive officer sentenced to jail time in connection with drug safety claims



Shaun Thaxter, the former chief executive officer of Indivior PLC, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to 6 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 and forfeit $500,000. Thaxter pleaded guilty to a one-count misdemeanor information on June 30, 2020, for his role in causing the introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded shipments of the opioid drug Suboxone Film, a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar announced the sentence today.

Thaxter served as Indivior’s top executive from 2009 until shortly before his guilty plea. This includes the time period prior to December 2014 when Indivior was known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals. When Indivior was known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, it was a subsidiary of British conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB Group). RB Group paid $1.4 billion in 2019 to resolve its liability to the United States related to the marketing of Suboxone. On July 24, 2020, an Indivior subsidiary called Indivior Solutions pleaded guilty to a one-count felony information for false statements related to health care matters, and together with Indivior, agreed to pay an additional $600 million to resolve liability to the United States related to the marketing of Suboxone. On August 26, 2020, Indivior’s former medical director, Timothy Baxter, pleaded guilty to a one-count misdemeanor information for a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act related to the marketing of Suboxone. Indivior Solutions and Baxter have not yet been sentenced.

Suboxone Film is a drug product approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. Suboxone’s active ingredient, buprenorphine, is a powerful and addictive opioid. Thaxter was charged in connection with Indivior’s misrepresentations regarding the safety of Suboxone Film.

“While Thaxter served for years as Indivior’s chief executive, he was in a position to ensure that doctors, patients, and insurers were dealt with honestly,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar said today. “Instead, Thaxter failed to prevent efforts to build profits through misleading safety claims, which led to millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains for Indivior. As the Court recognized today, this sentence should serve as a deterrence to other pharmaceutical executives. Today’s sentencing is also the product of years of work and could not have happened without the close federal and state law enforcement partnerships, for which we are grateful.”

“Families and communities across the Commonwealth continue to feel the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “Opioid manufacturers and their executive leadership must be held accountable for taking advantage of this country’s opioid crisis and putting profits over people. I want to thank my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their terrific work on this case as well as our local, state, and federal partners for their continued partnership on these cases.”

“Misrepresentations made about the drug, while Thaxter ran the company, misled MassHealth about the potential risk of accidental opioid exposure. It is inexcusable to willfully disregard requirements that treatment medications be prescribed carefully in order to protect patient health and safety,” said Elton Malone, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue investigating and bringing to justice those placing profits over patients in government healthcare programs.”

“Opioid addiction is a significant public health crisis and addressing opioid abuse continues to be one of FDA’s top priorities. Misleading information about relative product benefits undermines efforts to provide affordable treatment to those suffering from opioid addiction,” said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those whose schemes jeopardize public health and put Americans at risk.”

“The U.S. Postal Service spends billions of dollars per year in workers compensation and health care-related costs, most of which are legitimate,” said Kenneth Cleevely, Special Agent in Charge of the Eastern Field Office for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. “However, when medical providers or companies choose to flout the rules and profit illegally, special agents with the USPS OIG will work with our law enforcement partners to hold them responsible. To report fraud or other criminal activity involving the Postal Service, contact USPS OIG special agents at or 888-USPS-OIG.”’

According to court documents, Thaxter had authority over Indivior’s marketing and sales of Suboxone Film which, along with other Suboxone products, generated nearly all the company’s revenue. In 2012, Thaxter oversaw and encouraged Indivior’s efforts to secure formulary coverage for Suboxone Film from the Massachusetts Medicaid agency called MassHealth. Thaxter asked Indivior employees under his direction to devise a strategy to win preferred drug status for Suboxone Film and counteract a non-opioid competitor MassHealth was considering for opioid-addiction treatment. Certain Indivior employees subsequently shared false and misleading safety information with MassHealth officials about Suboxone Film’s risk of accidental pediatric exposure. Two months after receiving that false and misleading information, MassHealth announced it would provide access to Suboxone Film for Medicaid patients with children under the age of six.

