2016 Legislative Summary
Written by Carrie Glover, Senior Policy Manager
At about 11:00pm on March 29th the 2016 legislative session was adjourned. This year was a ‘short session’ that was mostly focused on writing a supplemental budget.
WithinReach did very well this session, including securing funding for an immunization validation tool and a school module within the Immunization Information System (IIS), which was our top priority going into 2016. It was a great year of working with our partners in Olympia and we made real progress in breaking down barriers that prevent families from living healthy lives.
We also supported some additional issues as they emerged through session, and those also fared very well. Below is a summary of the outcomes of our top priorities as well as other issues we supported this session that had successful outcomes.
Here is a brief summary of where we landed in the budget for our priorities:
Immunization Validation Tool & School Module within the IIS (budget only)
- Budget ask: $511,000>
- Final Amount funded: $511,000
Developmental and Autism Screenings for Medicaid (budget only)
- Budget ask: Maintain current funding
- Outcome: No cuts were made to the screenings
HB 1295: Breakfast After the Bell (budget and bill)
- Bill: Require all high needs schools to offer breakfast after the bell
- Budget ask: $2.692 million for startup grants
- Outcome: Unfortunately the Breakfast After the Bell legislation did not pass this year. Since the bill didn’t pass, the startup grants also were not funded in the final budget
Healthiest Next Generation (budget only)
- Budget ask: fund staff positions at OSPI & DEL for this initiative
- Outcome: Unfortunately this was not funded in the final budget
Other issues we supported that were successful:
HB 2877: Expanding SNAP Distribution dates
- Bill: Expand the distribution dates for SNAP beneficiaries from the 1st through 10th of the month to the 1st through the 20th of the month
- Budget ask: funding needed to implement the system change
- Outcome: The bill passed with a great deal of support and $300,000 in funding was included for implementation in the final budget
HB 2439: Mental health services for children and youth
- Bill: Increasing access to adequate and appropriate mental health services for children and youth including establishing a workgroup to identify barriers in accessing mental health services, report on the status of access to services, expand the Partnership Access Line (PAL), and require coverage for annual depression screenings according to the Bright Future guidelines
- Budget ask: funding needed for implementation of the workgroup, inventory of services, expansion of the PAL line, and the depression screenings.
- Outcome: The bill passed, though with only the workgroup and inventory of services. The PAL line was funded in the final budget even though it wasn’t included in the final bill. Unfortunately the depression screenings weren’t funded or included in the bill.
SB 5143: Childhood Immunization Resources
- Bill: Requires DOH to develop resources for expecting parents about recommended childhood immunizations.
- Outcome: This bill passed with a great deal of support and some of our WithinReach staff were able to be at the bill signing with Governor Inslee.
Learn more about the guiding principles of our policy work.
Coloring Isn’t Just for Kids
The last few weeks have been insanely busy for us. Responding to a wave of media requests in reaction to the recent measles, coordinating stakeholders across the state to help pass Breakfast After the Bell legislation, helping thousands of families apply for or renew their Apple Health coverage, bringing our experience and expertise with the Affordable Care Act to a Health Benefit Exchange Board meeting, attending listening sessions with the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, MD, during his visit to Washington…..The list goes on and on – and our staff are always ready to step up, to say ‘yes’, to dig in and do more to make the connections WA families need to be healthy. Though this may be a recipe for success, it most certainly creates some stress.
That’s why I decided to share a recent Huffpost article at our staff meeting this week. The article, Coloring Isn’t Just For Kids. It Can Actually Help Adults Combat Stress., says that it has been found that coloring – that’s right, crayons and coloring books – has the power to reduce stress. In fact, the article says coloring “generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity”.
Many of us are ‘yellow pad doodlers’, so this makes sense. Not only did I share the article, but I offered staff the opportunity to color during staff meeting and beyond. Staff jumped in, and the accompanying picture highlights the result of our staff meeting coloring.
I realize coloring will not reduce the demands placed on our staff, or the crazy fast pace with which they work, but perhaps it brought a small moment of quietness to the day – and hopefully, the message that we care about the health and well-being of all WA families – including our own.
Tags: Affordable Care Act Breakfast After the Bell coloring creativity Health Benefit Exchange Huffpost Measles stress-relief vaccines Washington Apple Health Washington families Washington state WithinReach
Washington’s Parents Prioritize School Breakfast as Key to Learning
- No child should be too hungry to learn. In a national survey, 87 percent of principals reported seeing hungry children in their schools at least once a week, and 73 percent of teachers reported having students who regularly come to school hungry because there isn’t enough to eat at home.
- Hungry children can negatively impact an entire classroom, not to mention their own education. Hunger in children increases behavioral and health problems. It can also decrease a child’s self-esteem. When a child is hungry, his/her ability to concentrate and learn is jeopardized by the emptiness/pain of their stomach. He or she may act out because of their hunger, producing a disruptive environment for the teacher to handle; in turn, pulling the focus of other students away from the lessons being taught.
- Washington is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to feeding hungry kids breakfast. We rank 41st out the 50 states in serving eligible, low-income children school breakfast.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Every parent has probably used that phrase at least once, if not many times.
- There is a solution! The USDA, the Food Research and Action Council, and other national experts are advocating for serving breakfast after the school day starts. It is a national best practice to increase participation and improve numerous learning and behavior outcomes.
This information made sense to PTA members from across the state and they voted to add it to their legislative agenda. Breakfast is a simple, cost-effective way for schools to help every child be well-nourished and ready to learn. To join the Breakfast After the Bell Coalition and advocate alongside WithinReach, United Way of King County, Children’s Alliance, WSPTA, and many others, contact our Senior Policy Manger: Carrie Glover.
Policy Workshop: Breakfast After the Bell
It is unclear how the Legislature will act to fund K-12, but it is very clear to WithinReach and its partners that hungry kids can’t learn well. WithinReach is working with partner organizations to develop and promote Breakfast After the Bell Legislation; that will require a nutritious breakfast to be offered as part of the school day in high needs schools, just like lunch. There is early bi-partisan support for this initiative that has proven to successfully increase participation in school breakfast. We will keep you posted about the measure’s progress.
In addition to our senior policy manager, Carrie Glover, and our lobbyist, Erin Dziedzic, the board heard very informative presentations from Katie Mosehauer with Washington Appleseed, and Julie Peterson with the Prevention Alliance. The board was very impressed by the willingness and ability of like-minded organizations to set priorities and agree to work together. The state faces a huge budget challenge with high risks to programs benefiting families and children. The breadth and strength of the coalitions and community partners we work with will assure that our voices are heard ….will assure that the voices of the families we serve are heard!