Children Now Insider: Updates on Key Budget Requests and Legislation to Improve Kids’ Well-being

The Children’s Movement helps make a difference on critical issues

By Josefina Ramirez Notsinneh, Senior Associate, Government Relations

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Several key budget requests and bills for children’s well-being are moving forward in the Legislature right now. Here are some key updates:

24/7 Support for Children in Foster Care and their Caregivers

The Family Urgent Response System (FURS), a $15 million budget proposal in 2019-20 and $30 million ongoing, was included in both the Senate and Assembly budget proposals, and we are hopeful it will be part of the final budget. FURS will provide children and youth in foster care and their caregivers with the immediate trauma-informed support they need when issues arise. See the Children’s Movement letter signed by 730 organizations.

Improving Instruction for English Learners

Senate Bill 594 passed out of Senate Appropriations with a unanimous vote and passed out of the Senate with a unanimous (38-0) roll call vote. The bill June will be heard in the Assembly in June. We are also pleased that the Senate Budget Committee voted to include funding for this effort, and it now moves to the Conference Committee for full consideration. SB 594 is co-sponsored by Children Now, Californians Together and the California Association for Bilingual Education, and would establish the English Learner Roadmap Initiative to support educators to more effectively address the unique and pressing needs of California English Learners, starting in early childhood through grade 12; the bill also asks for an investment of $12 million for the initiative. It has been identified by the Latino Caucus as one of its 2019 legislative priorities. See the Children’s Movement letter signed by 200 organizations.

Mental Health Training for Educators

Senate Bill 428 passed the Senate unanimously (38-0), and it now heads to the Assembly. SB 428 is co-sponsored by Children Now, County Behavioral Health Directors Association, Born This Way Foundation, and California Council of Behavioral Health Associations, and would require all CA schools to train 10 percent of their staff, or two staff persons, whichever is greater – including, but not limited to educators – in an evidenced-based, in-person mental health first aid training program. See the Children’s Movement letter signed by 240 organizations.

Increased Access to Affordable Childcare

While the full ask of $1 billion over three years for the Building Equitable Futures for Families Act, was not approved, the Assembly budget is proposing a significant amount of new funding to expand childcare and we hope the final budget will maintain that commitment to infants and toddlers. This much-needed funding will improve access to affordable childcare by increasing the number of low-income children and families who are served in Alternative Payment Programs and General Child Care. See the Children’s Movement letter signed by 340 organizations.

Children Now is also supporting the following legislation, and we’re excited to share these updates:

  • Senate Bill 207, which would include asthma preventive services as a covered benefit under Medi-Cal, passed unanimously (38-0) out of the Senate.
  • Assembly Bill 1004, on developmental screenings for children birth to age three in Medi-Cal, passed 66-0 out of the Assembly.
  • Assembly Bill 526, which would make it easier for eligible children and pregnant women in the WIC program to enroll in Medi-Cal, passed 66-0 out of the Assembly.

Lastly, we’re in the thick of budget season, with the deadline to finalize the 2019-20 Budget just a few weeks away. Governor Newsom released his May Revision to the 2019-20 Budget proposal on May 9 and Children Now President Ted Lempert issued the following statement in response:

“We applaud Governor Newsom’s May Revision for working towards addressing early care and education and the extraordinary costs for families with children. He targets many critical whole-child supports that have long been ignored, and makes some important down payments to help our children’s future. Doing right by all kids is not only the right thing to do, it’s essential to our state’s ability to thrive. Yet unlike with other key issues, California ranks near the bottom in the nation when it comes to children’s well-being. California needs a bold, ambitious plan to ensure that all of our kids have equal access to high-quality education – from birth through higher ed – as well as health care and other services that are so critical to ensuring they can achieve their full potential.”

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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