The criminal cases against Thaxter, Indivior, and Baxter are being prosecuted by attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, including Albert P. Mayer, Randy Ramseyer, Kristin L. Gray, Joseph S. Hall, Janine M. Myatt, Garth W. Huston, Carol Wallack, Charles J. Biro, and Matthew J. Lash. The criminal investigation of Thaxter was handled by the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations; United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General.

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Governor Northam announces Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework



NORFOLK—Governor Ralph Northam today released the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework, which lays out the core principles of the Commonwealth’s approach to coastal protection and adaptation and will serve as a blueprint for implementing Virginia’s first project-driven Coastal Resilience Master Plan by the end of 2021. Governor Northam made the announcement against the backdrop of the LaValette Avenue Kayak Launch and Fishing Pier in Norfolk where coastal flooding and sea-level rise have led to severe tidal intrusion.

“The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, but not the fact that our planet is warming, the land is sinking, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are more frequent and more severe,” said Governor Northam. “The science is clear: climate change is threatening our way of life, and there is no time to waste. We must act quickly and decisively—and the Coastal Master Planning Framework will be our roadmap to resilience in coastal Virginia. This innovative, science-based approach uses cost-effective, nature-based, and equitable strategies to protect our people, our communities, our infrastructure, and our economy right now and for generations to come.”

The Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework is the result of a nearly two-year process initiated by the Governor in Executive Order Twenty-Four involving state agencies, key stakeholders, and local and regional partners to develop mitigation strategies to reduce the near and long term impacts of natural hazards and extreme weather. This document is a roadmap that puts the full strength of the Commonwealth into creating a comprehensive Coastal Resilience Master Plan that will protect communities, commerce, and the coastal environment. The approach recognizes the scientific and fiscal realities—and challenges—that underserved communities in both urban and rural areas are facing, and emphasizes local and regional efforts to combat flooding and protect people and assets. Governor Northam will take executive action in the coming days to implement important components of the Framework.

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the Commonwealth and the United States. Along Virginia’s coast, it is exacerbated by pollution-driven global warming, which leads to sea-level rise and more extreme weather patterns. And the impacts of sea-level rise and flooding are magnified by population density: Virginia’s coastal region is home to more than 70 percent of the Commonwealth’s population. In recent years, these factors, combined with development in flood-prone areas, have increased flood risk in the Commonwealth’s coastal communities. In 2018 and 2019, Virginia experienced nine major flooding events with damaging totaling approximately $1.6 billion. Virginia has the highest rate of sea-level rise of any east-coast state, putting billions of dollars in private property and public infrastructure in danger.

The Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework takes decisive steps to address these threats by:

• Aligning state government hazard mitigation efforts to maximize support for coastal resilience

• Dividing coastal Virginia into four planning regions for the purposes of the Master Plan

• Establishing a Technical Advisory Committee to further define regional approaches and to help evaluate and prioritize projects

• Emphasizing the importance of green infrastructure and strategic relocation to reduce flood risk and provide additional community benefits

• Elevating the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program to support the development and implementation of the Master Plan

• Initiating a comprehensive public outreach effort to receive input from all impacted communities, particularly those that are underserved

“Nature is often the best flood control money can buy,” said Secretary of Natural Resources and Chief Resilience Officer Matthew J. Strickler. “While we know that we must protect our most critical infrastructure where it currently exists, that approach is not fiscally realistic or sustainable everywhere. Using natural and nature-based solutions whenever possible will provide the most cost-effective resilience to climate change impacts, while also improving quality of life and protecting the environment.”

The Framework will also help inform the development of guidance for coastal flood protection grants and loans under the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, to which Governor Northam and the General Assembly have dedicated 45 percent of the revenue from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon credit auctions that begin next spring. These auctions are estimated to generate approximately $500 million over the next decade to address coastal and riverine flooding statewide. This significant stream of dedicated revenue will help ensure progress in implementing the Framework and Master Plan.

