Children Now Insider: State Budget includes Needed Investments to Improve the Lives of CA Kids

State Budget includes Needed Investments to Improve the Lives of CA Kids But Falls Short of Making Affordable Childcare Available to All

By Josefina Ramirez Notsinneh, Senior Associate, Government Relations

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Last Thursday, the full Senate and Assembly approved the $214.8 billion spending plan that represents agreements on almost all issues between the two houses and Governor Newsom. The 2019-20 budget bill is expected to be signed by the Governor. Below are some key Pro-Kid wins:

Family Urgent Response System (FURS):
$15 million in 2019-20 and $30 million ongoing to establish FURS, a 24/7 statewide hotline and county mobile response system. Co-sponsored by Children Now, the County Welfare Directors Association of California, the County Behavioral Directors Association of California, and a coalition of child welfare and mental health stakeholders, this response system will help ensure foster youth and caregivers can access trauma-informed supports during critical moments. See the Children’s Movement letter signed by 730 organizations.

Educator Training – English Learner Roadmap:
$10 million (of the $38.1 million for the Educator Workforce Investment Grant) is dedicated to professional development for the English Learner Roadmap, which is designed to strengthen comprehensive educational policies, programs, and practices for English learners, Pre-K through grade 12. This is an important investment in English learner supports and was a significant priority for Children Now, and co-sponsored by the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) and Californians Together. See the Children’s Movement letter signed by 200 organizations.

Emergency Child Care Bridge:
$10 million to ensure immediate childcare access for willing families who can provide homes for foster children. This was also a priority for Children Now and builds on the $31 million investment made in 2018-19.

School-based Mental Health:
$50 million in Prop. 63 funding ($40 million one-time and $10 million ongoing) for school-mental health partnerships and mental health services for students.

Voluntary, evidence-based home visiting: An unprecedented investment that includes:
$90.3 million for the newly-created California Department of Social Services CalWORKs Home Visiting Initiative, which is expected to serve approximately 18,500 CalWORKs families with very young children in 44 counties across California; and $45.9 million for the California Department of Public Health California Home Visiting Program, which will expand existing evidence-based home visiting capacity currently funded by federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood (MIECHV) funding in 23 counties.

Preventive services:
A one-time $15 million investment to fund asthma preventive and environmental remediation services for kids and adults with poorly controlled asthma on Medi-Cal by expanding access to trained community health workers.

Screening for developmental delays and trauma:
$105 million ($52.5 million one-time Prop. 56 funding) for developmental and trauma screenings and $50 million ($25 million one-time Prop. 56 funding) for provider training to deliver trauma screenings in Medi-Cal. Additionally, the budget includes language requiring the Department of Health Care Services to collaborate with various accredited entities in developing a provider training curriculum for trauma screening and to develop the structure and parameters for payments and rate increases for screenings and provider training.

Children Now leveraged The Children’s Movement to rally support for an investment of $1 billion over three years to increase access to affordable childcare. More than 340 organizations signed the letter. Unfortunately, the investment in the budget bill falls far short of what is needed in order to ensure the 1.8 million children who are eligible for childcare access receive it: $93.3 million in alternate payment vouchers – including $80.5 million ongoing in Prop. 64 funds and $12.8 million in federal funds – for vouchers (serving about 9,500 children) and $50 million in one-time funding for general childcare (serving about 3,100 children).

Another missed opportunity in the budget was the lack of action to reform the current childcare reimbursement rate system. California has a mixed delivery system that provides childcare, preschool, and early learning services for the state’s youngest learners. However, the two different and unaligned systems for reimbursing providers of these early learning services limits access, fails to maximize program quality, and is forcing many child care providers out of business in California. For these reasons, Children Now had urged the Legislature and Governor to adopt the Assembly’s proposal to implement Reimbursement Rate Reform, which was a high priority for the early learning community and had strong bipartisan support. It is disappointing that the state will not be taking this foundational step forward to improve the childcare system this year.

Josefina Ramirez Notsinneh is a Senior Associate, Government Relations for Children Now, a nonpartisan umbrella research, policy development and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health, education and well-being in California.

Josefina is experienced in working with a wide-range of public affairs governmental and corporate entities on successful legislative, community outreach, and media relations campaigns. She previously served as a Senior Legislative Consultant in the Office of Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), and prior to that spent 4-years at Ogilvy Public Relations, in their Sacramento public affairs practice, where she was a key member of the West Coast Latino outreach specialty team.

 Prior to Ogilvy, Josefina spent a decade working in state government and politics, progressing from completing California’s prestigious “Capital Fellowship” program, serving as a legislative aide and consultant, being a committee consultant with the Assembly business and professions committee and to serving as the capitol director for a legislator.

Throughout Josefina’s vast experience in public policy, politics and community leadership – she’s been immersed in developing state and local programs that meet the needs of diverse communities in California. Josefina has critical experience working with local stakeholders to create partnership opportunities to find solutions to pressing issues that underserved communities face, and also has wide experience with political campaigns and interacting with ethnic media.

Josefina has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Riverside. Originally from Orange County, she moved to Sacramento when she was selected as a Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellow in 2003. Josefina is a proud graduate of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute, a statewide leadership program for professional Latinas in California to gain vital leadership and advocacy skills. In 2013, Josefina was appointed by the California State Senate as a public member on the University of California Regents Selection Advisory Committee. She is actively involved in the Sacramento Latina Leaders Network. Josefina is also an alumna of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, and involved with the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project where she volunteers annually at these dynamic leadership conferences held annually in Sacramento for Latino and API high school students.

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