Spanberger, Cole introduce bill to reauthorize Pregnancy Assistance Fund
The federal Pregnancy Assistance Fund helps states provide services for vulnerable soon-to-be mothers – including teens and victims of sexual violence.
Congress let funding for PAF lapse last year. Bipartisan legislation introduced by Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger and Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole aims to get the program back on track.
“The PAF program has a proven record of providing vital assistance to at-risk, low-income, and underserved parents in Virginia and across the country. During this pandemic and even beyond, we can’t turn our backs on successful initiatives that help our most vulnerable families,” said Spanberger.
The Pregnancy Assistance Act takes the commonsense step of reauthorizing PAF and makes clear that an investment in our nation’s families is an investment in our long-term future.
“I’d like to thank Congressman Cole for his partnership in introducing this much-needed bill,” Spanberger said. “By improving access to education, parenting, and employment support services, we are putting pregnant and parenting youth on a level playing field — and we are building a pathway toward stronger and healthier communities.”
PAF reauthorization is supported by numerous state and national healthcare, faith, and equal justice advocacy organizations, including the African American Juvenile Justice Project, American Academy of Pediatrics, Power to Decide, Healthy Teen Network, March of Dimes, National Organization for Women, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, National LGBTQ Task Force, and Rights4Girls.
“This pandemic has put a significant strain on parents and families, particularly in low-income communities of Color,” said Dr. Danny Avula, director, Richmond City and Henrico County Health Districts. “We need funding streams like PAF more than ever to develop new approaches to support effective parenting.”
“The PAF has a demonstrated record of helping thousands of Virginia families. Fundamentally, it has assisted these young parents in becoming successful and effective role models for their children,” said Dr. Owen C. Cardwell Jr., co-director, Rosel Schewel Distinguished Professor for Leadership Studies, Center for Education and Leadership, University of Lynchburg. “Over the years, studies have shown that for every dollar spent helping a young person be a good parent while trying to succeed in finishing high school, attending college, or completing trade school, Virginia saves twice as much in criminal justice, law enforcement, health and social services, and other state programs. The Center for Education and Leadership strongly supports Congresswoman Spanberger’s legislation and its goal of reauthorizing the PAF.”
“I’m proud to lend my support to Congresswoman Spanberger’s Pregnancy Assistance Act. Her legislation addresses an obvious, pressing issue: it reauthorizes the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, which supports the Stronger Parents Brighter Futures initiative here in Virginia,” said Barry L. Winston, pastor, St. Mark Church of God in Christ, Richmond. “The incredible assistance provided through the SPBF program to parenting teens, mothers, and fathers in our community is insurmountable and not possible without PAF. My congregation urges Congresswoman Spanberger’s colleagues in Congress to support her legislation and give young families in Virginia and across the country the opportunity to thrive.”
“The Virginia Department of Health’s SPBF program, which exists thanks to funding from the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, has significantly improved the health outcomes of pregnant and parenting teens and young adults throughout Virginia,” said The Rev. Gary D. Jones, rector, Ste. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Richmond. “Even more importantly, the SPBF program has implemented a multifaceted peer group education model along with whole-family case management support. This initiative brings a much-needed helping hand to struggling families here in the Commonwealth – and I’d like to thank Congresswoman Spanberger for recognizing the importance of the PAF for both the current health of our community and our community’s future.”
PAF grantees may use funds for any of the following purposes:
- Providing subgrants to institutions of higher education, high schools, or community service providers to enable these subgrantees to establish, operate, or maintain pregnancy or parenting services for the expectant and parenting population.
- Partnering with the state attorney general’s office to provide legal support, hotline, and other supportive services for women who experience domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking while they are pregnant or parenting an infant.
- Supporting public awareness about PAF services for the expectant and parenting population, including individuals who are victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.
Click here to read the full bill text.