“This Framework is the most significant, collaborative effort on resilience the Commonwealth has ever undertaken,” said Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection Rear Admiral (Retired) Ann C. Phillips. “This innovative approach to coastal adaptation and protection was created based on the input and experience of state, federal, regional, and community stakeholders and experts. I look forward to engaging with communities across the coastal region as we continue to develop Virginia’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan.”

Under Governor Northam’s leadership, Virginia has made coastal resilience planning and climate adaptation a top priority. In addition to Executive Order Twenty-Four, which established a unified approach to increasing Virginia’s resilience to coastal flooding, sea-level rise, and natural hazards, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Forty-Five, which established the country’s strongest flood protections for state-owned properties with the Virginia Flood Risk Management Program.

An overview of the Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework can be found here. The full document is available here.

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Governor Northam signs new laws to support COVID-19 response, reform policing



Governor Ralph Northam on October 21, 2020,  announced he has signed 16 new laws and proposed changes to five bills that will support the Commonwealth’s ongoing COVID-19 response and advance criminal justice reform.

“I am proud to sign new laws that strengthen our COVID-19 response efforts and make our criminal system more equitable,” said Governor Northam. “I am grateful to legislators for their hard work this session, and look forward to signing more critically important legislation in the coming days.”

Governor Northam signed the following laws to support COVID-19 response and recovery efforts:

House Bill 5041 (Delegate Head) and Senate Bill 5042 (Senator Kiggans) require the Board of Health to establish protocols related to safe nursing home, hospice, and nursing facility visits.

House Bill 5048 (Delegate Sickles) and Senate Bill 5090 (Senator Dunnavant) provide additional clarity to the Virginia Department of Health regarding publication of disease outbreak data.

House Bill 5093 (Delegate Watts) and Senate Bill 5117 (Senator Deeds) allow a $500 civil penalty for violations of a Governor’s Executive Order, instead of the Class 1 misdemeanor currently dictated by Virginia Code.

House Bill 5047 (Delegate Murphy) strengthens Virginia’s anti-price gouging laws during declared states of emergency.

Senate Bill 5039 (Senator Marsden) establishes a formal program for the purchase and distribution of personal protective equipment during a public health threat.

House Bill 5087 (Delegate Tran) extends the date by which the Virginia Employment Commission is required to establish and implement a short-time compensation program and removes the program’s sunset clause.

Senate Bill 5083 (Senator McClellan) requires Virginia school boards to publicly post their plans and strategies for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Senate Bill 5017 (Senator Boysko) grants the Commonwealth the ability to establish and enforce health standards at local correctional facilities used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other federal agencies.

Governor Northam signed the following laws to reform criminal justice and policing:

House Bill 5098 (Delegate Askew) increases the penalty for falsely summoning or giving false reports to law enforcement officers due to an individual’s race, religious conviction, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, or national origin.

House Bill 5072 (Delegate Lopez) and Senate Bill 5024 (Senator Lucas) allow the Attorney General to open investigations related to a suspected “pattern or practice” of misconduct among law enforcement officers.

House Bill 5062 (Delegate Mullin) and Senate Bill 5033 (Senator Surovell) restore the practice of requiring judges to dismiss charges when both parties (prosecution and defense) agree.

Governor Northam proposed changes to the following bills:

House Bill 5046 (Delegate D. Adams) and Senate Bill 5080 (Senator Barker) expand Medicaid coverage of telemedicine care. Governor Northam added an emergency clause to make this legislation effective immediately upon passage.

House Bill 5115 (Delegate Price) expands eviction protections for Virginians who experienced a loss of wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Northam added an emergency clause to make this legislation effective immediately upon passage.

House Bill 5058 (Delegate Hope) and Senate Bill 5029 (Senator Lucas) prohibit law enforcement from initiating traffic stops in certain instances. Governor Northam amended this legislation to ensure law enforcement can initiate a traffic stop when an individual is driving at night without the use of both headlights and/or without the use of both brake lights.

A full list of legislation signed by the Governor from the Special Session can be found here.

