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Celebrating 2018 Legislative Successes

Thanks to your generous support, kids and families had a strong voice at the Idaho Legislature this session.

During the 2018 Legislative Session, we saw many ups and downs as well as a few surprises. But we are proud to report that Idaho’s children had a strong, consistent voice in policymaking conversations. Thanks to your support, we educated lawmakers, passed legislation and mobilized networks to take action.

Join with us as we celebrate this year’s accomplishments, including (1) the passage of the Foster Care Improvement Act, (2) state funding of Home Visiting Programs and (3) advancements in healthcare advocacy.  Celebrate these successes at our annual May Meeting on 5/23/18. Learn more about the event and register here.

2018 Legislative Session Accomplishments

1. Passage of the Foster Care Improvement Act

Senate Bill 1341, the Foster Care Improvement Act, passed the Idaho Legislature and was signed into law!

Your support of the Marilyn Shuler Foster Care Advocacy Fund this fall launched critical foster care advocacy action. We facilitated conversations between legislators, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare and the courts to ensure identified issues were effectively addressed in Idaho statute. We stood up for the interests of children in foster care and advocated for policies that reflect our values.

Senate Bill 1341 – the Foster Care Improvement Act – passed both the Senate and House unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Otter. This huge accomplishment is a step forward for Idaho and will have lasting, positive impacts on the well-being of our state’s most vulnerable population. Thank you to the interim legislative committee members who led this legislation, especially co-chairs Rep. Christy Perry and Sen. Abby Lee. Watch news coverage of the bill’s progress here and here.

Thank you for supporting Idaho Voices for Children and helping lift up the voices of children affected by foster care in Idaho.

2. State Investment in Home Visiting Programs

Idaho’s Home Visiting Program received $1.6 Million in state support! This new state state investment aims to prevent child abuse and neglect.

During the final week of the Legislative Session, Governor Otter signed into law a budget bill that included a sizable investment in a program proven to reduce child abuse and neglect. The allocation of $1.6 million to the Home Visiting Program marks a first for the State of Idaho. The program has never before received state funding. Instead, it has relied solely on restrictive federal dollars. State investment in the Home Visiting Program will allow more families to be served in more counties across Idaho. Learn more about the program here.

Last year, Idaho Voices for Children made a commitment to improve foster care outcomes and support efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect. Thanks to generous support of the Marilyn Shuler Foster Care Advocacy Fund, we were able to follow through on our commitment. We not only helped pass the Foster Care Improvement Act, but we also successfully advocated for state investment in the Home Visiting Program.

Your support resulted in this huge achievement. Join us and celebrate this significant win for Idaho’s children.

3. Advancements in Healthcare Advocacy

Healthcare advocates packed the Statehouse to demand action on the coverage gap crisis.

During the final weeks of the Legislative Session, hundreds of Idahoans came to the Capitol to demand the Legislature take action and help the citizens living in the health coverage gap. Advocates participated in a physician led press conference, a meet-and-greet with legislators and other pop-up activities. Nichole, a mother and local business owner, bravely shared her personal story of the struggles and health risks associated with living in the coverage gap. Watch coverage of the rally here and here.

Thanks to the hundreds of people who rallied and the thousands of phone calls and emails to elected officials, House Bill 464 – the Idaho Health Care Plan – resurfaced this week and legislative supporters made headlines standing up for the proposal. Despite the public support for closing the coverage, the House of Representatives refused to vote on the bill, instead sending it back to committee.

It’s time to take the coverage gap issue to the ballot.

Idaho Voices for Children is excited to announce that we are working to help put Medicaid expansion on the ballot. We will train and mobilize volunteers to help collect signatures and build a strong statewide coalition to ensure success in the November election. We have until April 30 to collect the needed signatures. Learn how to get involved in the effort here.