From Sharra E. Greer <[email protected]>
Subject How it all comes together
Date February 9, 2022 4:02 PM
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A behind-the-scenes look at our advocacy Throughout the year, the children and families we work with tell us about the barriers they face accessing the supports or services they need. On any given day, we hear the issues they're experiencing: "My child is overwhelmed, and I think they need to talk to a therapist, but I've been told there's a two month wait list to see anyone who can help." "Water has been leaking from my kid's bedroom ceiling for months. My child is getting sick from the mold, but the landlord won't fix it." "My child is supposed to be getting speech therapy services, but I'm told there is no one available." We work to address these needs in our clients' individual cases, but we also use what we learn to break down systemic barriers that affect families across the District. What we learn from our cases is especially valuable this time of year as we testify at DC Council performance oversight hearings and other roundtables. Our goal: to spotlight the trends we’re hearing from across our client community and use that information to advocate for systemic changes. Last year, this work resulted in transformative wins for children and families. Right now, we are laying the foundation for a new season of successes. Read on for the latest on our advocacy efforts and some of our top policy priorities: Behavioral Health The pandemic has only worsened children’s mental health access. As we testified at the Department of Behavioral Health oversight hearing, the investments we make in our behavioral health system now will have far-reaching impacts on the well-being of DC kids. Through our coalition work, we heard the same message from community-based behavioral health providers and parent advocates that we were hearing from clients – DC’s School-Based Behavioral Health program is critical in reaching kids where they learn every day. Attorney Tami Weerasingha-Cote testified that more progress is still needed to ensure the program reaches every school. She also highlighted the benefits of Healthy Futures which reaches kids in childcare settings and shared our recommendations to comprehensively reform DC’s behavioral health system. Learn more about our advocacy in recent news coverage and read our behavioral health reform recommendations in A Path Forward. We will be sharing more on our behavioral health reform recommendations at the DC Health Care Finance and DC Health oversight hearings in the coming weeks. Healthy Housing For too long, we have seen the impact of unhealthy housing on the children we serve. At a recent oversight hearing, Kathy Zeisel shared her experiences as an attorney in our medical-legal partnership, which places attorneys at health centers across DC. She pointed to the client referrals we receive from pediatricians when hazards like lead paint, pervasive mold and pest infestations cause or exacerbate health conditions in children. During the hearing, Kathy recognized that the Department of Energy and the Environment has made progress eliminating mold and lead hazards and thanked the DC Council for passing the Residential Housing Environmental Safety Act, a bill we championed. But as news coverage and our own clients’ experiences emphasize - more must be done to strengthen DC’s lead laws and ensure that the new Department of Buildings enforces housing code violations. We will continue to highlight our vision for the new Department of Buildings at the upcoming Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs hearing later this month. Special Education We have long worked to ensure that students with physical, learning or emotional disabilities receive the right educational supports they need to succeed. But staffing shortages resulting from the pandemic have made it even more difficult to get needed services – limiting their access to education and affecting their developmental progress. Attorney Danielle Robinette raised this and other concerns at last week’s special education roundtable before the DC Council. To inform our testimony, Danielle consulted with our education attorneys to better understand the issues the students we work with are facing – especially during this tumultuous time. We are seeing both new problems – like staffing shortages – and continuing issues like unfair discipline policies that are having disparate impacts on the students we serve – many of whom are Black or Brown and living in poverty. We will continue to bring these issues to the Council’s attention during the education agencies oversight hearing in early March. Looking Ahead These are just a few of our most recent efforts to advance systemic reforms and increase the transparency, efficacy and accountability of DC agencies. We will also continue pushing for the Ombudsperson for Children to become a reality, build momentum for police-free schools and address the increase in recent housing evictions at additional hearings throughout this month. Follow along as we share updates on Twitter, and thank you for being fellow advocates and supporters of our mission. Sharra E. Greer Policy Director P.S. Don’t forget to donate to help us continue to fight for systemic reforms. Donate Children's Law Center | 501 3rd Street NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20001 Unsubscribe [email protected] Update Profile | Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected] powered by Try email marketing for free today!
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