In 1994-95 it became obvious that public policy concerning children and families was taking a new direction with little organized input from the private sector. There were individuals and associations who were active, but there was no common “voice” representing the private providers and the children we serve. Ron Herring, CEO of Lutheran Family Services, recognized the need for providers to come together in a unified force to impact public policy and advocate for the children and families we serve. In the spring of 1995, Ron organized an exploratory meeting, inviting representatives from all associations in the Commonwealth who worked with children funded through the Comprehensive Services Act (CSA). At that first meeting, a decision was made to formalize the group into a coalition of associations. The Virginia Coalition of Private Provider Associations (VCOPPA) was developed.
The group focused on developing relationships with governing agencies in order to have a voice in policy development and funding trends. Input was given at the state level regarding the implementation of Virginia’s CSA, availability of Medicaid as a funding source, and other issues regarding services for children and their families.
In 1998, a management firm was hired to manage the day-to-day administrative affairs of the Coalition as well as represent the group in legislative matters. Shortly thereafter, the Coalition undertook an extensive strategic planning process, resulting in identifying the group’s mission as “to serve as the unified voice for private providers to advocate for a quality system of services for children and families with special needs and challenges.”
The Coalition established two committees to assist in carrying out this mission:
- The Governmental Affairs Committee was established to create and implement a broad based legislative agenda, to develop a well-defined platform and to increase representation on and relationships with statewide entities.
- The Membership Committee was established to develop an effective process for obtaining input and disseminating information among Coalition members on issues of importance and attend to relationships between the Coalition, its constituent associations, their member agencies, and the regional coalitions.
The Virginia Coalition of Private Provider Associations has become a recognized and respected voice at both the state and local levels. From speaking before the Virginia State Legislature on issues of importance to providers and those they serve, to hosting local luncheons for private providers and local governmental agencies, VCOPPA has remained active and influential in furthering the availability of services for Virginia’s children and families.