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Governor Northam releases Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger



RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam on October 20, 2020, released the inaugural Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger, which establishes a unified set of goals and strategies to prioritize food security during the current public health emergency and beyond. The Roadmap was produced by Governor Northam’s Children’s Cabinet.

In Virginia and across the country, food insecurity rates are increasing, with an estimated 445,000 additional Virginians experiencing food insecurity because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the onset of this public health crisis, approximately 850,000 Virginians were food insecure, including 250,000 children.

“This pandemic has created challenges for the entire food system and added new burdens on thousands of Virginia families,” said Governor Northam. “Since the beginning of our Administration, we have prioritized addressing nutrition and food insecurity, and that work has never been more relevant than it is today. The Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger looks beyond our current struggles and outlines a way forward to end hunger in the Commonwealth and ensure equitable access to healthy, affordable food for all Virginians.”

The Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger lays out opportunities to reduce food insecurity in the Commonwealth, and critical next steps to develop policies, programs, and partnerships to benefit Virginia’s children and communities.

“Keeping all Virginians healthy requires our commitment to keeping them nourished,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “This is an important resource that supports food access for all Virginians including our littlest learners, students, families, and seniors. I am grateful to the members of the Children’s Cabinet working group who have worked diligently to create the Roadmap as a path forward.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the broader social determinants of health including food security. The Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger includes goals and strategies to:

• Expand child nutrition programs

• Increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women Infant and Children (WIC) Program

• Increase nutrition support for seniors

• Grow access to local food for schools and families

• Strengthen connections between food access programs and the healthcare sector

• Encourage food and agriculture investments in food deserts and marginalized communities

• Amplify public awareness of hunger in Virginia and support information sharing across public and private sectors

• Support community organizing to combat food insecurity and hunger

“Over the past seven years, Virginia has become a national model for closing the hunger gap, but there is still much work to be done,” said Dorothy McAuliffe, Chair of the Virginia No Kid Hungry Campaign and former First Lady of Virginia. “It will require a commitment to collaboration at the state and local level to ensure we have equitable access to nutritious foods and equal opportunity to grow and thrive. The Roadmap to End Hunger builds on our past successes and serves as a foundation to a food secure future for the Commonwealth.”

To create the Roadmap, the Northam Administration, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services and the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, held listening sessions to gather input from stakeholder groups, community leaders, and Virginians that work in and are impacted by the food system. The seven listening sessions were held in Abingdon, Roanoke, Danville, Hampton, Fairfax County, Norfolk, and Richmond.

“While we have made significant progress in recent years and over the last seven months responding to increased poverty and food insecurity, too many Virginians continue to struggle with hunger,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “This Roadmap outlines the key strategies that state government and every Commonwealth community can take to ensure that Virginians receive the nutrition they need to thrive. We must double down on our work to turn the Roadmap into meaningful action.”

“Collectively, Virginia’s seven regional food banks represent the largest charitable response to hunger in the Commonwealth, providing 120 million pounds of food to nearly one million individuals each year,” said Eddie Oliver, Executive Director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. “In a state as rich in resources as ours, there is simply no reason for food insecurity to exist. The Roadmap gives us the template for how we can better leverage public and partnerships and work together to create a food system that works for everyone.”

The Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger emphasizes the importance of federal, state, and local policies and programs being in authentic partnerships with grassroots organizations, which are driven by the lived experiences of food insecure families. The Roadmap highlights the Richmond Food Justice Alliance and Cultivate Charlottesville as two examples of advocacy groups organizing at the local level to improve food access for their communities.

Learn more about the Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger here.

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Governor Northam announces $65.8 million to increase child care access, help providers



Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam today, October 21, 2020, announced $65.8 million in new funding to increase access to child care and support child care providers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This new investment is supported by $58.3 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars as well as a reallocation of $7.5 million in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. First Lady Northam made the announcement during a virtual meeting of the Children’s Cabinet.

