Here is the second of three summaries on critical issues and bills passed by the General Assembly, in addition to the transportation tax bill, that Governor Bob McDonnell must act on before tonight's midnight deadline, by when he must either sign, amend or veto them. (See Part 1, on publicly funded abortions, here.) Governor Bob McDonnell has an opportunity to help keep families together.

The General Assembly passed legislation this year, now awaiting his signature, that would remove a serious hardship on families in crisis and limit the amount of government intrusion while providing opportunity for reunification.

More and more, families are relying on close relatives to help take care of their children during a crisis, using what is called kinship care. But these relatives often face barriers when trying to enroll the children in their local school, as some school divisions require the relative caregiver to obtain legal custody of the child before enrollment is possible. This requires the action of a court, more government involvement, and can take months.

SB 960, patroned by Senator George Barker (D-39, Alexandria), would clarify that children living in kinship care arrangements are entitled to attend the public school where these relatives reside. It also allows local school divisions to require that the relative caregiver and parent of the child provide an affidavit and power of attorney that support the kinship care arrangement. This simple fix would help families stay together and would be used for temporary, not permanent, arrangements. Children living in kinship care situations have better outcomes, both academically and behaviorally, than their peers in foster care.

Helping families through difficult times by giving them the ability to help themselves without additional government intrusion and cost to the taxpayer should be a priority of state government. That is why The Family Foundation made SB 960 a priority this year and was happy to join a diverse coalition of organizations in support of it, including the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Voice for Virginia's Children, the Virginia Education Association and many others.

To make your voice heard, even at this late stage, contact Governor McDonnell and ask him to sign SB 960 without amendment!