On June 21, 2018, Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order No. 11 reestablishing the Children’s Cabinet. Experiences during the early years of a child’s life have a tremendous impact on development and life outcomes. This Children’s Cabinet will develop solutions to address challenges that exist for children across the Commonwealth and will focus its efforts on several key priorities. Among these priorities are early childhood development and school readiness, nutrition and food security, systems of care and safety for school-aged youth. In addressing these priorities, the Children’s Cabinet will work to develop goals, identify strategies, and measure impact and outcomes. Courtesy photo.

“Our ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery depend upon having a child care system that is both accessible and operational,” said Governor Northam. “Early childhood educators have been on the frontline since COVID-19 pandemic started, going above and beyond to keep their doors open, ensure children are safe, and even fill in the gaps with remote learning as schools have reopened. This new funding will help them continue to support working families and enable more programs to safely provide in-person child care.”

This funding will continue the incentive grant program for child care providers announced in April through the end of 2020. This program provides flexible cash assistance to child care providers to help offset operating costs and expenses associated with meeting health and safety guidelines. The Virginia Department of Social Services, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education, has distributed more than $46 million in direct assistance to child care programs to date.

“Virginia’s early educators are true superheroes, and thousands of our families rely on them every day,” said First Lady Northam. “After listening to providers across the Commonwealth, it was clear that continuing this incentive grant program had to be our top priority. I am thrilled we were able to get it done, and I look forward to continuing to support early childhood education during this difficult time.”

Nearly 2,672 child care programs in Virginia—nearly 45 percent—closed their doors at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to more than $70 million in grants and other relief, many either have reopened or are starting to. Providers have reported that this funding is critical and many indicated that without additional financial support, they were unsure how long they could continue to operate.

“Child care plays an essential role in providing high-quality, safe learning environments for Virginia’s children while ensuring their parents and caregivers are able to work,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “Serving working families remains a top priority, and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”

Child care programs have also stepped up to serve children who are participating in virtual learning, ensuring that they have safe, supervised spaces with access to food, supplies, and the internet. At least half of open child care programs have reported serving school-age children, and this new funding will also help communities establish public-private partnerships to meet the needs of working families with school-age children.

“Access to child care, especially from birth to age 12, is key to our economic recovery, financial stability for families, and helping Virginia’s children succeed in school,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “This additional funding provides a critical financial lifeline to the many working parents who depend on child care programs.”

The distribution of these funds will be announced by the Virginia Department of Social Services in the coming weeks. A comprehensive guide to COVID-19 child care resources in Virginia is available here. Additional health and safety guidance for Child care centers that remain open can be found here.

Parents who are in need of child care services should visit Child Care Aware at or call 1-866-KIDS-TLC for an up-to-date list of child care options in their area.

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Fashion Show Fundraiser benefitt... @ West Oaks Farm Market Event Venue
Nov 5 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Fashion Show Fundraiser benefitting Boy Scouts @ West Oaks Farm Market Event Venue
Fashion Show Fundraiser benefitting Shenandoah Area Council Boy Scouts Fashion, food, cash bar, silent auction, raffle, door prizes, vendors on-site. Sponsored by Anna Quinn Jewelers, Grove’s Winchester Harley Davidson and Firenza Pizza. Showcasing clothing by[...]
all-day Small Business Saturday @ Front Royal, Virginia
Small Business Saturday @ Front Royal, Virginia
Nov 7 all-day
Small Business Saturday @ Front Royal, Virginia
Why should Small Business Saturday just be celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving? Buy Local – Shop Local – Eat Local – Support Front Royal’s Small Business Community and stay local! Small Business Saturdays –[...]
all-day Tails and Ales Virtual Fundraiser @ Online Event
Tails and Ales Virtual Fundraiser @ Online Event
Nov 14 – Nov 16 all-day
Tails and Ales Virtual Fundraiser @ Online Event
The Humane Society of Warren County… “Providing compassion and care for the animals of Warren County since 1947.” Join the Humane Society of Warren County on Saturday, November 14th, for our 9th annual Tails and[...]